Friday, April 13, 2007

getting healthy

So the end of school is in sight. It is like coming out of a haze and realizing... my goodness I have been sitting around a lot studying. I am really out of shape.
As part of our tuition we get full access to a new gym on campus. (Yeah, that's what the higher tuition cost went to.) So we both decided we would put it to good use. For starters we decided to spend the $40 and get the health check and personal trainer. (When it is another student it is much cheaper.) Turns out when I get a pain in my back or hips the way to get rid of it is to exercise, who knew?
I have been using the work outs as a break from school, and since the stress from school is pretty constant that means I have been working out pretty regularly. Imagine that, I stick with something to see results. L. has been doing the same for the same reasons and has also seen differences. Now the ominous part... what happens when we graduate and don't have a gym right next door to us all day long?

The awsome power of hippies

Living in a very liberal area is a very good source of free comedy. The problem is that there are a lot of protests, but they are "preaching to the choir". A good example is the protest marches. There can be big groups chanting, waving signs marching down the middle of campus. The only hitch is when they reach the edge of campus the group turns around and marches the other way. (Can't be late for class.) That big of a group changing directions is funny to watch. It's like when in small towns the parade will double back for and second trip down main street and all floats have to turn around. I guess as long as the media is there covering it, that's how the message gets out.
The times that messages don't make it outside is a little spot called "the Free Speech area". It is a small amphitheater next to the area to eat lunch...ahh, captive audience. In reality there is usually someone there yelling about something and it provides good entertainment to anyone eating lunch outside. Again more just wasting energy rather then changing minds.
One thing I have found useful is the display of information. Studying human computer interaction involves a lot of displaying information in an easy to digest matter and some protesters have mastered this. For one protest against the Iraq war they used the small construction flags usually used to mark underground pipes. A flag for everyone that has died- so 50,000 white flags covering most of the green areas of campus and 3,000 red flags for the US soldiers that died in one small patch of grass. It was easy to see the disparity and why one group would be mad at the other.
The other display I liked was a chalk drawing on the road. As I rode my bike in onto campus there was a large red stripe drawn on the ground. As I went further it was joined by other stripes and at the very end, the punch-line, it labeled all bars in the bar graph as the national budget with of course the longest being the defense budget. It was just smart to have it facing the way it was so people arriving on campus would receive the impact.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Spring classes

For my last term it was all about the thesis. 9 credits worth.
The other 3 credits was an introduction to 3D programming. It was a requirement but I had fun in the class. I got along well with the professor and ended up asking him to be on my thesis committee. The projects were fun too.
For my group project I was tired of trying to make things to help people. I wanted to try something in the other direction. They had just installed a 3D screen complete with polarized glasses. I convinced the person I was working with to try to create a display that could make someone fall over. The view was looking down the inside of a cone. the walls were made up of cones rotating in the opposite direction of the cone itself. The cones were squished to create an artificial horizon that was also slowly rotating. Everyone was sitting so no one fell over but one guy did say he felt nauseous.
My other project was to test parallax vision. I wrote a program to track the head and move the image accordingly. Moving the head back and forth made the image pop out of the screen. It worked.
I got an A in the class which is good since I used it as an escape from my thesis.

Monday, April 02, 2007

House hunting in New York

My new job would pay for a house hunting trip but it had to be within 90 days of my start date. This trip was one week before the 90 days because this was the last vacation before graduation. I guess this was one hiring perk I would not be able to take advantage of. But since the main point was to check out the area and since L. had never been here before it was nice just to drive around to try to become familiar with the cities in the area.
I had emailed my future boss that we were coming and she had set up a lunch even though I had already met everyone on the team. They all felt it was much more cheerful to have a lunch when someone is arriving instead of when they are leaving. I was just terrified that I would be totally out of my league when I started working so I was asking everyone at least which programming languages I should learn but they wouldn't tell me. We did get their opinions of all the towns they liked and didn't like.
We started out with the idea of seeing all the cities now then working with a real estate agent when we were back in Oregon. The way that we got around everywhere was buying a GPS. We would punch in to drive to a city center or city hall. The GPS would guide us there and I was always surprised to find a little brochure describing the city or calendar of events of something. Once there I could find an open wireless connection and use Google Earth to see a satellite photo of what was around. Yes, technology is very cool, and I learned my way around very fast this way. We just wanted to make sure we would not be living next to high school stands like we currently do and all the noise we currently have to deal with.
Now that were were also looking for "For Sale" signs they started to really pop out at us. It was amazing just how many homes are really for sale in any area. The only problem was that none had the price or info. This meant that we had to deal with real estate agents. We were really just trying to get an idea of how expensive everything was and what neighborhood that bought you into.(Something you can't tell from the picture in the advertisements.) Of course all agents want to show houses so they were no help. We did finally find one agent that just printed out their listings and let us drive around. That is defiantly who we will be coming back to when we come back. We could just punch in a route of homes we could afford and go on our own tour.