Posts tagged ‘school’

This Semester was Supposed to Be Easier…

Well, crap. Tomorrow I have a clinic presentation, and tonight I have a practice for that. Tomorrow I also have SciComp due (and no, I did not turn in the rough draft when it was due last week, so I have a fair amount left) and Big Algorithms. Wednesday I have a paper due in my Brit Lit course, followed by more Big Algorithms on Thursday. Friday, for a change, I have a presentation as well as a project proposal for my Psych course and I think that this week I’m supposed to make the slides for the LaTeX seminar. and to top it off, Letty wants the robotics team to give a presentation for Parents Weekend (I still haven’t seen the robot since August, let alone checked if it still works, let alone created a map of… wherever the presentation is going to be). Moreover, I got about 3 hours of sleep last night. I was given to understand that this semester’s 18 credits would be easier than my equivalent of 22 credits last semester, but that’s not happening right now. Only 3 more months to go… :-P

This update is not for Cassie… :-)

So, you know how over the summer I spent a fair amount of time setting up Linux, and it was a lot of work, but once it was done it was great? Well, about a month ago I figured out what was wrong with emerge – there were 15 bad blocks on my hard drive, which I couldn’t get rid of for the life of me. And supposedly modern hard drives will swap them out automatically. Well, I called Best Buy, and they decided to come out and replace the hard drive entirely. That happened about a week ago. And the new one didn’t have any working operating system on it. It claimed to have Windows XP, but that would give me the much-beloved Blue Screen of Death as soon as I booted up (while some people are surely saying this is typical of Windows, XP has mostly been better at this, to be fair). Anywho, I’ve now got Gentoo back up, and most of my system is back on. I’m still missing sound, my 2nd monitor, and a bunch of little, unimportant things (Shockwave, for example), but it’ll come. I guess the biggest problem right now is that I can’t seem to get my 2nd monitor working. And I can’t find the specs for it online, which is a bit weird. Well, I’ll get it eventually. In the meantime, I should be back online semi-regularly now. Though there are still some weird things going on with my system – for some reason, I can’t turn on DMA on my hard drive (this loads stuff into memory fast enough to play music and movies without them skipping). Perhaps I forgot to build something into the kernel. I need to learn more about that. Oh! and whenever I try to shut down X, it hangs and I have to power cycle. This isn’t really a problem, since after my other monitor starts working I shouldn’t have to turn anything off for 9 months, but in the meantime it’s a little weird.

Um… oh! news from Bridge Club! At the Activities Fair, we got roughly 30 more people to sign up for bridge-club-l (our mailing list), which is just fantastic. And for those of you who I haven’t told yet, Unit 551, the local ACBL sanctioned bridge club, has lost their lease on their building, and will be moving to the LAC starting at the beginning of November! So it looks like Mondays and Wednesdays we’ll have competitive games, and Thursdays we’ll have fun, teaching/learning/screwing around days. It looks to be a good year for bridge club, all in all.

Classes are going ok, all in all. Systems is absolutely amazing (CS105 Systems, not E59 Stems). We’re learning how computers work. Really. The first week, we went over data representations (two’s complement arithmetic, etc), and we’re now tackling assembler for the IA32. However, we have been looking at other architectures as well (SPARC jumps to mind as a prominent alternative example). Anywho, it’s a lot of work, but absolutely fascinating! This is the stuff I’ve always wondered about. My other classes are going ok. Nothing great, but certainly no complaints, except that my CS81 (Logic and Computability) class seems like a review of CS60 but with a boring prof. Well, I’m sure it’ll get better soon.

I haven’t been paying attention to world news for a couple weeks, so I have nothing to post about right now (hopefully that’ll change). um… my world news is that many of my friends are going to be abroad this semester. Yeah. It’s a little weird, but neat to hear what they’re going to be doing.

Oh! and for a strange, nerdy time, read up on John Conways work concerning Surreal Numbers. The subject is just that. And since I am in a weird mood, I leave you with a quote from my History82 reading last week:

“Having been entertained with no new theory now for a long while, I am sinking into a mere practical farmer. I have not a single new thing at present, except one experiment I am making to convert moss into dung, by endeavouring to rot it in a dunghill, by mixing it with fresh horse-dung. I shall let you know the result. If I succeed I shall be able to multiply my manure greatly.” – Henry Home, in a letter to William Cullen, 1752.

I’m pretty glad I didn’t live back then.

Guess who’s back… back again… Guess who’s back…Guess who’s back…Guess who’s back…Guess who’s back…Guess who’s back…Guess who’s back…Guess who’s back…

I hate that stupid song. But it is nice to be in Claremont again. It’s great to see people again, to have the ambiance that can only come from a nerd school, to have the 95-degree weather. Kenny and Amanda (my new suitemates) are already moved in too, and Robert (my new roommate) comes tomorrow morning. I’ve just about gotten all of the stuff I stored in my room back to its rightful owners. It’s shaping up to be a pretty great year (though I have yet to start classes, mind you).

On Saturday, we went to the State Fair with the Kaemmerers. I hate to say it, because I love the fair, but this year it didn’t seem so great. There wasn’t anything spectacular in the Technology building (last year there were segways you could rent), there wasn’t anything particularly exciting in the Fine Arts building (though there were some very neat photographs and sculptures), I didn’t know anyone who had submitted anything for judging. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time. It just seems like there is nothing to really remember this fair by, since it was pretty much the same stuff again. Well, it was still fun. The only memorable thing is that I watched Carol get pickpocketed, though by the time I had my suspicions verified, the guy was nowhere to be seen. Dad, Carol, and I were talking, and this guy sort of walks into Carol, apologises, and walks on. However, as he apologised, he patted her side several times, which I thought was a bit weird. I felt rather stupid asking her if she still had her money, but she didn’t! The guy made off with $14, and luckily Carol wasn’t carrying her ID or credit cards or anything. This was loose cash in a front pocket of some fairly tight jeans. It was fascinating to watch this happen, in a morbid way (well, morbid is probably the wrong word, as death was not involved. It was still a bit unsettling). I hate to say it, but this guy was wonderful at this and had pickpocketing down to an artform.

Most people wouldn’t call this odd, but for the rest of the day I kept checking that I still had my wallet. It’s weird – I know my chances of being pickpocketed are pretty slim and they did not change when I saw this guy, but all of a sudden, it could happen to me and I had to watch out. I guess this is how my mom (and many other people as well) feels after the latest media scare, be it West Nile Virus or terrorists or anything else. And as illogical as I knew it to be, it still felt right to continuously check on my wallet. Huh.

Lets see… not much else is going on around here yet – we’re still unpacking and moving in. Classes start on Tuesday. Tonight was the frosh talent show, and it was pretty good this year. There was a mix of real talent, funny stunts, and absolute crap. and lots of napkin balls, of course. As Kenny said, it looks like we have a good crop of frosh this year.

Oh! Here’s some wonderful news in the world of voting – actually two bits of wonderful news. The first is that Florida’s e-voting machines must now have a paper trail. After all of the problems that e-voting (the American way; Indian e-voting machines are fine), it looks like someone with at least a little power is trying to correct this. In previous touch-screen voting elections, counties have registered over 100% voter turnout, negative votes for certian candidates, and a different number of votes cast than people who used the voting machine (to name a few problems that have actually occurred in Florida with these machines). Another problem that was recently revealed is that Florida lost the voting information from the 2002 Senate vote due to a computer crash, so there is no way to check it now. Much of the tech/nerd/online community is adamantly against Diebold’s touchscreen voting system because it uses proprietary software that cannot be checked for fairness/accuracy/security, and gives no voter-verifiable paper trail to show that the votes cast were recorded properly. I think that when the tech community unites against a new technology (or rather, a certain manifestation of it; there’s nothing wrong with the concept of e-voting), people should pay attention and think twice before embracing it. In India, the e-voting machines use open source software so anyone can make sure that the machines really do count votes correctly. They are more secure, and have fewer ways to be tampered with (Diebold’s machines can be rigged given 10 minutes alone with one, say in the morning while it is being set up), and most importantly, they have a paper trail. The paper trail is the only way to make sure that all the votes were really counted correctly. I can’t understand why Diebold won’t embrace these ideas.

The other wonderful piece of news is that international observers will be monitoring the presidential election for fairness. The Republicans barred the US from having the UN monitor the election (which personally seems like suspicious behavior), but now OSCE will be stepping up to do it. Sadly, I think that we really, really need this. This Slashdot comment summed it up quite nicely. I wish this sort of thing wasnt’ happening. I wish people would wake up and see all of the horrible things in the world. I wish there was something I could do about at least part of it. I just feel so powerless when I read about these sorts of things, and then remember that roughly half the country supports the people who are doing these things. *sigh* Well, at least this election is hopefully going to go better than the last one. Baby steps…

Well, I’m tired and Robert is coming in the morning. Good night!