The Blog of Ryan Foss

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Archive for October, 2008

Bipartisan BS

I’m so tired of this election thing. I’m pretty one sided myself, but I also listen to what the other party says without jumping to defenses and shoving their words back in their face or using them out of context. It bothers me and its stupid, the ridiculous arguments. Today it got bad, which is really the first its happened at work. Some dumb ass in the kitchen are couldn’t shut up the rah-rah for his elephant team to realize what an ass he was being. He said things like “Obama will be assassinated because he’s black,” and “I love messing with democrats, they don’t get it.” The problem with this guy, and many people I work with, is they are focusing on disliking the teams, not the policies. Part of rooting for your favorite sports team is a total dislike for the other team, but the real truth behind a sport is exhibiting sportsmanship and realizing that its a game and in the end the other team are people doing the same thing you are. Perhaps better or worse. And also that’s sports is a game. Politics are bigger issues than “Obama’s a terrorist,” and “McCain’s a bad tempered cheater.” Whatever, its Halloween and I hope that is at least fun for my kids.

Pass!

I was worried about my math class since I didn’t approach the final appropriately. I was nervous about the test and had to wait 9 days to find my grade. I got A’s again, so I’m maintaining a 4.0 average. My goal is to keep that.

iPhone Games

I think the iPhone is a really neat device, regardless of my distaste for Apple marketing and consumer milking (which I won’t go into). I see the potential for independent developers and wish I had the skills (and the time and money) to develop games for the device. I’m getting close though. I’ve managed to wrangle a freelance gig doing some 3D level model design and graphics work for a iPhone app. I’m signing an NDA so I can’t talk about it and I don’t know much yet, but hopefully it will be cool.

If you’re an iPhone developer looking for someone to do art, graphics, 2D or 3D models, level design, textures, icons, etc., please give me a buzz and I’ll see what I can do.

Math Gone Bad?

Since I was doing so well in my Discrete Mathematics class, I decided to take the final with little to no studying. All the tests through the DeVry online are open book so and I tend to do well this way.

However in this case, with 3 hours and 3 minutes and 15 problems, it didn’t go very well. I started on what I thought would be an easy problem, 25 minutes later I was half done and starting to stress. I finished every problem and used every minute I had. Now I have to wait until the 30th to find out how I did.

AI

Sometimes I feel like I have artificial intelligence, like a boob job on my brain. I don’t mean that in a positive way. I just finished taking my final for my class Data Structures and Artificial Intelligence (GSP-290) and I feel sort of robbed.

The class introduced me to a lot of things at a very quick pace with was good and bad. I find the subject really interesting, but the rapid pace and the inability to focus on any particular aspect makes it seem vapid. I found most of the work easy and trivial, lacking depth. As an example, I took one of the quizzes for the class (there were 6 quizzes in this course), a 1-hr test with 5 multiple choice questions based on 100+ pages of reading. I finished the quiz in 12 minutes, got all 5 correct, but didn’t do the reading. Perhaps lucky guesses?

I know that part of my feelings are really based on my own misconceptions of what education is and what learning is. In my case, I have a perfect grade for the course up to the final. Granted the final is 30% of the final grade, but I still took it dry (no studying). Two hours later I finished and I’m pretty sure I got an A for the course. I just wish I was confident that I learned something.

On a positive note, I find the book really good. Programming Game AI by Example by Mat Buckland. (Yes, its Mat with one T.)

!= Tractor

My son Nathan, who’s three, is allowed on occasion (after incessant pleading of the ear bleeding variety) to surf YouTube. You just type in “tractor” or “bulldozer” or some variant and he’s good for an hour or so. He finds some pretty wacky stuff, but he’s figured out a lot in the process, such as the back button.

Anyway, he was doing the bulldozer thing the other day at grandma and grandpa’s when I noticed that some of the suggested videos didn’t look like heavy machinery. They were clips of girls of some sort or another. (How they relate to bulldozer clips is something I’ll have to investigate.)

“Are you going to click on the girl?” I ask Nathan.

Nathan responds “that’s not a tractor dad!”

No problem there, 3 year old self content filtering activated.

Flying Colors

My course load has been tremendous lately and I’ve been lethargic. I keep thinking there is something wrong with me, because I feel so unmotivated and uninspired; tired. Perhaps my younger self brushed off these feelings more easily or, more likely, I’m just not getting enough sleep.

I’m currently enrolled in two classes, Discreet Mathematics (GSP-233) and Data Structures and AI (GSP-290). Being in two four credit courses at DeVry means I’m a full time student. Although I’ve done this credit load before at DeVry, I was in classes that required very little effort.

Regardless, my math class has been a chore. I’m doing 10+ hrs of homework a week for this class and I still feel confused and dazed. So much so that I was very active in the homework and midterm discussion threads last week. I was trying to find answers, verify my approaches to problems, helping others with their questions, generally wanting confirmation on my solutions. Unfortunately, even though I dominated over 50% of the posts, it wasn’t worth the effort, or at least not the intended effort. I suppose I should explain that thought: I mean that although I did a lot of posting, the correspondence I had with other students and/or insight I gained from the posts was little or none. What I did benefit from was the effort of doing it and the formulation required to make sentient and readable descriptions to problems and solutions. Perhaps unlike this paragraph.

Last week was the midterm. Twelve (12) questions in essay format, 3.5 hr time allotted test worth 20% of the course grade. In preparation, I skimmed the book, reviewed all my homework, reviewed the sample exam the professor graciously offered as a study aid, and then some. At 8:30 Sunday night (the last possible moment), I sat down with a cup of coffee and started the test trepidatiously (is that a word). For the following 3.5 hours I did “math”. How many possible combination are there if you flip a coin ten times? Put the following set in to set builder notation. What is the probability of… Use Boolean Algebra to prove… Etc. At midnight I was finished and feeling pretty good about the test. I was so wound up afterward though that even after an hour of video games, I didn’t get to sleep until around 3:30.

Needless to say, work came a lot quicker Monday than I wanted it to. Ultimately though, Monday disappeared with little acknowledgment from my conscious self. To my surprise on Tuesday my G-Mail inbox bolded a new message from the professor, “Midterm Results” it called from its subject line. I anxiously read the e-mail. The average score from the class of 27 was 137 (68.5%), a D average yikes! Two people got scores above 180. But who I screamed? What was my score? The e-mail didn’t tell me my score! Obviously the results were tabulated so I rushed to my DeVry gradebook for the class but the midterm grade isn’t posted yet. For the next few hours, I checked the grade book. A day goes by. Another day, and another. Friday morning still no posting. I check again before lunch and behold, my grade has been posted. I got 185! 3 more weeks…