Motion Sickness of Time Travel
I really like this. Makes for good background music, while reading a scary book
It's been so cold out, I decided to just cocoon myself in my apartment this weekend and watch anime. I haven't actually done that in quite a while. It was kind of fun. I watched the first twelve episodes of Gatchaman
, and the first season of Big O
. Looking back at some old posts on this blog, I see that I've had the Big O DVDs sitting around since 2006
. The Gatchaman DVDs are probably almost as old.
Gatchaman was fun to watch, and very campy (as I expected it would be). I don't think I'm interested in watching any more of it though. It was fun, and nostalgic, but repetitive. I have only vague memories of watching Battle of the Planets as a kid, but they're good memories, and it was fun to see what the original source material was like.
Big O was quite good. Kind of ridiculous, but the visual style of it is really great. It's clearly referencing a number of disparate influences, such as the old Bruce Timm Batman animated series. The first season ends on a cliffhanger, so now I'm wishing I'd bought the second season when I bought the first.
I haven't been closely following anime news for the past couple of years, so I'm just noticing now that a number of the companies that were issuing DVDs a few years ago are out of business now, and used copies of some DVDs are going for pretty high prices. It looks like a new company has picked up the Big O license, so they may re-issue the DVDs. Here's hoping!
If this cold spell keeps going, I may be watching my Samurai 7
box set next weekend.
I don't think I've ever linked to an XKCD comic on this blog before, but (of course) I read it regularly.
This one made me chuckle, thinking about a project I'm currently working on.
I have a task that involves generating output files and sending them to a few other companies via SFTP, weekly.
For "phase one," I was going to manually run my program to generate the files, then send them out with WinSCP
. Then, once that was running smoothly, I was going to add SFTP capability to the program, using SSH.NET
This is kind of a long story, but to make it short, let's just say that I've spent more time than is really reasonable taking care of the SFTP automation, and have yet to put it into production.
Meanwhile, I just keep sending out the files every week, manually.
I've actually learned a lot about a couple of things in the process of working on this automation, but the amount of effort that's gone into the automation, vs. the five minutes it takes to send the files off manually once a week is a bit silly.
Happy New Year
I thought I would write up a quick New Year's post today, with a few status updates. I mostly write this kind of post for my own future reference, just to see where I've been, and what progress (if any) I've made in certain areas.
First, I'm happy to say that I stepped on the scale this morning, and it read 200 pounds. I started my diet around Sept 1, at 230 lbs, with the goal of losing a pound a week, until I hit 200. So I hit my goal, and I hit it earlier than expected. I guess my next goal will be to get down to 180, again at one pound per week. We'll see if I can manage that. I'm still logging all my calories with the Lose It
app on my phone. I think that's really been the key factor in being successful. I'm not sure when I was last under 200 lbs. Maybe back in college?
On another front, I haven't done quite so good. I blogged, back in November, about Coursera
. I had enrolled in two courses, Algorithms, Parts I and II. Part I was technically done before I enrolled, and Part II was just starting up. My plan was to breeze through the first part, then catch up with the second. I was doing OK up through the end of November, and gotten through about 80% of the material in Part I, but then I got busy with other stuff in December, and never went back to it. Meanwhile, Part II wrapped up, so here it is, 2014, and I haven't done anything on Coursera in a month. It looks like I can still watch the lectures, and even submit the programming assignments for auto-grading, so I may just pick it up again this month, and finish Part I. Or I may wait until it "officially" starts up again, on January 30, and try to take it in "real-time". Then, I can take Part II in real-time, when it's next offered in March. Or maybe I'll just try something different this year, either from Coursera or EdX
Professionally, I started my job at SHI
in January 2013, so I'm at just about the one year mark there. I had my performance review with my boss yesterday, and it went pretty well. I'll likely stick with SHI for another year. Given that I'm doing almost 100% Dynamics AX work though, I want to see about doing more web stuff on the side this year. Last year, I did a project for my former employer, Electric Vine
Labels: health, programming
So I have a bit of a tendency to buy DVDs (and now Blu-Rays too), and then not watch them. I've got quite a few piled up. I haven't really been buying many new discs though, so the piles aren't really getting bigger, which is good.
Today, I picked one out and watched it -- MirrorMask. It was really good! After watching it, I went to Amazon and looked it up
. I don't even remember buying it from Amazon, but apparently I did, because there's a banner across the page saying that I bought it in April 2006. Wow. I had no idea how long I've been letting this stuff pile up!
I recently decided that it would be a good idea to take an online course or two, from Coursera
. I noticed that Algorithms II
, a Princeton course with Robert Sedgewick
as lecturer, was just starting up, so I signed up for that. I then also noticed that, while the Algorithms I
class had ended recently, it was still possible to sign up for it and work through it. So I decided to do that first, and see if I could then move onto Algorithms II before it ended. Well, I'm getting through the material, but it's taking some time, so I don't think I'll necessarily "catch up" prior to the official end of the Algorithms II class, but that's not really necessary, though it would be nice.
The class uses Java, which I wasn't initially that thrilled about, but I'm not really having any trouble with it. It's similar enough to languages I know, like C++ and C#, that it's easy enough to pick it up as I go. And the kind of work we're doing in the class is such that I don't need to worry much about user interface details or anything like that. Everything we've done so far is pretty much command-line stuff, with a little simple graphics work. So I haven't had to worry about learning whatever the Java equivalent of Windows Forms or WPF is. (Swing maybe?)
The course material consists primarily of lecture videos (with Robert Sedgewick), programming assignments, and quizzes. For the first class, I'm choosing to watch the videos and do the programming assignments, but I'm skipping the quizzes.
The textbook for the Course is Algorithms (4th Edition)
, by Sedgewick and Kevin Wayne, who was also involved in creating the class, though he hasn't shown up as a lecturer yet. (I'm not sure if all the lectures are by Sedgewick, or if they switch over to Wayne at some point.) The textbook is fairly expensive, but it's not required. There's a "booksite
" for it that has all the material you'd need from the textbook.
The course recommends, but doesn't require, that you use an IDE called "DrJava." They even have a nice little installer that will quickly set up an environment for you with the JRE, DrJava, and some libraries that are used as part of the class. Very convenient and simple. I'm using the Windows version
, but they have versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
DrJava isn't a great IDE, but it's simple and easy to use. I wouldn't want to use it for day-to-day work, but just to write and test the kind of programs you need to create for an Intro to Algorithms course, it's fine. (I do find myself falling back on Komodo Edit
sometimes, though, when I need to do some "major" editing.)
So, basically, everything you need for the course is free (Coursera stuff, the textbook web site, and the development environment), which is great.
The lectures are quite good. I'm guessing that this is basically the same material that's actually used for the Princeton undergrad Algorithms course, with some tweaks made to accommodate the requirements and limitations of the online course environment. Good use is made of visualizations for the algorithms, which is really key in understanding this kind of stuff.
The programming assignments are well thought-out too. They need to be structured in such a way that they can be run through an "auto-grader" that can evaluate and grade them in a reasonable way, so that imposes some limitations on them, but that's fine. Basically, the programs need to be written to a well-defined API that the auto-grader will exercise, and then report on. It tests boundary conditions, large inputs, timing, memory use, and so on. The assignments are generally written so that there are levels of correctness that can be evaluated. There may be, say, 50 tests the grader can run your code through. Maybe the first time you submit your code, you'll pass 25 of them. Then, you can tweak it and re-submit, and maybe get 35 right, and so on. So, the process of working through an assignment can be iterative, and you can learn as you go.
I think it's great that stuff like this is available on the internet for free. I'm not sure where all this will lead though. More access to quality higher education for more people? Or will this stuff all be monetized at some point, leading to some kind of new status quo in higher education, where things are far more centralized than they are now, and the educational experience is far less personal? I don't know; I'm sure people smarter than me have probably spend a lot of time thinking about that. For me, right now, it means I can take something vaguely equivalent to a Princeton undergrad course for free, in my living room!
Visual Studio 2013
I haven't been paying too much attention to the VS 2013 launch, but I did read a few blog posts about it yesterday, including this one
. Honestly, I haven't really done much with VS 2012 yet, other than using it to work on some Project Euler
problems at home, and using it as a front-end to TFS 2012 at work. (My day-to-day programming work is mostly done in the AX IDE environment
right now.) Some of the stuff they're doing sounds interesting, but it doesn't really apply to me right now. One of these days, I'd like to get back into some serious .NET work, possibly including some Azure stuff, and ASP.NET MVC, and maybe get a chance to mess around with stuff like Unity
. I do have one new interesting side project going on right now, though, which I want to write up in more detail later.
Labels: programming, Windows
© 2011 Andrew Huey