Sunday, January 14, 2018

Start 2018, Review Some 2017

What’s more disappointing than failing to do well in a class? Working hard and then failing anyway, at the last irreparable moment.

I didn’t actually fail, but C’s are no longer average and certainly not in a program with thousands of computer science students. I would like to say that I am a more well-rounded individual because I did other things that led to me not putting enough time into this class. That is unfortunately not the case. I quit orchestra, said no in several cases where the church needed help with sound, stayed home from small groups, sequestered myself from visitors, and relied on my wife’s good graces to survive and stay in an up-kept house. Really there were only two main (good) things that I got from this experience:

I came up with an effective way, for me, to study for an open-note exam. The fact that I didn’t fail it outright means that I must have done something right. Essentially it breaks down into how to go back over the lectures and the slides looking and listening for key pieces, noting them, and then having some recollection of it. This review took place for the week leading up to the exam. I didn’t do great, but much better than the test that prompted me to drop this class last spring.

And, amazingly, I learned about a few things that I would have liked to have known going into the robot competition last year. Go figure. So unless they drastically change the Computer Vision Course I would suggest giving yourself between 10 to 30 hours a week in order to get things done.

Not being one to dwell on past failures, except where it is due, I am looking forward to the next class quite a bit: Education Technology. This class is much more free-form, reading, discussing, and a project/paper. There are no lectures, but it looks like it will need a bunch more reading.

It will be challenging, but I think that if I use the resources at the lab, papers and interview people, then I should be on a good path to have a good path/project for this class. In fact I am starting a project that is all about tech and education, a bird quiz!

As the year is winding down I have been thinking of how I can improve a bunch of my processes. It is pretty hard to think clearly about life and homework while in the midst of it, especially in the Dark Playground. But now with more time, some hindsight, and a few good ideas there should be some subtle ways to improve.

Fortunately my positive goals are somewhat easy to accomplish: exercise, practice cello, write. Are these New Year’s resolutions? Yes and no. At the heart they are resolutions, however, they aren’t quite so nebulous as just those three things strung together in a sentence.

Before the new year began we had nine guests out for Christmas: my folks, my wife’s folks, my brother and his wife, my wife’s brother and sister, and her great uncle. Only one person had to sleep on a cot, and he wasn’t too bothered by that. Of course one major thing had to fail for it to be complete: The pellet stove gave out and therefore wasn’t helping the boiler to heat the house. The boiler has no way to prioritize domestic water and so we had no hot water for showers. We are remedying that this year, but I am glad it wasn’t the fridge or toilets or something else. It was great having a house full of people. We won’t do it again next year, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the future, especially when we finish the inside of the barn.

If all goes well 2018 will be the year that I graduate.

P.S. This year I learned about events, that is, remembering events is so much better than just buying a new thing. Avoiding the detailed discussion that I would love to have about that: I went to Brain Candy Live and paid the bunch extra to meet Adam Savage and Michael Stephens in person! It was totally cool, geek credentials are totally secure.

Also my wife took me to a Piano Guys concert in D.C.! It was awesome, if a bit loud. Both within weeks of each other. I am pretty happy with that, now just to write the next great American sci-fi novel, right? Okay, maybe I should focus on Homework.

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