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.

Spam

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.