Tuesday, November 6, 2007

All As

On every midterm I took I received an A. Very pleased. The only classes that are wild cards as of now is Calculus 2 and Medium Voltage. Although I have an A in both classes, Calculus 2 always hold some amount of unknown in how difficult the test will be, and Medium Voltage, another class I have an A in, has the final remaining which is worth 50% of my grade. I have so much homework to catch up on; Electronics 2, Microcontrollers, Circuit Analysis, and Calculus 2. Last Winter Semester I waited until the last minute to finish the work, and I know now not to do that. This weekend I am dedicating myself to Calculus. Next weekend, well Microcontrollers I suppose.

In other school related news, I have a rough idea of what classes I will be taking this 2008 winter semester,

8 classes for a total of 24 credits. This is nearly double the workload of my first semester of college. The 3 electronics classes and CIS-152 Visual Basic Programming should be of no concern, but Sociology, Business Management, and Economics are the beasts to tackle. I can easily handle 23 credits under my belt, but save for Calculus 2 all the classes I am currently taking are ELEC classes. Maybe this is a chance to prove to myself my limits. As much as it pains me to say this, the standards at community college are lower than at universities. Perhaps the workload of next semester will be a way for me to balance that difference. When I transfer to Lawrence Tech I plan on taking credits nearing 20, so I have to prove that I can handle it. If I succeed this winter, then maybe I could justify taking 30 credits... Haha, that'd be crazy! Well, if a 3.7 GPA afforded me 23 credits, then I will be able to tear down any concerns with my 3.92 GPA. Speaking of restrictions, I have to hurry and get Intro to Programming waved so I can take Visual Basic Programming!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hate for Homework

After next Wednesday (11-07-07) I will be able to report all my midterm grades. I'm a bit curious of my score for the test I took yesterday in Medium Voltage. The only concern I have with my academic performance is the homework that I still need to complete. If there is one thing I hate it is homework. Homework is typically busywork given by teachers who want to make sure you're busy even outside of their class. Others think of homework as a way to practice on what you learned, and to hone your knowledge of the material covered in class. I consider homework to be a lazy tool used by educators who assume that homework will be affective as a means of learning and becoming better. For many, including me, homework is nothing more than an annoyance I mindlessly burn through in an attempt to get it done with. I do it for the grade, not to learn.

In all the classes that require homework, I have never found it to be helpful, not even once. But, for the classes that give out homework as supplemental and optional, I have found it to be extremely beneficial. In my Calculus 1 and Calculus 2 classes, homework assignments are given but are optional and are not graded. In this way, I can focus on problems that I am not familiar with, and know what material I can use to be prepared for class. If anything, the optional homework guides me and prepares me. The same can be said true for my Chemistry class that I took my freshman fall semester. Although homework was given, it was optional and was not graded. I used this homework as a means to know what would be covered in the tests and through that I was able to achieve an A in the class. When homework is optional, it becomes a tool to be used when needed.

I cannot say the same about required homework assignments. Although I have scored 90%+ on my Electronics 2, Microprocessors and Circuit Analysis classes, I have yet to even start on the homework. If I have proven my knowledge of the material through tests, why must I still do the homework? Why is it required in the first place? In some ways I don't hold it against the professors who assign the homework, as homework is a traditional part of education. Hopefully educators will eventually overcome this widely held belief that homework should be required as a means of succeeding and understanding the class. Anyways, I have homework to do, even if I won't remember a thing from it as I mindlessly drudge through it.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Earlier today I received my score for my math test. To my joy, I received 79 points out of a total of 90 points. As much as I hate getting a B on my math test, I'm still glad that it wasn't the train wreck that I was somewhat concerned with. For this quarter, my tests average to a 93.4% for each test. Those are scores I can be confident with. Mrs. Shepard said that this section was the hardest covered, so I expect better performance in the future. A part of me is a bit regretful in not studying harder, or even completing all the homework. I could have easily achieved a solid A if I had studied my trig identities and did what was assigned (in fact, I am confident that I would have received around 100% if that was true). Mathematics relies on two things, perfection, and a solid grasp of the underlying concepts. Thankfully my experience goofing off in High School has proven to be a valuable lesson.

In high school I didn't care much, and much like a calculator only learned the methods to solving problems. By not understanding the concepts behind the work I did, I suffered both in problem solving, that required a strong grasp on how to use these ideas, and suffered in building upon that knowledge when new concepts were introduced (if you don't understand what you are doing now, its really hard to understand anything else!). College for me was a nice restart, both in electronics and math. If there's one thing I make sure of, it's that I understand what I am doing! (although my mind does wonder in Electronics 2...)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Halfway through, Midterms and my new best friend.

Midterms started unofficially with a math test this past week. Unfortunately the review for the test was a lot easier than the actual test, so I had a false sense of security going into the test. I failed to remember all my trig identities(sin(x)^2 = (1-cos(2x))/2) and the integral of cosecant. I passed my last math test with a 99%, so I'm hoping for a B on this test. With a B I can easily make up for it with my other tests, and I may even be able to pull off an A in the class if I get a C on the test(I'm pretty confident in at least achieving a C). If all else fails, I still have the opportunity to make up one test at finals. College is important to me, so I do always make sure to cover my bases. While on the topic of math, I recently purchased a used Ti-89 Titanium. The titanium is, at least in my opinion, the best calculator on the market to own for Calculus. It has a built in solver that handles anything, derivatives, integration, and anything else you can think of. It's a dream come true for me, and I love the diversity of programs available for it. I even have a PLC simulator on my calculator!

Next week I have four midterms, DC motors, Circuit Analysis, Electronics 2, and Microcontrollers. I'm confident in my abilities with Microcontrollers, my favorite class this semester. As for the others, Electronics 2 and Circuit Analysis will provide a challenge, but DC motors should be mediocre in difficulty, at least from what the teacher has provided for sample questions.

Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbons was just released. As I type this my computer is upgrading from 7.04 Feisty Fawn. Although I'm on top of my Linux, Python has been receiving some neglect. With so much going on(school...school...and more school), I rarely have motive to read my Python books on my free time. I hope over the holidays I can dedicate more time to Python, but with learning assembly I may dedicate more time to that instead. I'm probably going to purchase a microcontroller kit at the end of the semester and study assembly for the 68k processor(the processor used on my calculator). Electronics can be so overwhelming, so many things I wish I could learn!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

School has started..and I have a cold!

School started last week on a Thursday, which meant I only had one day of school that week. This past week was close to a full week of school, with only Monday off(due to Labor Day) and only having not taken one class, which is scheduled only on Mondays. After taking 6 of my 7 classes, I can say that I'm fairly happy with my schedule. Everyday gives me at least 2 hours break, and on Thursdays I have a 7 hour break, which I use to catch up on school work. Combine that with a 3 day weekend, and I have plenty of time for rest and homework.

My main concern, Calculus 2, doesn't appear to be that bad. I was able to complete all but 2 problems from the assignment given to the class(a total of 20 problems on it), and even spotted out 2 errors made by the teacher. We are using the books from last semester, which means I saved roughly $150 on a book. I still have to purchase a Ti-89 Titanium calculator, but even for $100 I'm still glad it is required. This gives me a reason to buy a very nice calculator that will help a lot, not only for Calculus but also for Engineering Physics that I will be taking either next semester or next Fall.

Coincidently, on the first day of school I was fortunate enough to start having acute sore throats in the morning everyday. Since the symptoms were happening only after I slept and have been going on up until now, I was pretty worried. Finally the full fledged sickness came out today, and I'm just glad I know what it is now. It feels like it's finally going away, and I should be fine after a few more days.

I also did a major overhaul on my Python game(a lot more efficient and easier to modify). I'm not sure if I'll continue working on it, since I want to move onto GUI applications in Python. In fact, I ordered wxPython in Action a few days ago. My Circuit Analysis class has had some homework on Series and Parallel circuits, so I developed a Python program to compute all values for it, including Voltage, Current, Power, and total Resistance. I intend to enhance it more and make a GUI for it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My first real mini-game!

This has to be the first real game that I have created, and it is of course in Python. The game reads your last input, and if it is one of the arrow keys, it will shift the map according to the direction you chose. It was slapped together pretty quickly, so the mechanism to exit and the display are very simple.

So far Python has been great, although I am not going as fast as I would like to in terms of reading my books. I've read roughly 150 pages in the Programming Python book and about 50 pages in the Python in a Nutshell book. I have decided to read through the latter book in order to get a better understanding of the foundation, and to better remember everything I learned from my first book. I setup a LAMP server with FTP and SSH access on my laptop(soon to be on a regular desktop computer), the URL being http://salgat.homelinux.net, and am hoping to do some CGI with Python on that server.

School is coming up, so this week is when I start going to bed earlier, start gathering materials needed, and review all the materials from last Spring and Winter semester. The main focus of my review will be Calculus. With so many classes, I'm nervous about my ability to focus on Calculus 2. The saving grace for me is that homework wasn't bad in the Spring semester, although we received a weeks worth every day, and if I can handle 3 hours and 30 minutes of Calculus 1 three times a week, 2 hours of Calculus 2 two times a week should be bearable. With 6 classes of electronics, and 3 having Mr. Harrill in them, I know I will do fine and be happy with my schedule for the next 3-4 months.

The program is packaged in a format commonly used on Linux, but if you are using Windows, be sure to download a program such as 7-Zip or winrar to open this package. To run the program, go to the directory that the files were unpackaged, and simply double click it(this is for Windows, remember that Python needs to be installed).
Attachment: minigame.tgz

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Nearing completion of my book, very anxious!

5 Chapters left, or roughly 100 pages to go until I finish Learning Python(the book). I'm very excited, soon I will be able to move onto Programming Python and start to do some real programming. Unfortunately with all the excitement of finishing this book comes the anxiousness of wanting to start the next book. I started reading Learning Python the second week of this month(9th or 10th, can't remember which), and after 3 weeks I am already becoming very familiar with the language. My hopes are to have this book finished by Wednesday. Chapter 25 is really short, some 10 pages long, so I will probably finish that tonight, leaving me with 4 chapters to read over the next 3 days. I will be able to read two chapters at work Tuesday, so I can almost guarantee finishing by Wednesday.

My second year of college(and fourth semester) starts next month also, August 30th, two days after my birthday! With only a month left until school I feel a need to start moving through my Python studies a little faster, this fall I have 23 credits, and although the only concern is Calculus 2 as far as difficulty, I am still kind of weary about having so many classes. Heres a list of the classes I have(in no particular order),
  1. ELEC-133-01 = Circuit Analysis
  2. MATH-172-01 = Calculus II
  3. ELEC-211-01 = Med Voltage Power Dist Systems
  4. ELEC-137-01 = Microprocessors
  5. ELEC-134-01 = Electronics II
  6. ELEC-130-01 = Introduction to PLCs
  7. ELEC-126-01 = DC Motors and Controls
7 classes in total, thank goodness they are all classes I will enjoy. I love electronics, and math is an awesome subject, so I should be fine this upcoming semester. If homework is the equivalent to what it was last Winter when I had 17 credit hours, then I should have plenty of time on the weekends to continue studying Python. Thank goodness, even with so many credits, that I could maintain having Friday off. The extra money saved from not having to drive 35 miles on Fridays really helps.

I'll probably get back to my book in an hour, going to grab something to eat soon and just browse some of my favorite sites, such as Digg, Slashdot, AllaboutCircuits, and so on.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bought more Python books!

My virtualized server of Windows XP running my bot
(apparently I overwrote this image with another, stupid me for using a generic "desktop.jpg")

In my quest to learn all that is Python, I purchased 2 more books, Python in a Nutshell, and Python Cookbook. I am close to finishing my Learning Python book, as of now I am halfway through chapter 23, only 6 chapters left! After I complete Learning Python, its on to Programming Python and studying my other two books. At some point, probably when I near completion of Programming Python, I may purchase wxPython in Action, which has gotten great reviews. I really want to be able to program with a good GUI module that will allow me to work well under any platform, not just my native Ubuntu Linux OS.

The issue of understanding Classes is taken care of, I now understand it well! It turns out that the first part of the section on Classes was talking about examples of Classes more than actually teaching and explaining it. My main concern though is doing well on the assignment problems at the end of the section for when I finish this chapter today. I often get stuck and have to refer to the Appendix for hints and answers.

On a side note, my bot for Diablo 2 seems to be on an item slump, have yet to find anything in a while. Right now it only does Pindle runs, but hopefully with my saved up fg I should be able to afford good equipment to run Kukbot for all the major bosses in the game, then the real income starts! As I listen to my Windwaker music, I'm considering getting on Starcraft. Jason and I played last night and easily won, and I could really go for some more.

Try out my Python game I made a while ago, it plays Tic-Tac-Toe(crude AI and horrible programming, but it still works!). To run it under Linux, simply go to the directory of the file in your terminal and type "python tictactoe.py".
Attachment: tictactoe.py

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pythons a Pain

Earlier this month I bought a book on Python(the programming language). I really want to expand my abilities with not only electronics but computer technology, so naturally learning programming languages will help. I bought the book Learning Python, and after some 300 pages I am at chapter 20 of 29. I also bought Programming Python, a massive 1,500 page book that expands upon Learning Python. I should be finished with my first book by the end of this month, and when I'm close to finishing it I will purchase the cookbook and reference book for Python. I eventually want to move on to C++, and I feel that by learning a high level language will allow me to get into the "feel" of programming, from which I can expand to more complex languages while still being able to use Python as a scripting language. I'll admit, I do get stuck quite often on learning Python, but I believe it is only because this book likes to really go heavy on descriptions, while I learn best by examples. Classes is a little confusing, so I'm hoping I get it down pretty fast.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

First Entry

This is a place to post my thoughts. Lets see how this works.