Tag Archives: school

Takes up more time than it should, hurts my head more than it should, and makes me fall asleep more than it should. If it weren’t for generals, school could be a learning experience.

OpenID…the service nobody uses…

I just revisited all things OpenID.  I have to present a paper in class tomorrow.  A paper on a study of sorts on OpenID.  (It was actually less on OpenID than I hoped.)  Reading it prompted me to play around with OpenID on my blog and Google.  You may not know this, because it’s not super clear and it’s not advertised anywhere on Google, but if you have a public Google profile, you can use the URL to your profile as an OpenID URL.  And of course, WordPress sites can all be used with OpenID.

How much have I used this?  I’d say none, but technically twice: both for blog related services.  Not for anything useful.  And I’m pretty sure that I also have a username to both of these other sites.

So what’s the point of me saying this?  Two things.  First, I don’t think anyone really uses OpenID.  Second, I read a lot of papers that research dead ends or, more ironically, obvious questions (to which they find the obvious answer). Example: a bunch of people at some university in Canada did a study on OpenID, and it told us that most people didn’t understand it, that most people would use it if it was easier, but that most people won’t.  The same thing we’ve known for years.  Congrats.

And I get to present it tomorrow.  Yay.

Currently listening to: “Symphony No. 95 in C Minor, III a” by Franz Joseph Haydn

Weekend projects…

Yay for the coming weekend!

This week, I read five different papers for two of my classes.  I’ve completely ignored reading for the other class.  This weekend, I play catch up and get ahead. The book looks to be an interesting read.  I bought the Kindle version because it’s cheaper, and I love the idea of keeping a good textbook without having to lug it around when we move.  Eventually, I’ll convert some of the better books in my library, and by that I mean buy them.  Anyway, should be a good read, except I have to read it on my laptop because it’s a print replica edition, with the full layout.  So I can’t use my actual Kindle, which is a drag, because reading from the Kindle is awesome.

In addition to reading, I’m taking on two other projects.  I want to finish the first programming project for my interactive systems class.  My goal is to spend weekends on these projects, stay ahead, and then have weekdays for the other two classes.  A three-day weekend is perfect to start out.

My final project, if I get to it, but the one I’m most excited about, is to get SPDY running on my web server for faster secure access.  It’s mostly just a fun test to see if I can do it.  But it would make secure connections to my server faster, and that’s a benefit.  It will only really benefit me, as I use SSL to connect to my server, and there’s not any reason to use SSL to read my blog.  But you could, and it will be faster once SPDY is installed.  Hopefully I have time for it.

Anyway, it’s time for bed.  I hope everyone had a happy Friday the 13th.

Currently listening to: “Sonata in F, Op. 1, No. 3, II (Rondeau)” by LeBrun

Headaches and computer science…

I don’t know what it is.  Maybe it’s that I’m not a graduate student, and I’ve outgrown my younger days of being a senior in my undergraduate program.  Maybe it’s that I didn’t notice it during my senior year.  Maybe it’s the difference between computer engineering and computer science.  Or maybe it’s this batch of  CS majors.  Whatever it is, the last couple 400 level CS classes that I’ve taken have shown the same trend:

  1. A classroom that’s too small because there are
  2. too many people in the class (and small room) which leads to
  3. too many dumb questions and comments.

This problem explodes when you get to 400 level courses.  The reasons?  The professors teaching higher level courses are busy doing research and teaching 600 level courses, so there’s usually only one of each 400 level course offered per year.  This leads to a large class size that usually fills up.  And in a 400 level course, so you’ve got a few different breeds of students that annoy me to pieces:

  • The real-world worker.  He’s the guy in class who has been working outside of campus.  He can often be identified by some freebie T-shirt that he got from some campus recruiter.  But he’s most easily recognized by his distinctive call.  He can’t help but commented each lecture about something that he does for work.  Usually he relates it to the subject matter in some roundabout way, but if he can’t do that, he’ll just comment anyway.  We’re all really proud of him finding a nice job before he graduated, but we’d really like to get through a lecture.
  • The guy who just doesn’t get it.  Sometimes you get a fellow student who just doesn’t get the material, so they end up asking a lot of questions about the most basic of principles, keeping the teacher from getting to the new and interesting part of his lecture.  Sometimes this guy tries to correct the professor who has been teaching for 20 years–because 3.5 years of a general education and CS courses has taught you everything.  Probably not.  If you’re asking for clarification every 10 minutes on the first day, you’re definitely not in-the-know on the subject.
  • The lonely talker.  I’ve had a lot of classes with some student who is constantly making comments that don’t relate or add to the discussion.  Sadly, it’s often been the same student (or random shuffling of the same 3-5).  I can’t shake them.  Oh, and they’re all CS students.  These guys like to sit either at the front of the class, or right behind me (they’re drawn to me or something).  I think they don’t get much attention except what they get in class, so they strive for it.  When you try to make a “Yum!” joke about browser cookies, you’re just plain trying too hard.
  • And more…

I’m in a 400 level class this semester (if you haven’t guessed), and in that jam-packed class of 50 students, we’ve probably got 7-10 of these annoying-type people.  (I need to preface the next sentence by saying that the class is on user interfaces.)  They really showed themselves when a few of them commented about Kinect (that controller-less controller on the Xbox 360): “I’ve never played the Kinect but I have a Wii and…”  First of all, if you haven’t played a game with the Kinect, you can’t really comment about using it.  But most importantly, the Wii is not the same as Kinect.  Not even close.  The Wii doesn’t even count as a gaming system in my book.  Nintendo hasn’t made a game console since the N64.  Everything else has been a flop or a gimmick.  So please don’t compare a system that clumsily measures you clumsily swinging a “controller” to the Kinect which is able to produce a complete body skeleton of the user in real-time.  Not the same.

Of course, today, during my class, I had a pretty bad headache.  Maybe next class won’t seem so bad.

Headache or not, I still can’t understand the people who take notes on their iPads.  Every time I see someone doing it, I think, “Wow, you know, a sheet of paper would be so much easier.”  Some guy in my class today was using an app that only let him write on about a third of the screen.  He could scroll to anywhere on his imaginary sheet of paper (which he did constantly because you have to write in huge letters meaning he got about 3 words before he’d have to scroll, even when using a touch-pen), but he couldn’t use the entire screen as a writing surface.  You know what’s amazing about a paper notebook and a pen?  I can write anywhere on the sheet just by moving my arm, I can get a new blank sheet just by flicking the page, I can write as small as I want and the paper still registers my writing, and I can even just flip around my writing utensil and erase what I’ve written if I use one of those fancy pencil things.  My personal opinion?  These people taking notes on their iPads are trying to justify their $500+ purchase by trying to do everything on them.  Just because “there’s an app for that” doesn’t mean that you should use it.  You don’t see me typing up this 900+ word blog post on my Android smartphone just because I have the WordPress app.  That’d be retarded.

(I just tried to find a picture of these note-taking app that I saw someone using–I’ve seen multiple bad examples in my classes–and I found a bunch of images of note-taking apps that actually look usable.  I’m sure there must be better note-taking apps out there, so why do I see CS students using apps that look so non-user-friendly?  Especially in a user interface class!?!)

Headaches aside, I really like my classes  so far this semester.  I’m going to be super busy, but it’s going to be fun.

Currently listening to: “OMG” by Usher


It’s been just about forever since I last post something on this blog.  I think I have more fun logging in and updating WordPress than actually using WordPress.

Anyway, after the new year, I have my busiest semester of grad school.  I’ll be taking 11 credits.  That’s 3 classes at 3 credits each plus 2 credits of thesis hours.  (After 9 credits, credits are free, and there are 6 required hours of thesis credits for a master’s degree, so I figure that’ll save me $600.)  And to top it all off, I’m going to be trying to work around 30 hours a week.  Don’t ask how I’m going to do it.  I think there will be a lot of boring nights and weekends doing homework.

And then there’s a growing list of things I want to start doing or change.  And since I’ve already decided to kill myself in the name of furthering my education, I figured that I might as well just throw everything on at once.  Maybe I’m hoping that somehow enough goals will make everything happen, like a star going super nova (or am I thinking of a black hole?).  It’s either that or I’m hoping that if I throw enough goals at myself that something will stick.

So, without more ado, here’s a smattering of goals for the new year:

  1. Get homework assignments in early.
  2. Eat out less.
  3. Work 30 hours a week.
  4. Get rid of Facebook (forever).
  5. Blog more.
  6. Blog every day (about anything).
  7. Find a job for after college.
  8. Graduate.

In addition to all of this, before the new year, I want to move my web server to a different AWS region, which will require setting up a new sever just like this one.  Shouldn’t be hard though.  Oh, and I want to get in my fill of video games during the vacation before I start the next semester and don’t have a single moment for myself.

So there you have it.  My New Year’s resolutions.

In other news, I’m currently addicted to How I Met Your Mother.

Currently listening to: “Let’s Go to the Mall” by Robin Sparkles

Customizing an AMI on Amazon EC2…

This will guide you though creating a customized AMI on Amazon EC2.


This is mostly for the benefit of those in the class who read this post. I’m writing this mostly as a tutorial instead of a “what I did” because I’m only going to give enough instruction to get something running, not tell you all the tinkering I did. I also apologize for the varying tense of the writing. Some steps got written before and some after I had actually done them. Continue reading Customizing an AMI on Amazon EC2…

I finally found the problem…

After days of frustrating work, I finally found the cause of all my woes:


Turns out that Ubuntu/Canonical put a forward-thinking update into the file system table, but didn’t realize that the bundling tool for re-bundling an instance would fail because of this.

Luckily, the page above also has the fix.

This is definitely going into my tutorial…

Three days work, lost…

After working for 3 days, learning EC2 and how to bundle my own AMI, setting up the environment the way I want, tinkering for hours, I sadly clicked terminate on my instance, because no matter how many times I bundled it, I couldn’t log in to the new instance once launched.

But luckily, I’ve been documenting the whole way, so the second time around should take much less time.

I’m curious to know how close others have gotten. Hopefully having a bit more luck than me. I’m hoping to be done by class today.

Warning: lots about CS 462…

I’ll be posting a lot about what I’m doing in my CS 462 class here on tumblr. This will give me a good chance to test out tumblr and see how it compares to WordPress.

On that note, I’m excited to test out markdown. It’s a pearl script (ported to PHP) that converts plain text into HTML using a special syntax.

Our class is pretty open ended. We can use any OS and any language to complete the labs. The TA is using (and as such, it is recommended that we use) Ubuntu Linux and Python. I’m going to use Ubuntu also, but I think that I am going to use PHP. There’s two reasons:

  1. I know PHP, and I don’t know Python.
  2. People in the class are using PHP, and Steven, the TA, might want someone to bounce questions off of.

Anyway, I should be starting on the first lab today. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully this gets added to the class planet before I publish my next post.

Master of science…

After a month and a half of anxious waiting, the last 2 weeks thinking, “Late news has to be good news, right?” I was finally greeted by an email message:

Subject: View BYU Admission Decision/Enrollment

Monday, October 04, 2010

Dear CK:

The decision regarding your application to Computer Science MS is now available.

Please log in to the online application system. Once you have logged in, you will see a link to view the decision. If you have been admitted, you will have instructions to indicate your intent to enroll.


Graduate Studies

My heart started pounding a little bit.  I didn’t like the idea of having to log in to possibly see a rejection letter.  What was that going to say?  “Thanks for logging in, but you’ve been rejected. Have a nice day!”  But I clicked the link, entered my username and password, and waited.  That took me to another page with another link to actually get the decision.  Luckily this is what I saw:


CK Jay

Dear CK,

I am pleased to inform you that you have been admitted to Brigham Young University as a graduate student. We look forward to having you join us for your graduate studies and trust that your graduate experience will be both challenging and rewarding.

And some more stuff.  But anyway after a few anxious weeks, it was a wonderful relief to hear this good news.

I’m excited and can’t wait.  Sav will be finishing up her B.S. in April.  Then she’s gonna put be through grad school so that I can support her for the rest of our lives.  🙂

Currently listening to: “Monster” by Lady Gaga.

Group projects aren’t fun…

I was done with my portion by Friday afternoon.  I’d even volunteered for the extra (albeit easy) part that got tacked on to this phase of the project.  It was probably because in the last phase I decided not to listen to my teammate about how he thought I should implement my part of the project.

But we had to all finish our parts and submit the phase as a group.  Tonight I updated my code and saw their progress.  I tweaked their code to prevent little bugs.  At one point I even finished a section of code that wasn’t working correctly.

And twice in the past two days I’ve had to repair the repository that we’re using so that we can share our code with each other.  Oh, and I had to restore a few files that a teammate deleted.  (Mine and our third teammate’s code–not his own.)

And yet I still had to stay up until 2am to make sure it all got submitted.  Because I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have gotten submitted without me.

Early church is going to suck tomorrow (six hours from now).