Category Archives: Uncategorized

Classes are over!

Hello Readers!

I know the other bloggers have already said it, but I want to too: CLASSES ARE OVER FOR THE TERM! This term was a doozie, but its almost done, minus one more project and a final.

As I have said in other posts, a lot of the courses I took this term were very project heavy which I have really enjoyed, and I want to talk about two of them in this post.

The first one is another computer science assignment.  For this project we were given a picture of a donkey, as below:

and were to fill in a program that would remove the donkey, and fill in the space with a specified texture (the grass) from the image.  As you can see, our programs did a pretty decent job.

If only you could make programs for real life. Concrete crack?

* Run wall through program *

Not anymore!

In this class, you really start to look at pictures totally differently, and there are SO many different ways they can be displayed; the way we look at them (typical colour picture) is just one way.  Its also fun to start to have an idea of how programs like photoshop do what they do.  I think I’m going to miss that class…minus the theory parts, but its fun to have something so hands on, and where the work you do for assignments actually DOES something.

Ok, on to a more engineering project.  I also took a controls course that was by far the most useful class I’m pretty sure any engineer could ever take.  If you come to UBC, you should absolutely take it too — its called MECH 520.  For one of our projects, we were give a miniature automotive light bulb (a C194 – if you’re interested), and were to build a hotwire anemometer to measures air flow rates from the change in resistance over the bulb filament.  And that’s pretty much all the instructions we were given.  That is what I liked about the class so much, everything was so open-ended, and you had a think a little bit.

I went the classy route and made mine out of cardboard and a balloon, but its always fun to actually BUILD something, instead of simply learning how something works.

The light bulb was so delicate that I was scared to try to over a very big range of flow rates. If you decide to make one, I would suggest getting one with a more…rugged filament.

Now that classes are wrapping up, I’m starting to get a little nervous about what’s next.  I’ve been in classes for so long, I’m so used to how they work and what I need to do to do well in them.  Starting on “research only” in a week or so will be so different! I hope it will be good and that everything will go well.

I hope everything is going well with you!

CPSC – an advertisement?

Hello there!

I have something to tell you that had you told me I would be saying this a year ago, I would have called you a liar!  Over the past month, my eyes have been opened to the awesome world of computer science.  Yes, you did read that right; I think computer science is in fact awesome.  Let me explain.

As I’ve probably mentioned in previous posts, I am taking a computer vision course this term.  In my undergrad I didn’t do very much programming at all, which explains my previous attitude towards the subject, and made signing up for this course a little intimidating.  But even though I’m pretty sure I’m spending about twice as long as anyone else on the assignments, when they’re done I have a working product that, at least in this course, does something that is (1) cool, and (2) would be useful in so many applications.

Now for the assignment that inspired this post:  We were given a few photos and told to write a program that would identify where the faces were.   Tons of software does this now (ie. Picasa and its creepy ability to not only identify faces, but who’s face if they have enough photos on there!), and better than at least my version is able to, but it was still pretty interesting to get an idea of how these programs go about doing this sort of thing.

Here is the result of my program on one of the pictures we were given:

It didn’t get all of them, but it didn’t do too bad either, and it wasn’t even really that hard!  Think about how many places you could use this!  If you wanted to track something, you could put some kind of  distinctive sticker on it (ie. on crash test dummies), and write a little program that would tell you where it is.  It would even work way better than the face detection program, since the sticker would always be the same (whereas each person’s face is different).

I know doing something like this is nothing new, but now its not just a “yeah, you can do that with software” thing, but a “I have an idea of how its actually done” thing.  Also, more importantly to me, know I would be able to make something like this happen if I had to …. with certain degree of accuracy….

Assignments like this are the completely unique thing about a computer science degree.  You would leave school with so much hands-on experience.  I can’t imagine getting the same kind of grasp of the material in any other field since you have to use what you’re learning and all for the cost of buying a computer.  Its too bad you can’t do this in engineering since its such a good way to learn, but alas, to buy the equipment to try out a lot of what you’re learning would cost a whole lot more than a computer.

A different weekend

Hello everyone!!

I hope everbody’s having a nice reading break. But I doubt if people are into studies today. It has been drizzling and raining continuously; something I wouldn’t wish for on Valentine’s Day, but with the weather getting colder, I am lost in explosive reminiscence. The memory of having a very special company, in front of a fireplace inside a house, with sweet slow music playing, with incense burning, with only the fire illuminating the whole place making the chandeliers on the ceiling glitter like diamonds, with a similar chilly and rainy weather outside. I am drowning in an ocean of nostalgia :).

Okay then, let me swim back to the present. I will take an opportunity to speak about my experiences I had this weekend. Friday started with intervewing a few undergraduate students (for assisting me in my research during summer), along with my supervisor Dr Sheldon Green and colleague Haiya Peng. Then I dealt with classes and assignments for the rest of the day until around four, when I thought it was time for some coffee but when I went to Tim Hortons, I had a chance meeting with a friend named Vasu Tiwary, a very jovial and enthusiastic person, apart from being a graduate student in the Department of Mathematics, UBC. I had a ‘valuable’ conversation with him, about life and about novels, something I usually miss to have. Then I went to the Birdcoop gym for a little workout and when I left for home I was extremely fatigued. I had to return back to UBC by eight to attend my tango class at REC.

The tango class in the REC studio has been an exciting experience this term. When I speak about tango to some people, I get an impression that they consider the dance to be a simple one with a male and a female dancer holding hands and walking and circling the dance floor in a trivial sync, but I believe the dance is a very sophisticated one, which requires a lot of practice to learn it well. I also feel that it is a dance with an elegance of its own. The more the passion, the more the flair of execution of this dance.

When I returned home, I had a small gathering with Javier and Manuel, my Spanish and Mexican roommates. We had a few drinks before going to sleep. I was really tired after the long day. But I think something remained to happen. At around 4 am, I suddenly woke up and realized someone was playing music with high bass in the room underneath mine. After enduring it for around half an hour it wasn’t anymore bearable, so I went and requested the guy to reduce the volume. After a low volume for around 10 minutes, I found the music volume had been raised again and so I went again and this time, with a slightly hard tone, asked the person to reduce the volume for I was not able to sleep. And the same thing happened again. Then, I was running out of patience and due to all the fatigue from the previous day, I was turning paranoid. At around 5 am, I dialled the house owner’s number but my call wasn’t answered. Then I had no option but one. I called 911 and then my my call was forwarded to Vancouver Police, who then gave me a non-emergency number and asked me to call immediately. Getting the police involved only for someone playing loud music may seem unnecessary to some people but to all those people I say that, had you been in that situation and seen the person’s attitude, you would have done the same. I called the non-emergency phone number and said about this person who was not cooperating and was probably taking drugs, and in around 25 minutes, two large Vancouver Police vehicles pulled over in front of my residence. I was called and asked to open the front door, which I did and then, directed the 3 cops who came in, to the door of the annoying person. The person was interrogated for around half an hour and since I was listening from a distant place, it seemed to me that the cops even found some objectionable thing in his room (I shall not go into much detail here). The person was given a warning and they said, this time he wasn’t arrested. Well, I had a problem and I dealt with it.

Rest of Saturday wasn’t so exciting so I will switch to Sunday. I had not been to a church for a long long time and it was really great to have an invitation to a church from Peter Anderson, a graduate student under the supervsion of Dr Green pursuing his PhD. I donot remember the name but the church is located close to Dunbar. It is a Baptist church and when we were there, songs were performed and we all sang. It was a very holy and spiritful atmosphere inside the church. After the songs, people prayed. There was prayer for children who were born recently and for mothers who were going to deliver soon. There was prayer for the people of Egypt. After the prayers, the pastor of the church spoke about the history of churches in different parts of the world. After the final prayer, we went to have a potluck meal which was arranged that day. One very nice thing I noticed was that everybody knew almost everyone else and it kind of felt like home. Everybody was introducing oneself without hesitation and it really felt so good to be there. I am thankful to Peter for inviting me as I had a very special time at the church.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll return soon and next time I shall talk about some of the graduate students at my office. Have a good night, everyone 🙂