Another Update

I got to looking at my notes file for stuff to put in my blog from the last entry and I noticed that a) there's a lot of stuff there, and b) it's been almost 2 months since I've made a serious blog post. I suppose now is a good time as any to do.

School has started during the interim. Parking was only bad for the first week thankfully, and not near as it has been in previous semesters. I'm taking 5 classes this semester, and would probably be taking 6 if the last class wasn't at 7-8:30pm. I got all of the ones I wanted for the most part. These include Math 110B (Algebra of some kind), Math 170 (Linear Programming), CSC 134 (Database/File Systems), CSC 196L (Artificial Intelligence), and History 17B (American: Civil War to present). I look forward to going to the AI class since it's the most interesting of them and the projects are fun to do. The last one was implementing a program that used a minimax game tree to play a game called 'Pawn Stop' that the teacher invented. My program plays pretty strong and I hope to win the tournament he set up for it next week.

During summer I accomplished a goal I set to read the Xanth series over again. During the first week of school I was finishing up the last book of it (Up in a Heaval), that are in paperback at least. All 25 books of the series. That and reading I, Robot and On a Pale Horse, I had a lot of book reading that I did. I guess I made up for all the years I didn't read at all unless I had to during junior high and high school. I've toned it down since school started and have only read Masters of Doom since then, which I'd recommend for anyone to read. I've also ordered a couple books to read in the future, which should be here this week hopefully.

My dad came in town for my birthday last week and we did a lot of things while he was here. First we went to Nationals in San Francisco. It was a lot of fun since I wasn't a competetor at it and could just watch and relax. There were a lot of good fights during it and lots of carnage. My only complaint would be the inconsiderate people that were in the stands. Mostly people who let their kids do whatever they wanted which usually involved hanging on the bleachers and bumping into me and trying to push me out of the way. One parent had the audacity to tell their child not to get stepped on (implying that me, who hadn't even moved a leg for at least 5 minutes when his kid crowded into a space next to me that didn't exist). Another person literrally sat on top of the bag that was next to my dad that had his camera in it (there wasn't that much space between him and the next person either!). Luckily the competitors are much better people than this, at least from what I've noticed.

My birthday came during the week and I couldn't go to a traditional Black Angus dinner like usual, and instead just went to Baker's Square for a lunch. I got a watch for my birthday, which I wanted to have since I don't really like pulling my cell phone out of my pocket to see the time, and it's akward to be without the time when I forget to charge my phone. I also got a 160gb hard drive that I haven't gotten around to installing yet. I'd kind of like to build an SATA raid array, so I might use this for my pvr instead, although I'm almost out of space on my desktop hard drive.

On Friday we went to see Team America: World Police. It was pretty funny, especially the Team America theme song when they bust out of Mount Rushmore, and Kim Song-Il or whatever his name was talking in general. They sure get the Asian stereotype down :).

On Sunday we went to the Sacbots event at CSUS, "Smackdown in Sactown," as it was dubbed. I arrived a little later than I would've liked, since I had wrote a program to handle the brackets and display everything on the projector screen so that it was easier for competetors and the audience to see what was going on instead of having things mysteriously happen with brackets posted on a wall somewhere. There were a few hangups with getting the program working since I couldn't seem to get apache running on my laptop (it was working fine on my desktop). I ended up running it remotely over the internet. A second thing was that my digital camera was taking pictures significantly larger than the pictures I was using to test out the program, so my computer nearly locked up every time it tried to render everything. I ended up turning off images and running it without them until the break and then scaled them down using a program Joe recommended and uploaded them to the program. It worked great after that, and people even complimented me on it :).

Since I entered a robot into the event, my dad handled getting the bot ready to fight, which was pretty nice because I was handling the bracket system and never had to worry about my bot since he took care of it. I did pretty well this event. Upon Steve's (Fusible Link) advice, I ran copal 50:1 motors at 22.2V using two 3-cell LiPoly batteries connected in series. Coincidentally, my first fight was against him. However, he has since upgraded to the mythical maxon 17:1 motors which are impossible to get anymore and was much faster than I was. Much faster. He beat me pretty handedly. After that I fought Wild One and won in a record 7 seconds (he said one of his motors wasn't working). Then I fought Shark Bait and won, and then beat Hurricane. I don't remember the details of either fight, other than I won. Then I fought Havok and lost. His drum didn't really do much damage to me, but it had enough oomph to lift me up in the air a little bit throwing off my traction. I kept trying to get him towards the pit but in the end he caught onto me and pushed me in instead. Oh well, 3-2 is a good record for me, since I would've been going against Grilled Fajitas next (Ross Hironaka's Flamethrower), which is a really good robot and ended up getting fourth place, losing to his other robot, Mean Burrito (also a flame thrower). Here are the brackets of the entire tournament, along with pictures (editor's note: brackets have been lost).

Finally, I'd like to pimp out a few programs I use regularly. Firefox web browser, which is a much better program than Internet Explorer in that it has much better security, more features (tabbed browsing, find toolbar, popup blocking), and I like it better. Also is HydraIRC, which is a better IRC client than mIRC in my opinion. It is much better looking and seems to be faster and more responsive in general. It lacks some things like scripting, but other than that it has more features like the channel monitor and docking tabs. Also the channel list is much better because it's a tree instead of just a list and that makes it much easier to be on multiple IRC networks/channels compared to mIRC.