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Archive for April, 2009

Frustration = Parenting?

April 24th, 2009 No comments

I don’t claim to understand the reasoning and motives behind other people’s behavior but I there seems to be an increased number of incidents lately where I have been unable to understand another’s view point, alone motives. So here’s the scenario that I don’t understand at all:

A person’s parents are decently well off, we will call this person Sally to have as generic a name as possible. Sally’s parents are not only well off, but the father has worked at many high level (and even fortune 500) companies. Throughout all of Sally’s college career, her parents have supplier her with a monthly allowance so that she can take care of any additional everyday expenses beyond tuition and the like. As for tuition itself, that is covered by financial aid, scholarships, and a few grand that Sally comes up with each year to make up the difference/remainder not covered by scholarships. With this allowance, Sally covers personal food that isn’t on the meal plan, entertainment (on occasion for the allowance doesn’t cover a huge amount of activities), monthly phone bill, and any other expenses that might be incurred during the course of the month.

Well, the summer semester is approaching and Sally is now looking for an internship or job that can fill the summer semester between academic semesters. Well, she has been considering non-paying internships because they typically better augment and enhance a resum? than other opportunities. Suddenly Sally finds out that her parents will not be able to pay her monthly allowance because her father hasn’t gotten a new job yet and the family doesn’t know if they will be moving during the course of the summer to accomodate. They then follow this with trying to get Sally to come home for the summer which not only seems extremely unproductive with the possibility that she won’t be able to hold and job should she even find one in her remote home town.

So now Sally is saddled with expenses during the course of the summer that she doesn’t have a means to pay for, pressure to come home for the summer, and no idea how she is going to come up with the means to pay for her summer expenses. I simply don’t understand the motive behind the wishy-washiness of the parents or the lack of support that is being offered to their daughter because she is looking for a job that will enhance her resum? instead of one that will cover her summer expenses. When Sally asks for advice, her mother tells her that she shouldn’t waste her summer working for a non-paid internship and should work on earning money. The ironic part to this entire scenario is that Sally’s parents want her to succeed, expect her to succeed, and put a lot of pressure on her to succeed. How they expect her to succeed when they limit her possibilities so severely is beyond me, ESPECIALLY in this present economy.

That is my rant/point I am lacking understanding of at present. I am sure at some point a solution will be found for with time, there will be a result regardless of it being a good or bad solution to the problem at hand.

While Classes are Drawing to a Close

April 23rd, 2009 No comments

Well classes have begun to draw to a close now. There is one more day of classes, and I plan to skip one of those two classes I have tomorrow. CS 2200 classes are complete and there is just the exam left to take next week. EAS 1601 is done, FINALLY, and I just have the exam on Monday and will be done with lab sciences for the rest of my college career. Econ 2106 is the class I am skipping the class for tomorrow because there is an optional quiz tomorrow and my average in the class is already a 98 and we aren’t on a +/- system so it won’t make a difference if my grade is higher than it is right now. All that leaves is one class to attend tomorrow at noon, CS 2340 and then that exam also next week. Fortunately, the final project for CS 2340 has been completed at long last and I don’t have to worry about the project ANY MORE! I am so so so excited about the fact that I don’t have that project to work on any longer. We presented it to our TA today and so are just awaiting our final grade for that. I believe that we will get some extra credit on the final project and can’t wait to just be FINISHED with the class completely. I have found it so hard to find any true value in the class itself and the project has simply taught me who I won’t include in future group projects with the goal of avoiding issues like I have had to deal with this semester.

Other work that I have to do by the end of next week is take care of some website updates for castplays.com, work on my personal code library project for PHP, study for exams, and get some of my stuff home to make the move next weekend easier and quicker. In the mean time, today has been spent basically just turning off my brain and trying to relax a little bit. Tomorrow, until tomorrow night when I go to a party with my girlfriend, it will be back to the books for a little bit so that I can get a mild head start on things since I want to be prepared for my exams next week. Sadly, even with the highest possible grade on my final in CS 2200, I won’t be able to earn an A in that class without some help from the graders/teacher because of my screwing up the tests a little bit and messing up that one project demo by missing the demo slot I signed up for. Shit happens, but it is really sad that the highest I can get in the class right now is about an 87-88 with a 100 on the final in the class… ah well.

As for my personal coding project/code library for my future and present sites, my current goals are:

  • Create a string library to handle things like validating an email address or a date.
  • Create an object oriented db class/find a good one online that does everything that I want.
  • Create a user class so that I can then work on the next task of
  • Creating an authentication process so that I can move closer to actually being underway with my business ideas (more to come on that once they are more concrete and there is a site to back it up).

Until I have more/until tomorrow when I publish the other blog post that I am presently working on, I am going to relax a little bit.

Classes & Study Abroad

April 19th, 2009 No comments

So I have decided on the classes I am going to take in the fall (and have registered for them). I am presently signed up for 15 hours of classes (all CS classes) but will drop one of them if I decide it is too difficult to keep with the other 4. I am signed up for:

  • CS 3210: Designing Operating Systems
  • CS 3240: Languages and Computation
  • CS 3251: Computer Networking I
  • CS 3510: Design and Analysis of Algorithms (not looking forward to this class at all! Not to mention it is at 9 AM on MWF)
  • CS 4235: Introduction to Information Security

I really don’t want to take CS 3510 because it is a follow-up to Combinatorics, which I really really struggled with! It is also at 9 AM on MWF, another reason to not take it, but the GPA of the teacher is substantially better than the GPA in CS 3240 where the averge GPA for the teacher is 2.99. My solution was sign up for all of them and drop one if I decide its workload is going to be too much.

In regards to Study Abroad, I am thinking that I will be going to the same program as my girlfriend at this point. I don’t HAVE to apply by November 15th, and won’t need to get approval from all the different offices/departments at Tech till September or October to make sure I am all set for Spring 2010. I will try to meet with the Internation Education advisor this week so that I can confirm that this will be an option and maybe so they can adopt it into their own list of offered programs.

Categories: Inspired Tags: , ,

The New Space Race and Cyberspies

April 16th, 2009 No comments

So I have come across a few rather interesting articles over the last few days. One is regarding the newest space race, which is coincidentally between Google and Microsoft. The rest have been regarding computer security in some fashion ranging from the threat of what the article calls cyberspies, which is basically just a term that they are using to include script kiddies to black hat hackers, to a simply ridiculous story from Boston College.

The space race article was really interesting. I cannot wait to see the fruition of the competition between Google and Microsoft. Apparently, Google is working on a program/application to go along with Google Earth called Google Sky which will allow the observation of the sky through the use of the large number of telescopes in orbit around Earth. On the other side is Microsoft announcing that it is going to be broadcasting out to the web the telescope that Bill Gates has funded in South America (in “the world’s Southern Hemisphere space-observatory mecca” according to the article). I cannot wait to get my hands on some of the resulting images!!! Should be awesome!
Source: dailygalaxy.com

The issue with cyberspies is as follows: “Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.”
To me it sounds a little bit like attempt to rouse the public’s interest than anything else, though there is probably some truth to it. The part that is trying to simply rouse the public, from what I can tell, is the part that “the spies came from China, Russia and other countries.” The proof that the newspaper would actually have of both the whereabouts of the supposed threat along with the capabilities of the threat itself does not seem to exist. The one scrap of truth is “the newspaper said, citing current and former U.S. national security officials,” which could just mean more propaganda. Of course, the caveat of the whole thing is that GT predicted this some time ago… well at least the part that hackers would have the potential ability to access the electric power grid. [See the pdf supplied here]
I actually got all of this from gtcomputing on Twitter. Good stuff. Here is the article that is sourced.

For this last little tidbit for this blog post, at least regarding the outside world, I will simply start with a quote from the beginning of the article:
“On Friday, EFF and the law firm of Fish and Richardson filed an emergency motion to quash [pdf] and for the return of seized property on behalf of a Boston College computer science student whose computers, cell phone, and other property were seized as part of an investigation into who sent an e-mail to a school mailing list identifying another student as gay. The problem? Not only is there no indication that any crime was committed, the investigating officer argued that the computer expertise of the student itself supported a finding of probable cause to seize the student’s property.”
The article goes on to even outline parts of the warrant itself and shows how the warrant claims that the student’s computer abilities are what brought him into question. Apparently, he “uses two different operating systems to hide his illegal activities” according to the warrant, going further by stating that “One is the regular B.C. operating system [there is a standard operating system? I will assume they mean windows…] and the other is a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on.” From what I can tell, and from what the author of this article can tell, the student was implicated on the simple fact that he could get around a computer. And what precisely was the crime? Besides, a mailing list will typically keep track of the sender of an email. Why not just search that? Seems preposterous to me. I think that this might be a result of our wonderful media making anyone with computer skills look like someone that is a public threat… but it isn’t truly my place to decide if such is the case. I just hope that EFF and Fish and Richardson will get this injustice fixed.
Source: eff.org

On a final note, I actually got ahead with my projects. I am not talking getting it done on time (I always do that), I actually got it done multiple days early, hooray!

I Seem to be Slacking

April 13th, 2009 No comments

I seem to be slacking with these blog posts. I will go days without a post, but usually that is a result of not having time or anything interesting to blog. My last blog was a week ago today… interesting how there were some things that happened last week worth noting in this blog. One of them was confirmation that I have definitely switched my Computer Science focus. Another was finding out that my Econ class that I am taking this semester doesn’t count towards my major. A third is that I am starting to plan potentially going to China in the Spring of 2010. I have also begun to seriously use a program I got in the latest MacHeist called The Hit List which so far has been everything I have REALLY needed from a todo program, and especially that iCal didn’t provide. So, first things first:

GT’s Computer Science program is very unique in that it allows us to greatly diversify our major so that no 2 CS majors will be exactly the same. I have known for quite some time that I wanted to learn about information security, and the thread that correlated best with that was Information Internetworks. My other thread choice (since we must pick at least 2) was Media with the thought that I could then work on the graphical side of video games. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that I do not have much in the way of artistic talent which would mean I would probably not enjoy studying the topic of computer graphics. Instead, I have decided to switch to the Platforms thread. Platforms is substantially more down my alley because it will allow me to learn more about the server side of things. So I will start taking Platforms specific courses in the Fall and am looking forward to it!

Unfortunately, when I went in to make the above changes to my Computer Science threads, I found out that the Econ class I have been taking this semester doesn’t count towards my major because it has too much overlap with a previous Econ class I took. Apparently I just misread the Registrar’s website when I was signing up for classes. During my Freshman year I took Econ 2101 and am now taking Econ 2106. According to the registrar, one cannot get credit for Econ 2100 AND Econ 2101, or Econ 2100 AND Econ 2105/2106, or Econ 2101 AND Econ 2105/2106. What is not outright said though is that one CAN get credit for taking Econ 2105 AND Econ 2106. So, I am going to be taking Econ 2105 in the Fall and will finish my Social Science credits accordingly. Unfortunately, it results in me having taken a course this semester that won’t directly affect my major right now, but once I finish 2105 I will be just fine and Econ 2101 will fall under the “wasted time” column.

A little while back I started to entertain the idea of taking a semester abroad in Beijing. Granted this decision was initially solely fueled by my girlfriend’s plans to study in Beijing during that same semester, I am now very interested in it. I am going to have to meet with an advisor in the Office of International Education to discuss the matter at some point VERY soon, but the potential gains from this opportunity are pretty nice. I know that it is not easy to see this at first glance, but I can’t just hole myself up to ONLY being able to service US employers. Being able to interface with employers from another country would be truly invaluable in today’s market. Consider the way the US’s market is going right now, employment here is not guaranteed, even with my plans to create my own Web Security firm.

As for the todo list program that I have started using, I absolutely love The Hit List. It has a lot of versatility which iCal definitely does not have. In iCal, I was only able to set a todo with a due date, some notes, assign it to a calendar, and that was pretty much it. There was no ability to make a recurring todo, there was no way to make it show up only when I wanted to show it instead of just a single long list. The Hit List supplies me with the versatility that I believe I have been lacking and also has provided some features that I didn’t think that I really needed/was lacking. All around, I am so far impressed and it ALONE was worth the cost of the MacHeist 3 bundle that I purchased.

The rest of the week last week was comprised of class, homework, and going home over the weekend for Passover services and my father’s birthday. The only other thing that has been on my mind has been potential business opportunities that I will enumerate once the project is underway. Until then, it shall be a mystery.

A Little Catch-up

April 6th, 2009 4 comments

It looks like I am a bit behind in keeping up with this blog regarding my goal to post once per ever 2-3 days. Happens. Seems to happen every weekend though since I haven’t even been getting online over the past couple weekends. Just the way it has been working.

I will start the post off with what I found to be hilarious last week. It would seem that Stephen Colbert has done it again with making things interesting for everyone else while receiving more face time for himself. He found out that NASA was opening the voting for the name of the next piece of the space station to the public. There happened to be a write-in option. This was possibly NASA’s biggest mistake with this whole idea. Colbert had his audience of thousands use his name as the write-in which resulted in him winning by a wide margin of 40,000+ votes. I found this whole thing hilarious and will be deeply disappointed if NASA doesn’t honor it. Source: reuters.com.

The next tab that I have open in my browser for the purpose of blogging about it is a game that a friend of mine has created. She and a group of friends have created a game called “Some Assembly Required” which is closing on its completion. At first I figured it wouldn’t be anything too fantastic, but after viewing some screen-shots, I am deeply impressed with it! Of course, part of my doubt was that I hadn’t been following the production, but the results are astonishing to say the least. I am very impressed! Hazel’s blog post about the present version of the game is here.

The last article that I found last week that I wanted to just quickly mention in this blog post is about some MIT research. There is research at MIT for working on new rechargable batteries. Sounds harmless at first till you hear the rest of the headline. The full title is: “MIT Scientists Build Virus-Powered Batteries for Your Next Electric Car.” They were able to imitate a battery by genetically engineering viruses to act as the anodes and cathodes to the battery. Only recently did they figure out how to imitate the cathodes of a battery, but they have been working on the anode part of the battery for the last 3 years. They claim they will not use any threatening viruses because naturally the usage of one would be detrimental to the saleability of the batteries and the approval of the batteries by the government. Source: fastcompany.com.

As for my weekend itself, it was pretty good. My brother received the rank of Eagle on Friday night. I was the MC for the event and it went VERY well. He has definitely excelled in Boy Scouts faster than I did and will likely achieve a much higher rank of achievement than I ever did. Next on his todo list is going to be becoming a Black Belt as my father and I already have.

Saturday was spent with the grandparents and sleeping in followed by heading back to Atlanta. Sunday was spent doing homework and eatting brunch at the White House Caf?. Love going there and will probably be hanging out with Robbie later this week. Finished the weekend in grand style watching more Babylon 5. I absolutely love the show and find myself wishing I could watch the next episode on a rather regular basis.

Lastly, my next project is going to be creating the music blog I promised for my girlfriend.