2013 was another year that simply flew past.
It’s strange to think that it was almost 3 years ago that I first made the journey from Dunstable to Hull and started my degree in Computer Science.
Last year was an important year, and this one will be even more so — here’s a roundup of what happened, and a plan for what is to come.
What happened in 2013:
- I passed my second year with an average grade of 85%
- I had my first experience of commercial development as part of a business over the summer
- I co-developed QuickSync — a platform for syndicating stock levels between different systems
- I chose and started developing my Final Year Project, an Integrated Development Environment for PHP
- I started considering alternative choices for my masters (and hopefully future PhD) and received some offers (more on that later in the year)
- I had a lot of fun with my awesome friends at uni, and some students who spent a semester here from America.
- I started arranging and saving for a month-long holiday to America with my housemate Rob (including meeting up with aforementioned Americans!)
- I did loads of cool events with Microsoft, including going to Campus Party
- I had blue hair for most of it!
What I expect (and hope!) will happen in the new year:
- More sensible hair
- Graduating from The University of Hull with a first class Bachelors of Science Degree in Computer Science
- The release of my final year project as an open source initiative
- Lots of preparation for my masters degree, including lots of maths revision and learning Java (it seems like every other university mainly teaches using Java as opposed to C#)
- Moving from The University of Hull to another university for my Masters Degree
- An awesome road-trip around Arizona, Nevada and California from Phoenix to San Francisco
I think that will take most of my time!
I hope you all had a great time in 2013 and wish you a fantastic 2014. Thanks to everyone who made 2013 such a special year for me, of whom there are too many to list — you know who you are. 🙂
(The XBOX Kinect Set Up at Today’s Computer Science Welcome)
Today was my second day of Orientations. Today’s first was all about the different opportunities each sub-department in the Computer Science Department offers. Of particular interest to me was SEED Software, a software development company owned and run by the Computer Science Department. The company has designed and developed a multitude of software from iPhone applications to perhaps most importantly BRIGID. BRIGID is a software system used by many fire brigades around the world (Including Australia and every brigade in Humberside) which helps to dispatch appliances and allows Emergency operators to see in real time the position of said Appliances, its simply amazing that students — alongside full time paid developers — have helped to create such an important piece of software.
The reason SEED is of such interest to me is because as a MEng Computer Scientist in my 4th year I will be spending one day a week working at SEED with real customers and developing real code for real applications. This is exciting as it will give me a real edge in the jobs market as well as allowing me to get stuck in to some real work.
Talks were also given by the Artificial (Alien?!) Intelligence department, showcasing a £2,500 robot which simply navigated itself around the Lecture Theatre and made annoying noises when it located something it couldn’t drive around. The scientific visualization department treated us to a model of a toilet and explained to us how people go about working out the speed of water flow in code rather than making and wasting money on a prototype toilet. Dr. Lee taught us what is actually meant by the term Computer Generated Graphics and explained how it is applied in more different areas than ever before.
Another introductory talk I found particularly fascinating was one provided by the resident expert in computer languages. Once you think about it it is amazing that people can actually communicate and understand each other so easily and its even more interesting — if not more so — that we now understand this enough to be able to teach computers to do it to a greater or lesser extent.
The second Orientation was provided by Rob Miles, who by some miracle managed to mention his blog only 3 times in an hour! 😉 The talk was all about how the course will work, the systems the department use and about communicating with the staff. Each section of work will start with some lectures, there will then be some tutorials and practices to follow this up and make sure everyone is up to speed and understand what is going on.
The CS department uses several systems on campus to get work done, allow for electronic handing in of code and allow for student – lecturer communication. The main system is powered by Microsoft Sharepoint, a system which I have used previously at Manshead Upper School and I find to be quite reliable and feature rich, using share point we can check timetables, lab times, download powerpoints and update our personal development files, unfortunately one gaping hole in the version of sharepoint the unversity uses is that it doesn’t allow for uploading of computer code to have marked — for this the department uses the bespoke eBridge university web application.
After the joke filled session had finished I went to see the O2 people in the student union, with whom I have signed a new 24 month contract to get a HTC 7 Mozart, 500Mb internet a month (unlimited in reality, but it is slowed down after 500Mb — no overage charges), unlimited texts and 300 minutes. Unfortunately the evil O2 people had forgotten to bring my phone (which I ordered yesterday) with them.
This left me with a few hours to kill before I met my supervisor, Dr Gordon. During this time I visited the SU and my flat at the lawns. The meeting with Dr Gordon was pretty good as it provided insight into how to get pastoral support should I require it at any time in the next 4 years and also provided me with someone to get a decent reference from once I leave in search of a job.
The highlight of the day however was the Computer Science Welcome which was held in the grand Staff Building in the centre of the campus. On entering we found 4 gaming systems set up, at the front was an XBOX with Kinect — which was very amusing to watch and somewhat embarrassing to play, especially as i couldn’t work it out due to its unresponsiveness. In the centre of the room on one side was Rock Band and on the other a Playstation 3 with Move and next to that 5 LAN connected Ubuntu Bsced PC’s running some indie games provided by FreeSide — who also provided a talk and I signed up to. Even further down the massive hall was a Wii running the classic Wii Tennis, which I won 3 games of!
FreeSide are a student run association who provide the student population of the university a free as in beer & speech open source system including web servers and beastly PC’s with up to 8GBs of RAM. The entire system now works on a 1GB connection and so I will certainly be checking out any opportunities which arise with the organisation!
After the Freeside talk Rob Miles led a quiz which my team eventually won by 2 points! The prize was a photograph to be posted on Rob Miles blog and a big box of Celebrations which went down very well!
All in all it was a good day, and I cant wait for my first practical lab session tomorrow as well as getting my new Windows Phone, which I’m sure I will get round to reviewing at some point!
Thanks for Reading,
Today was my second proper day at the UoH and I must say I’m loving it so far! Today I woke up about 8:30, got ready as fast as possible and ran for the bus which took me to the university for about 9:05. Once I got there it was a mad dash to the Wilberforce building (Lecture hall 2) for our Academic Induction — this provided us with information on Safety, Members of the Department & Professionalism (effectively telling us the actions taken against people who plagerise or are consistently late or not in attendance). The faculty of Science comes down very hard on such people.
The Wilberforce building is built in recognition of a famous hull resident William Wilberforce, who helped to abolish the slave trade. Supposedly the building was built in the shape of a slave ship so as to remind people not to go back to those ways. I for one, cannot see it.
After the induction Sean, Rob and I had an hour to kill until our next meeting so we decided to check out what the gym facilities are like on campus, we we’re semi impressed. It is better than the council owned facility in Dunstable, but not nearly as good as the facilities as DW sports.
After we had our tour round the gym we went and sat in the SU garden for a while to kill some more time. 11:15 rolled round pretty quickly and we were back in WI-LH2 for a Year 1 orientation which was all about Personal Development & Professionalism — which the university takes very seriously, as it makes study better during the time at Hull and makes the likelihood of getting a job much better too. The meeting concluded around 12:05 on the subject of maths and the impending exam, which is on Friday — I cant wait. Sigh.
After being in WI-LH2 for so long it was nice to be in the open air of the Student Union Sanctuary Bar Garden for an hour and a half whilst we waited to officially register with the university and receive our student ID cards — during this time I ordered an individual size margarita pizza from the Sanctuary bar, it was really tasty and fantastic value for money at £2.70.
Registering was simple, really professionally handled and seamless. It took all of around 5 minutes to show them my proof of student loan for my tuition fee and give them all the information they needed as well as collect my card.
After we had registered we had a quick look round the Sporting Societies tent — I’m not massively into any sports but I was eustatic when I recieved a voucher for a free shoot at the archery range! I Immediately texted Shaun who is a pro archer. Once we had seen all the stalls and received all the millions of handouts we headed back to the Lawns on the bus — two turned up at once, which was pretty good as it meant all the people waiting outside the uni got home quickly (for once!).
Once I was home I dropped my stuff off in the flat and proceeded to go into the Village of Cottingham to buy some passport photos for my Residents Card which will allow me to use the bar and resturant facilities in the Lawns Centre from here on in — I took this opportunity to also get some cash out. The walk to and from Cottingham is a pleasant one as the village is actually quite pleasent, rather different to the usual image people depict when they talk of Hull, and Humberside in general. (Interesting side note – the Lawns are in East Yorkshire, whilst the University is in the new county of Humberside)
Since then I’ve had dinner and now I’m sitting in my flat writing this blog entry. Here’s the view from my flat right now (5:53pm)
Later my entire block are going on a pub crawl to 4 bars and a club with our Freshers Parents (the people who look after us from the year above and get us acquainted with local activities during freshers week). Hopefully that will be as good fun as last night, which I spent with some quality lads from Nicholson Block A – where my friend Sean lives. Chase and status “played” a DJ set, but it was essentially watching people dance to a CD with an MC constantly shouting “Wheres the mosh pit?” over the top. Pro Tip: there wasn’t one.
Anyway, thats all for now, I’m really happy I’m enjoying freshers week!
Thanks for Reading!
Well, last nights trip to the acoustic night didn’t go too well. We waited for a bus for 45 minutes before deciding to back down and just go to The Lawns Centre Bar instead. It was a good night, with card games, quizzes and metal music in the background — hopefully it’ll be a frequent occurrence.
Today was the first weekday I have been at the university so this of course meant registering to my department and registering for a GP ‘oop north’ here in Hull. I got up about 8am, which for me is early and almost surprising! I proceeded to have a shower and get dressed and made my way to the bus stop with my flatmate Rob and my friend from back in Dunstable — Sean, both of which are also taking computer science.
We got to the massive Robert Blackburn building about 10 O’clock and went to room 312 to get our departmental as well as university registration forms. This consisted of around 6 pages of personal details and took around 20 minutes to fill in. We did this in the great surroundings of the Student Union Pub garden (which also had a wi-fi connection for my laptop once we’d finished to research foo fighters albums! Awesome!)
After all the forms we were feeling pretty peckish so we went to the great ‘Quickbite Cafe and internet lounge’ in the SU. I had a cheese Jacket Potato and a glass bottle of Coke zero – possibly the perfect lunch?!
After we had our fill we headed to the Hardy building — Lecture hall 1 for an induction and explanation of the course (including telling us how if we wanted to do internet services, we should be in scarborough!). This answered a lot of questions and also allowed us to sign up to the British Computer Society — The Chartered Institute for IT. This was exciting and I think it’s excellent its included for free as part of the course here at Hull.
After this we had another 1 hour break to kill before going to hand in our registration materials and collect a timetable and course handbook, both of which are vital! This only took 5 minutes for me, but sean was at the back of the queue and it took almost 3 hours for him! I got really lucky.
Rob and I were discussing on the way out what day we had to register with a local GP (a compulsory part of staying in uni accommodation and joining a course — as well as a vital safety precaution). Fortunetly we passed a sign telling us it was today and showing us directions to the Ferens building where the GP registration was taking place.
Chosing a doctor involved looking at the services offered and location — I opted for New Hall Surgery as it was close to my halls of residence here at The Lanws as well as allowing me to make appointments online, which is a very useful feature. Signing up took a further two forms! Fun, Fun, Fun!
That was the end of my day as far as academic stuff goes.
When I got back to The Lawns I went on MSN with Jessica and took a few phone calls from my family. Half way through this I had dinner at the Lawns Centre, which included getting my new Residents card and paying £3 for the privilege. I have to go and get some passport photos tomorrow to complete it.
Tonight I’m going to see Chase & Status — a Pop Dance group, not really to my usually punky taste. I’ve seen them before and thought they were crap because they had more guest singers than songs! Literally. Hopefully they impress me a little more tonight!
Today is my final Wednesday in Dunstable for a few months, and possibly the last wednesday where dunstable is my perminant residence. This is both exciting and unnerving, a relief and a worry. Though I’ve moved house once before I’ve always lived in Dunstable so this will be one of the biggest changes I’ve ever gone through. As well as change of location I’m moving away from my Family, Girlfriend and Friends — all of whom are incredibly important to me.
The last two years of my life have certainly been the best so far, I’ve made some incredible (hopefully lifelong) friends, met my girlfriend and generally had a great time, so moving on without these people with me is daunting, however I can’t wait to meet new friends and discover more about what it is to be an independent adult – as well as have great fun and learn more about Computer Science.
So, I have two days and nights left before I leave at 7am (ish, depending on my ability to wake up) Saturday morning and I intend to make the most of them, spending lots of time with those dearest to me (even though a lot of my close friends moved away last weekend).
This all sounds gloomy, even though it is in reality the start of possibly the 4 most exciting years of my life! So in other good news I spoke to the bee keeper man again today and provided him with some examples of my previous work — namely http://www.semiskinned.co.uk and http://www.worldwidelighthouses.com Hopefully he’ll get back to me either tonight or tomorrow and ask me to carry on with the project, which will be great news!
Thats all for now – thanks for reading,