Summer Update

Last Edited – May 20, 2011 by Randall Crock
Filed under: Graphic Design, Personal

Hello, and welcome back! I say this pretty much every time I post, but it is true: I need to update more often. Once again, this las semester was pretty busy, but it was fun and I got a lot done. My classes were relatively easy and I was finishing my Interactive Qualifying Project both of which went quite well. My IQP was working with the Student Development and Counseling Center (SDCC) at WPI to find out what students knew about the center and what their attitudes and opinions were. We were somewhat surprised about the results, and the center was pleased with how the project wrapped up. As for my other classes, I took Foundations of Computer Science, Intro to Computer Graphics, and Intro to Artificial Intelligence. Foundations of CS was mainly about languages and types of state machines (finite automata, Turing machines, etc.) and their relationships. I really enjoyed the class and found the material to be very interesting and relevant to some of the interests I have in the theoretical side of CS.

Graphics was a blast and I learned a lot about OpenGL and how it operates as well as getting a good refresher on linear algebra and matrix operations. We did a lot of work in both 2D and 3D, and one of my favorite projects was implementing L-Systems in 3D. L-Systems are methods for iteratively generating fractals, one of the most famous of which is the Koch snowflake. We also did some modeling, all of which had to be hard coded which was a pain since every time you made a change you had to recompile the application and run it again. One of my other small grumbles is that we had to work using X forwarding off of the Linux servers since we were required to write code for only those machines. While it was sometimes frustrating, it was ultimately very rewarding and taught me a lot about how computers handle graphics internally and will really help me as I write plugins and extensions for other graphics applications.

Much more aggravating and much less interesting was my Intro to AI course. The material itself was interesting and in some cases useful, but the way the course went made it the worst class I have ever taken. The biggest problem was that there was no communication between the Professor and the TAs, so no one knew who was managing what project, or what exactly was supposed to happen with the homework. Additionally, very little was ever covered in lectures, so the whole class was completely dependent on a book which the professor forgot to have the bookstore order. In all, it ended well, and I apparently understand AI well enough to get an A, but I don’t really know how to apply anything I “learned” in this class.

On the summer front, I am still looking for a job and doing design work in the meantime. I have finally started doing some icon design for the WPI Helpdesk in earnest which I expect will be done in the next week or so. It has been really fun to try and come up with ways of representing some weird things like “Emeritus Professors.” I am also starting to do design on a larger scale and have a couple projects in the works that I will be starting on soon. One of the big things I did in the past few months was for a couple friends of mine who started a web hosting company. I did their site and logo for them and would highly recommend you check them out at I am also working on another project with a few friends which is a freelance work hub for us for design, software development, and consulting. I will post more details once things get more firmed up, but it is something I am excited to start. If you are looking to set up a website and would be interested in a quote from me, just shoot me an email.

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