Archive for the ‘school’ Category

Day Two Hundred Four | Reunion

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

Day Two Hundred Four | Reunion

Today, I had my graduation advisement appointment, wherein the advisor just verified that I met all the requirements for graduation. I’m almost out of this school, and ready for my academic life to catch up with the rest of me.

Later on, I ended up reunited with my friends from Miami. The four of us, during the time when we all worked at the same Starbucks store years back, were tight, and through some confluence of events, we all ended up at the same place at the same time today.

Pretty cool to be back.

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Day Two Hundred Two | CLEP

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

Day Two Hundred Two | CLEP

It’s a shame I was turning a corner when I shot this, because if this had been shot in different circumstances, it would’ve been fantastic. I couldn’t have gotten people to pose better than these two girls on their cellphones. Apparently, they’d hit someone (the car’s front bumper was on the floor). Oh, teens and their shit driving.

I didn’t get anything especially important done today, but it’s a Saturday. So what? I did end up traveling from bookstore to bookstore in search of a CLEP book for Spanish&mdashlI’ve got to take a CLEP exam in Spanish in two weeks, and although I’m sure I’ll pass, as I do speak Spanish, I don’t want to take any risks, because it’s the last thing I need to get done in order to graduate, and there’s no way I’m going to not graduate because of a simple foreign-language test.

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Day One Hundred Ninety Three | Great

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Day One Hundred Ninety Three | Great

Getting outside is great. Getting errands done is great. I’m realizing that pretty much anything that doesn’t involve me sitting on the couch in front of the computer all day is great.

I knocked out some unpaid fees that were hindering my graduation status, and found out that I can (only) submit my intent to graduate online. As soon as the fees I paid are processed, I’ll be able to do that. I still have to go in person to register for the CLEP exam (Spanish). And once I pass that test, all I have to do is wait.

I figure, given a year or two, and a move to Seattle, and I’ll be able to find a Masters degree in the degree I’m getting a Bachelors for, but in Orlando in 2009, such a degree doesn’t exist yet. Translation: I’ve got a solid excuse putting off grad school for a bit.

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Day One Hundred Eighty Nine | Travel

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Day One Hundred Eighty Nine | Travel

I’ve got to travel a little farther than usual tomorrow, out to UCF (about 40-miles round-trip) to get some paperwork through for my graduation. My tires are bald, so I’m going to have to borrow my dad’s car to get out there. I’m getting new tires (hopefully) as soon as I get back. Safety trumps money problems.

I didn’t expect to get this shot, or that any shot of someone taken while driving would ever come out half-decent.

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Day Fifty Two | Red Light

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

I discovered that I’ll be delaying my Bachelors a little further, because the last course I have left won’t be offered over the summer. So, I’ll be getting it at the end of 2009… ten full years since I graduated high school. And what a long decade it’s been.

This was shot outside UCF on the way out after the single class I’ve got this semester. And I’m still surprised at the shot itself. I aimed the camera at weird angle and hoped my aiming was right. And it was; this was exactly how I was hoping the shot would look.

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Day Seventeen | School

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Day Seventeen. I think I’m almost done with school. Not because I’ve gotten all the degrees I wanted, but because I’ve been worn down by all the tedium one has to sit through in order to get just a few moments of transcendence.

What I mean is, yes I have learned a great deal over all these years, but for every piece of useful data or experience inside me, I’ve had to sit through loads of nonsense. It’s not just money I’ve spent, it’s time. And when I’ve spent the so-called best years my life sitting through hours of bullshit, at my own expense, I’m not sure the nuggets of information I’ve gained were even worth the trouble.

The system just isn’t built for people like me. People who don’t need to do busy work and take exams and listen to the same information countless times in order to “get it”. If it were, and courses were boiled down to weekend-long lecture/workshops with no filler material, I’d probably have a degree in everything from art history to economics by now.

I wonder if it’s any better on the west coast. I remember learning a lot more when I was a kid in California, so much so that I was way ahead of everyone else when I moved to Florida. And was forced to stay at their pace, despite this. That was probably my first dose of reality, and my first helping of cynicism.

But, maybe it’s different out west. I can’t wait to be back out west.

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Transforming In-Dash Navigation

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Adapted from school a project write-up from last semester — When you add several ingredients together, the result will either become nothing more than a hodgepodge of dissimilar ingredients, or something new and equal to much more than the sum of its parts. The latter case is a transformation. It’s the difference between the tacked-on motion-sensor in the PlayStation 3 controller and the motion-sensitive functions of the Nintendo Wii. Or the difference between sites developed from the ground up to foster social networking and sites which added this functionality as another bullet point in their list of features. It might be difficult to tell when a media transformation has occurred, but it’s pretty easy to tell when one has not.

Several months ago, the project team I became a part of set out to create something out of little more than a marketing phrase, a few ideas stemming from it, and a combination of several media. the “product” became called NavShield. We set out to take the head up display (HUD) technology already available in some vehicles—the Corvette has had this feature for nearly a decade—combine it with several current and upcoming vehicle technologies, and refine it into something new. We started out by thinking about how “cool” it would be to project pretty Apple-esque icons onto the HUD on your windshield. I came up with ideas by driving and having “if only I had this feature” moments. The “thinking process” of the system would be something like this:

  • Navigation information is pulled from a GPS receiver (e.g. where you are and where you’re going)
  • This information is augmented with location-relevant information pulled from the internet via Wi-Fi or Wi-Max (e.g. gas stations nearby, weather in the area)
  • The location-based information is refined based on your preferences (e.g. only gas stations nearby that sell diesel fuel, only whether or not it is expected to rain in your destination at the time you are scheduled to arrive based on your current average speed)
  • Finally, the augmented, filtered information gets placed on your HUD

The group’s first tendency was to come up with as many ideas for icons as possible, and clutter the windshield with pretty icons. Just as your first tendency upon first using Mac OS X’s Dashboard or Yahoo! Widgets or Windows Vista’s Sidebar would be to search for and add any widget that perks your fancy until your desktop becomes a mess. While no harm can be done by having too many of these widgets on your computer, having too many on your windshield would be a disaster. That’s why I came up with this process above to connect and filter the data that comes in, and only display the end result.

After showing our project in its current form at the Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence event at UCF, the single most frequent piece of feedback we received was the following question: “What about driver distraction?” I recall that driver distraction was an issue when BMW’s iDrive debuted because many core functions’ hardware buttons were replaced with computer-like menus and sub-menus displayed on-screen. The trend is toward displaying more information on the navigation screen, and I felt that were it backed with psychological research, the NavShield project could solve this issue.

While conducting psychology experiments pertaining to driver distraction, and then usability tests on the interface are well outside scope of this one-semester project, it’s definitely the next step. In the meantime, I decided on some measures to limit driver distraction:

  • Limiting HUD to upper-third: I decided on a rule that, should something like get to working prototype stage, the HUD could only be displayed on the upper-third of the windshield. What I thought was, if the law prohibits tint below that part of the windshield because of visibility issues, then we should prohibit HUDs below that part of the windshield for the same reason.
  • Prioritizing information: Information would be grouped into several types, and prioritized. For example, when at speed, only the most important information (e.g. current speed) would be displayed, but while stopped, second-tier information could also appear. Beyond that, context- or location-relevant information would appear only when needed. For example, an arrow telling you which turn to make would only appear as the turn approaches.

The dashboard screens available in many of today’s automobiles cram as much information as viable, and it seems apparent that this information is added mostly to one-up the competition in terms of feature sets. It’s not uncommon for systems which previously gathered and displayed only navigation information now connect with and display everything from your media player’s music list to your phone’s contact list. At present, the only product on the market putting this information together in a package that feels transformational and not simply tacked-on is Microsoft’s Sync. The Dash navigation system also works similarly to what I have outlined for NavShield; for example, it combines GPS information with traffic data pulled from over the internet. Therefore, I would use these two products are the benchmarks for NavShield were the project taken further.

While I’m not so deluded to say that my project team’s semester project has already reached the level of becoming a piece of transformational media, I do feel that it’s on the right track. The idea of grabbing a lot of information from many sources, intelligently putting them together, filtering them based on user preferences, and displaying only the most relevant information is key, and I feel it means the difference between transforming disparate media into a cohesive whole versus a bullet list of features. Furthermore, even if we were to ignore the application, the idea of collecting, connecting, filtering, and displaying information has applications in any field. It’s something key to the attention data and data portability movements and something that will change the way we behave as much as social networking has.

N. Gregory Mankiw

Friday, March 18th, 2005

Mr. Mankiw was until recently George W Bush’s chief economic advisor. He also wrote the texbook for my applied macroeconomics class, obviously titled Macroeconomics, 5th ed.

I’m reading through the textbook right now, and I cannot help but think about his position while reading it. The textbook is great, well-written for the most part, pretty concise, and easy to understand. But I can’t help but think that Mr. Mankiw is preaching “do as I say, not as I do” in this textbook. Either that, or he really needs to read his own book.

This is the same guy made famous for his report praising the trend of “outsourcing” of American jobs to foreign countries and partially responsible for the Bush administration’s perennially sunny economic forecasts.

In the few mentioned of George W Bush I found in the textbook, one implies his tax cut was sound Keynsian economic policy, and another blames the bleak economic picture on 9/11, but the book is pretty free of Fox-News-Syndrome (e.g. too much political commentary). I look forward to reading one of the textbook’s last chapters, which is exclusively about government debt.

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