Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I wish all of you a happy, healthy holiday and new year!

It is indeed merry for me - my 4.0 GPA continues for another semester! If I can hold on for one more semester, then I won't have gotten anything other than an A since some time before high school, all the way through college, since I'll be graduating with my BS in electrical engineering in May. Isn't that just sick? I guess I work too hard.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Here's a New Picture

I'm wearing my new shirt, what do you think? :)

Auto-Save, Purchases and Randomness

First of all, Blogger is a Google company, right? How difficult would it be for them to implement the same auto-save features that Gmail has, then? I spent about twenty minutes writing this post when my web browser decided to die. Ah well. I guess I'll just post a shorter version of my original ranting. Plus, I'm writing this in TextEdit before copying and pasting to the web interface this time. In the eternal words of George W. Bush, "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

So, first the purchases! Yesterday I picked up a couple new books - Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere and Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. Unfortunately, they will get added to the ever-growing queue of books-to-read. I keep telling myself that I will get to pleasure reading eventually - if only I could believe myself! Right now, I'm reading Gene Wolfe's Shadow & Claw. I'm really enjoying the style of the book, but I'm just getting started. I also bought a t-shirt for myself and some gifts for the fam.

I'll also mention briefly that it turns out I ranked EECS 426, MOS integrated circuit design, this semester. I had the high score on the homework, second exam, second design project, and the high score overall. I attribute this fact to the volume of material we covered in Dr. Young's EECS 344, integrated circuit analysis and design, last year. Having taken 344 definitely put Case undergrads at an advantage over the grad students from other schools.

And one more thing... it turns out that Dr. Tabib-Azar won't be teaching EECS 422, solid-state electronics II, in the spring because he has to develop a SAGES course, instead. Thanks, SAGES.

So, here's my (tuesday-thursday only!) schedule for the spring:

For MS:
EBME 427 Movement Biomechanics & Rehab 3CR Dr. Kirsch
EECS 434 Microfabrication 3CR Dr. Mehregany

EECS 651 Thesis MS 4CR
EECS 500 Colloquium 0CR

For BS:
EECS 396L Mobile Robots 4CR Dr. Newman
EECS 314 Computer Architecture 3CR Dr. Swarup Bhunia

With these courses, I will be on track to graduate with my BS in May - heck yeah. I will also only need to register two grad-level courses after next semester to count towards my MS degree. Grad school might actually be affordable! We'll see.

Anyway, that's it for now. Check here again soon (or subscribe to my RSS feed) for my next rant - and overall semester grade results (hopefully)!

::end transmission::

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Half Way There!

Phew! My two grad-level courses are done, and I got A's in both of them! Two more classes to go - my ENGR 200 Statics & Materials midterm is tomorrow morning, and then I have the rest of the week to work on the take-home exam for EECS 351 Communication Systems. This has been a long semester, but it's almost over.

Which means... lots of time to work on research over "break." I ordered some parts from Digi-Key for my project yesterday. Thank goodness for Digi-Key. This week, I need to design and fab a PCB for my test circuit, take some measurements (I get to learn how to use the laser vibrometer - sweet!), and keep on chuggin'. I can't post about the details of what I'm working on, but I think it's really neat stuff. If When it works, it will make for an interesting paper, as well (exciting!).

Of course, I have several projects going on simultaneously, so keeping everything straight is making me crazy. It's a good thing I have my dry erase board to help me make sense of it all -- but I think I need a bigger board. ::grin::

In other news, I'll be visiting Kara at her parents' house in St. Louis in early January for a few days. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm sure we'll have a good time. Kara has her finals this week at UIUC as well, so good luck Kara!!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Oh, yeah! I do have a blog, don't I.

Last post: October. Not very timely, eh? Well, things have been crazy! Today was the last day of class, and the fabled Case finals gauntlet begins tomorrow, Saturday, at high noon. The showdown: me versus the EECS 600 (RF Integrated Circuits) final worth 50% of my grade. Of course, it might as well be worth 100% of my grade - if I do well, I will get an A. If I perform poorly... well... it depends on how poorly! I studied for this bad boy over 20 hours this week (about 10 hours today) and I feel pretty prepared for it. Hopefully I will be able to pick up on the tricks and nuances of the problems before the end of the test period.

After tomorrow, things are looking up. I have a take home exam for EECS 351 (Signal Processing for Communications) and the ENGR 200 (Statics and Strength of Materials) exam should be a cakewalk. I have a lot of research work to accomplish over break, but I know what I have to do, and it's a lot less stressful than 3-hour exams. EECS 426 (MOS IC Design) is totally done. I am reasonably confident I got an A in the course, but I won't know for sure until the second exam scores are posted. As long as I got a 75 or higher, I'm golden (and I think I did really well on it).

One thing I would like to mention... I think Case has forgotten how to clear sidewalks this year! In years past, the sidewalks were always shoveled and salted by the time I went to class. Now, some of them have 2" of ice for days after a snow storm. It's really unacceptable! I know several people who have fallen on the slick surfaces. Hopefully they'll get their act together again soon.

Okay, I need to get some sleep so I can attack this exam head-on tomorrow. I'll post the casualty report when I know the outcome!


Friday, October 28, 2005

Site Changes & Improvements (I Hope!)

Hello! Please take a moment to check out my new webpage! It might be a bit rough around the edges at the moment since I basically generated the whole thing this evening, but it has some nifty content. I hope to use that site for static content - my research interests, short personal biography and so on, while posting more timely comments here. This new layout has also been designed to compliment the layout of this blog. While they are not identical (it doesn't use CSS or anything fancy), they do share much of the same color palette and layout. I decided to do this to try and keep some visual consistency between the two sites so they don't feel like two totally separate entities.

I also turned off the posting requirement for this blog - you no longer need to have a Blogger account to post. I'll have to see if this opens me up to SPAM posts, but I can take care of that if that is the case. Hopefully what will happen is that more of you will post! Hint: I am more likely to update if it seems like someone is reading this! :-P

I've got more to talk about but for now I need to sleep. Hopefully I'll post more this weekend.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Case Photos

Check out the Case Screensaver! Case folks can submit photos online to go into the screen saver. You can also browse all the photos on the web page. Quite nifty!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Case 125th Anniversary Weekend

This weekend is the Case School of Engineering 125th Anniversary. Big deal? Apparently so - since I got to go to all sorts of spiffy events.

First of all, I attended Dean Kamen's lecture on Friday afternoon. Dean Kamen is probably best known as the inventor of the Segway scooter and the iBot wheel chair. He also founded DEKA Research & Development in the early 1980s which has churned out innovative, successful products regularly since its inception. He had some interesting words to say to the CSE - some witty, some acerbic, some insightful, some incredibly funny. But he had one driving message - that not enough Americans are becoming engineers and that this will be the downfall of our nation if not addressed soon.

Dean believes that our failure to produce engineers is not a failure in our educational system, but a failure in American culture. He noted that more degrees were awarded in Sports Management last year in the U.S. than in all engineering fields, combined. He believes that an ignorance of what engineers do and who engineers are in young people keeps them from setting their sights high enough to go to engineering school. To combat this ignorance, he founded a group called FIRST, which runs a large-scale science olympics every year with the goal of getting kids excited about learning. Check it out. All in all, it was a very thought-provoking lecture.

Then, I went to see Dennis Miller Live at Severance Hall on Friday night. I scored some free tickets about 30 minutes before showtime (excllent!) so I went to check him out. I am generally a fan of Dennis Miller, mostly because his comedy is so timely and relevant. However, he must have decided to recycle some old material for us... we heard quite a bit about his opinions of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky... and about global warming. Not very timely, if you ask me. Although he did get some quips in about the constitutional referendum in Iraq and Bush's abysmal approval rating... and even if he wasn't relevant, he was pretty funny. Anyway, for the cost, it was definitely worthwhile. :)

Finally, tonight, I went to the CSE Banquet downtown. The picture at the top of the post is of one of the banners at the event. Check out that hot girl at the bottom right. I could totally date her... Anyway, there were a lot of Case celebrities at the reception so it was a good time with some excellent conversation. The dinner speeches were not the best, but the food was delicious! Now, if only I had done some homework today...

Binary Walkway

The fruits of the Baker building's destruction are about to come to pass with the new Binary Walkway. I submit to you that the walkway is not nearly as obnoxious as many have made it out to be (usually after only hearing about it second-hand). Although it is covered with ones and zeros (the language of love!), it is to be noted that it is tastefully covered with ones and zeros in muted shades of grey. Of course, as an EECS student, I may be slightly biased - but I think it's quite aesthetically pleasing. The green space makes the quad just that much more inviting as well. You be the judge!

Oh, and yes, that is my bike in the picture there. Yea bike!

Hundert's Fireside Chat

On Thursday, President Hundert visited us in the great room of House 4 of the Village at 115 to talk about the upper class experience and the future of the university. We broke the ice with him by discussing the bad acting in the Star Wars prequels - which I though was immensely entertaining.

At the very least, Dr. Hundert definitely has a vision for the University, which is a Good Thing (TM). He totally believes in SAGES (Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship) as the future of undergraduate education, at least at Case. As for me, I am in with the last of the old-timers and I've never had a SAGES class, so I can't pass judgement on the program, specifically. However, I am a staunch supporter of learning by doing -- and interacting with others. It remains to be seen how well Case will implement this new style of teaching and learning (especially for the upper-level departmental SAGES courses that don't exist yet), but the motivation is good.

Of course, SAGES wasn't the only topic du jour. Some notable notes:

- Case is putting out request for proposals for developing the quardangle and the parking lot at Ford and Euclid next month. He envisions a Case "University Town" that is par for the course at most other universities. Embedded in the RFP - the proposal must include plans for a grocery store and a drug store. Right on.

- Case will be getting a new student center some time in the indefinite future. Currently, the plan is to put it on Freiberger Field (near KSL and Thwing). Specifically the center will include a huge tower that will be a beacon and orienting point for all of the Case Campus and University Circle. Well, OK. But, will it have an arcade? :)

- Case planned to bring in about 900-950 freshmen this year - the >1100 who showed up was totally unexpected. One of the primary goals of the enlarged enrollment was to fill more seats in the humanities and undergraduate management departments. Of course, a horde of new BMEs came along for the ride.

- Glenn Nicholls, V.P. of Student Affairs projected that we will need to put students on the top of the hill South Side next fall. He also predicted that there will be undergraduate students on South Side for at least 5-7 more years. So much for the unified undergraduate housing plan...

- Case is entertaining the notion of a smoke-free campus. The Medical quad is already implementing this. All I can say is it's about time.

In general, Dr. Hundert was really down-to-earth and listened attentively to the questions posed by the students in attendance. Surely a good sign.

Oh, and one more thing. Dr. Hundert does in fact read the Athenian - he even shows some of the caricatures depicting him in the Athenian to his kid. One of the reps of the Athenian was present at the event and asked Dr. Hundert to be the next Athenian faculty advisor. Unfortunately, he declined. C'est la vie.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Decent Weekend at 115th St.

Heya! I took the above picture this weekend after the Spartans Football game. I had a great seat to watch the fireworks show from my apartment. I took a bunch more pictures as well, but that one was particularly nice.

I got a lot of homework accomplished, although not as much as I would have liked. But, I am in pretty good position to start the week.

I bought a used iBook this week from another student here at Case. It's less than a year old and in great condition, so I'm pretty pleased with it. The specs are decent too - 60 GB HD, 768 MB RAM, CD-RW / DVD drive, 14" display, 1.2 GHz G4. It's very similar to the PowerBook I was using as Apple Campus Rep, except for 14" instead of 12." I have to say that I prefer the 12" model for portability, but the 14" is much easier to look at.

What else is new? I got a nearly perfect score on my Statics test. I missed points due to a stupid mistake, but that is nothing new for me. I imagine the next test will be more difficult since this one had an average of 85 and covered difficult topics like vectors - ooohh. No tests this week, but lots of homework to turn in and lots to get done in the lab, so I'll be busy. OH! I guess that's not entirely true - I have a CPR test tomorrow. :)

Guess that's about it for now. I'll post again soon, hopefully with more pretty pictures.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Case Spartans Football Fun

This weekend is Family Weekend at Case. My Mom, Nana and Mom's boyfriend are coming over to visit me tomorrow. We're going to make quesadillas, have tasty snacks, and watch the Case Spartans Football game against Wooster from our suite window:

Case is 3-0 so far this season, which doesn't happen very often. It should be a fun day! I also need to get some work done on my EECS 426 homework and I definitely need to put in some lab time this weekend. I've got a big list of things to accomplish, and it won't happen if I hang out in the dorm all weekend. :) Oh, and I have a statics test on Monday. I guess I ought to study for it... meh...

Today was also the EECS Welcome Back Picnic on the Quad. That's always a good time. I got Quiznos with Jamie tonight, too. We used some of the $2 off coupons that they flood the Case campus with all the time. I tried the new Cabo Chicken sub and that's a DANG good sub. I'll have to do that again soon!

Gosh, I Hate Cisco VPN!

Hey all! I am on a roll this week for fixing my own computer problems! You would think that a PerceptIS tech would have his computers running in tip-top, perfect condition at all times. Heh, I thought so too. But, I think I finally have everything in order.

So, here's the background on this one. Last year, I used Remote Desktop on my PC pretty often. Since we have such an insanely fast gigabit LAN here at Case, it is trivial to go to a computer lab on campus, RDC to my PC in my room, and use it as if I were connected locally. This is nice because I now have all of my settings, programs, bookmarks, and so on available to me wherever I go. I also don't leave a trail of websites I visit on the public machine I'm logged in to. In general, it's a Good Thing (TM).

Over the summer, I was on a cable modem at home with a dynamic IP address, so I didn't use RDC at all. When I got back to Case this fall, I tried to use RDC and it wouldn't work. Strange, but surely I could fix it easily. Well, it gets weirder. From the PC, I can connect to any Internet resource that I want, be it web sites, file transfers, our local DC hub, and so on. But -- I can't connect to my PC on any port remotely. No ping, no response to port scanning, no WinShares... you get the picture. And the best part is that it was still "invisible" even when the WinXP firewall was turned completely off. I tried all the usual (and unusual) tricks to get it working again, including rebuilding the TCP/IP stack, reinstalling all the network software components, changing hardware NICs, repair-install of Windows, and about 10 other things that the other techs and I thought up. Nadda.

I eventually lugged my box in to the local PerceptIS walk-in-center to see if a bunch of us nerds could all poke at it together to get it fixed. Two hours later, we decided that it would have to be formatted, because there was no hope. We verified that it was a software problem since booting from XPE allowed the machine to be pinged. But was there no other option?

On a whim, the next evening, I uninstalled VPN, which I had installed over the summer to connect to the Case network remotely. Viola! It was working. So, yeah. Cisco VPN is not my friend. Apparently, a lot of people have incredibly strange problems with it. I just wish I'd tried uninstalling it a month ago!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Live Like Doc

Anyone who had a class with Doc Oc knows just too well what a world-class guy he was. Unfortunately, he passed way this summer from a sudden heart attack. Case students can now remember Doc with Live Like Doc memorial bands. I think it's a nice gesture. Doc's memorial is coming up on Saturday, Oct. 8. You can register to attend online. It'll be in Amassa Stone Chapel, so seating will be limited.

Video Game Pianist

I went to see the Video Game Pianist perform last night at the Rough Rider Room here at Case. It was an excellent show! I captured the whole thing on tape with my new-ish Sony DV Handycam DVR-HC20. Once I get it edited, I'll try to get it posted somewhere, possibly with as a Torrent file. You can see several other videos on Martin's website linked above. I'll try to encode this one in a higher quality format (maybe Xvid or MPEG-4). I might also extract just the audio from the recording as an MP3. This all as time permits, of course. If you want to help with editing and have a fast connection to grab the uncompressed DV files, let me know and we can work on it together.

This is also a good opportunity to plug the Freedman Center in KSL at Case. It's free to all Case students, staff and faculty - and they have everything you need to put together a mean multimedia presentation. It's almost as nice as owning your own Mac!

Life without a calendar...

The last two weeks have been an unintentional experiment. Ever since coming to Case waaaay back in 2002, I've use Apple's calendaring program, iCal to plan out just about every day of my life. This is not just classes, assignment due dates, meetings and club events. No, I actually allot time for studying for each of my classes, completing homework and reading assignments, time to eat, time to go grocery shopping and numerous other things that most people wouldn't put in a calendar. It's also a very nice interface because I can drag and drop entries -- so if something takes shorter than expected, I can shrink down that entry's time and bump everything else up - it's very dynamic in that respect. This way, I actually get free time (with a free conscience!) from time to time.

Well, for the past two or so weeks, iCal has been crashing immediately after being launched. This resulted in deleted entries, duplicate calendars, blank entry titles, and numerous other annoying problems. So, I found myself not using it at all. I have been incredibly inefficient during this time. If I don't have all the things I need to do plotted out in great detail, I find myself wasting time because I think that I don't need to be doing anything. Then, when deadlines approach, I am not prepared and I go into panic mode. I'm not used to operating this way. So, I needed to do something about it.

I tried all the usual fixes for misbehaving Mac software - deleted the application's preferences, disabled 3rd party system extensions, and even rebuilt the calendar files by purging out all my old entries. Nothing did the trick. Until yesterday -- I discovered that the problem was related to Apple's online synching program, iSync. I used to sync via .Mac but I had some problems with data corruption and discontinued using it to sync between my desktop and the Campus Rep PowerBook. Anyway, the problem must have been more severe than I thought. I disabled all syncing via the iSync application (this in addition to already disabling it in the .Mac control panel - apparently two independent controls), and reset all sync data from the iSync preferences window. This finally did the trick! Now I can use iCal again.

This was a very abnormal experience for a long-time Mac user. Generally, Apple's software works wonderfully together... but I've had nothing but problems with iSync. Of course, I've had much worse experiences troubleshooting the Palm Desktop sync system - maybe syncing data is just an inherently difficult task. Whatever the case, it has cost me a lot of time and energy to get straightened out. But now -- I'm on the path to success with my trusty iCal up and running again!

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Here's a picture of me taken recently by my friend Dan. Hello!

Bradley, September 2005 Posted by Picasa

First Post - Woot!

Hello! I'm going to start posting to this site in the future instead of my old webpage that's currently hosted on my computer, Brad Farnsworth on the Web. Hopefully this will work out well for me. If it's a lot easier to post, I might update more often. For now, I'm just getting this site in place and not really publicizing its existence. What do you think, should I switch to this format?