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Femion

Joe’s big win

June 30th, 2008

My cousin Joe won second place in a race in special Olympics in Ohio. I’m posting this mostly because this is now one of my favourite photos.

joewin.jpg

He’s the kid with his hands in the air.

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Birth of a Facebook application

June 26th, 2008

I’ve just released my first facebook application out of development mode. Here’s the about page:

blogimageabout.jpg

and here’s what it does to a profile:

blogimageprofile.jpg

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Georges Island

June 22nd, 2008

Last weekend, I went with John, his sisters and his dad to Georges Island, a textbook-perfect glacial drumlin in the middle of Halifax harbour that housed a naval fortification in the mid nineteenth century. It is off-limits to the public, as it is still an archeological site and is currently too hazardous to be turned into a tourist attraction (dark, slippery tunnels and steep cliffs are just a lawsuit waiting to happen). Obviously, the archeologists aren’t the only ones getting to the island, as evident by the beer cans lying around. But for one day last week, Parks Canada decided to divert a harbour ferry to the island and offered guided tours. It was pretty neat.
georgesisland1.jpg

Looking back at Halifax from the ferry.

georgesisland2.jpg

Looking back at Halifax from Georges Island.

georgesisland3.jpg

Looking down one of the steep cliffs at the Georges Island lighthouse. The tall gray building in the background is Fenwick Towers, where I’ll be living next year.

georgesisland4.jpg

This picture was taken from where one of the cannons used to sit. I think it’s cool because you can see the Halifax Citadel (the green hill in the background) from there.

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Coding frustrations

June 13th, 2008

For most of today, I’ve been dealing with two programming annoyances. The first is in my work. I chose to write my programs in Actionscript instead of Java, and I think I’m now paying the price. As far as I can tell, the only way to incorporate outside data is with XML, and Actionscript references XML in a very irksome way. Think of XML as storing data as boxes inside of boxes. For example, an XML document could be of the form:
<box1>
<innerboxa>
</innerboxa>
</box1>
<box2>
</box2>
<box3>
<innerboxb>
</innerboxb>
<innerboxc>
</innerboxc>
</box3>
Now, I think it would make sense to be able to reference the stuff in inner box c by going xml.box3.innerboxc . But no. Actionscript ignores the names of the boxes and instead arranges the tags by a family tree. To get to innerboxc, you have to go firstChild.nextSibling.nextSibling.firstChild.nextSibling.
Anyway, I’ve gotten used to the Actionscript family tree system. The problem I ran into a few days ago was that Actionscript didn’t seem to be passing variables out of the xml scope into the global scope. At least, that was what I assumed was going on, from the forum threads I read. So I spent several hours trying out all the various solutions, and none of them worked. It turned out that my problem was that the functions using data from xml were executing before the xml data was loaded. A few minutes to write some timeline controls and it was fixed. So much for four wasted hours spent on the wrong solution.
I’m also working on a facebook application for the DSU. My second frustration is related to the facebook libraries that are required for facebook applications. They include files that don’t exist, or are in another directory. It seems like a really easy thing to fix, and facebook has been allowing people to develop applications for at least a year now.

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John’s Website

June 10th, 2008

I made John’s website pretty. Aren’t I the best girlfriend ever?

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Introduction to Summer

June 4th, 2008

Since I haven’t yet described exactly what I’m doing this summer, I think I’ll do it now. I’m subletting from one of my friends in my math classes, and living with four male friends who are all in engineering or physics in a house in a nice residential neighborhood of Halifax. I’m working as a clerk in a non-computerized post office (meaning I have to weigh and measure parcels, calculate the volumetric weight and then quote a price out of a binder! Now I know what my physics skills are useful for!). I vowed to never work retail again after my horrible experience in the smoke shop last year, but the post office is a better job. My customers are nicer - polite senior citizens and people from the medical offices upstairs rather than people addicted to pull-tab lottery tickets or who have lost their teeth from chewing tobacco. I’m getting paid a dollar more per hour than the smoke shop, and when it’s slow, which it quite frequently is, I’m allowed to sit in a little office and read. Most of my co-workers are also university students.

But that job’s nothing really to brag about.

Rutenberg, the prof I’ve been doing volunteer research for for the past year, told me yesterday that he will pay me to work for him this summer. This is despite not quite having the grades to get a summer research scholarship, and Rutenberg told me from the start that he probably wouldn’t be able to pay me. But I guess my hard work has paid off, and he’s managed to find the funds to pay me.

He’s assigned me to the project of programming a computer visualization of peptidoglycan exteriors in bacteria. I’ll be working with my friend and roommate Bobo, who was a co-author on my carbon nanotube paper.

So yeah. That’s what my summer looks like. Hanging out in Halifax with friends, working two jobs, one of which is a fun/nerdy computer programming one, cooking my own food and waiting for school to start up again.

In a previous e-mail my mother expressed concern that my diet was not very nutritionally rich. Here’s a list of the stuff I’ve cooked so far in order to dispel that idea:

Spaghetti
Chili
Pesto
Cabbage casserole
Beef stew
Spanikopita
Chicken tetrazzini
Chicken broccoli stir fry
Lemon chicken
Beef tortillas

… and of course everything is accompanied by a salad or a side of vegetables.

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Registering for 3rd year

May 30th, 2008

I’ve just finished registering for classes for next year. So far, here’s what I’ve chosen:
Fall term:
Differential Equations I
Experimental Physics I
Quantum Physics
Electrodynamics
Mathematical Methods in Physics
Winter Term:
Differential Equations II
Experimental Physics II
Energy and the Environment
Advanced Classical Mechanics
Science and the Media
My fall term is going to be much more difficult than my winter term. Electrodynamics and Mathematical Methods are both 4th year courses, but I have to take them next year because the physics department at Dal is annoying and only offers half of its classes every other year. I’m excited about Energy and the Environment, which is a class comparing the financial and environmental cost of different forms of power, and Science and the Media, but they’re both 2nd year courses which are math-lite. I would have preferred taking Materials Science over Advanced Classical Mechanics, but alas the physics department is screwed up and I can’t take the prerequisite for that course because it isn’t offered this year.

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Huffman Encoding on a picture of David Huffman

May 8th, 2008

For my second term of honours linear algebra, I wrote a paper on JPEG image compression. I was only supposed to write it about DCT and quantization, but reading about the steps involved in JPEG encoding, I found out that some JPEGs are encoded using Huffman encoding as a final step, and I figured I should include that in my paper out of respect for my genes. I even used a scan of an image of me and Uncle David together to compare images with Huffman compression and without.

I realize that I probably got a lot of technical things wrong in this paper, but in my defence, I’m a physics major, not a comp sci major, and I stayed up until 4 in the morning the night before handing it in to finish it. Regardless, after handing it in, my professor responded with an e-mail that read “Congratulations on your project. It is very good.” and I think it’s the reason I got an A in that class despite nearly failing the midterm.

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How to move without a car

May 5th, 2008

I am moved into my home for the summer. It’s a nice big room on the second floor of a yellow house on Cherry St. It’s about three blocks away from a supermarket and within ten minutes of the Dal campus. It has a dishwasher, non coin-operated laundry and a big screen TV. It’s also one street over from where John is living.

However, moving in was quite a challenge. I had no car available as my parents are in Tucson. Residence kicked me out a week before I could move into my new place on the first. I was borrowing furniture from a friend, but the friend was leaving on the 29th. Luckily, John could move into his place a few days early, so we’d just walk all of my furniture and luggage to his new place and then move it to my new place on the 1st. Here’s our original plan:

moveplan1.jpg

Then it turned out that John would not be allowed to move things into his apartment until the 29th, and that my friend would be moving out on the 28th. She was also concerned about her furniture getting hurt by being carried several blocks. Fine. I stored some stuff in residence and at John’s place until I could move it into his place, and luckily my parents were friends with people who lived out in Clayton park. The furniture would be taken by my friend’s parents to Clayton park and then my parent’s friends in Clayton park would take my stuff to Cherry St. The plan was now as such:

moveplan2.jpg

The day that my friend was going to move out, another problem arose… her parents didn’t want to drive the furniture out to Clayton Park. I don’t think this was unreasonable, they had had a long day of moving. However, I had sent the address to them a week in advance. I compromised by storing all of the furniture and my luggage at John’s old bachelor apartment overnight, and moved it to his new place on the 29th when he moved. This change in plan was probably the most stressful day of the move. After that, it was easy to move my stuff from Shirley St. to Cherry St. Here’s what ended up happening. In the end, my luggage and furniture ended up going to two different locations before ending up where I wanted them, and John’s bachelor pad was pretty crowded for a night.

moveplan3.jpg

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All the gazette articles this year on my door

May 5th, 2008

The title of this post is pretty self explanatory. Throughout the year I posted all of my gazette articles on my bulletin board and my door. I’ve been out of residence for two weeks but I’m late in posting this because my camera cord has been packed up.

allgazettearticles.jpg

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