Category: School

Three semesters left.

Had a talk with my adviser today about what I have left to graduate. With a year and a half to go, I’m looking at 30 credit hours, minimum, left.

Conceivably, that’s a single year, with an early graduation, and 15 hours a semester. In reality, that’s not something I need to do. I’m not in a hurry.

My plan is to take 12 credit hours, the minimum, for the next three semesters, which will knock out all my silly gen-ed requirements (ugh, philosophy) as well as some upper-level computer science level classes.

This also leaves room for, give or take, six hours of completely free credits. Credits that I need to stay a full-time student (important for scholarship reasons) but not for anything else.

I will probably end up filling that with more computer science courses. Might as well, right? But I have the room, and can make the time, for something less useful but more fun, like a WWII class, or an art class, or something completely different.

I’m really glad that everything worked out well. Dual-enrollment in high school, as well as taking 34 credits last year, put me ahead of where I need to be, and that’s right where I want to be.

This also gives me plenty of room to continue working at Hudl through next semester, which is probably the best way to get computer science knowledge and experience, as well as cash in pocket.

So, a good day!


Miami 31, Nebraska 41

First, I want to express how happy I am that Nebraska beat Miami. I would have rather lost to McNeese (on principle) than lose to Miami.

Second, I knew that Ameer Abdullah was really good, but this game could be a season-defining performance. His total dominance and inability to be tackled were legendary, and carried the Huskers to victory.

Third, there was a Miami fan sitting at the very front of my part of the student section, and while he wasn’t exactly being quiet, he still put up with a hell of a lot of abuse from a couple drunk guys a few rows behind me. I gave him a “good game” as I was leaving and I think he appreciated it.

Fourth, a brief story: after Miami took the field and the game was almost ready to start, two banners popped up in the South student section: one saying “WELCOME” and another with the Miami U logo.

This was interesting. I don’t know if we’ve ever welcomed anyone quite so graciously — we clap for their starters but that’s about it.

Then the U disappeared, and I’ll let this picture show what popped up in its place:

Welcome to your worst nightmare


One week until the summer.

Well, I almost beat another semester of college. I don’t usually make mopey dopey posts like this but lots of things are changing and I want to talk about them a bit.

Next week I’m taking four tests: a Spanish test that I almost don’t need to take, which I have been almost given the answers to; a physics test, which I do not feel adequately prepared for and am willing to accept a moderate grade on in order to get a B and leave; a calculus test, which I will continue to study for, but will be relatively straightforward (which will finish a math minor); and a computer science test, which I believe I understand well enough to slip through, particularly considering my performance on the other two exams.

Then I move all my junk from college into a family friend’s house, here in Lincoln, where I’ve finally found a computer science internship. In fact I’ll be working for Hudl, who is well-known for doing good work and being very laid-back in their work environment and directly preparing interns for real jobs because, well, they’re working real jobs.

If you had asked me maybe three months ago if I’d be working for Hudl over the summer, I’d have told you “hell no.” I never thought they’d show interest in a guy like myself, who has experience limited to a classroom for the most part, and no easy way to demonstrate his relatively strong people skills. But the Hudl interview process was very well put together, was a measure not only of what I had already learned but of my capacity to learn more, and indeed was the only company to extend me an offer.

Granted, when they offered me a job I mostly quit applying to other places. Two other companies subsequently turned me down, one after two lengthy phone interviews (vaguely reasonably well done) and one incredibly awkward phone interview (not every engineer is also good at talking to people, though he was good at talking about SQL). Didn’t matter. My short-term dream, my ideal summer, had come together. Which was really neat.

This will be the first time I’ll be staying somewhere that isn’t my house or a dorm, where people generally take care of me. I’m not going to say I’m not nervous, both for a challenging job and for living on my own (sort of). Because I am.

After the summer ends, I’ll be moving into an apartment with three of my friends from college. Which should be interesting. If things go well this summer with Hudl, I’ll stay on during the year working part-time. The current plan is to knock out my language requirement (with one Spanish class) and my physics minor (with an astronomy class and lab) in one swoop.

So here we go.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl tourney, partial results

My floor had a huge Brawl tourney over last semester and the beginning of this semester. We crowned a champion a while ago and I said I’d try and pull some stats from the data files, out of curiosity. Well, here we are, months later, and I’m finally getting around to it.

Here’s the first installment: a compilation of all the characters played in all the matches during the round robin (regular season play). The three numbers are thus: number of times chosen at character select, number of times received from random, total games played. Some notes follow.

  1. Sheilda – 72 – 2 – 74
  2. Link – 49 – 5 – 54
  3. Ike – 47 – 7 – 54
  4. Samus – 30 – 8 – 38
  5. Lucas – 29 – 7 – 36
  6. Captain Falcon – 33 – 3 – 36
  7. Kirby – 28 – 6 – 34
  8. Pit – 27 – 5 – 32
  9. Toon Link – 26 – 3 – 29
  10. Falco – 23 – 3 – 26
  11. ROB – 20 – 5 – 25
  12. Mr. Game and Watch – 21 – 1 – 22
  13. Ganondorf – 21 – 0 – 21
  14. Snake – 14 – 6 – 20
  15. Wolf – 17 – 2 – 19
  16. Donkey Kong – 10 – 8 – 18
  17. Mario – 14 – 3 – 17
  18. Lucario – 14 – 1 – 15
  19. Peach – 8 – 6 – 14
  20. Ness – 6 – 7 – 13
  21. Zero Suit Samus – 12 – 0 – 12
  22. Pikachu – 7 – 4 – 11
  23. Luigi – 5 – 6 – 11
  24. Yoshi – 9 – 1 – 10
  25. Fox – 6 – 2 – 8
  26. King Dedede – 4 – 4 – 8
  27. Pokemon Trainer – 4 – 3 – 7
  28. Diddy Kong – 3 – 4 – 7
  29. Marth – 3 – 4 – 7
  30. Olimar – 3 – 4 – 7
  31. Wario – 0 – 7 – 7
  32. Jigglypuff – 4 – 2 – 6
  33. Sonic – 2 – 4 – 6
  34. Bowser – 4 – 1 – 5
  35. Ice Climbers – 1 – 4 – 5
  36. Meta Knight – 0 – 3 – 3

Some notes:

  • I didn’t separate Sheik and Zelda matches when I first started keeping track, because the people that were playing switched often enough that they blurred together, and once I thought about it more it was too late to change it. In hindsight, I ought to have distinguished between games where only one fighter was used vs. both. A nontrivial portion of the Sheilda population is due to a couple Zelda-only players.
  • Ganondorf didn’t come up on Random, ever. Which is funny.
  • Neither did Zero Suit Samus, but of course she can’t (which is silly). All 12 ZSS matches are from the same person.
  • No one picked Wario, ever. In fact most of the high-tier characters (Diddy Kong, Pikachu, Marth, Wario, Ice Climbers, Olimar) are in the bottom half of the graph. Just goes to show which characters are generally more fun, I think.
  • I was the only person who ever chose Jigglypuff (all 4 selections are mine). I dunno, she’s fun, but apparently I’m in the minority.
  • Meta Knight was banned from character selection, but not from Random, just to be funny about it.

Two notes on Haskell

First, this comic from xkcd: haskell

Then this link, a metaphor for cheating on your regular programming language (be it Python or anything else) with the impressively kinky Haskell.

In one of my CS classes last semester, we had to use Haskell. It’s interesting, sure, and elegant for small, useful functions. But for large projects? I’d rather take the long way around in a traditional language and know exactly what I’m doing.

Behind the desk at the computer science resource center

A brief tale of computers, algorithms, logic, love, hate, and widescreen monitors.

Generally the SRC, in the basement of the computer science building, has people going in and out of it, generally to see their TAs or meet with their group to work on CS homework and projects. Most students come in a couple times, talk to their TA, and leave, without looking back (and without knowing how to open the door poorly labeled “Push”).

Maybe four to six students were here for nearly the entire semester, or at least every time I was working. With the Thursday and Friday late shifts, it generally wasn’t TA office hour time, and so the crowd varied from “this homework is due tomorrow, shit” to “this homework was due a week ago, shit” to just nobody here, minus those students. Perennially working, forever turning in things late, always getting extensions and help.

Two of them in particular, whose names I never learned, needed quite a bit of help near the middle of the year. Both were reasonably able to work computers but were not well versed in using Java in the way their class required — and really, that’s fine, this is school, a place to learn.

The intensity of the help they asked for increased to almost a breaking point, right after the final difficult assignment was due, about 2/3 of the way through the semester. The two of them were sitting on either side of me, both completely lost in their enormous project, both doing completely different things completely incorrectly. I turned my attention back and forth, trying to split my time evenly, trying to figure out what was wrong (because I sure didn’t know, or I would have told them). I spent a five-hour Thursday shift and a three-hour Friday shift exclusively helping these two — on Friday I didn’t even log in to my own computer.

I was exhausted, but their programs worked, finally, and we were both happy. To this day, one of them is still periodically in the SRC, just to study I presume, and he always says hi to me and calls me by name (which makes me feel bad that I don’t know his), and it’s great, and I feel good for helping him.

Just tonight, a slightly older gentleman, the only person in the SRC besides me on the last day of the semester, and the last SRC shift before spring, calls me over to help him with his computer science homework. He’s working on algorithms and doesn’t understand how to use a binary search tree in one of his homework problems. He has a binder of notes on trees and the homework printed out, and I have an empty markerboard before me.

It’s great. In the span of maybe forty minutes, I relearn how binary trees and binary search trees are distinct, and what a heap is, and how to remove elements from each of those (heaps are hard), and indeed we both sit down and think on the bonus question and take 20 of those minutes to draw out different solutions on the markerboard, and after two or three refinements finally arrive at the correct answer, which I explain and he asks questions about and understands.

It was good for me, a review of my own CS classes. It was good for him, a guy who needed some help with his homework and got a perfectly acceptable lesson in trees and algorithms. And it was particularly fulfilling, to find the sense of discovery in making the algorithm work, in explaining and seeing him understand even in the space of minutes. Not always do I love working the desk, because not everyone is like this fellow. But tonight it was worth it.

Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24

westerkampI’m not going to rehash everything that’s been said about this game. It wasn’t the most consistent game in the world and certainly not our best game this year, even, but it had one of the most exciting long-shot finishes I’ve seen. Nope, I want to talk about being in the crowd.

With 3:16 on the clock in the fourth quarter and the game still tied at 21, the Huskers had the ball on their own 18 yard line. After about five plays, Tommy Armstrong throws a strange pass, directly intercepted by Northwestern, who brings it back to the 7 yard line.

At this point, people start streaming out of Memorial Stadium. A media timeout is called and the mass exodus begins. I’m seated right above one of the exits, with the rest of the student section immediately to the right of it.  We heckle some of the people walking out, particularly the younger ones, with cries of “Hey, hey! Where you going?” and a couple, quieter, sarcastic “Fair-weather fans!” thrown in for good measure.

One of the other students yells at a guy, “The game’s not over yet!”

The guy, covered head-to-toe in Husker gear, barely slows down to point at the kid and look him in the eye. “This game is over.”

The clock reads 2:25. The students stay put. Northwestern gets the ball down to the one, but between three different timeouts and at least one or two injury timeouts, ends up losing yardage and sitting on the 4 yard line on fourth down, thanks to some great lockdown defense. NW kicks the field goal, putting them up 24-21.

More fans leave. There aren’t too many snippy comebacks. Driving the length of the field is tough enough, and with the clock reading 1:20 and no timeouts left, it seems almost all hope is lost. But the students stay put.

Ron Kellogg III goes in. A couple short pass plays. A sack. An amazing fourth-down 16-yard pickup, reviewed by the officials (which gives us more time to think). Another quick first down. NW calls their final timeout with four seconds to go. After the break, RKIII launches a missile into the end zone, bouncing off a pile of players and winding up in the waiting hands of Jordan Westerkamp, his first career touchdown.

The instant the ball touches his hands, the stadium explodes. No one can think. No one can breathe. I can’t speak for everyone, but I couldn’t even yell properly, I was so happy. Happy for the Huskers. Happy we could shut down Northwestern. Happy that the season still had a lot of potential.

But most of all, happy that the single fan who thought the game was over was wrong, very wrong.