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...