Blogs

Graph Exploration

A few years ago, before the explosion of the Web into popular culture, and especially before Facebook and social networking brought the concept to surface in a directly personal concept, few outside mathematics were interested in graphs.  Today, however, they have become extremely popular for intuiting the vast weave of interconnected, but irregular or incomplete, data that's become so prevalent.  Graph databases such as Neo4j have risen in the space known as NoSQL to replace traditional relational databases for solving certain types of problems with incredible speedups.  However, tools like this require a certain level of technical arcana that make them inaccessible or uninteresting to many.  A higher level tool, and the subject of this post, are the graph visualizers.

I Don't Remember That...

Everything seems to be going ok in the Anthropology course I am taking. Blackboard is actually cooperating for once, and I’ve had no major issues from the system. The first exam becomes available in Anthropology, and I am feeling pretty good about it all, that is I open the exam and the question is completely foreign to me. So of course I begin to immediately panic. Dr. McDonald is coming back from her trip to Europe at this current point and time so we have the TA to fall back on. Although they were both out of my reach (even through email) until I finished the exam. I try my best to calm myself down but that is not very easy when I already have such high test anxieties in the first place.

 

My son comes up to me and asks, “Mommy, are you going to be ok? Because I will help you, would you like for me to rub your feet?” I couldn’t help but smile and realize that I was becoming so frantic that my kids were picking up on it. So thanks to my 5 year old son I was able to calm down enough. All I could do is keep answering the questions that I knew, and attempt the ones that I didn’t know. However, I would be sending a frantic email to the TA and Dr. McDonald. We were able to be re-take the exam this past weekend, with the correct set of questions, and at least on my end, everything went well.

 

Quick Reminders

For this week’s blog, I’m doing a bit of self-advertising to talk about a video series I’ve started called Quick Reminders.  The videos focus on the adventures of two stick people, New Cheerful Employee and Disgruntled Senior Employee, as they explore the dos and don’ts of office life in POT. It’s rather enjoyable, but it’s taught me a few things in the short time I’ve been working on them.

First, animating videos takes a long, long time.  The first video I did was only about three minutes long, but it took a good six hours to put together, even with computers doing most of the work.  I can’t even fathom how long it would take for a professional animator to put together a half-hour or hour-long cartoon, since they’d have to put far more effort into the artwork than I do.  Next time you watch a cartoon, take a moment to thank the animators for throwing countless hours of their life into making a project designed solely for your amusement (particularly those cartoons done before the advent of computers, when everything had to be hand-drawn).

3D and Faking It

Faking 3d

One important aspect to 3D art is optimization. What I mean by this is that, if you make something appear the same or similiar to a more detailed object then that greatly decreases rendering/computing time. This is certainly paramount in video games since the computer must make calculations on the fly but still important in movies because it cost money that is usually determined by rendering time. Without further ado, I will briefly introduce one method to "Faking It."

Normal Mapping

Exotic Food on North Campus

Do you feel like you’ve eaten at all the places around North Campus, and want to try something new?  Afraid to veer away from the staples like Jimmy Johns and Pazzo’s?  There are a myriad of restaurants around North Campus that offer great food that you might not have tried or even noticed.  Here’s a few suggestions for the next time you’re craving something different:

Sav’s: A West African restaurant with delicious flavor and low prices, located on the corner of Limestone and Maxwell.  They offer Bowls, which are a combination of rice, potatoes, and a peanut sauce, with different selections of meat.  I highly recommend the goat, it’s amazing! A small bowl is only around $4, and if you’re really hungry, you’ll only have to dole out $7-$8 for a large portion.  They also have Platters, with Ribs, Lamb, Hen, and other delicious meats, and they also offer vegetarian options and salads.  Make sure you try some of Sav’s homemade hot sauce, which is very flavorful and very hot!

Netflix Select Your Major

Many of us are familiar with the movie rental service Netflix. One of the features of Netflix is a recommendation system that recommends movies to the user based on their past selections and the data from similar users. While the system can't always predict perfectly what you will enjoy it is fairly accurate in gauging your tastes and using them to find movies or tv shows that you would enjoy. This system uses a technique called collaborative filtering for filtering through the company's vast collection of user data. The system is similar to Amazon's recommender system although a different type of collaborative filtering.

Renaissance Faire

     Last weekend I went to the Kentucky Renaissance Faire over by Louisville and had a great time.  Every year I make it a point to go there and have never had a bad experience.  Not only was the weather perfect last weekend, but I highly enjoyed the various staff, shows, and vendors.  Also, there were so many different kinds of people there in different costumes that it made me think about how multi-cultural and accepting the platform of a Renaissance Faire can be. 
     Originally, a Renaissance Faire was meant to celebrate a very specific time period within European history.  Now, however, almost any fantasy or historical costume can be found walking around the festival grounds.   I know I saw people dressed up in Elizabethan costumes, as 18th century scientists, barbarians, fairies, demons, dragons, even pirates.  Anything seemed possible and no one argued over it or seemed to pass judgment.   What impressed me more was that everyone was mingling together peacefully and truly having a great time.  

Gaming Platforms

            Earlier this week, some people heard me declaring my intense dislike towards the evil known as Thomas Edison and asked me to do my blog on why I consider him to be a mustache-twirling arch villain.  As much as I’d love to rant about why he’s a lying thief, that will have to wait until next time, because I’d much rather rant about people ranting about something near and dear to my heart; video games.

            Before we get into this, I want to say that I’m stuck in the awkward age where I’m too young to have grown up with the 8-bit games that made the industry what it is today, but am too old to have played my first Pokemon game on a Nintendo 3DS.  My nostalgia period is 2001-2007 on the PS1 and PS2, with a few outliers like Spyro, Final Fantasy VII and Gameboy Color games. Now that you have the appropriate background, here’s the reason for my blog.

Oh Statistics… How I Despise You…

Getting into the first week of statistics, life was moving along pretty well. There were very few glitches in the blackboard system of things (minus the fact that the notes for the lectures had gone AWOL). Minor issues resolved things were moving along quite well. I received the information from the other assisting instructor that she needed our proctor information for the exam that we are due to take by July 7.

Back on Track....

So it looks like summer is back in session for me again! I was hoping to get by without having to take any courses this summer but due to some unforeseen circumstances I am enrolled in classes once again. There is a bright side to this though, they are ALL online once again J!!!! I couldn’t be more excited! (I know, I know, it sounds really nerdy to be excited for school but the advantages to being able to take online classes outweighs having to take classes on campus!) I have the ability to work around thirty hours a week here in the Dean’s Office at the College of A&S. I couldn’t have asked for a better job or a better place to work! With the fun, easy going attitude of the staff and faculty in the office, I have only the warm summer air to blame; it just makes this the most enjoyable workplace I have ever worked!

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