Monthly Archives: October 2006

Must be Halloween

It must be Halloween in Madison. Countless scores of retarded drunk kids running around in costumes, high-intensity floodlights erected on State Street, but amazingly enough not that cold. Good weather for those interested in the festivities.

Interesting anecdote: after a couple job search-related activities this afternoon, I took the bus in to campus to meet Jared for supper. Got off at Johnson & Mills and walked up to University. Coming up the street were a whole bunch of people on bikes filling every lane of University, and backing traffic up solid as far as I could see. It was crazy. Lots of yelling and angry horn-honking abounded, but the revelers continued unabated. I guess that’s Madison. I actually think, if you added a light to each bike, that that might be legal… Don’t bikes have the same rights as cars for use of the lanes?

My Halloween:

Pumpkin from Jeni 🙂

Cleaned the apartment. A lot. Plus pumpkin in context.

Now I’m either going to load DD-WRT on my new Buffalo WHR-G54S router or perhaps go to sleep. TBD.

Bon Appetit

After struggling with very confusingly-worded & vaguely-defined pipelining homework questions most of the day (in between bouts of internet surfing, router ordering, and sleeping), I felt I needed to do something out of the ordinary to get my thoughts straightened out and myself re-motivated to study this weekend. So, I broke out Mom’s recipe cards & started cooking. About an hour later, here is what came out:

And it was good, against all odds.

In other news:

  • I bought some new toys this weekend, like the aforementioned Buffalo WHR-G54S. I also bought a nice Digital Multimeter: Fluke 179, some TL81A electronics test leads (probably overkill, but handy nonetheless), and a temperature-controlled soldering station: Weller WES51.
  • I have three midterms this week: Monday- CS 540 (Artificial Intelligence), Tuesday- CS 552 (Intro. Computer Architecture), Wednesday- CS 537 (Operating Systems).
  • Combining the two items above means its a good thing UPS takes until at least Wednesday to deliver packages!
  • Now, Jeni & I are going to get some coffee with Josh, and then going to Marie Antoinette

And Done.

Dave and I finished our ece 315 lab today with the completion of the bench exam. It went fairly well, though it took us all but the last 3 minutes of the 3-hr timeslot to finish. Below is a video clip of our functional final project, er… functioning.

The idea was to drive the stepper motor at a rate of 10 steps per second, while flashing ‘0’ on the 7-segment display at a rate of 5 Hz. The stepper motor would turn until reaching the optical sensor, at which point it stops and allows the user to manually move it to a new position. When the pushbutton is pressed, the stepper motor turns back on and moves to the optical sensor again.

The cooler part was that on power-up, we also perfectly center the bar underneath the optical sensor by swinging back and forth to detect both edges. That looked really sweet but I didn’t think to record it. Oh well.

Here’s the final construction board after 6 labs’ worth of adding parts:

And here’s the aforementioned clip of the functioningness: (Requires QuickTime, or VLC, or something)

Crazy Patterns

Jeni & I saw Gomez last night (see last post), and since then the song “How We Operate” has been driving me nuts. All day it’s been running through my head, and I kept thinking that it sounded very, very similar to some other song that I knew. At some point Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited” came to mind, and somehow I was sure that was it, even though they didn’t seem similar enough.

Fortunately, when Dave came home for lunch, his musical knowledge came to my rescue. The reason they sounded so similar despite being different was that they have the same chord progression. Being a percussionist, I’m not 100% sure what that means, or how to hear it in a song, but it makes sense to me, and explains why these two songs have gotten stuck together in my head! Incidentally, Dave is amazing. I explained my predicament to him, and found him an old copy of Uninvited I had laying around. He listened to it for like 30 seconds, started playing along with it on his piano, and then listened to the iTMS clip of How We Operate again, and handed down his verdict. It was pretty awesome. Now he’s upstairs playing “Bui-Doi” from Miss Saigon by ear. Unreal.

Cool. I only wish I had a bit more control over this pattern-matching thing that goes on in my subconscious.

Hear what I mean:

Gomez - How We Operate - How We Operate “How We Operate” – Gomez
Alanis Morissette - Alanis Morissette: The Collection - Uninvited “Uninvited” – Alanis Morissette

Bonus amazing song:

Carl Wayne - Songs from Miss Saigon - Bui-Doi “Bui-Doi”Miss Saigon


Jeni, Josh, Lauren, Lauren’s mom, and I went to the Gomez concert tonight at the Annex. I was going to try and find a picture of them performing, but I didn’t find one I liked soon enough (read: in less than 30 seconds) that I had no copyright qualms with, so just go here and find one yourself. The concert was awesome, though Josh ended up not liking their music. For myself, I need to get a copy of some of their CDs! Perhaps they are also on the iPod nano that Jeni is letting me borrow right now. I will have to check in the morning.

Now I must sleep, so I can get up and meet my Math 320 group at 8am tomorrow.

October 11, 2006

It snowed:

And then this morning it was so cold when I left to touch up my project at CS, that I had to call Dave and have him bring me a hat to CS 552. Incidentally, I did get the project done, though it kept me up until 3:30, and saw me back in the lab from 9:10 to 9:35 and 10:45-10:55. (CS 537 runs 9:30-10:45, with CS 552 [project due] 11:00-12:15.)

Pending Review

In the last 24 clock-hours, Ben and I have put in (combined) over 24 man-hours on our CS537 project, I believe, but I think we finally found the last bug. I’m so glad, as the process was extremely frustrating.

The idea of our project is basically just to implement a correctly-synchronized scheduling algorithm in a multi-threaded system of “Stations” and “Channels” by using Java monitors. We ran into a lot of bugs over the past 24 hrs, ranging from coding typos to design flaws. In the end I doubt there are more than 10 lines that either of us wrote that haven’t been rewritten.

All that’s left now though, pending Ben’s review to see if he can get it to break, is to fix up the commenting and make sure it adheres to our (rather stringent) style guidelines.

Awesome! Now on to CS/ECE 552, where I am sure I will put in another 12+ man-hours by its Tuesday due date. 🙁

On the upshot, I finally had a reason to try out Skype to work with Ben on this, and it’s really pretty cool. I’m sure everyone reading this who would be interested has already tried it, so I won’t say anymore about that, other than that I’m impressed and probably should have tried it a long time ago. Oh, and that it’s a lot cheaper than spending 4 hrs 18 minutes at a crack on your cellphone.


Tim asked me how long I thought something he was waiting for would take today. My reply was “54 nanofortnights,” which sounded a lot wittier before I ran the math and found out I had just specified 0.06 seconds. Oops. Then we learned that I can’t round, since 0.0653184 is typically rounded to 0.07 seconds. Yikes. Look what this “new math” has wrought upon us…

Up Waaaay too late

So I didn’t go to bed until 4:45 last night/this morning. Oops. I guess I decided I needed a bit of a break now that I’m finally back to my apartment (as of 8pm tonight). I’m surprised how long I’ve made it without crashing today on 3:45 of sleep.

This was the scene yesterday when I went back in to campus to work with my CS 537 partner Ben. It’s somewhat hard to tell from the photo, but straight above me is your average early-evening-with-cloud-cover gray. Down the street at the bottom of the photo (downtown Madison), it’s pitch black. Very impressive-looking storm, though we didn’t really get anything at all out of it. One crack of thunder and a couple sprinkles.

They’re taking down the last construction crane outside Mechanical Engineering today. I can’t remember the sky over Engineering without cranes.

“One last refrain… before the sun sets.”

1:36 AM

Dave turns on the stove & starts some spaghetti. It’s going to be a long night.

End product: Picture of spaghetti with picture of spaghetti. Metaspaghetti? Idk. Too late at night to know for sure.

(Warning: large linked image)

It seems my time-management skills fail me after 1am…