All about Fall 2005

Warning, this is my quarter synopsis post; it’s probably boring to everyone except me.

As I sit in front of my iBook tonight for all nighter #4 of Fall 2005, I can’t help but put my thoughts about this decidedly redonkulous quarter to pen (or rather, HTML).

I’ve worked harder this quarter than ever before in my life, and because I got to know each of my profs personally my grades are probably going to reflect that (for a change). I actually cared enough about my classes this time to actively try to get good grades. What a simple concept, no?

I must have spent more than 30 hours doing each of the three labs for the fantastic 516 Network Admin (my hardest technical class) and learned more about networking than anyone could care to know…and somehow, its interesting enough that I’m still willing to do more. I did all four optional bonus labs for that class too…funny how once you get on a roll, you can just put up with things and keep on trucking.

My work for 409 Website Design was really solid because I spent a ton of time on the projects…same goes for Interface Design. This quarter I decided to no longer put up with the typical “team issues,” and simply take a very proactive role in the teams myself…and in both WDI and ID I’m confident it paid off.

I got a car a week before college started (go go SXY-96E) and for the first time could make things very convenient both for myself and for others. I bought my own groceries, cooked my own meals (well, sometimes), bought and built my own furniture, managed every aspect of my time. This whole “real world” freedom thing actually worked out pretty well. Yay.

Then the icing on the cake happened: on a whim, I applied for and got a pretty sweet job offer that none of my friends who also applied got…and because of that I’m being flown across the country to work for 6 months starting this January. Even though I already met my IT co-op requirement this summer, nobody in my field would say no to this particular offer. I feel incredibly lucky to get it.

Then there’s the family side of things. Pretty early in the quarter I found out that my grandfather is dying. He’s currently at a very ripe old age (late 80s). I flew out to visit him, and while there was a subdued mood underlying the trip I felt really privileged to talk to someone who I formerly knew only as my last grandparent…but this time that changed. He is literally a primary source for over 150 years of rich and interesting history, and is perfectly happy to relate his experiences for hours. Upon this visit I found out that his grandfather, who he knew and remembered, had built the first railways in the 1850’s during the British Industrial Revolution. I never even thought to ask him questions like that until it hit me that he wouldn’t be around forever. Talk about one of those revelation moments…

I’m flying back to visit him again this weekend, and I understand his health is deteriorating at a faster rate. It’s sad to see him go, because he’s the last family connection I have to that generation. I hope he remembers me as a decent grandson, because he was certainly the coolest and most interesting grandad I ever knew.

Sigh. In 3 hours I will drink up another two cups of jaaaava and take my very challenging Economics final…which is unfortunately at the same time as my Interface Design final. I cleared things with weez…but I still feel guilty showing up late.

Now back to the grindstone to force feed more economics into my tired (but willing) brain….

It’s finished!

So for the past couple of days I’ve been working really hard with Brett, Kevin, and Drew on making our final “409 Web Design & Implementation” team project a reality, and by gum, now that it’s done I think we really kicked some serious ass.

I coded up an initial mockup in CSS, and from that we set up phpBB integration, Coppermine integration, and really cool Movable Type integration – keeping our site styles are persistent across every single page. Hooray!

Check it out.

P.S. Wonder if it looks right on IE? Every page validates…and looks great on our reference platform of Firefox.

Welcome to Junior Year

I’ve been back at school for a while now and it’s been the best year yet.

I’m all moved into the refurnished apartment at Perkins Green. They gave us new carpets, a new shower curtain, an airtight front door, a new electric oven, and probably more. Bryan and I have a very cool setup in the room; we both have corner desks and I (finally) got an office chair that actually fits. The kind with a headrest for those of the 6’5″ variety.
Taber got a projector for the living room, I’m setting up a MythTV box for free TiVo, and the server this blog is hosted on [the infamous] moved over successfully too. So everything is golden with the living arrangements this year.

Of course to live in an apartment at RIT you come to depend on transportation. So the week the gas prices shot through the stratosphere was the very same one I bought one of those fancy pants car machines, a silver Camry in (hooray) immaculate condition. Why does nary a scratch deface the gleaming body? Because an older couple used it to get to church and back until their kids made them stop driving. Mileage is only 40,000 for a 60,000-average year. *cha-ching!*

So back to self-effacing mode…
Courses are pretty serious this year, and much more challenging than ever before. The list includes Interface Design (yay), Website Design and Implementation (hopefully we’ll do things I don’t know), Network Admin (holy crap this is time-consuming), and Microeconomics (interesting).

Changed my schedule to the new one RIT is pushing, got a few more free electives. Trying to do study abroad in Marburg this summer…

And, that, as they say, is that. That came out damn long, ha to those still reading!

Bats and camping and flashlights

I said a while ago that the car was really, really full on the ride back from RIT. You can even see that MIDI keyboard stuffed on top of the back seats.
stuffed car

Tomorrow I’m leaving for the Grand Canyon with my dad for two weeks. I’m rafting down the whole thing with the same company as last time, all 270-odd miles. The trip takes just over two weeks from start to finish, and, like any good outdoors trip, has absolutely no contact with human civilization outside of the canyon. The guides have an emergency radio to communicate with overhead 747s flying by, but if there isn’t a plane you’re out of luck. Guests usually don’t sleep in tents either, opting instead to just sleep on top of their sleeping bags.

Last time highlights included being stung by a scorpion at midnight, deftly avoiding sharp rocks and hazards such as poisonous rattlesnakes (by 3 feet) while barefooting it in Tevas, and of course, the same clothes for two weeks.

Its damn cool.

The guides cook and set up camp every day for you, and real meals are possible thanks to the Colorado cooling the coolers all day. You get to hike up these incredible side canyons with warm water pools full of rare frogs and small creatures. No mosquitoes at night…instead you get lots of these tiny bats that fly right above your head come nightfall, echolocating the insects away for you. I brought a book, but you always have things to do, from poetry to games to simply hiking around or paddling in kayaks.

This time the trip is even better because instead of your average guide leading the ~16 people downriver, you have 4 string quartet players as well. Seriously.

So yeah, thats where I’m going to be for the next two weeks. It’s a really cool trip, definitely in my top three.

Look for lots of pictures when I get back.

One more …

Just finished my OS Scripting final exam. It’s been a pretty fun course, emphasizing bash and awk. Scripting is usually easier to write than C++ or Java because even though the language has quirks (like mandatory whitespace) it takes care of semantics like string to int typecasting for you. I’ve been writing scripts to monitor my server hardware, such as getting drive temperatures, network usage, and CPU load.

Anyway. I got my Star Wars Episode III ticket for Wednesday at midnight, because I’m hardcore like that. I’m going to see it with at least Cheston and Juice, and probably 1,000 Vader-costumed, lightsaber wielding RIT nerds.

After that it’s one more exam at 8:00 AM on Friday (yay!), then my parents are coming to take me back home on Saturday. Can’t wait to get out of here, even though I’ll miss everyone. Seeing all the storage boxes and huge dumpsters full of old chairs and miscellany reminds you of how fast the year really goes by.