Blogs

Take a Chill Pill: It's Not the End of the World

It seems like everywhere I look, I see people declaring that the world is getting worse and worse by the second.  Death and famine across the globe, greedy men exploiting the poor, and other such travesties.  Why, just look at this quote I found about today’s young people:

"Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers."

Now, who do you think said that?  The president?  The pope? Some big wig with an over-inflated sense of self-worth who runs a national organization?  Actually, that quotation is attributed to Socrates in the fourth century B.C. Funny how one might assume it’s about our modern kids.

Customer Service

     I recently bought some items from the internet and they came to me damaged due to various shipping problems including it having sat in the post office’s warehouse for a week.  At first I was very worried, thinking that the company would be resistant to help me since it was legitimately the post office’s fault that things had been damaged.  I called them and explained what happened to one of their representatives.  Thankfully, they were exceedingly nice about it and very helpful to me.  Immediately they sent out new products and even overnighted it to me to try and make up for the time I had been waiting.  I was highly impressed by how they handled the situation and it will make me continue to buy things from them.

Woah!!! I got ahead of myself...

How terribly rude of me!!! I jumped into the story without giving you character details! I sincerely apologize for rambling to you without telling you who I am. I shall remedy the problem straight away.

Hi All! My name is Marshall Herbst, I am currently a Graduate Student enrolled in the College of Education’s MIC Program at UK. What does MIC stand for you may ask??? Why, it is the Masters with Initial Certification program for secondary education. Basically, it is a one year, intensive, masters program which will provide me with a Masters in Education as well as a Rank 2 teaching certificate in Kentucky. My area of concentration is Social Studies, and my focus is WWII, Classical Greek and Roman history, and Psychology.

Effective use of search engines or: How I became the family tech support guy

You might be surprised how many questions already have answers, simply floating in the internether. As a person who's grown up alongside the world wide web, I've come to rely on internet queries to quickly answer a question or offer instruction. The key to finding this information is to be able to effectively use search engines to navigate the web. For this post, I'll be talking about methods I use for a Google search. If you're using a different engine, your search results may vary. I will also be using square brackets and italics to denote example queries, such as this [ query ] for the word query.

Phrase searching

When you search for a phrase, such as [ which seat should I take ], you may notice that you get a variety of results with the words in any order. While in many cases this is fine, it can also be very helpful to use double quotes in your search to contain a specific phrase. The results will contain the keywords in the exact order. This can be used to find a reference, song lyrics, and is especially useful for finding information on an error message. The query [ "which seat should I take" ]  will give you more specific results.

Site filtering

Computer Graphics: Topology

Topology

When referring to computer graphics, 3d models and the like, topology is the wireframe of a given object. The wireframe is comprised of all the vertices (where lines meet to form a point), edges (the lines made up of two connects vertives) and from that information the faces can be made (generally have 2-3 connected edges per face). Now, as I pointed out in a previous blog I said that optimization was immportant for computer graphics. Today, I will go over "proper" topology.

Proper Topology?

Proper topology is the arrangement of the wireframe so that enough detail is present in the model while also keeping the polygon (faces) count to a manageable number (as low as possible while keeping necessary detail). In animation, proper topology goes one step further because it allows the model to deform more naturally when moving. (Bad topology example) (Good topology example)

Computer Intelligence

I've been working on a system for recommending courses to students based on the past performance of similar students. Hopefully the system will be a useful tool for students wishing to gain some idea of what courses they might do well in. However another purpose of designing this system is to compare it with an artificial intelligence advising system that is being worked on in the computer science department. The comparison would be to see how artifical intelligence does with planning for students versus a netflix style advising system (technical term is collaborative filtering).

What is amazing about this to me is the possible use of a computer as an advisor. I think of advising decisions as complex and personal. To think that artifical intelligence has come so far as to be considered for this type of process shows just how far computing has come. Think about early computers. They filled entire rooms and required intensive set up to perform very simple computations. Now we use computers in the military (automated drones), selecting movies (netflix), playing chess, winning jeapordy, and finding love (match.com, eHarmony, etc). The early computer scientist would be astounded by how much has been done in such a short time. So the question is: what is possible in the future?

Nickel and Diming: or, "Really People? Really?"

I detest people that nickel and dime others.  Really, it’s a disgusting practice and I imagine after a certain point no amount of soap and water can wash of the shame a retailer feels for doing this to their poor customers.  The rage for this week is focused mainly on EA games.

 

Now if any of you watched E3 this year (doubtful, I realize) you’ll know that they are releasing a Stars Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG later this year.  This issue is that the digital version of the game is selling exclusively on Origin, EA’s site.  Now the game’s preorder price is set to be 40 pounds (the British money, not the weight), but they’re charging 5 pounds for buying it digitally instead of through a retailer, and then another 5 on top of that for being allowed the privilege of pre-ordering.  That’s 50 pounds, or for those of you bad at currency exchange, $85.  This for a game that they’ve said practically mum on, when on average you’d pay $50-60 for a new game in the U.S. and 30 pounds in Britain.

 

The Kindle

Being able to condense entire music libraries and photo albums is pretty commonplace now.  But until recently, with advances in tablet computing, being able to condense an entire library of actual books into a handheld device that still offered the same reading experience was quite hard.  I have tried out several different e-readers including the iPad and NookColor, but recently decided to purchase an Amazon Kindle, which I have been immensely satisfied with.

My biggest complaint with the other e-readers I have used (the iPad in particular) was the amount of screen glare that could occur in a well-lit room or outdoors.  When outside an iPad’s screen is practically invisible, be it in a game, internet browser, or reading app.  The Kindle uses what Amazon calls “e-ink” to accurately reproduce the look of ink-on-paper print.  I actually believe that e-ink is in many ways superior to traditional printing.  Often times, especially with mass market paperbacks, the print quality is not the greatest and can impede readability of the book.  This has never been a problem while using my Kindle, no matter which book I am reading.

Born This Way

Born this way

We are removed and alienated from this xenophobic society. 

We are known as the strange, weird, exotic, different, insane, eccentric breed in this world.

They claim that we are emotionally tortured and disturbed, stuck in our own fantasy realm.

We were born this way.

We were born different

We were created to bring abstract viewpoints and color in to this plain colorless space.

We are what make the world different.

We are the fabricators of dreams and ideas that we attempt to bring to life.

Nothing is impossible for us.

We bring enlightenment to the world.

We illustrate what is outside the box from within the box.

We are our own genre of people.

Nothing is impossible through our eyes.

We imagine what we desire.

We will not apologize for the way we are.

They will never be able to wrong this right.

We graffiti this world with much needed splendor.

Imperfection can still be useful

     I did a project this week using Adobe Connect and taught some of my colleagues about astrology.  Adobe Connect is a platform which enables for many people to have an online conference.  It can be really useful for Online Education in the form of virtual office hours, lectures, or even study sessions.  Many of the professors in our Online Education classes have used it quite successfully and rave about how interactive it made their classes.  Judging from the course evaluations, the students really enjoyed using it too. 

     One important thing that I learned, among other things, while presenting my lesson was that perfection is not needed for online instruction, or any instruction for that matter.  Even though I had rehearsed my presentation a few times, there were still some technical difficulties that occurred which could not be foreseen.  It did not detail the lesson, however, and I was able to recover and finish.  In the end, the lesson went well.

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