This academic year (so far)

It’s ya boi Shark here for an update finally after a fuck-tonne of ThinkPad related posts. For me this academic year has so far been extremely positive experience after a less than stellar summer, with January being a pretty notable month. So I think this deserves some song and praise!

SVR work

I’ll start here, since I haven’t really swum to this around here. And I think I should do more often though since my work as a student voice representative has overall been a highlight of this academic year! In case I haven’t explained on here before, SVR-hood is a step above my previous course representative position where I now liaison between course reps and higher in the Student Voice Team and sit on faculty-level committees. I work closer and more involved with the university and Students’ Union than before, complete a research project in the hopes that it is used by the university to implement real change, and is expected to partake in more SU events such as attended their Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Change Week. I also get two lovely line managers and four sabb officers above me for support!

Change Week has been the highlight from January where I led a team for the week’s Wednesday 12-hour lockdown. The week started with gathering student feedback on the Monday which unfortunately I was unable to help out with due to dissertation work. The day after, SU staff went through the feedback (collected on cards at promotional stands across campuses and from an online form) and established four common themes; microwaves on campus, making USW more greener, making USW students more employable, and including Cardiff and Newport campus in more things. I led the greener USW team where we created a pitch to ask USW to improve recycling and water conservation on campus. We were supposed to pitch on the Thursday that week too, but the snow came! But despite that last bit, the experience was amazing, fun, and totally worth those 12 long hours!

Coursework

January was a good month for assessment feedback! Excluding dissertation milestones, I had two assignments before Christmas and one in early Jan! I had the first two assignments’ grades last month, in which I got 87% and 70% for modules Game Engine Design and Artificial Intelligence for Game Developers respectively. Today I got my mark for the assignment submitted in January (the anti-aliasing one I wrote about before) and I got 80% for that! 3/3 firsts ain’t bad!

Like previous years, working my fins off for university is paying off! For future assignments though, I will be aiming to punch above 90% for the second assessment for all three modules though because I believe I can do better!

Dissertation

My dissertation is proceeding smoothly, although it is hard to really comment on it since its still far from over. Milestone 2 was due at the start of this month, which required a basic skeleton implementation.

Since my post about on the subject a few months ago, I’ve done a lot more research onto special relativity and began the general relativity phase (although it was omitted from milestone 2 since it was far from complete and the implementation was centred around building Lorentz transformation functions and nothing more). Expect an actual update post soon!

Society endeavours

January saw me attempting to engage more with societies at university a bit more in order to be a less antisocial. I’ve mentioned before I founded USW Programming Society – I’m still serving a President and last month we’re laying a lot of groundwork to start giving lectures and tutorials to people interested! I’ve been present for about half of the lessons so far and whilst numbers are small, the discussion from that have been great! I’ll be looking to push advertising the society in the coming weeks!

Another society I’ve been getting involved with is the Earth Society USW! It is a fantastic society full of people who really want to campaign for making the planet a bit better! I became a member last September and so far the best highlights that have left a lasting impression includes gardening in a greenhouse on campus and a victory at the recent SU’s Annual General Meeting where the society passed a motion (link to the proposal) to mandate the SU to create a zero-waste shop (something I wholly support)! I volunteered myself to be on a sub-committee that will be looking into existing shops to support the founding of USWSU’s one. I hope to generally get more involved with the society as long as time allows!

Pretty cornflowers under UV light!

Snow

Despite a little jab at it when I talked about SVR stuff, I still enjoyed the snow when it came right at the end of the month!

That’s it. What more can I really say about snow?

The best photo I have – trust me, the rest were worse!

ThinkPads

Of course this wouldn’t be a Shark post without a mention of ya boi’s current obsession. Back on January 1st, I had two ThinkPads; SN-T41 and SN-R60e. As of now, the fleet consists of 12 laptops, 3 keyboards, 3 spare bins, and a laptop dock! With all but the last 2 laptops (SN-X200t and SN-T440) being ordered in January! I’ll be continuing the invest in the fleet as money allows, refurbishing existing machines, and preserving these historical machines (which are by far the most influential laptop family for modern computing) for myself and anyone interested!

You can visit the ThinkPad page to see fleet in all its glory!

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Snow in Treforest

It kind of took me by surprise. It has been about a decade (from what I remember) since it last snowed well in Wales – long enough to forget what snow even feels like. So, when I woke up to see that my street is now completely blanketed after a day or so of snowing, I couldn’t contain the urge to just walk and have some fun in it!

The result: one of the best days I have had in a while! I have previously talked about my love of the simple pleasure of being outside and walking, but combine that with this soft and pretty snow and I just didn’t want to not be in it! Throughout the day, I made four different voyages into the snow equalled a combined 20,500 steps (as per Google Fit). My legs are pretty tired to say the least, as fighting the fairly strong wind and the resistance of large piles of snow did take a little bit of a toll but every moment was worth it!

There are a few notable examples of fun or interesting things I did in the day – including spots of photography, banter with friends etc. But the one that left the biggest and most personal impression was this moment when I was walking alone past World of Groggs on my last trip of the day at around 2050 hours. Imagine a setting of this usually busy street now blanketed in vibrant-white snow and silent of human contamination. Where the force of the gentle wind becomes audible and snow creaks as you tread. For some random reason, I looked back when I was walking in this setting and realised how much devoid of human life this street now was. At first, the I got this deep feeling that I was truly alone for a second – like if I were to scream, no one would hear me. But when I turned back around, I realised how beautiful and calm my surrounds were. I could now enjoy this surrounding to the point where all scares and cares went straight out of me and walked home with a smile!

I think that moment will stick with me for a while. I hope to be out early tomorrow for a spot of photography. Hopefully my main camera’s battery won’t die early in the day again!