Category Archives: day-to-day

TPM: You Don’t Scare Me No More

Technical Presentation Milestone

There’s something to be said about fearing the unknown; it’s very true. As this semester is drawing to a close, one topic that’s been weighing on me is that of the Technical Presentation Milestone. It is a requirement of all 2A students enrolled in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of Waterloo. Basically it’s to help us suck less at presenting technical subjects to an audience. It’s not the actual presenting part that I was fearful of. I’m decently outgoing and usually don’t have too much trouble talking in front of a crowd. I was fearful because I had not idea about the requirements of the presentation. Was I just supposed to know magically what the presentation is supposed to be on or what sort of format they want?

Well, I read through the website dedicated to the TPM and I’m glad to say, I’m not longer worrying about the presentation. Based on what I take from the information presented there, it’s mostly a study of if we’re capable of giving an informative presentation. The content isn’t the key, much like our first work term report. There are no topic restrictions so pretty much anything technical goes. I’ve already started formulating several ideas for a topic. I’ll have to see which one(s) I can research properly for a knowledgeable presentation. When the audience starts asking questions, I don’t want to blabber about nothing…

Bout of Tiredness

I recently had quite the tired aura hanging over me. For some reason or another, I haven’t been able to keep my eyelids open for the entire day. I’m guessing it has something to do with this sickness that I still haven’t completely gotten over; the cough is still there and sore throats are commonplace. My body’s probably fighting it off still and I’m not giving it much chance for rest. I mean just look, I’m writing in this blog when I could clearly be dozing away right now.

On a side note, I’m quite certain I saw a drug deal go down on the bus back home today. It was quite iffy and they definitely weren’t making it subtle… Just remember kids, drug are bad.

No PDEng?!

Well, it’s partially true. Since my computer is constantly at risk of spontaneously combusting, I decided not to save my PDEng assignment this week for tonight, the last night to complete it. As a result, I have no PDEng to do. It feels quite relaxing. In fact I’ve been catching up on some TV shows I missed last week like The Office and I’ll probably watch the season premier of Smallville tomorrow.

So despite my best efforts, my order for the computer parts still got royally messed up so I ended up having to cancel and re-order. Thankfully, they’ve assured us that they have enough supply of the video card. So even though I’m back a ways in the queue, I shouldn’t have any problem getting it. However due to the mixup and subsequent delay, it’ll be hard pressed for the shipping company to get all the parts to me by this weekend. That also means I can’t send out this messed up stick of RAM as soon as I would’ve liked since I need some sort of computer, even if it is crashing every so often.

Speaking of shipping stuff, I sent a faulty motherboard to the repair facility down in the States three weeks about three weeks ago. Canada Post told me that it should take 8 days and gave me the tracking number. Ends up, neither the time estimation or the tracking number did any good. According to the tracking page, the package is still in Mississauga (wooooo, a trip that should take an hour by car took them… 3 weeks?!) and it’s been 3 weeks since I sent it. I decided to give Canada Post the good ol’ telephone call today to inquire and all I got as a result was “it should get there soon”. No matter how hard I pressed the guy and complained about the lack of updates on the tracking site or the 3 week transit time, I got the same answer back. Oh well. My guess is, the guy had no idea what was going on with the package. “It should get there soon” means I’ll wait a little longer and if it still doesn’t get there, I’ll call back and hopefully not get him. Someone else can deal with me then. 😛

Yep, so the 8 and a half hour sleep last night (longest weeknight sleep I’ve had in who knows how long) was amazing so I think I’m going to do it again tonight.


I really wish spammers would just die in a corner. Like honestly. I don’t want to buy Viagara or cholesterol-lowering pills. To put it in perspective, I’ve now acquired a total of around 6000 spam comments on my blog. The spam filters have caught almost all of them, but every once in a while a few will trickle through and I’m forced to moderate them all as spam. What a pain.

One thing I’ve forgotten to talk about over this past week is my driving adventures. Since coming to Ontario, my parents decided it wasn’t worth the money to buy car insurance for me since I was in Waterloo for the whole year, living on campus. As a result, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that I was legally allowed to drive in Ontario. So last weekend, I set out on my first drive in Ontario. It was quite anti-climactic. It was pretty much a walk in the park. Changing lanes on a busy road was something that I hadn’t done much of before, but it wasn’t a problem. The new car definitely has a much more sensitive gas pedal, so I sort of flew backwards out of the driveway the first time. Also, it was today that I first drove on a 400 highway. Still, nothing to worry about. It felt pretty good to have control of a vehicle again. Now, how am I going to convince my parents I need a car for my work term…

I’ve been getting into games quite a lot over the past week or two. UT2003 has now (once again) become a regular part of my life. I play pretty much daily now. I’ll humbly say that I’m still pretty good. It’s great to see so many people from the old days playing again as well. Over this past weekend, I also read about a new RTS game, set to be released later this month: Company of Heroes. Now, most of the games I’ve played recently have been first person games, like Oblivion and Unreal Tournament. It hasn’t been since Empire Earth that I seriously played a real time strategy game. I’m pretty sure that’ll all change (looking for release date…) TOMORROW! Company of Heroes launches tomorrow. Besides the serious graphics update from the last batch of RTS games I’ve played, there are also a lot of changes to the basic RTS foundation that I remember. Instead of ‘mining’ for resources, you capture resource points and you get a steady stream of them, as long as you hold those points. The game also seems a lot more strategy oriented instead of ‘build-a-bazillion-tanks-and-rush’ type gameplay. I downloaded the demo, the whole 1.8GBs of it Saturday night and I tried my hand at it earlier today. I’m extremely impressed. It’s definitely going to get some of my money.

This coming week should be pretty exciting (well, aside from work, although I am going on a tour of the wireless innovation lab tomorrow morning). There are several video card releases coming late in the week (what a geek I am) and, of course, Company of Heroes tomorrow. Good stuff. Have a good week. 🙂

Back Online

I was told I look way younger than 18 today. It’s somewhat degrading to be told that straight to your face, but when you’ve heard it as much I have, you get used to it, really.

As with move, there are a bunch of miscellaneous things which must be taken care of. One of the most important being my internet connection. While I’m working for Bell Mobility, I decided to go with Rogers for my internet. After all, I have no phone line here and I didn’t care to get one installed just for the internet. And I don’t really need another phone as I’ve got my cell phone with me. There were a few concerns such as traffic shaping (in layman’s terms, Bittorrent traffic is throttled) and speed. I haven’t yet tried Bittorrent yet but downloads are still around the 600-700KB/s mark. It’s slower than what I’ve got back home (closer to 1MB/s) but it’ll do. I know you guys back on PEI are probably drooling at this point. 😉 I read about a Pre-RC1 release of Windows Vista earlier today so I was excited to come back here with my newly installed internet and start downloading it. After all, it’s only available to the first 100,000 downloaders. I got it after about 50 minutes but I’ll have to wait until the weekend when I can go home and get some DVDs to install it though. Speaking of which, it’s a long weekend. What an excellent way to start the work term. 🙂

Work has been pretty damn good so far. I’ve been to several meetings already and I’m really liking the big business environment. There is definitely a lot more bureaucracy around the office but at least in our team, everyone seems to know everyone and it feels pretty tight-knit. One concern I do have, however, is that I don’t really know when it’s appropriate for me to speak up in a meeting. I did put in a few words today at a meeting but the answers I received (at least I felt) were of an adult talking to a child. It was like, yes you have said something we acknowledge but you’re still too young to understand. Maybe I am too young (experience and age wise) but I’d like to be able to speak my mind, granted, I don’t want to sound ignorant either. Because of that, I’ve been doing a TON of reading up on different technologies and strategies that are in the pipe. It’s generally a tough read; I have to constantly cross reference different documents and the amount of acronyms and short hands they put in these things is ridiculous.

As always in a new city, I get the opportunity to experience the mass transit system. In comparison with the Waterloo one, I have to say this one’s pretty good, only in that the buses arrive with very little time between them. That means even if you miss one, there’ll be another that comes along in a couple minutes. One thing that does bug me though is the fact that I find it hard to tell the difference between a Toronto Transit bus stop and a Mississauga Transit one. Toronto uses red and Mississauga uses orange. When that red sign gets a little tarnished, it looks an awful lot like orange. Plus, they don’t even say if it’s Mississauga or Toronto. They just draw a little bus picutre on the thing. Thanks, I didn’t know I was waiting for a bus…

It’s time for bed though. I’m still getting up pretty early because I’m not too confident in my ability to navigate the bus system without missing a couple buses (my first time coming back from work saw me miss two buses and walk for 30 minutes…) As well, I’ve got a meeting with my boss tomorrow morning to discuss a few things, in particular a few notes I wrote down in one of today’s meetings but was reluctant to speak out about. I’m really enjoying the business side of technology. I find I constantly want to learn more and come up with new ideas. Wracking my mind for ideas and ways to implement them really floats my boat for some reason.

Low Morale

A guy got on the bus awfully pissed off about something. Currently, every second word he’s saying is sh*t or f*ck or some other profanity. I wonder if it makes him feel good when he disses his cell phone over and over…

Yes, I’m on the bus for the first time in quite a long while, hence the absence of these ‘bus notes’. I’ve been going home every other week or so with a friend who also lives in Niagara Falls. He has a car and as a result, I haven’t had to put up with these overly lengthy trips. But this time I’m actually only going to Hamilton where I’m meeting my parents with an eventual destination of Mississauga.  While at university, my parents went and checked out a place for me for when I’m on my co-op at Bell Mobility. I’m just going to have a final look at the place and we’ll probably sign the contract there. My parents already told me the place looks pretty good. I trust their judgment enough so I’m expecting a decent place.

This past week has been quite frustrating. This was the last full week of lectures; we’ve got only 2 days next week and it’s exam time (uh oh). It seems like to top off an already difficult semester, they laid on the hurt with some of the most difficult assignments/quizzes I’ve seen so far this semester. For example,  I spent 3 hours on a CDT yesterday (it’s supposed to be only a ‘quiz’) and before that, we had a long-ass calculus assignment on double and triple integrals. How enjoyable. I’ve still got two assignments to hand in before the end of lectures. One is physics, which I heard is very simple and the other is accounting. I read through the assignment and it’s definitely going to take a while to set up properly in excel. It sure gets confusing as hell when you start combining interest, inflation, taxes, uncertainty and all that into a financial analysis. I can just see how simple it would have been for companies to make one little error and have to restate earnings. Sometimes I sit there reading earnings reports from various companies. I’ve stared in awe at the disgusting amount of profit or appalling losses, but never have I wondered how long it would have taken to prepare the earnings report itself. Definitely not child’s play. No wonder those CA’s get paid the big bucks.

Oh right, this was a frustrating week. Well, it’s getting very close to exam time and these difficult assignments and quizzes have definitely done nothing good for the confidence levels. It’s really difficult to feel too good going into your exams after getting violated by an inanimate object. And they wonder why we have such low morale in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. Fortunately I do have time to prepare for these exams. It’s great that our exams are at least spaced out rather nicely. While I only have 5 exams, they’re spread out over just about two weeks.

After the 3 hour ‘quiz’ yesterday, I decided to take it easy since my brain was absolutely fried in every way. I had been planning on working on that accounting assignment, but I haven’t counted on that CDT to be so difficult or lengthy. As a result, I spend the night watching some TV and surfing the internet. Around 10:30pm I decided to have a look at what services the wireless providers in this country offer. (This reminds me, I’m supposed to have a look at the wireless data services available from  the various telecoms in Canada before my work term…) I ended up making an excel sheet with all of the features I need and the monthly contract I’d need to get from the four providers in Canada. (Rogers Wireless, Telus Mobility, Bell Mobility and Fido) I priced up something along the lines of 150-200 anytime minutes, at least 1000 evening and weekend minutes, 100 long distance minutes, unlimited (essentially, or like 1000) text messages, Caller ID, and a voice mailbox. It’s looking like somewhere around $60/month for any of the above mentioned service providers, which is a little steep, but this would be my only phone since I move around too much to get a land line. I’m just waiting for these consumer-ised BlackBerries to drop on the Bell Mobility network. That way I can pick up an awesome device while retaining my current number. I can hardly wait for something like the current 7130s but with an MP3 player and a camera.

Anyways, that’s all for now. I think I’m going to start those posts on “Theatre of the Mind”. I’ve really been putting it off since I always think it’ll take too big of a chunk of time. I’m going to at least jot down some point form subjects I want to talk about.

Catch Up

This past week has been ridiculous and I’m damn glad that it’s finally over. It finished off with a ECE100 circuits midterm which I did okay on. I made a couple stupid mistakes which will cost me, but hopefully not too much. I knew the material well, I just had a brain fart. It definitely wasn’t helped by the lack of sleep leading up to the exam. But what’s done is done and leads me to my next point.

I find myself dwelling way too much on things that have already occurred and I no longer have any control over. It’s probably been exacerbated by the fact that I’m in a difficult program and it’s reasonable to say that I’ll make a few mistakes here and there in any exam. But the fact that I know I could’ve done better if I had of done this or that, or remembered this or that really drives me nuts. I mean last night, I lay there awake wishing I had another crack at that midterm because I knew the material. A slipup cost me many percentages. To be honest, it’s not only mistakes I make on a test either. I spend way too much time thinking and moping about things I cannot control or change. I have to change that aspect of my personality. It doesn’t help me at all.

Because last week was so busy, I had little time to keep up with the material being presented in class. As a result, I’m slightly behind and I’m taking advantage of this weekend to really do some catching up. It’s not very common for me to do much work on Saturdays, but I really upped the self discipline today and got a solid amount of work done. I’m hoping to get caught up in all my classes and get all the assignments done for this week, excluding Calculus, before Monday. I’m going to try for a fresh start next week so that I’m not worrying about things I don’t understand. Plus, it’s really getting close to final exam time and I need to start studying. (Yeah, only a little more than two weeks left of lectures and then about 2 weeks of exams.)

I also decided that I want to live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area when I graduate (or maybe not after undergrad, but after grad school if I can make it). Not only is Silicon Valley in that area, the Bay area just generally seems like a nice place. (I Google mapped California for a good while this morning) I mean the weather helps a lot and watching shows like Entourage, which is based in California, just makes me want to go live there. I don’t think I could ask for anything more than to lead a comfortable life somewhere nice and warm. As I’ve aged, I think I’ve become more moderate, or perhaps more reasonable in my wishes and dreams. No longer do I wish to be some super rich person. Money just doesn’t seem to impress me as much anymore. I’d just like to live a comfortable life that I’m happy with.

My parents are going up to Toronto this weekend to check out a few places for me, when I work in Mississauga next semester. I didn’t get a chance to go home this weekend, but I trust their judgment enough. I still have to do some reading for that job… I need to brush up on my (non-existent) business and strategy analysis skills. If anything, I’ll learn a great deal about business this semester. On the topic of living somewhere, the bunch of people that applied for residence for the next study semester still haven’t gotten anything back from the Housing department yet. I read a newsletter that said the apartment-style residences are already full. See, if we don’t get into UWP I will be very angry. We put in our applications… more than a month ago now and when we last visited them, they told us we would get something soon. Another two weeks have passed and we’ve still got nothing.

I’m super excited about visiting PEI this summer. I can hardly wait to see the old crew again. It should be a good time and I’ll definitely savor the break from school. Some of you know the feeling you get when you finally finish that last exam and you’re free for a semester. (I no longer consider a full time job work. :P) Toodles, it’s time for bed.

My Arm!

So we had an Ultimate game today that the opposing team had to forfeit due to the lack of players. Nonetheless, we decided to split into two teams and had a little unofficial scrim. It was lots of fun, not broken up by the fact that I got streamrolled by a big guy (read: former football player) from our house. If you’re reading this, I don’t blame you at all, but it still hurt. 😛 Now my arm’s a little scratched up but worse, I think it may be infected. It’s a funky color, a sort of opaque white look. I don’t think that can be good, especially after I applied the peroxide.

As well, there’s finally some good news on the academic front for a change. I rocked discrete math with a 98% in the midterm. To be honest though, the midterm for that class was quite easy so it’s probably not as good as it may sound. I still did merely mediocre in the more difficult classes. Still, it’s a start. I just need to work harder. (easier said than done, let me tell you)

So I’ve been recently obsessed with mobile gadgets, especially smartphones and cellphones. It’s leaning mostly toward to smartphone side but let’s just say, there are generally a lot of nice phones around… just not in Canada. I mean just take a look at the devices they’ve got in Asia. I’m talking specifically the Samsung and LG phones they’re showing off. When you look at what a company like Motorola is offering, it really pales in comparison. Sure the RAZR and SLVR are thin phones but do they honestly look that nice comparatively? Nope. There are some sick phones over there. The bad thing is, I’ve got a good deal at Bell, which is CDMA, thus locking me out of a lot of phones (most of them are GSM) and I can’t activate an unlocked phone on the Bell network. It has to be a Bell phone… Nokia also has some sick phones.

Speaking of Nokia, a few months back, Nokia and Sanyo decided to team up to develop new CDMA phones/technology. However QUALCOMM (huge portfolio of CDMA-related patents) decided to muddle things up and imposed some restrictive conditions on the partnership. As a result, Nokia has broken off that partnership and will pull out of researching and manufacturing CDMA technology. It’s probably not that big of a deal anyways since Nokia never did produce too much in terms of CDMA phones anyways. Contract manufacturers will still make Nokia branded CDMA phones but you can those Nseries phones aren’t coming to CDMA. You GSM subscribers, count yourself lucky, but there’s no way I’m going to jump ship to Rogers. It seems so… unprofessional for some reason. Perhaps it’s their marketing campaign.

In any case, I’m really itching to pick up a Treo 650 at this point. It’s about the best you can do on the Bell Mobility network and if I can just add unlimited texting to my plan, I’ll have a super cheap way to keep in touch. (I mean I’m only paying like $20/month for service right now with a corp deal at my dad’s company.) Plus, I just need that QWERTY keypad. It’s soooo nice. But I know I’ll wait until AT LEAST my co-op job at Bell Mobility. Who knows, maybe I can get in on some employee plan. That would be pretty sweet.

Ummm so, that’s about it. I think I’m going to take it easy tonight and just watch a movie. Off to peruse my movie library. 🙂

Nostalgic For A Moment

After reading a couple friends’ blogs I realized just how much I missed having the crew together. Actually it was especially those two people because they’ve been away from their homes for just about a year now and will be going back home soon. I think it was the thought that in the end they’d end up going back to PEI even though they’ve experienced so much outside of that little island and North America in general. Then reading those blogs led me through the blogs of several other people I know. Some I hadn’t really talked to much before but I discovered something about each and every one of them just by reading a few entries. Perhaps it’s the fact that I have been around them and had the opportunity to get to know them better, but in the end, never did. And now the only thing I have are blogs to, every once in a while, peer inside the thoughts and feelings of those people. And really, I should be studying, not surfing through random blogs. Maybe after these midterms are over, I’ll think about putting more effort into communicating with some of these people. That way when I do visit PEI this summer, I’ll be able to at least know what’s going on there. I wouldn’t mind seeing and chatting with some people I never really talked to before.

Speaking of studying, I’m just about done studying for the midterm later today: Discrete Mathematics. It generally feels like something pretty useless, although it does stress logical thinking, which is very useful for an engineer. Still, there’s a lot of memorization of proofs and one must have the ability to not only regurgitate those proofs, but be able to apply those theorems. Let me tell you, there are a lot of proofs to remember and some of them are pretty involved. After this midterm, there’s only MSCI 261 left (management science, economics, accounting or whatever you’d like to call it) which should be fairly easy. To be honest, I’m not really sure what to expect on either of these last two midterms. With Calculus, we knew it would be 60-70% from assignments. Physics was just destruction (always is). ECE100 (electrical engineering basics really) was some calculations and some derivations of formulae. Since we’ve never had a course like Discrete or MSCI (I guess linear algebra could be sort of considered similar to discrete…) it’s hard to know how to study. The sample midterms from previous semesters are proving to be very helpful.

I’ve got a meeting with the co-op coordinator in about an hour. Since I accepted the job with Bell Mobility, I’ll have to find a place to live in Mississauga and perhaps find about a bit more about the job. (I wrote previously that this is a new job for our school and as a result, no one I spoke to really knows what to expect) Nonetheless, I’m very excited about the opportunity. For some reason, I’m drawn to the wireless sector. Perhaps that’s where I’ll specialize in the future. Must have something to do with all the research I did on the various wireless technologies and their evolution for my work term report (Got Excellent on that by the way, the second highest rating…).

Sorry if this entry has sounded rushed and unorganized. I don’t have much time right now to be writing anything other than more proofs of GCDs or whatever. Still, I think it’s nice for both you (readers) and myself to get some thoughts down. I’m really glad I did start a blog way back when. You wouldn’t believe what it’s like to flip all the way back to May 2005 and read about things like the musical or the last weeks on PEI. This is what a blog is for.

Summer Arrives

It’s the end of another weekend and I’m heading back to the University of Waterloo on a very crowded bus. In the winter, this bus was always so empty and I wondered how the company made any money. Well, it’s the summer now (I’ll explain why in a bit) and Niagara Falls is the tourist place to be in the summer so the bus is pretty jam packed. I’ve got my arms scrunched up here trying to write this. Picture me with a 15.4” laptop on my lap trying to type with about a foot and a half’s space in front of my chest. It’s not pretty and feels pretty damn awkward to boot. Who knows if the people around me are looking at what I’m writing… Hey you there, stop peeking. Yeah, you.

The weekend wasn’t too bad I guess. I did quite a bit of preparation for studying (that means getting myself and my notes organized) and started reading the course notes. I really haven’t gotten through much of anything yet and I’ve got my three hardest midterms starting next Friday. It should be okay. I plan on existing in the library for most of the time this coming week. As well, I’ve got a few interviews which I’ve had to prepare a little bit for coming up early next week. Hopefully they’ll go well. If I can get a job in this first set of interviews, a big weight will be lifted from my shoulders. It would especially suck to have to worry about getting a job later in the year, especially around final exam time. They’ve removed the early match process that I used for last semester’s job so I’ll be able to go through all my interviews and hopefully make a more informed choice. I basically went for whatever job I could get in the first semester (it’s probably the hardest semester to get a job, and for good reason) but maybe, just maybe I can afford to be a little pickier this time around.

Oh, I mentioned it was summer earlier. Although the beginning of the summer season is officially June 21st, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say summer is upon you in just about every sense of the word when you have three days in a row of 32°C weather (if you could read this Reese, I’m sure you’d be jealous). Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week is when the awesome weather will start. That’s not to mention that the weekend has also been extremely nice. This is only the start and I’m sure I’ll hate studying when there’s so much to do outside. I’ll get my fair share of Ultimate Frisbee in hopefully.

Two Games, Same Result

Well against all odds (perhaps?) the Edmonton Oilers, Canada’s last chance at the Stanley Cup, have moved two games ahead of Anaheim in the Western Conference Finals. I watched the last half of both games and yes, they ended essentially the same way, Edmonton up 2-1 and then they put in an empty net goal to guarantee the win. I’m quite proud right now. Plus they’re going back home for the next two games. Hopefully the crowd will be a boost to the team. And Roloson has been plain awesome. He just scoots across the crease like nobody’s business.

In other news, Oblivion’s super addictive. I’m at level 10 now (I know, quite measely still, but I don’t have much time to play) and I’ve got some nice Ebony and Dwarven armour along with an Umbra Sword, Dwarven Bow and Dwarven Longsword. Killing that Umbra girl was how I got all the Ebony stuff early in the game. That was a pain. She absolutely destroyed me and if it weren’t for me drinking down a huge load of health potions and just hacking away, I wouldn’t have been able to beat her.

And since it’s a long weekend, I won’t have to go back to the unversity until tomorrow, not that I’m complaining. I was able to get quite a solid amount of work done though. I’m also looking forward to the lack of a 3 hour lab Tuesday morning. Perhaps a nice start to the shortened week?