Moving On

So I’ve been a bit absent from this space for a while–school commitments have largely demanded my attention with two midterms last week. Sometimes I truly amaze myself: I had managed to confuse the exam dates for each test with the previous class date. I had thought that my Numerical Analysis exam was on Monday when it was actually on Wednesday, and that my Calculus III exam was on Tuesday when it was actually on Thursday. Brilliant, I know.

Despite my staggering ability to undermine my education, my confusion worked to my advantage–the classes that I thought I would be taking exams were actually devoted to reviewing for said exams. So, I was able to reaffirm the content I had so frantically been studying over the weekend and brush up on some of the finer points of multivariable calculus and LaGrange interpolation.

The tests themselves went reasonably well–I actually enjoy test taking. There’s just something fun about sketching out three dimentional shapes and writing elegant solutions to problems when you actually know what you’re doing. The results came back this week. I earned a 73% on the Calculus, which, considering the fact that I fear failing this class more than death, was quite satisfying. I fared better in Numerical Analysis with an 87.5%.

I also met up with a student advisor with the Dean of Student Affairs last week. She assured me that, assuming I pass my classes and file my graduation request form that day (which I did), I will actually graduate in January. Though the commencement ceremony won’t actually be until May 2004, I will officially have graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Finally.

Needless to say, after five and a half full-time semesters at County College of Morris, the loss of 20 credits by transferring to Rutgers University, and another five and a half full-time semesters there, I did a little happy dance leaving the office. In ten weeks, I’ll officially be a free man.

What am I going to do with myself then?

Senior Project, Dogsitting, Schaeffer

We attempted to do a production install of our senior project software this afternoon on this machine. It turns out that the Tomcat web server software that was supposed to be running on the machine was replaced with something called ePrints. A production machine mysteriously had its web-guts torn out with absolutely no notice about two days ago (as best I could tell from using uptime), leaving us high and dry. Is this sort of thing common in the IT world? Maybe I should take up accounting… #

I’ve begun to read Francis Schaeffer again, which has been extremely refreshing for me and a welcome change from the rote consumption of technical data that this semester has been. I may have to quote extensive portions of True Spirituality in this space. Web Sites That Do Not Suck™ quote extensive portions of Francis Schaeffer. #

Speaking of which, do you know what the biggest hindrance will be to the Christian counterculture movement in the 21st century? It’s this: we just don’t understand semantic markup. I mean, com’on people—we actually believe that the Word was made flesh (cf. John 1)! Surely you’d think that this very statement in the Scriptures would express the critical importance of the written word. Context is king, subtlety is beautiful, and words have as much power to heal as they do to destroy. We have technologies that emphasize the context and subtlety and meaning of these words, but we still build web pages that are the browser-based equivalents of bad photocopies: tag soup, table alignments, and misshapen text. The web has been chosen as the medium for the voice of the Christian counterculture. I’m afraid that unless we start using the technology to its potential, no one is going to hear us. #

Sarah spent Friday and Saturday dogsitting for a friend of the family. It occurred to me in the process what kinds of sacrifice owning a large dog really involves:

* if you want to have dry feet, you must either buy slippers or wear shoes at all times
* sleeping in until 5 AM is a luxury
* eating anywhere but in the kitchen?—forget it
* washing your hands at least 3 times per hour
* entertaining friends and family by trying to make the dog turn his head to the side in order to understand you
* never, ever using the word “walk” again

Contrary to where this list may lead, we did have a really good time. ๐Ÿ™‚ #

If you don’t obsessively read Dive Into Mark everyday, you’ll likely have missed the CSS Zen Garden. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it: Dave Shea provides five nine (9!) completely different skins for the exact, same markup—all brought to you by the wonders of Cascading Style Sheets. #

Munchies

It’s 12:12 AM, and your paper is due in 18 hours.

You’re tired, you’re hungry, and you’re up to your eyeballs in Apple Computer’s 10-K report.

You want to nap, but you know if you do, you’re finished. You’ve got 10 pages left to write, and you need a way to stay awake.

What do you do?

Ramen Noodles, baby, Ramen Noodles. 20% of your NDA for saturated fat, and 33% of your sodium.

College life doesn’t get any better than this.

Later

It’s 2:44 PM, and your paper is due in 5 hours.

You’re tired, you’re hungry, and you’re up to your eyeballs in Apple Computer’s market share analysis.

You want to nap, but you know if you do, you’re finished. You’ve got 3 pages left to write, and you need to eat lunch.

What do you do?

Panera, baby, Panera. Smoked turkey breast, smoked bacon, smoked Gouda, leaf lettuce, tomato and our signature dressing, on our Tomato Basil bread.

&*#@ paper.

Later Still

It’s 5:21 PM, and your paper is due in 3 hours.

You’re edgy, you’re desperate, and you’re staring blankly at your word processor trying to come up with a conclusion.

You want to go play in traffic, but you know if you do, you’re finished. You’ve got a freakin’ page left to write and plenty of editing to do, and you need to remember that life is still worth living.

What do you do?

Frappuccino®, baby, Frappuccino®. Coffee, chocolate and coconut flakes blended with ice, topped with whipped cream, mocha syrup and coconut flakes.

I want my life back.

Finally

Done. One bowl of Ramen Noodles, one Panera Bacon Turkey Bravo plus chips plus Coke, and one Starbucks Frappuccino® later, the paper was finished and turned in on time. For those of you who may be interested in what the fuss was all about, my paper is available here in all its 35 pages of proprietary-format, diagram-ridden, poorly-edited, bandwidth-soaking glory. You can even amuse yourself with the fact that the paper gets dumber as my deadline draws nearer.

I’ll work on exporting an HTML because I’m trying to be a good netizen and get away from Microsoft Word’s proprietary format. It sure ain’t easy, though.

Update: The HTML version is now available due to my rapid web-space consumption. Thanks to Dean Allen’s Word HTML Cleaner.

Do you want to know…what DLSI is?

Some email correspondence over the weekend made this blog inevitable.
___

Agent OE: As you can see, you’ve been my class for some time now, Team DLSI. It seems that you’ve been living…two lives. In one life, you are NJIT students, computer science majors at a respectable university. You have a student ID number, you pay your tuition, and you…help the janitors carry out their garbage.

The other life is lived in computers, where you go by the hacker alias ‘Neo’ and are guilty of missing virtually every deadline we have a milestone for.

One of these lives has a future. And one of them does not.

I’m going to be as forthcoming as I can be, Team DLSI: you’re here because we need your help. We know that you’ve been contacted by a certain…individual. A man who calls himself Bieber. Now whatever you think you know about this man is irrelevant. He is considered by…many authorities to be the most dangerous man alive.

Your sponsors believe that I’m wasting my time with you, but I believe you wish to do the right thing. Now, we’re willing to wipe the slate clean—give you a fresh start. And all that we’re asking in return is your cooperation in bringing your senior project to completion.

Team DLSI: Yeah. Wow, that sounds like a really good deal. But I think I’ve got a better one. How about, I give you my source code…

Agent OE: Hm.

Team DLSI: …and you give me my diploma.

Agent OE: Team DLSI, you disappoint me…

Team DLSI: You can’t scare me with this evaluation crap. I know my GPA. I want my commencement.

Agent OE: Tell me, Team DLSI. What good is commencement, if you are unable…to graduate?
___

(By the way, if you’re looking for a good Matrix screen saver in celebration of the 5/15 release, these guys have it).

Project Management Methodologies

One of the interesting (if tedious) responsibilities for my Senior Project class at NJIT is to discover, interpret, and choose a project management methodology. Having had no real prior experience in the theory of project management, this has been a real challenge to me: I feel like I’m desperately trying to claw my way up from the bottom of the learning curve. Read on for more.
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Open Source Project Management

Update: it’s no secret that I am using Basecamp for project management these days.

Basecamp project management and collaboration

The Linux desktop may not be ready for Joe User and his grandmother, but is it ready for the knowledge worker? This is a question I’ve somewhat accidentally been endeavoring to answer since the semester started. A lot of people go looking to prove Linux out when it comes to the desktop in a sort of anti-Microsoft methodology. My latest experimentation, though, wasn’t born out of a desire to prove Linux right or Microsoft wrong—it came out of an immediate need for tools to get my job done as project manager at school. While NJIT provides a lot of these programs for download through Microsoft’s Academic Alliance program, I wasn’t able to get a hold of them easily (the intranet site required that I authenticate three separate times, and still wouldn’t let me do it!). Read on to see just how Linux is performing in these areas.

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