Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Masters of the Universe(ity)

Today I watched a graduation ceremony.

I know what you're thinking. "Gee UNT has VERY LOW graduation numbers!" we-he-he-he-hell, you'll be surprised to know that these are not just any graduates. These are the Fall 2009 Master's Degree candidates for the University of North Texas! Among them are my co-workers (graduating) and supervisor (doctor, whom is present in the front with the black apparel). When I asked what my co-worker planned on doing after this, he mentioned he may go into Medical School and eventually get his Doctorate's Degree.

Being put among graduates, teachers, students, and an otherwise very competitive environment can be very liberating, as there is so much knowledge surrounding you, so much talent, and so much pressure. Being pressured to do well is a double edged sword. On one hand, of course you're going to strive to do your best, you're going to work those late nights and finish those 3 projects you have due rather than simply putting them off or telling yourself "I'll just do them next semester". In a world such as this, there's no time to put things off til next semester - it's now or never. Heck these students know what to expect in the world

I'm just putting this picture here again to stress its importance

Also, Wireless Woman contacted me. She sent me a link to her blog.
^^Wireless Woman's ARM!? The plot thickens...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I love that

Exam week. Some love it, most hate it. It's different for everyone but let's just say, it all depends on how many days of class you skipped. If you attended every single class meeting, there's no reason to really worry about exam week. Most exams are cumulative anyway, and there's no way to do well on a test if you weren't even there for the material. Besides, if I'm going to study 24 hours for an exam, I'd spread that 24 hours over the course of the semester rather than cramming in a library or at home last minute. Granted homework and exams require plenty of time outside of class, I'd rather not spend my study time trying to catch up on what was covered in class.

I try not to miss class at all. Missing a class one day really messes up my whole day, or week even...because missing a lecture means I'm that far behind everyone else. The same goes for sleeping through a class. Yes we're all guilty of it, even me, the perfect IT student.... lol

I hate to make excuses, but that dang tryptophan really gets the best of people sometimes. Sleeping through class is worse than flat out missing a class though, because slumbering in front of a professor is simply rude, and sends the wrong kind of signal if you're trying to get an A. There are plenty of times in computer courses that you just want to give in to those 500 lb eye lids of yours. Those are the days you need to down a Monster or a few shots of espresso. I prefer the latter, as I'm a certified Barista, you know.

My ENGL 2700 exam consisted of evaluating and writing a recommendation on which types of brownies were the best. I will never reject taking an exam where brownies are involved. I welcome it. In fact, all exams should involve brownies... I love that

Anyway, I'm through with exams and projects finally! I hope everyone else out there is pleased with their progress this semester, and ready for another full load next month! If you're not in college yet, heed my advice, get ready for it and go!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dead Week Shmed Week

Who came up with the term Dead Week? It seems to be a fairly new phenomena by Google Trends standards. I don't think it's new. I heard the term all the time in high school. There also seems to be discussion around the web describing others' experiences with dead week.

In short, dead week is the week when projects are due, and many schools ask teachers not to administer tests and quizzes. It's not so bad if you're used to the work load involved. It's nothing more than a tough week of school say half way through the semester. Mid terms are a bit higher on the Richter scale than dead week in my opinion. I do have my fair share of work to do this week, don't get me wrong. The good news is, I'm through with exams by Tuesday!

All this work and nothing to show for it eh Brett? Ho ho ho (Merry Christmas?) just you wait. Next semester I'll have a shiny new web site to show off to all of you. But for now I can't share it, as it's a work in progress. The Jartech Team will deliver though, just you wait. Of course what I am referring to is a project that we are working on as part of my Information Systems class. As part of IT and the degree in general, I'm learning how web sites work, the infrastructure and the architecture involved in computer science and information systems, and in my team's case, how e-commerce web sites work. Once our work is complete, we will become the next thinkgeek! Please tell me you know what Thinkgeek is.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wireless Woman

What does a geek want more than anything? A she-geek to idolize, praise, and discuss the nature of your neighbor's poorly unsecured wireless network with. If there's anything that geeks like, it's geek tech. Sure some people settle for the Wonder Woman cliche, of a beautiful powerful woman with a secret identity, spandex, and super amazing powers of super speed, flight, and stamina... But Wonder Woman has absolutely zilch on Wireless Woman
She's all the awesomeness of Spandex, combined with amazing wireless gadgets that practically give her a sixth sense. With all her radios, broadband, point to point systems, communications tools, and product placement, you'd think she were a true American Hero. She is a hero I assure you. Perhaps to only a few tech geeks at UNT, but nonetheless, that's enough merit to land you the title of "Hero". Actually, all of those fancy gadgets on her seem to overlap at some points. I mean, her smartphone could easily act as an "EV-DO modem", Broadband network, camera, and headset. In fact, I think she could still qualify as a Hero if she were merely carrying my hero!

I guess that gives me enough merit to be a Hero too! Me and Wireless Woman are on the same level here. With all that gear though, I hope those radio waves aren't microwaving her insides too much.

Mobile phone platforms are where the future is though. When you think about the day-to-day tasks you perform, they usually have something to do with information, communication, or a task of some sort. The iPhone and Android platforms in particular are doing a spectacular job at providing users a curtailed custom experience with what those users need in their day-to-day life. I wake up to the sound of my alarm (off my phone), check my email and find out class is cancelled (on my phone), text a friend to play tennis with (coughonmyphonecough), freak out that I have a computer science assignment due that I forgot to turn in, so I whip out my phone, SSH into the assignments machine, tap out my code and submit - crisis averted. Blog about my experience through my phone (with god-like spell check, mind you), set up a meeting and meet my Information Systems team at some place called Jupiter's simply by looking it up with the GPS on my phone, check the weather and realize there's a hail storm scheduled for tonight so I move my car into cover....... I could go all day.

Anyway, a phone can't do everything. It's a tiny computer that has a connection to a service provider and in some cases, the internet. Most computing isn't even done by my phone. "Cloud Computing" is responsible for storing my contacts, GPS data, delivery of voice and text to other phones, looking up information, etc. A phone's role in networking and IT is just beginning to be exploited. Information Technology is a great field to learn the boundaries and roles of different hardware!

By the way, wireless woman has her own twitter feed. but sources tell me she's not really who we think she is :( oh well, I don't have a Twitter account.

Here's her Twitter, Blog, and Personal Home Page (PHP!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Texas Best Robotics Regional Championship

As part of being a journalist for the school of engineering, sometimes I go to engineering events here at the school. Most recently we had a Texas Best Robotics competition where we had several high schools and geeks among geeks of kids, teachers, and professionals gather to build robots! Several people from UNT engineering, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and even NASA were involved in the event. The keynote speaker, B. Gentry Lee, the chief engineer at the Planetary Flight Systems Directorate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, spoke in depth about the importance of engineering and robotics, especially as it pertains to space travel. This guy is the tool of the trade, as he also is an active science fiction novelist, television producer, computer game designer, media columnist, and lecturer. And I thought I did a lot!
There were about 1200 people or more at this event, which took place at the UNT coliseum! I was one of three responsible for managing the raffle for the event. It was fun to be able to see the next generation engineers, and be able to give away $300 in Best Buy gift cards! About 120 students signed up for the raffle, which comes just in time for the holiday season. What's better is that the eng.unt.edu site is where students had to go to sign up, and it just so happens the student journalist and ambassador pictures scroll through that page. It was fun to be recognized by some of the students!

Keep at it little engineerlites, and see you in 4+ years! Who knows, maybe I'll be your teacher.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Tryptophan is NOT a Lie

It gets really hard to concentrate on work whenever there's a holiday right around the corner. Just like it's hard to concentrate when you've eaten turkey. You know that old myth that says turkey makes you sleepy? IT'S TRUE. Although Wikipedia claims that most meat products you eat contain tryptophan, it also states that it depends on what you consume with your meat. I'm assuming that eating a turkey sandwich, what with its bread, lettuce, tomato, and cheese, that that is one solid recipe for a good night's sleep. I know this from experience. Take it from me: Don't ever have a turkey sandwich before an evening class. Especially if that class is Advanced Voice over IP. (Still sorry about that, Mr. Brierley)

This is what makes you so tired...

With all this Turkey Talk though, you must be thinking, "Brett, you're a little late. Thanksgiving was a week ago". Touche. But there was so much Turkey made, I'm still having left overs. Not before my evening classes of course...

On a side note, I read an interesting article detailing the use of mobile phones over "Black Friday." It said that paypal use over mobile phones for electronic sales increased 600% over the thanksgiving holiday. Likely because of the "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" fiasco and a sharp increase in the use of smartphones. I'm sorry to say that I did not partake in the shopping frenzy. I'm too busy buying an education I suppose. All this education stuff pays off eventually. After all, a large majority of jobs in the US require college education in order to qualify. In fact, CNN's Money section declares "Systems Engineer" (see IT) the number 1 job in America. I have a good feeling about my career choice...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Local Charm

I have to admit, I wasn't too impressed with Denton whenever I first drove up from my comfortable suburbs of Plano. But as it turns out, a drive through a city does not give you enough merit to judge what the city is like, despite how I also claim that Las Vegas is amazing since I once drove through it on the way to California... Besides, I was merely driving through 380, I hadn't even come near the college yet to find:

This little joint is part of what makes college life great. Within walking distance, this cleverly named restaurant's title does not do it justice. It is, however, short, sweet, and to the point. They do indeed sell Chinese food, and fast. Despite having a drive thru, my roommate and I always walk here and simply eat in. Call me conservative but...
A good ol' fashioned Chicken lo Mein always does the stomach good. My particular dorm does not require its residence to buy a meal plan, so I often find myself indulging in such deliciousness. I am curious though... is it pronounced lo-"Maine" or lo-"Me-yin"? I once told someone I loved chicken lo-"Maine" and she corrected me saying it was pronounced "lo-me-yin". Since she was Chinese I took her word for it but I'm still curious as to how you're supposed to pronounce it. After all this girl was only six years old so... by all means enlighten me!

They also always have very corny Mexican soap operas on. haha.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Desperate Times call for… Engineering-Part II

I’ve had plenty of setbacks… You don’t know how glad I am to be able to live up to my promise of writing this entry. It really did take forever for me to get this all together without internet. Namely the N-type female chassis mount connector took me a long time to find, as I outlined in the last entry. Tanner’s Electronics thankfully had all the stuff I needed, but before that I had spent days going to different places and trying to find an N-type connector. No one I talked to even knew what it was. The closest I got was an f-type connector used for coaxial connections, which mind you, won’t work for this particular project. Anyway, enough complaining about my mishaps.

Kudos to anyone who can tell me what time it is from that binary clock (the square thing with all the blue lights)

Isn’t it beautiful? If you notice, I even used wall tacks to hold in the N-Connector. Not such a good idea as you’ll see in a second but I was just eager to test this thing. The trickiest part was getting a hole through the can. Never mind butchering the solder a couple of times, as I’ve never soldered anything in my life. Getting the hole through the can proved to be tough without a drill, nail, or anything.

Poor thing never stood a chance

Thank you, Kyle, for showing me how to solder! Once I soldered the #12 copper wire onto the connector, punched holes through the can, and mounted the wire inside, it was time to test it. Here’s a chart of what my Wi-Fi situation looks like without the cantenna.

So I can see 2 access points and both are pretty poor signal. Each have a -91 and -86 RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indication) reading, which would amount to poor bandwidth and probably dropped connections every so often. Apogee is a local service provider, and admittedly we have service now that it’s been 3 weeks since the lightning hit, but given that, my signal strength is pretty poor and I can’t live with poor signal strength. Now let me plug in my cantenna....

Wow! Simply plugging in the can shows me all the world I was missing out on… This image shows a long period of time before I eventually wired everything up. You can see that at 1:10 PM, as soon as I hooked up the cantenna to the wireless USB card, I was inundated with access points. Now, opposed to the 1 or 2 I was receiving signal from earlier, I now have a plethora of options!

If all I have to do is plug in the can to see all these, what happens when I point the can in a certain direction? Afterall, it is a waveguide antenna. Out there you see plenty of campus buildings, a football field, and most importantly, more radio waves! Well you don’t see them per se but believe me, they're there.

My roommate needs to do laundry... I guess I do too though

My wall tacks then proceeded to fall off the can… thus destroying my cantenna. I’m no civil engineer, but I’d say tacks make for a pretty shoddy construction job. The image above is my “improved” can which is bound by soldering the N-connector to the can and duct taping it for reinforcement… I call it the McCormick Cantenna MkII

This is what the can looks like on the inside. There are actually several complex math equations used to determine where you need to puncture the can and how long the #12 copper wire needs to be. To save you the headache, and to avoid admitting I don’t know how to do the math, I used an online calculator to figure out where these need to be. Given the diameter of the can was 3.125 inches across, I needed to puncture the can 2.9 inches up from the bottom. Ideally my can could have been a bit longer to compensate for the length of the wavelength I’m trying to guide since Wi-Fi operates at a frequency of about 2.4 GHz.
To fully test this, I would like to find a big open field, and set up my access point as far away from my can as possible and see what my signal strength can be. Cantennas and waveguide antennas in general can increase the range of your Wi-Fi connectivity by up to a kilometer or in some cases many kilometers. Industrial level antennas can provide wi-fi from the base of a mountain to those users on top of the mountain! Perhaps range testing of my cantenna can be for another entry ;)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Desperate Times Call For… Engineering

As you may remember from my last entry, my dorm was struck by lightning about 3 weeks ago. Although things could be worse, as in my computer could have blown up or the whole housing establishment could have caught fire, instead we merely lost internet. However, this is not to be taken lightly. In fact, for someone like me in an age like this, internet is like a faithful sidekick – it’s always there and no matter how bad the going gets, the trusty steed is still there chuggin' along with you, except without internet, I feel I’ve lost my right hand man.

This is the first of a two part entry I will be putting together this week. I’ll be sharing my experience on coping with internet loss, and my journey to getting it back!

This is no Epic Narrative akin to Lord of the Rings or Star Wars etc, but it’s a story worth telling. The problem: I have no internet. The solution: DIY Wireless Range Extender, AKA, the Cantenna!

A Cantenna, for lack of a better term, is a combination of a Can and an Antenna. Basically, you can use a can and some crafty techniques to build yourself a cheap directional waveguide antenna for long range Wi-Fi.

Here’s what you need:
• A Can
• N Type Female Chassis connector
• 2”+ of #12 copper wire
• Nuts/Bolts
• A Desperate need for internet or otherwise curious as to how antennas work
• Solder/Soldering gun

This list will cost you about $10+, give or take a few bucks. Since I’ve never done this before, I ended up buying a bunch of stuff I didn’t need. Oops!

I actually already had the can of soup, soldering gun, and keyboard

I’ll be taking most of that back within the next week! Construction starts ASAP, as soon as I can finish a couple of other projects I’m working on!

It was harder than you think it would be to find all of this though, especially without internet. I had to use the good ol’ cell phone and call a dozen people before I found all that I needed. There are several stores not worth mentioning that didn’t have anything I needed, but the one store that did have everything was Tanner’s Electronics in Fort Worth… Thank you Tanner!

Despite my endless search for all my materials, there is still a diamond in the rough to be found here. A thin, modest and cute looking cashier with short light hair rang me up at Home Depot. She drew this on my receipt

She said "you have very pretty eyes" :) that made my day! It was pretty obvious I was flustered as I lost my stuff I bought 15 seconds ago and had to ask where I put them. She smiled and laughed as she pointed at them sitting on the checkout counter. In a nervous dash to end my embarrassment, I laughed and admitted to my social ineptitude, and briskly walked out the door, also forgetting where I parked. Nerdyness always gets the best of me in every situation…

End of part I

Friday, November 6, 2009

So Brett, What’s it like at college?

I don’t know. I’ve been in college for 3 years and I still don’t know. College is so dynamic. One moment you’re having fun eating candy during Halloween, and the next moment you are keeled over on your bed suffering from some virus you caught over the weekend. One day you walk into class and you think, “man, I know this stuff like the back of my hand,” then you realize that that is a cliché, and you don’t really know or care about what the back of your hand looks like. Then your teacher hands back a paper you worked hard on but you only earned a C, and you feel like giving him a piece of your most well known body part… the back of your hand. At least… he’ll soon know it better than I do.

That’s the best part about college. Backhanding your teachers.

Nah I don’t backhand my professors. I’ll tell you what I know about college though. To be honest, it’s like one of those D&D dice. The kind that has like 50 sides to it. More options than a box of chocolate. Yeah I just one-upped Forrest Gump. Not only do you never know what you’re gonna get, but you have to take what it gives you and run with it. It won’t be all chocolaty sugar coated either. But when life gives you lemons (or a crappy roll of the dice), make lemonade (or wait for your next turn so you can make a new roll). My last “roll of the dice” landed me in the library for several hours while I tik-tak away at a computer science project. By the time I quit (I still haven’t finished, mind you), it was 12:30 at night. The library still had several students chatting and working. It was redeeming to find myself in the midst of so many other people in my situation – in the library working on some project. Whenever I used to sit at home or my dorm and do projects, I’d convince myself that I was the only person in the world awake at that moment, and I was working on some assignment that all of my classmates finished a long time ago. A glance at the library disproves my small naïve world.

So where’s this lemonade you were talkin' about Brett? Yes I seem to have simply been given lemons and no water, sugar, and ice to make lemonade with. It’s okay, last time I tried to make lemonade, it was from one of those little kool-aid packets, and I took a sip and it was the most bitter, sour, insane lemonade I had ever created. My roommate refused to try it…

My “lemonade” if you will comes from the trip home. The campus gains sort of serene environment at 12:30 AM. I’m used to seeing hundreds of people, police officers, honking cars, crazy pedestrians diving in front of my car… This time it was a quiet, dark, moon-lit walk home. My roommate left for the weekend, my friends are asleep, so it’s finally quiet time… you really learn to appreciate quiet time in college.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Expect the Unexpected

Here’s something you hear all the time but don’t ever expect it to happen to you. Well.. at least I wasn’t expecting it to happen

My dorm was struck by lightning

That’s 1.21 GIGAWATTS of electricity that just hit us.

Interestingly enough, we didn’t experience a fire or power outage, but rather, a huge power surge and many people crying (including myself) that we no longer have internet service. Some of the networking hardware got fried and knocked out both buildings. What’s also interesting is that my computer tower started buzzing when the lightning hit, and my desktop told me I just experienced a power surge… Interesting how it knows when it had a power surge. Beyond that nothing happened, except my Network Interface Card (NIC) no longer works… as in it no longer appears in my Device Manager.. it just vanished. The lights are still on and it’s integrated to the mother board of my tower but… it seems only the NIC card doesn’t function anymore. Thank goodness my hard drives didn’t fry like some other poor unfortunate souls.

It seems if you weren’t using a surge protector, your stuff got zapped. Many people are moaning about the Red Ring of Death on their Xboxes and entire hard drives getting burnt up. I suppose the reason my NIC card was cooked was because that was not on a surge protector, it was simply plugged straight into the wall. A CAT5 ethernet cable is capable of carrying a gigabit of data over 100 meters, providing me with endless youtube videos, and now apparently burning up my network card. Oh ethernet, how I love thee.

On a side note that got me thinking… everyone is in an energy crisis, but the answer to our problems just zapped my NIC card. Wind turbines, hydro electricity, solar power, geothermal, and our newest, lightning electricity. Come on, nature has zapped us with this stuff since day one and no one has tried to harness it? Actually Doc Brown tried… and he went Back to the Future with it. That’s saying something.

Where’s an engineer when you need one..?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Capitol Hill

It’s been a bit since I’ve written on here… As I type, my roommate is playing Ocarina of Time, a fine game indeed.

The College of Engineering took me to Washington DC a couple weeks ago, where I had the privilege of representing UNT, as well as a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Center called the Convergence Technology Center. It’s always a mouthful to say, but that is indeed what I spent my week doing. I did miss all my classes for a few days, which never does my GPA any favors… I try not to skip too often though.

How was my trip to Washington? I had a feeling you'd ask me that

As a student, they gave me a comfy hotel room, a tour of the city, and even a shiny award. I got an award which read "Advanced Technological Education Student Award for Excellence". The NSF is crazy about long names for things. To get this award you have to achieve an outstanding GPA, attend an NSF ATE center, and effectively demonstrate knowledge in your related ATE field. My field in particular is called Convergence Technology, which involves a lot of computer networking, voice over IP, green IT practices, project management, etc. I'm definitely please to have had this opportunity.

One of the more interesting things though was to listen to the key note speaker talk about the challenge of the 21st century: the energy crisis. Perhaps not a crisis, but it will indeed be the defining challenge of our generation. If only we had some *coughcoughengineerscoughcough that could fix this for us… Really, when you look at the world's problems, there's always a solution, and the solution is always thought up my some random smart dude. Need to instantly talk to people across the planet? Need light in dark places? Need to be able to spy on the sneaky red army trying to beat us into space or aim nukes at us during a period of tension and threat of nuclear holocaust, but can't send spy planes in to take pictures because it's costing too much money and man power and could easily spark a war? Send up a sattelite.

OK so that last example was a bit reminiscent of my time at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. If that's not full of Engineering, I don't know what is...

Also this picture is pretty humorous:

It says:
Windows - "Virtual Memory Minimum Too Low"

Your system is low on virtual memory. Windows is increasing the size of your virtual memory paging file. During this process, memory requests for some applications may be denied. For more information, see Help.

So FYI, the Smithsonian runs Windows, and it seems they run very old Windows boxes... ;)


(Too) Small World

This weekend I drove back to Plano because I have a job working with a National Science Foundation grant. I attend weekly meetings with them because we are migrating our web site to a new Content Management System. This is all fine and dandy but guess what else is in Plano? My family… This can be a double edged sword. On one hand I love my family to death. They give me food and a bed to sleep in, but at the same time they can be so irritating. I think this is why so many students like to move away from home for college… veery veeeeeeery far away. I suppose I’m not the only one this has happened to, but it’s a shame I have to be one of the few.

So what happened then? I'm glad you asked. My mother and grandmother give me very basic instructions for my trip back to Denton. “Don’t drive too fast. Be careful, it’s dark outside. Call me when you get home…” Guess which one of these steps I forgot to follow?

I should also mention that it was homecoming weekend, and it was Saturday night as I was driving back. I made it unscathed back to my dorm room, but I suppose not everyone has that sort of luck, as there were a few reported accidents around the area. I brought quite a few clothes and items from Plano too, so I had to make two trips from my car to my dorm room on the third floor. One thing I didn’t bring with me the first time was my cell phone, as I simply laid it in the passenger seat during the hour long drive. On my way back to get it, I saw a few friends of mine at the dorm and began talking with everyone. We were having a fun time and I never got all the way back to my car. The next time I would get back to my car was a few hours later that night… But I was a few hours too late.

As any concerned mother would do, my parents gave me several calls (18), left several messages (9), drove up an hour to Denton to find me and even filed a missing person report with the police. So while I obliviously sat in my room talking to friends and watching the homecoming game, it seemed the whole world was looking for me. A buzz began to stir in the dorm when there were police officers roaming through the whole building. Everyone they came across was asked the same question: “Are you Brett McCormick? Are you Brett McCormick!?” By the time they found me I was on my way to get my phone from my car, 3 hours after I had gotten back to the dorms.

A few of my friends looked pretty freaked out as they watched the police question me, take my ID, walk me downstairs… In the end everything was fine, except my mother was in tears and I had quite a bit of explaining to do. When I say explaining though, I mean explaining to my parents that I’m an adult and I can fend for myself! Whether they choose to believe me or not is up to them. Just think though, what if I lived in Florida or Washington? That’s a lot of trouble to go through just to find out their son left his phone in the car! Interesting that in the past decade or two, we went from no cell phones, to entirely depending on them for everything, including the safety of others. I wonder what the next great life-saving (or irritating!) invention will be!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hello World!

So this is what blogging feels like. I feel as though I've started writing a log in my diary, only it's on the web. I think I'll call it a web log, or blog for short. I'd like to know what the first blogger was thinking when he (or she!) made the first blog... I bet it was a sour journalist who once was an honest reporter, turned bitter by a newspaper or the MSM (mainstream media). Thereon said journalist decided to plot the demise of "journalism" as we know it, and created blogs.

All kidding aside, I'm excited to be writing for UNT’s College of Engineering! I'm writing this from my HTC hero, the culmination of engineering efforts through the past century. Okay okay, so the Hero isn't the only Smartphone out there, but let's be honest, it is the best ;). When you look at Alexander Graham Bell's first telephone and compare it to the phones of today and tomorrow, you'll see how far we've come. The first photograph was snapped in the 1800s, the first phone call was made in the 1870s, 1900 was the dawn of radio broadcast, the World War II era brought electronic computers, the internet was born around the 1960s, and cell phone networks took off in the 1970s.

So why the history lesson? Let's put this in perspective. Engineers over the past two centuries have proven to be the most robust and clever scientists in history. In fact, the terms "scientist" and "engineer" go hand in hand. Every single invention I mentioned just now was born out of the hands of capable engineers, and was the result of opportunities and creativity that people are capable of. America in particular is responsible for a large portion of these inventions!

Still not excited about engineering?? Let me ask you: what are you wearing? How are you reading this? What are you carrying with you? Who is Brett McCormick? All of those things have one thing in common: they all have roots in engineering. On a side note, this HTC has some god-like spell check. Yeah you thought I was kidding about writing this whole thing on my phone. Well I wasn't :P The fact that it knows I meant “Engineering” instead of “Engubrreumg” is pretty astounding. I won’t be writing any of my blog entries on my iPod Touch.