Archive for May, 2012

Hello! I’ve started making plans for my next project: a robot butler who will fetch me beer. Here’s the idea:

  • Lego Mindstorms control unit – easy to hack and send my own commands to/from.
  • Lego motors, wheels and gears etc. to create a versatile,┬ámaneuverable platform thing.
  • Kinect sensor to assess the environment
  • Raspberry Pi to think about where the robot is looking, where it might go and to send the necessary commands to the Mindstorms unit.
  • Leapmotion controller to sense me pointing to the fridge, thus commanding the robot to retrieve beer.

What do you think? I for one welcome our new beer-fetching robot overlords.

I should make special mention of the new Leap Motion device. If it works as well as the demos have shown it will be a truly stunning, possibly revolutionary gadget. I’ve applied to be a developer for this amazing piece of kit. My pitch was the robot butler thing. Hopefully the Leap people like me and my half-baked ideas.

Long time no blog

Posted: May 5, 2012 in Dissertation

Hello. I am risen. Or, as Jesus put it (Matthew 26:32), “I’m back from the dead, douchebags! Now, someone get me a beer.”

Excuse the frankness of what follows. I have seen and experienced things in the past three years that give me the right to be candid.

I handed in my dissertation about a month ago, three weeks early. Most of my study peers were either extremely panicked around hand-in time or have been granted an extension (some generously, others deservedly), so my extraordinary level of organisation (and believe me, my being organised is extraordinary) must have irked some people. Eat it, dudes. I’ve been living, breathing and sleeping this assignment for over a year. If you only started thinking about yours in January and writing it in March then that’s your own bad decision. Live with it. If “something happened and I was unable to do the work”, why do you think I started so early? Having had three months taken from me last year due to illness I know that shit happens, and I was not prepared to let circumstance rob me of my thesis.

Now all I can do it wait for my grade. What should I get? Were it based purely on effort, 90%. Quality…I have no idea. Ok, so I do have some idea. I really can’t get less than 60% unless something preposterous happens. Anything over 47% keeps me above the distinction level average overall, but honestly I’d be gutted if my assignment isn’t solidly over 70%. No, honestly, I want 80%, but I don’t have enough experience or reference material to gauge the quality of my work. I’m not quite blind, but definitely squinting.

As in most walks of life, the law of diminishing returns is strong in university assessment. I could have farted out some mind-puke in just a couple of weeks and still got a pass, but rarely in my experience does going the extra mile yield the extra marks, relatively. 3-5% is up for grabs, perhaps, but 50% (or 100%, or 400%…) extra effort for an extra 5% doesn’t match up.

Anyway, it’s not all about the grade. I’ve learned so much during my studies that what mark I get is almost irrelevant. I’ve absolutely busted my balls, working until silly o’clock on obscure technologies or theories that I may never use again, but as before, this isn’t really the point. The point is that I’ve learned to apply myself with a level of rigour that I never thought I would have. Frankly (see my opening disclaimer about the frankness of this post) I’ve always been able to get by on my natural abilities. I learn quickly and bluff well. You can’t do that in a Masters, so I had to put my ego and natural duck-and-dive propensity to one side and – get this – study.

And I enjoyed it. And hated it. But mainly enjoyed it. If someone were to offer me the opportunity to study for a PhD and circumstances were such that I could maintain the standard of living that my family deserves then I’d do it.

What next for me? I’m going to play computer games and not feel guilty for it. I’m doing three years’ worth of DIY. I’m reading novels again. I’m trying to start up a band – I need some keys and a drummer, at least, to join me in a funk-soul adventure. I already have a name for the band, but of course I can’t tell you when currently it’s only me playing along to Red Hot Chili Peppers tracks on my bass in my garage. I’m going to start running again. I should never have stopped doing this. I may write, but right now this feels too similar to work/study for it to be enjoyable. But mainly I’m going to enjoy having some space to spare in my tiny man-brain.

Sorry I’ve been absent from here for a while, and thanks to those who’ve followed and supported me through this. I’ve blogged for years and it always follows the same pattern for me: blog a lot, then a little, then not at all, then a lot again. I’ll be more frequent from now on, I promise, but I’ll be talking about different things than previously. Or, as Jesus put it (somewhere near the back of the Bible, I believe), “God is dead! Long live God!”.