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!

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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!

 

Being a course rep, St Fagans, personal website

It has been quite a while since I did one of these summary update posts (at least half a year now), so let’s get into this!

Kicking this post off; for this year of studies, I decided that it was time for me to take a more active role with responsibility at my university. Since Wednesday 22nd November 2017, I am now functioning as one of three course representatives for Year 2 Computer Games Development. Basically, I’m here as the first layer of the “student academic representation network” (there are then student voice reps (SVRs) and full-time student officers above me). I am here to represent all students in my year group – they can come to me with feedback that I can then bring up at meetings with other course reps and the course leaders to improve the quality of the course. Since getting into the role, I have taken part in an initial training event thingy, a course rep assembly (involving course reps across the University), and a course rep meeting (just Game Dev and Computer Science course reps and leaders). So far, it feels great to be part of this and I hope I can be an effective and contributing course rep!

This Saturday, I went to St Fagans with my parents! They went mainly for the bread, Bara Birth, since it is literally the best bread ever! I took some photos in the subsequent walk and tried to play around with them when I got home, doing the best I can with just a mid-range smartphone camera. Some came out pretty nice, although a lot of the finer details were somewhat ruined by JPEG compression. I did some post-processing on a few of them in Photoshop to improve them as much as I can. One thing notable about this trip was that the place has changed quite a bit since the last time I went. The front museum part has been modernised and expanded, and it looks great! And they also added this cafe/workshop (pictured below) building outside too!

 

Finally, my personal website is online! See it here at http://khalidali.co.uk. It will serve as my online portfolio and general hub. It’s source code is essentially a fork of Starfleet’s Path to 2265.

Library, Rain & ul/li menus

Wow. It is really wet today.

I love the rain, yet even I resorted to running into the library for cover today. Inside the PC lab area, the rain is giving its full force unto the windows. Have a look:

 

Note: it was louder in person.

It is actually being a rather nice distraction here as I have woes with redesigning the menu bar for my upcoming Star Trek-themed fan site. Although there was nothing wrong with the menu before, I am currently rebuilding it on an offline test page using lists instead of modified anchors. There are pros and cons to this approach of course, with the main pro being it will naturally suit a multi-level list in the rather likely event I implement one in the future.

Here’s an interesting read on the subject:
https://css-tricks.com/navigation-in-lists-to-be-or-not-to-be/

The current issue is not being able to get the <ul> to float right. Observe the links being rendered over the logo that is floating left:
Capture

Whether you are for or against these lists, please note that currently I am only exploring my options.