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 are good. I am looking forward to all of them. I’m happy! 🙂
So, the modules.
Data Structure & Algorithms with Object-Orientated Programming is mainly C++, so who can complain? The Professionalism module ultimately involves building a game with the Unity engine in a group. 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! Tool Development for Computer Games (using Python and C#) and Computer Graphics (OpenGL-based) are great. Operating Systems Concepts, which focusing on how operating systems work, is interesting. The math module Computational Mathematics, unlike last year, 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! 🙂
Due to starting a new semester this week, I will now be confining my time for everything in a schedule. 6PM to 10PM on Thursdays is dedicated for this website, which gives me 3 and a half hours of actual work and 30 minutes to write an update on this blog. Since I have been busy trying to quickly get back into the routine of university life, I have not done much this week.
The only noticable change is the new home button image. It’s just a plain white version of the “UFP” text from the 23rd century Federation banner. The favicon has also been updated according (albeit black instead).
Chapter 1 is mostly complete at this stage, only requiring the addition of my UESPA-9 design. Ship information on Bonaventure is complete, and Friendship is almost complete. In preparation for Chapter 2, a DY-732 database entry will be worked on soon. Chapter 2 primarily focuses on the development of the Earth Cargo Service (hence the chapter title “Space Boomers”), but it will also include UESPA and civilian ships from roughly 2080 to 2110. Already there are database entries for some of these ships; Emmette (from the Star Trek: Enterprise title sequence), aforementioned DY-732, and Declaration (which includes Enterprise XCV-330). There will probably be more ships in the chapter as well, likely including some of the later DY series ships.
(I think it is safe to designate Thursday as the Starfleet’s Path to 2265 development update day.)
Since my last update: UESPA-9 design is taking a bit longer to complete. I am still on the detail phase, stuck trying to prevent the design from looking too advanced for its area. But that in itself inspired me to write this short essay today. The other notable update was the acquisition of the domain for the website.
Anyway, let’s get into this.
The United Earth Space Probe Agency (UESPA), the best-known agency for Earth’s pre-Starfleet exploration missions, has a few seemingly very advanced designs that The Powers that Be of Star Trek thought were fitting. I am by no way criticising the aesthetics of those designs as I personally like them, but they seem too advanced for being designed, constructed and launched only a few years after Zefram Cochrane’s warp flight and deadly conflicts like World War III. SS Valiant (canon mission designation, non-canon visual design) and SS Conestoga (fully canon design) are examples of two fully-functional deep space vessels launched way less than a decade after the Cochrane’s achievement. Whilst writing the first chapter of my website, this has presented a few challenges for me to overcome since I have to rationalise these canon or well-known non-canon designs, and then fill gaps with my own designs based on canon designs! One thing I should also point out is that only a few decades after these designs, civilians then had unprecedented access to space via things like the DY-500-class and the Earth Cargo Service.
There were two solutions I could chose in my mind to the problem. One, Earth had most of the technology mastered thanks to military advancement in spatial travel due to World War III. Two, first contact inspired humanity to race to the stars at an astonishing rate.
Based on how things turned out in World War I and II, the first solution can seem plausible since many innovations and/or wide-scale adoptions were made in those deadly conflicts that we take for granted, in most fields of science. Examples include things like tracked-based vehicle development, nuclear development, aviation advancement, and even the adoption of penicillin! There is one elephant in the corner though. Probably the biggest requirement for deep space travel is a solid, powerful reactor system. If nuclear fusion or even matter/antimatter technology was available in WWIII, surely the level of destruction granted from those immature (for mid-21st century humans) technologies would be far greater than 600 million dead and Earth’s majority recovery in only a decade or so?
Now considering the second solution, it is clear that it is more idealistic to think that all of humanity embraced a brighter future right on the spot in 5th April 2063. We are aware of a well-established post-atomic horror that lasted for a few decades, which resulted in some humans retaining the ‘old ways’ for a large period of time. However, this is Star Trek and I think large amounts of optimism is not out of reach. So I have developed the premise of my UESPA writing based on this solution. But, with a twist. The UESPA could have simply duplicated Cochrane’s reactor and nacelle designs (I’d like to think of Cochrane’s Warp reactor as a fusion reactor, instead of a matter/antimatter reactor) to begin with and scaled them up. We have done similar things in our history, even with spacecraft such as the Boeing X-37 (which is a 120% scaled derivative of the Boeing X-40). Early ships such as SS Valiant uses a system of multiple Cochrane reactor clones, and then most of the spaceframe technology is derived from earlier space programs. The only technologies that would be considerably different (or invented) from now to then is gravity generation, radiation shielding and weapons. Seeing as Star Trek seems to indicate that the Eastern countries were worse off, I have written than the strongest American, European or Eurasian countries spearheaded these advanced programs in an effort to rebuild Earth with whatever we could hope to find in space. Whilst the governments were exploring options, a guy from Montana launches an ex-nuclear missile with an advanced propulsion system that his isolated team developed. He gains the attention of the Vulcans, and the most stable governments of Earth realise that space IS the answer. After hearing from the Vulcans that there are indeed other sentient lifeforms in the universe as well, Earth establishes the UESPA and human ambition pushes us to the stars in only a few short years.
Now the specifics. I have written that the UESPA was founded after a popular uprising began to persuade the rebuilding governments that Earth’s future was in the stars. Which even from my perspective today, Earth’s position future in the stars might be a necessity – we will eventually need more living space, and new and unusual building materials or food products from some planet out there would be cool too. So in light of the WWIII disaster, I think it’s safe to assume a space-based economy using the resources from other planets is the logical solution. This rebuilding effort is definitely a gamble, but since Earth is unwilling to suffer more, humanity takes the bet. The UESPA designs the first explorers as large boxes with Cochrane’s engine designs to find these new worlds. Deep space probes with antimatter technology follow (but I have written that the lack of methods to properly mass-produce antimatter results in Earth being stuck with fusion for at least 6 or 7 decades) to seek out new life and civilisations to make friends with and trade with. Colony ships come not long after suitable planets for human expansion are discovered. To add balance, I have peppered in a few large accidents that indicate the immature state of this advanced technology (my UESPA-9 design is one of them – an ambitious but fatal design). The rest you’ll have to see on the website itself.
I have had other issues to resolve too, such as the timeline placement of the Bonaventure spacecraft seen in the background of a few Star Trek episodes – it’s clear it exists, but it was once attributed to the discovery of Warp! My website’s Articles section will eventually have pages detailing those minor decisions.
For today though, that’s enough (1,000+ words)! See you next week!
That’s the date my Star Trek-themed website will be fully launched and online. As that day approaches, I will be continuing to refine the website’s design and adding launch content. Today, I am currently working on my first original ship design for the website. But before we get into that, I think it is about time I brief what this website is all about.
“Starfleet’s Path to 2265” is as nerdy as it sounds. It is mainly a creative written piece on the subjective fictional history of starships belonging to Earth and Federation design. It’s based around the Star Trek’s prime universe and conforms to canon (mostly). My biggest intention is to fill in the blanks in the timeline between Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Enterprise. Over a year ago, I wrote a small piece about SQL and PHP (In the deep end: MySQL & PHP) that demonstrated an older project called the “Federation Starship Database”. It is kind of like a continuation of that with a refined goal and scope. Pre-TOS and TOS ships are my favourite from Star Trek, and this website is dedicated towards them.
Now, the ship design.
This first of many starship designs I am creating is an early explorer of the United Earth Space Probe Agency, SS Voyager (UESPA-9). I have designed and written the ship to be an early ambitious failure – a complex deep space explorer design in a period of Earth’s history where it is still suffering from the effects of a World War. A recipe for disaster. The design is largely based on a successful canon design from the same period, SS Conestoga (which I have given the registry of UESPA-8).
In order to explain my process, I have briefly documented the design process here. The first thing I did was sketch up some small low detail forms for the ship based on a few well-known references from the same period (SS Valiant of 2065, SS Conestoga of 2067 and DY-500-class of 2076).
I found that the last form I did was the one I liked the most, as well as the most unique. So I took that form, refined the details, and did some basic annotations on the design.
I then roughly recreated the form on a CAD software (I use TechSoft’s 2D Design V2) so that the design would be confined to a proper scale. I then made a copy of the form and revised the layout of the ship to better suit the length and draft I specified in my annotated drawing (although my specified width of 20 metres will likely cause problems and I am now presuming the width to be around 50 to 60 metres to accommodate the “wing” span of the nacelle pylons).
Finally, I produced a colourised detail basic render of the ship as a current progress preview for this blog post.
I hope to have this design completed by the end of the week, and it will be included in my next week’s blog update for the website. Have a good day!
(This is actually a repost since I made an mistake before. Whoops.)
The last three days were about considering and mastering the search feature for Starfleet’s Path to 2265. I write this blog post whilst I ponder ways to made the search feature more powerful and intuitive.
As it currently stands, it is a basic search function. When a viewer submits a search query, and SQL query is searches a database and returns an array of results. An if statement checks to see if there are any results. If there aren’t results present, a ‘no results’ message is echoed. If there are results present, the code proceeds to a while loop that iterates until there are no more results to echo out.
In pseudocode, the operation needed to make a search currently looks like this:
Connect to MySQL Server
Select MySQL database
Create variable for the query string received from the search request
Create variable for the SQL SELECT query that searches for matches within two fields of a database table.
Create variable to store the raw results from the running the SELECT query, and handle possible MySQL errors
If number of raw results is more than zero:
While able to print out raw results:
Echo a tile containing the data for the result (includes a hyperlink, page name, category, description, and an optional image)
Echo a tile containing a ‘no results’ message
FYI, a “tile” is the CSS class name I use for the layout element that contains a result or message.
Following that procedure, you can generate results like this…
…from a search box like that:
I have clearly broken the statement I made on my last post about this project saying that I will not be doing any more serious non-styling code! But a search feature is something I should have had from the get-go. There are refinements that ideally need to be made before the website goes onto the internetz; a more advanced search algorithm that can intelligently display relevant results instead of echoing the results in the order they are stored in the database, a more space-efficient results page with filters, and compliant code for when I switch to PHP7 which also requires I use mysqli_* functions instead of just mysql_* or PHP Data Objects (PDO).
Now. Before I end this blog post, below is an example of an implementation of that pseudocode that should work with little modification. Starfleet’s Path to 2265 uses code that is very similar currently. It might be basic, but it works for now. I am more focused on other parts of the website. So if I run behind schedule, I at least have this to fall back on.
Example PHP code:
Example HTML code of a search box that works out of the box with that PHP code:
After an interesting birthday on the 27th where a bunch of friends and I had a debate about the merits and dangers of artificial intelligence, it is time to get back on with life. My Star Trek-themed website is nearing the point where it is polished enough to go on the interwebz. Hopefully, it should be online around the middle of next month once I have purchased the domain name I need.
I have made some considerable chances since my last post about the website (Library, Rain & ul/li menus). I rebuild the code and styling of the website in a complete mobile-first approach, implemented the ul/li menu, and generally added more content ready for launch. For this week, I am currently working on refining the style of the website. As it currently stands:
So far, creating content has been thought-provoking and fun to do! Whilst it may take years to complete everything I want to do, the motivation to do this has allowed me to create a fair bit of launch material ready for next month. Here are some examples:
Example of a history section
Example of a ship report
(Please ignore any spelling, grammar or word flow issues. Everything will be proof read eventually before launch.)
Developing the design to suit the content has been interesting too. As shown by the example of a ship report above (and below in far more detail), I have been developing these ‘boxes’ for different types of content to give the page an LCARS-like (the interface of TNG-era Starfleet computer terminals) feel. I avoided completely copying LCARS due to the fact that this website is based around pre-TOS and TOS content (the similarities are just a ‘tip off the hat’). These boxes do collapse on mobiles and tablets in order to free up space for words.
Boxes on the layout testing page (desktop)
Boxes collapsed on tablet display
So that’s about it for this update! Most of the changes from here on will be refinements and additions to the CSS stylesheets and adding more content. One thing to be revised is the colour scheme – the blue seems too intense on some displays. Adding more HTML (except when headings and paragraphs are needed) and PHP code is unlikely.