Reading Ahead: A Help or a Hinder?

Around this time, with classes just around the corner, I’m usually tempted to look up what books I need for each course and start reading them to get ahead. However, after reading an interesting article from ProfHacker, it looks like reading ahead might not always be all it’s cracked up to be. Check out the article at this link!

Off DeWall: Happiness Across Cultures

On my way to class this morning, I saw one of my students gazing at the beautiful scenery surrounding the classroom building. His English name is Garden (he’s next to me in the attached photo). We talked for a bit and then Garden asked me a question I had never been asked, “Are all Americans happy?”

I didn’t know how to answer. I told Garden that his question intrigued me, and I asked him what led him to ask me whether all Americans are happy. He told me that I seemed quite happy, even happier than most people he sees every day. Because I’m the first American he’s ever met, he wondered if most Americans were like me. Garden said that he believes Chinese people don’t wear a smile on their faces that much, possibly because they have a lot to worry about.

There are cultural differences in happiness. People from France are happier than people from America, whereas Americans are happier than people from Finland. But what I think is more important is how similar people are in what makes them happy. Whether you live in China or America, having positive and lasting relationships – the sort of strong social connections that Wired seeks to cultivate – is a key to happiness.

Computer Graphics: Topology


When referring to computer graphics, 3d models and the like, topology is the wireframe of a given object. The wireframe is comprised of all the vertices (where lines meet to form a point), edges (the lines made up of two connects vertives) and from that information the faces can be made (generally have 2-3 connected edges per face). Now, as I pointed out in a previous blog I said that optimization was immportant for computer graphics. Today, I will go over "proper" topology.

Proper Topology?

Proper topology is the arrangement of the wireframe so that enough detail is present in the model while also keeping the polygon (faces) count to a manageable number (as low as possible while keeping necessary detail). In animation, proper topology goes one step further because it allows the model to deform more naturally when moving. (Bad topology example) (Good topology example)

Computer Intelligence

I've been working on a system for recommending courses to students based on the past performance of similar students. Hopefully the system will be a useful tool for students wishing to gain some idea of what courses they might do well in. However another purpose of designing this system is to compare it with an artificial intelligence advising system that is being worked on in the computer science department. The comparison would be to see how artifical intelligence does with planning for students versus a netflix style advising system (technical term is collaborative filtering).

What is amazing about this to me is the possible use of a computer as an advisor. I think of advising decisions as complex and personal. To think that artifical intelligence has come so far as to be considered for this type of process shows just how far computing has come. Think about early computers. They filled entire rooms and required intensive set up to perform very simple computations. Now we use computers in the military (automated drones), selecting movies (netflix), playing chess, winning jeapordy, and finding love (, eHarmony, etc). The early computer scientist would be astounded by how much has been done in such a short time. So the question is: what is possible in the future?

Nickel and Diming: or, "Really People? Really?"

I detest people that nickel and dime others.  Really, it’s a disgusting practice and I imagine after a certain point no amount of soap and water can wash of the shame a retailer feels for doing this to their poor customers.  The rage for this week is focused mainly on EA games.


Now if any of you watched E3 this year (doubtful, I realize) you’ll know that they are releasing a Stars Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG later this year.  This issue is that the digital version of the game is selling exclusively on Origin, EA’s site.  Now the game’s preorder price is set to be 40 pounds (the British money, not the weight), but they’re charging 5 pounds for buying it digitally instead of through a retailer, and then another 5 on top of that for being allowed the privilege of pre-ordering.  That’s 50 pounds, or for those of you bad at currency exchange, $85.  This for a game that they’ve said practically mum on, when on average you’d pay $50-60 for a new game in the U.S. and 30 pounds in Britain.


Off DeWall: Wired co-Director Goes to China

Off DeWall: Wired co-Director Goes to China (July 20, 2011)

Wired has the mission of connecting members of the UK family with each other and our local and global communities. This is my first blog entry to show you how I live this mission. I’m in the air right now, on my way to China. I’ll be there for a month doing a bunch of different things devoted to connecting members of the UK family to the global community.

First, I’ll be teaching a short course to Chinese students at Sun Yat-Sen University, which is located in a town called Guangzhou (pronounced GWAN-JOE). It’s in the Southern Part of China, making it something like the Miami of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I’ll teach psychology students about social psychological research—how to do it, how to evaluate it, and how to get excited about it. I’ll focus on my areas of interest: interpersonal relationships, self-control, and aggression.

Second, I’ll give a speech to the School of Psychology on my research program on how people respond to social exclusion. I relish the opportunity to share the research we’ve conducted at the University of Kentucky with the Chinese faculty and students.

Another blog about Facebook? ugh.

Yes....this is probably another blogpost that rants and raves about Facebook, but hear me out. Some of what I do here at the College of Arts & Sciences involves managing social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, and Flickr. With that, I have come to see social media's constantly growing potential and powers as it spreads like wildfire all over the Internet. Think about it. While many of us complain about the woes of Facebook and the tendency for us to become distracted and even consumed by it, I believe it to have unlimited potential for evolving forms of social interaction. It's already changing social ettiquete. Remember a few years ago when your professor might have said "...and I am on Facebook." and you thought that was weird? It's becoming commonplace and almost expected now. Consuming news media has shifted from reading a physical newspaper, to reading an online version, and now, many people stay informed by subscribing to various Twitter profiles and receiving updates via their twitter feed.

The Kindle

Being able to condense entire music libraries and photo albums is pretty commonplace now.  But until recently, with advances in tablet computing, being able to condense an entire library of actual books into a handheld device that still offered the same reading experience was quite hard.  I have tried out several different e-readers including the iPad and NookColor, but recently decided to purchase an Amazon Kindle, which I have been immensely satisfied with.

My biggest complaint with the other e-readers I have used (the iPad in particular) was the amount of screen glare that could occur in a well-lit room or outdoors.  When outside an iPad’s screen is practically invisible, be it in a game, internet browser, or reading app.  The Kindle uses what Amazon calls “e-ink” to accurately reproduce the look of ink-on-paper print.  I actually believe that e-ink is in many ways superior to traditional printing.  Often times, especially with mass market paperbacks, the print quality is not the greatest and can impede readability of the book.  This has never been a problem while using my Kindle, no matter which book I am reading.


 I have recently discovered a new website that has a collage of all things on it.  It is called; this site has everything from food to fashion, travel to tech, design to DIY and everything in between.  This site is so great because there is always something different pinned to the site when the page refreshes.  There is always some cute home décor or some delicious looking recipe that you just have to check out.  Then if you really like it you can repin that post to your board.  Pinterest is social media site of only pictures and captions.  There are no posts, no blogs, and no personal profiles—there are simply pictures that are pinned to the site.  It’s a giant always changing site of pictures that are posted and arranged in the same way that a bulletin board might be arranged.  If you are looking for some creative new things to try out or you are just looking for some entertainment, I would suggest checking this site out.

Born This Way

Born this way

We are removed and alienated from this xenophobic society. 

We are known as the strange, weird, exotic, different, insane, eccentric breed in this world.

They claim that we are emotionally tortured and disturbed, stuck in our own fantasy realm.

We were born this way.

We were born different

We were created to bring abstract viewpoints and color in to this plain colorless space.

We are what make the world different.

We are the fabricators of dreams and ideas that we attempt to bring to life.

Nothing is impossible for us.

We bring enlightenment to the world.

We illustrate what is outside the box from within the box.

We are our own genre of people.

Nothing is impossible through our eyes.

We imagine what we desire.

We will not apologize for the way we are.

They will never be able to wrong this right.

We graffiti this world with much needed splendor.


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