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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An interesting term!

As of last Friday, I’m now off university for a few weeks. I thought it might be neat if I make a post about what I have done these last few weeks for university, so here goes!

“Project FallingStar”
…is the single biggest thing I have been involved with this term. For the Professionalism module, we were put into groups (four, five (as it is for ours) or six people) and tasked with planning and building a 3D game from scratch whilst still learning the engine we have to use (Unity). I am pleased to say I have thoroughly enjoyed the project so far! The idea for our game is that the player builds modular space probes to send out on exploration and defence missions in the solar system. Despite initial doubts that our idea was too ambitious for a bunch of UNI students, our team (designated Team 1) is working well and our recent demo was well-received! My main contributions to the team have been physics programming (producing the gravity model) and leadership (defacto, since it was something that I naturally slipped into rather than being designated).

20171219_fallingstar.png
“A little peak” – credit to team member Luke Probert, who developed this splashscreen!

OpenGL coursework
This coursework was also fun. In the Computer Graphics module, we have been learning the basics of OpenGL and the assessment was to compile a 2D OpenGL scene that makes use of advanced OpenGL features (compared to just using immediate mode rendering) such as Vector Buffer Objects (and Vertex Array Objects), hierarchical modelling, and transformations. Whilst I have to wait for my grade, the demonstration I have to my lecturer was well-received!

Python + Pygame
This coursework was interesting ’cause I both did and did not enjoy it. The coursework was split into two tasks; building a missile command game clone with Pygame and then developing a small physics sim “Marble Madness” with a lecturer-created engine. Both tasks had their merits, which for me was mainly the fun of programming. What I did not like was that we could only develop the second part on Linux since the engine (PGE) is Linux-only. Whilst I have Linux at home nor is Linux THE problem, there is really only one computer lab in the university (where I work better at than home) that has Linux. This meant I could not always be guaranteed a computer since the lab was in high demand. I was even asked to leave for another class on two occassions, with can really be inconveniencing!

So yeah, that’s what I have been up to academically! In my spare time, I am continuing the development of Path to 2265 as another personal priority. I’ve recently made some huge underlying changes that I’ll be posting about this week!

Enjoy your day!