Thursday, March 31, 2011

Willis Library

Willis Library is a 4 story library where students can go to work in teams, on computers, print things, study, or quietly rot away in the basement while trying to memorize 3 chapters worth of material before an exam the very next day and you can't go back to your dorm or apartment because your roommate wants to party or there's a game going on your you just prefer the peaceful quietness of the basement:

The use of the facility is included in your tuition and fees paid to the school, so you should make use of it. It's also handy since you can print an infinite(?) amount of pages at this library. I used to have tests that were open book but not open laptop. I only had a PDF of the book at the time. Solution? Come to the Willis Library and print my book!

Alright so I do not condone printing off entire books in the library since that isn't really a "green" practice. In fact, I chose the PDF of the book specifically to avoid wasting paper, but I ended up having to waste a bunch of paper anyway.

At least it was only a chapter or 2 at a time of material. I still didn't waste the 800pgs that the book was.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Denton County Police

Last night, two of my girlfriend's best friends celebrated their 22nd birthdays, so we all went out to a local bar near campus and said cheers to a spectacular 22nd year. The night was full of chatting, and everyone had a gay ol' time. That is until they decided they wanted to switch bars. I had not had anything to drink, mind you, besides a White Russian. But that was early in the night and I was being a responsible little engineering student and offered to drive to our next destination. This is when things got interesting.

I pull out from our parking spot and we hear a funny noise coming from the rear end of our car. As I pick up speed, the noise gets worse, and there's a slight turbulence in our drive. It turns out, we blew out a tire somehow. To make matters worse, neither me or the significant other knew how to change a tire. Yeah hush - I know I don't know anything about cars, don't rub it in. So here we are sitting on McKinney St. stranded and confused. A random guy pulls up to us and offers to help. He was equally as clueless about the whole matter, but some help was better than none.

Then, out of nowhere, a police officer drives by. For once I'm happy to see those flashing lights. He pulls up to us and I expect he'll lecture us for stopping up traffic in the middle of the road or perhaps ask me how much I've been drinking (I was well under the limit FYI). But no, the gentlemen walks up to us and asks us what happened, introduces himself, asks if we need help. He even helps us change our blown tire. By now a friend of ours shows up as the officer began loosening the tire lug nuts, and the other random dude that pulled up to help us excused himself. We all worked together in jacking up the car, shining the flash light, holding lug nuts, chatting about what it's like to be a cop, etc. This is the most pleasant experience I've ever had with a police officer. And I've had my run-ins with Denton County Police before.. I even blogged about a different experience here. Another time, I was pulled over for going 10 meters in the wrong direction on a one way and despite my squeaky clean record, they wrote me 2 citations - the other for an expired inspection. Thanks a lot for the warning....

Anyway, it turns out the girlfriend's Sequoia was in no mood to be jacked, and broke our first Jack and refused to work with our second jack. The officer called us a Tow Truck, and stuck with us the entire time we were having trouble. He was a likable guy with a wife, 4 month old daughter, and a fun sense of humor. Apparently, Denton officers get paid a little better than Corpus Christi officers ;)

In the end the Tow Truck helped lift the car, we swapped tires, and we were on our merry way. I took a picture of the whole ordeal but somehow it didn't save, and my phone died.. I'm more pissed about that than having the blown tire.

Thank you, Officer King. You are a gentleman and a scholar.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sumo Bot Competition

If you're a regular viewer of my blog, you may know that I'm a member of UNT's robotics society out of Discovery Park! It's a rag tag group of fellows that just like to mess with robots and play with toys. Recently, we had a little Sumo Bot competition!

The bots are written in BASIC Stamp, and as the name implies, are very basic. Despite this, they are very powerful. They've got infrared sensors on the front, color sensors on the bottom, LED emitters, and a speaker on them. They are all sorts of fun to play with. These are also what we use at Robocamp.

All of the robotics society students are engineering majors of some sort. Some Electrical Engineering, some Computer science, etc. Regardless, robotics is a great example of how different types of engineering disciplines can co-mingle. This is just one of the many student societies at Discovery Park!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blogger App

So today I found google's blogger app. Since I'm always glued to my phone, I figured it'd be easier to write up my posts if I could at least START writing them while on my phone. It's also pretty fast since I've got the whole swype keyboard thing. Since my laptop is up and running now, here's a video of me typing with

Ok I give up on debut video capture.I've switched to Snagit. Anyway, it's just a video of me writing with swype. It's pretty fast and I have minimal complaints about the keyboard. It's nice to have the voice to speech while driving as well. I don't really know what else to say so I guess I'll stop now. I guess it is worth mentioning that typing on swype requires all your attention, so it's annoying while walking or driving, but that's why my phone has a physical keyboard as well. I love physical keyboards. Wow the whole video turned sideways that's interesting.

Also, here's a picture of my laptop:

Notice the neat custom made sticker my friend made for me!
Speaking of apps, NPR had a segment recently about the unemployment rate. They said the united states has dropped to 8.5 unemployment, and that the numbers fluctuate for certain fields. Interestingly enough, job postings with the word "android" in it have doubled since this time last year, and that the unemployment for computer science is a mere 5%. 5% by the way, is considered full employment!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The e-learning curve

Nowadays people disseminate information primarily over the internet. When I'm talking to a co-worker, or a teacher, or a friend and I ask them for something, gone are the days where they write it down and they do that task later. If I want my grade in a given class, I have to e-mail the teacher. If I want to remind someone of a party going on, they say "oh just text me". If I hear an ad on the radio, they say "google such-n-such to find out more info about us because we're just that awesome!!!" Web sites or email addresses are given out as another way to communicate with people. In fact, communication is such a vital part of our lives, that tyrannical governments first turn to communication methods to shut down the peoples' movements and communication. The "Twitter revolution" in Iran, whether that actually happened to the scale we've been told or not, at least played some roll in Iran's recent post-presidential election protests.

The point is, technology has become an integrated part in everyone's lives -- not just the nerds like me that sit on it day and night, or who carry it around in our pockets. It's touching grandmothers and parents, kids, and rural communities, even rebelling communities. It takes a small learning curve and a way-of-life change to move your entire calendar away from you pen and paper written agenda and onto sync'd online calendars. My girlfriend still uses pen and paper, but of course there's nothing wrong with her methods. I'm just different is all. Like my preference for Wendy's french fries over Food Poisoning Whataburger french fries.

That being said I still have a hard time tracking random things such as Blackboard. If you're not familiar with blackboard, it's a teaching system that UNT uses. Thankfully, some of the Discovery Park classes use a different, more accessible system called Moodle. Nonetheless, some of those deadlines really sneak up on me in those Blackboard classes....