So I survived the Math Midterm in one piece. It could have been MUCH WORSE, but lucky me, it wasn’t. It was just acceptably difficult. It was all standard stuff, and the only way I could have been more prepared would have been by doing about 8 billion more problems. Now all I have left of finals is my CS61a final Wednesday, and I’m not too terribly worried about it.
I just updated about every page on here in one way or another, because I finally figured out a simple way to upload only the files I’ve changed without having to do it manually.
tar zc --after-date date --file outputfile inputfile
Not that that does you a whole lotta good if you don’t use *nix, but if you do, rejoice in that knowledge. How did I discover this? I Read the Fscking Man. There’ve been so many updates, however, that becaues my “What’s New” page is not currently automated–almost next on my list of things to do–I’m not going to list all of them there.
I just spent a few minutes in the lounge chatting with Keith and Michael about G.I. Joe. Ah… Memories.
I think that’s a good sign that school is getting to me, actually.
This was my first semester of college, and on the whole, the schedule wasn’t too bad.
Classes didn’t start until the afternoon on Mondays, so I got basically three days of weekend
as far as sleep was concerned. The stretch of three lectures did sometimes start to get old,
especially about halfway through Math, when I realized that once class ended, I still had to
walk back to my room. But on the whole, this schedule wasn’t so bad, and it could have been
a lot worse.
- Philosophy 25A
- Course Title: Ancient Philosophy. Although I personally think Ancient Western Philosophy,
or even Ancient Greek Philosophy would have been much more accurate, as all
we studied was Ancient Greek Philosophy. And the ancient eastern thinkers
are no less ancient than are Socrates and his lot.
- Professor David Gill: This man certainly knew the subject matter. Unfortunately, his
ability to convey his knowledge to his students was somewhat lacking. He
often searched for words or stuttered, and he used hand gesturesa a great deal.
On the whole, I gained more from the text than from his Lectures. What I
spent the majority of my time in class thinking about was the fact that this
man matched my idea of the appearance of an Anient Greek thinker, almost to a T.
- GSI: Suzzanne Obderzalek – She had a reletively thorough understanding of the material,
and did a reletively good job of covering the holes Professor Gill left
in his lecture. It was apparent, however, that there were gaps in her
understanding, but she wouldn’t try to bs her way through it. She would
simply say that she didn’t know, and tell us that she would get back to
that next week. She also had a most interesting accent, which I’ve never
heard anything like. I thought it was Irish, but it may have been from Wales
or New Zealand, also. I never asked.
- Text: Insert Name Here – This book wasn’t so bad, and it was what I learned the most from
in the course. But it wasn’t exactly a great book, either. The translations
were acceptable, and easy enough to understand, and the footnotes were generally
useful. Additionally, the chosen excerpts were the most important ones, for the
most part. My biggest complaint about this book was that it added a lot of
commentary about the philosophers that I didn’t find useful in the slightest, and it could have been
replaced with interpretations of the work that would have been much more useful.
But on the whole, it wasn’t a bad book.
- Content: The course started with Plato, focusing on his Socratic writings, and moved on to the Republic.
I like Plato, and so I liked this first three sevenths of the class. The Apology is an
excellent piece that everyone should read. Next, we moved on to the presocratics, which
I despised. Luckily, this was only about one seventh of the class, and we immediately
moved into Aristotle. Aristotle takes some getting used to, and some of his writings
are better than others. It would figure that we started with the Physics, which, in
my opinion, was Not one of the better pieces. After the Physics we moved into the
Nichomachean Ethics, which I liked many times better than the physics. On the whole,
I’d say about five sevenths of the content was enjoyable, and the other two sevenths
was a nightmare. Luckilly, grades were based on three papers, which allowed some freedom
in chosing what you were graded on.
- Room: 1 LeConte – This, to the best of my knowledge, is a Physics classroom. I know that immediately before
my class there was a physics class in this room. The seats actually had cushions on them,
though it did occasionally get a bit stuffy, especially on a humid day. When I saw A Bugs Life, there was a preview for
Robin Williams new movie, Patch Adams. I was watching the preview, and a spark of recognition
flashed in my mind during a classroom scene. The next time it showed the classroom, I realized
it was Actually 1 LeConte. It is a rather distinctive room. It has a clock in the counter
across the front of the room, and the counter has two sections in the middle that can be removed
for various purposes. LeConte is an old building, though, and that is apparent in this room,
which looks like it was last renovated in the 60′s or 70′s.
- Grade: I got a B+ overall for the class. The grade was based on three papers, with the third paper being weighted more
than the second, which was in turn weighted more than the first. I got a B on the first paper,
but was graded down 1/3 of a grade because I neglected to sight my sources (all one of them, being the
text itself). On the second paper, I got a C+, but the GSI said that the grades she awarded were lower
on average than the grades the other GSI’s gave, and that she’d consider weighing this paper less. I don’t
know what I got on the third paper, but I figure it must have been an A for me to get a B+ overall.
- Computer Science 61A
- Course Title: The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, or SICP.
- Professor Brian Harvey: This man was an excellent teacher. Not only did he know the material, he knew exactly how to
teach it. Anyone taking a course from this man should feel lucky. He claims to be a philosopher at heart,
who considers UNIX to be the least evil of the available operating systems, and who likes Animaniacs. He’s
written an introductory book on Scheme, along with several books on Logo, his language of choice. But I
won’t hold Logo against him.
- Memorable Quotes: “The Correct editor at 300 baud is logout.”
“There’s a lot more to the social implications of computers than not killing people, but that’s a good
place to start.”
“I have an important announcement. Tomorrow at 9 am is the last new episode of
Animaniacs, ever. So be sure to set your VCR.”
- TA: Joshua Cantrell: Josh certainly seemed to know what he was doing, but I never went to discussion or lab often enough
to be really sure. He had a lot of handouts explaining various things which he handed out and made available
on his website, and they seemed very clueful. But I never bothered to look at them. This class was simple, and
I didn’t feel I needed the discussion or lab to get the A.
- Text: The Structure And Interpretation of Computer Programs: This book was written by a couple of MIT professors, and is
also the book they use for their introductory CS class. The title of CS61A was taken from this book, which
is considered to be one of THE books in Computer Science. It is a very good book, but it gets bogged down
in its mathematical examples from time to time. So if you don’t have a strong background in math, you
might have trouble following a lot of the examples. It is also very dense in some places, which is
forgivable, as it crams an aweful lot into those 5 chapters, the first 4 of which are covered in 61A.
- Content: This course covers darn near every major concept of Computer Science at least briefly. Which seems
daunting at first, but it really isn’t that bad. All of the projects are enjoyable, and are probably
the most useful parts of the class, while the homework was often simply tedious, but acceptable. Harvey
tried to avoid the mathematical problems that the book emphasized, but it’s only possible to obfuscate so
much, and occasionally a problem came along that was a matter of figuring out what they were asking, rahter
then what to do with it.
- Room: Pimental – I like this room a lot, and as long as it isn’t humid and packed, the breathing is just fine.
- Grade: A. This class, while it managed to teach me some new things and hold my interest, was trivial. I got A’s
or high B’s on all three midterms, 10/10 on all four projects, and only skipped one homework assignment.
I got 24/30 on the final, but I wasn’t trying that hard, as I didn’t have to do that well in order to get
the A I wanted.
- Math 1B
- Course Title: Calculus
- Professor Nikolai Reshetikhin – He knew the material, and did a fairly good job of teaching it.
The only time I ever had a problem understanding him was when he was having a problem speaking english.
He would often tell or a “story” or a joke, which the rest of the class enjoyed a fair amount, and
which I usually found at least mildly amusing. He would translate “clear” as “transparent”, so he
would ask “Is this explanation transparent?”. Once, he asked if there were no questions, and when
there were none, he said “No questions means one of two things: Is either completely transparent or
is not completely transparent.” On the whole, a good teacher.
- Memorable Quotes: “No Questions means one of two things: Either completely clear or not completely clear”
Assorted Jokes he told during class
- GSI: Marianna Bogomolny (check spelling) – I suppose she knew her math, but her accent was too heavy, and she
had trouble finding an answer to a question on the spot. Additionally, because this was a “Workshop Section”
of Math 1B, she didn’t actually show us how to do problems. She instead “guided us” as we tried to do
the problems ourselves, which certainly was anything but constructive.
- Text: Some Random Calculus Book by a guy named Stewart. It was just a typical mathbook. It wasn’t a bad one, just
a typical one.
- Content: We covered Integrals, starting with Integration by parts, trigonometric integration, etc. We then moved
in to sequences and series, and finished off with Differential Equations. Mostly interesting, but
it got kind of dry.
- Room: 100 Lewis. I hate this room. If it wasn’t stuffy because it was humid, the chalkboard was broken, or the
ceiling was dripping, or there was some buzz making it impossible for me to conecntrate, or a desk would
be broken, or… You name it. This classroom sucks.
- Grade: I got a C+, but I chalk that up primarilly to my quiz grades. I got high c’s/low b’s on each of the midterms,
and I don’t know what I got on the final. I got 100% on my homework. But when it came to quizes… I couldn’t
motivate myself to study that much every week, and they were just too early in the morning. So, out of 10,
I missed two quizes, did well on two of them (10 and 9 out of 10), and got 3′s to 5′s on the remaining 6 quizes.
I lose. Serves me right. If my quiz grades had been slightly higher, or even if I had managed to to make it
to those last two, I probably could have pulled a B or B-.
- Anthropology 24
- Topic: A Virtual Walk Through Time. This was a freshman seminar, which was to focus on Virtual Reality as it is used by
Archaeologists. But it got very redundant, very quick, and it was probably the biggest waste of time of
my first semester of College.
- Room: 15 2224 Piedmont. It was an alright room, but it barely held 15 people, it was stuffy and the seats were uncomfortable.
2224 Piedmont does have a nice Macintosh lab, though, with about 15 PowerMac G3′s…
- Grade: Pass. It was simple enough. All I had to do was breathe.
I saw this movie in hopes of seeing the Star Wars Episode I trailer,
which Wasn’t Shown. Before I talk about Enemy of the State, I feel
the need vent about Not Seeing the Star Wars prequel trailer. We called
the movie theatre in advance, and asked them in front of which movies
the trailer was showing. They said Enemy of the State, so that’s what
we went to go see. And when it wasn’t shown, we were highly disappointed.
What was shown was the trailer for Star Trek: Insurrection. I’m not sure
how one mixes those two up, but it happened. Life goes on.
I knew nothing about this movie before I saw it, which is always the way
I like to see movies. But in this case, it didn’t matter. It was Yet
Another Will Smith movie. And when I think back on it, it was just one
long action sequence. In other words, it wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever
seen. It wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen by a long shot. But if
you’re a Will Smith fan, or like action movies, you’ll probably like this
movie. Maybe. The one thing I did like about this movie was the ending,
which had the theatre I was in applauding. It was quite a clever twist
at the end, really. Perhaps it’s worth watching just to see this ending,
but of that I’m not even entirely sure.
“I was thinking that I might fly today
Just to disprove all the things that you say
it doesn’t take a talent to be mean
words can crush things that are unseen.”
–Jewel, “I’m Sensitive”
I’d heard a lot of people talk about Jewel, but I’d never bothered to
go out and listen to any of her music. I finally got around to walking
the two feet across my room to pick up my roommates CD, and I walked
the two feet back and stuck it in my CD player.
And I was treated to a lot of folksy music, and it’s rather enjoyable.
It isn’t TMBG by a long shot, but nothing is really TMBG. But Jewel
is very listenable, and has nice lyrics, and provides some thought
fodder along the way. For some reason, as I listened to the music,
my mind wandered to Alaska. It was strange that every song seemed
to make me think of Alaska in addition to the other thoughts they
put into my head, but it was neat that music could so clearly make
me think of something, too. It’s really the first time anything of
that sort has happened to me, and I doubt other people would be put
in the mind of Alaska by her music, though if people were, it would
certainly be an interesting thing to note.
But sometimes it annoys me that someone like Jewel can get very
popular in a few years while TMBG is relegated to the Misc. T
bin in the record store. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying
Jewel for the lyrics and musical value.
Pieces of You now from Amazon!
“The TV’s in Esperanto”
They Might Be Giants, “Alienations For the Rich”
This CD is a tribute album made by fans of They Might Be Giants, and it
is absolutely fabulous. This album features some faithful and some
not so faithful interpretations of many of They Might Be Giants less
well known songs, including Mr. Klaw and Someone Keeps Moving My Chair.
This CD is surprisingly listenable, and most of the songs are incredibly enjoyable.
A few tracks are annoying as hell, though, but skipping them isn’t that difficult.
Plus, because the CD is freely reproducable, if you don’t like a track THAT MUCH,
you can copy the CD without the track, or make mp3′s, or do whatever you want.
While this CD is great for TMBG fans, it probably wouldn’t be the greatest
thing for someone who doesn’t have some sort of desire to do something kinky
with something having to do with They. The interpretations
span a huge variety of styles and sometimes are best ignored or shot, so a
person who doesn’t already know the lyrics would have trouble finding anything
consisten to enjoy about this album.
My favorites on this compilations include I Palindrome I, Mr. Klaw and
Somone Keeps Moving my Chair, though a great many other tracks simply
cannot be ignored and I feel bad for not mentioning them all here.
This CD is available from This Page
for a mere $10, is freely reproducable, and the profits go to charity.
What more could you ask for?
In other words, my life could be more pleseant at present. Much more pleseant. I spent 9 hours last night doing math problems, and I intend to spend the rest of today doing math. My math final is tomorrow at noon. Hopefully I’ll be prepared.
Here’s to my good luck, eh?
Yesterday I bought several CD’s by The Information Society. They’re pretty cool for the most part. You might want to consider checking them out… They have free mp3 audio samples available at their web site if you’re interested.
I’ve been spending a bit of time playing a new game called Half-Life by Valve and published by Sierra. It’s very cool. It’s just another first person shooter with a standard story, but the way the story is presented is very immersive, and there are many cool weapons. My biggest complaint is probably that my grenades don’t bounce the way the computer’s do…
I also picked up a Diamond Viper v550 3d accelerator. It provides pretty freaking awesome support on Freespace, MK4, Half-Life, Myth II and all kinds of other great games. Plus it works under Linux, to boot. At around 200 bucks, this is a great buy if you’re a fan of having your games look as good as they can… Because this card lets them looks as good as they can.
Okay, now I’ve got to get back to studying for math. Writing this was just a break.