First week back to UNI!

So, it begins. Another year of work towards my future. My first impressions of the Year 2 (technically year 3 out of 4 considering my foundation year) modules is good. I am looking forward to all of them, although some of the introductory lectures were fairly shaky. Generally, I’m happy! 🙂

Data Structure & Algorithms with Object-Orientated Programming is the module I am looking forward to the most. It’s mainly C++, so who can complain? Second place goes to the Professionalism module, which ultimately involves building a game with the Unity engine. We were put into teams based on our performance last year (apparently heavily weighted towards programming). I was put into Team 1, and so far the team seems great to work with! Our lecturer, Mike, is great as always too! Tool Development for Computer Games (using Python and C#) and Computer Graphics (OpenGL-based) take third place. As for the other modules: Operating Systems Concepts, which focusing on how operating systems work, is definitely interesting, but the delivery needs a faster pace. It was quite easy to be distracted in the tutorial due to the very slow pace. Computational Mathematics actually involves some programming later on, so it is a welcomed change from the very static and boring maths module last year.

Coupled with all these modules, I have given myself a new weekly schedule that commands that I study certain topics for (at least) a set amount of time. These additional study periods are fully welcomed – I enjoy studying, and I feel it is a necessity that will allow me to continue the development and maintenance of my skills. I also needed something to fill out my Monday (which is completely free of lectures and tutorials) and days that I finish UNI early etc. Most of these scheduled study times are in 4-hour blocks, and exclusively involve C#, C++, Unity, Python, Website Development, OpenGL and “language of the week/month”. Most of these relate to what I do in a module that involves the subject, but Website Development is independent and currently dedicated towards my Starfleet’s Path to 2265 website, and “language of the week/month” is dedicated for me to explore a new programming language. For the next few weeks, this will be Java. Lua and Haskell are next!

Hopefully I will get back into the routine of personal blogposts again, since it has all been about my Star Trek-themed website for the last few weeks (posts about Starfleet’s Path to 2265 will be confined to Thursdays). I do want to document my progress throughout university more closely and share my academic experiences! 🙂


Saturday was great!

Llywn-on reservoir. It is the largest of the three reservoirs in the Taff Fawr valley, Brecon Beacons National Park.

I have now revisited all three of them this year with my parents. The last time I went to these places was about a decade ago, and whilst my life has changed considerably since then, these places are as nice as I remember them. Each are large volumes of flat and relatively calm water with a ‘rangingly’ different surrounding.

Some phone photos of Llwyn-on Reservoir:

This one had a lot of forrestation around it. Whereas the first one I went to this year, the Beacons Reservoir (photos below), was mostly walled with a few interesting structures around it, and the Loops & Links path. The second one I do not have photos of, but it was similar to Llwyn-on.

Beacons Reservoir:

So if you’re in town and want a nice place to a spend a few hours or so with ranging scenes, I recommend these three reservoirs and the area surrounding them!


It is something that seems to exist in little quantity throughout most of the world. But thankfully, it exists for me.

About an hour ago, I was lying in bed on the verge of falling asleep when I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder. Not knowing what caused it, I turned my nightlight on and realised it was a wasp that stung me.

This is the first time I have been stung (or bitten) by an apocrita (the suborder of insects that includes ants, bees and wasps). To that end, I was unsure if I was allergic to the wasp’s venom. My first reaction was to knock John’s door and ask him if there were any signs of an allergic reaction since this was on the back of my shoulder. I am glad to say that the impact seems to be minimal, and it is not hurting much now. I can also still breathe, so I assume I am not allergic.

When my attention turned back to the wasp, I realised he or she was injured.

My guess is that whilst I was still in the half-sleeping state, I must have tried to remove whatever was pricking me with my fingers. The wasp could not fly, and was trying to flee across my bed. John suggested that I either remove it or kill it.

Killing it was not an option for me. Even if I had an allergic reaction, that would not justify taking fatal action against a creature that was likely threatened by my presence. So even before I went to clean the penetration spot out to ensure no venom was left in that part of my skin, I got a piece of tissue and relocated the wasp out of my room to a place that is safer for little dude.

I truly do not know if he or she will survive, but I made sure that I gave it the best chances of survival. In the previous instances of me accidentally causing harm to insects and spiders, I have typically reacted with a lot of regret and self-loathing. This time I think I was a little more mature about it and just simply got on with trying to do what I can to make things right. Even if the wasp dies, I can rest knowing I tried.

And I am glad I reacted as such though – my thoughts were focused on trying to save the little fella above all else.

One of the most amazing things about this planet is its wildlife. And I am not just talking about the ‘desirable’ mammals like cats and dogs, but species like wasps, spiders, snakes, sharks, scorpions… They all deserve to live, even if you think that they are annoying or you are scared of them. We are currently in the middle of one of Earth’s largest extinction-level events (known as the Holocene extinction). I would be damned if I gave up on trying (where possible) to not be a contributing factor of it. As impossible that may seem in this day and age.

Coursework, Relaxing & Daffodils

After three lots coursework in the last week or so, today has been my small break from working my ass off.

They were all programming related; C++ Programming, Computer Systems Concepts and Information Management, Assurance and Security. The C++ assignment involved me developing a hare and tortoise race simulator, which was quite fun if a little non-challenging if I might add. My result was 81% due to some small mistakes on my part, but it is still a First-class result! The Computer Systems Concepts assignment was writing a summary report and analysis on the ‘Little Man Computer’ (LMC) architecture and writing some Assembly code for a program that runs off the LMC’s limited instruction set. (The LMC is essentially an educative demonstrator for a Von Neumann-based computer, if you do not know). The final assignment was developing a database system with SQL and writing a few queries – with Microsoft Access… Urgh.

There was also an earlier assignment for Information Management blah blah blah, which was designing an ER diagram as a group that would later help us this SQL assignment. I have not discussed it until now since any mention would of turned into a rant back when it happened. Basically, the group made a basic diagram that was missing a lot and I had to spend the night before the day it was due completely redesigning it with logical assumptions to bring it to a passable standard since most members of the group neglected to help and suggest ideas for it when I asked in a FB Messenger group-chat for some (I had to take charge of the entire thing since nothing was happening after that basic ‘diagram’ was completed).

It will be a while until I get the results back for those two assignments. But yeah, I can now finally take a small rest this weekend. I say small since by the end of the month, I will have three more assignments due! Yay!

Today I decided to spend some time on campus, sitting down on a bench for a few hours or so. I also ended up spending some of the time taking photos of the daffodils around campus and messaging a friend for a while as well. I have attached one of the best photos on this blogpost! I originally opted not to go for a walk as part of my ‘complete chilling’ strategy for the day, although I ended up going food shopping at Sainsbury’s anyway.

Other than that, not much else to report!

Copyright Khalid Ali


It was hailstoning yesterday.

As usual, I was out on my daily walk on my usual relaxing route. It then began to hail. Normally, most people would be trying to cover themselves up to deflect these little beads thundering down from the sky. But I didn’t. I embraced it. I was in skinny-fit jeans and a relatively-thin jumper, so I could feel it all over me (except for my feet).

And I loved it.

It was not the hardest hail I have experienced, so it didn’t become unbearable. It felt ‘just right’, although quite difficult to explain given the context. It lasted about five minutes, during which time I was smiling all through it!

Have I burnt myself out?

A question I have been asking myself for the last two weeks.

This is one of the reasons I have not posted much this month. Lately, I have been feeling that I lack energy to do a few things. And I hate it. I love being energetic and ready for work, but something has been putting a barrier in place. Symptoms were frequent lacking energy, frequently lapses of concentration and poor sleeping patterns.

So since the start of this week, I have begun making some routine changes as an attempt to improve things. In order get my mind set in this, I have drawn up a basic schedule for myself on my whiteboard in my bedroom. Every day, I have worked out the amount of time I need to dedicate to my university studies, what personal projects I should work on each day, when I should put some time aside for research, and what I should do to relax each day. Hopefully, these should be able to help.

Another contributing factor to all this could be the fact that I am starting to see more coursework being assigned to me. However this Tuesday, I did a demonstration for my recently-submitted C++ coursework that I felt went well and certainly lifted a few things off my shoulder. But I still have a lot to do!

Drawing sharks

Yesterday afternoon, I suddenly had this urge to draw sharks. I love sharks, and other Chondrichthyes. But I am puzzled as to why I wanted to draw them all of a sudden.

This brings up my interest in drawing. I am not the best when it comes to drawing living things like wildlife, and especially people. I am more of a technical drawer; I usually draw things like ship schematics. I guess I fancied a change in what I wanted to draw. These shark drawings are probably my best efforts in drawing wildlife so far, although they are far from perfect. I am sharing six of these drawings, plus two extras that are nothing that special. Note some have filters applied to them when I took photos of them and posted them to Instagram.

I might share more of my drawings in the future.