Yesterday was a good day, not only because it was a Friday, but also because both The XX and Bonobo dropped their latest albums, both of which are excellent. Felt wrong not to share – enjoy!
It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m leaving for Waterloo tomorrow, to start a new year. That leaves me with just over seven hours until 2017. Now seems like as good a time as any to look back on the year.
Being a university student, I feel like years are now divided into three segments: winter term, spring term, and fall term. Although I’ve become extremely lazy when it comes to maintaining this site, I do still try to post on each term. So for anyone who’s curious (aka future me), here’s a rundown on each term this year.
It tells you a lot about the year I had when two of those three are protected, and I made a conscious effort to write the third such that I wouldn’t have to protect it.
2016 was not a great year for me. I had to spend the entire year in Waterloo, a city I don’t want to spend any more time in than absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, I’ll be spending at least the next eight months there as well. I guess it’ll be on me to make it better than this year, because perspective is everything. With that being said, instead of lamenting this lackluster year, I’ll gloss over the highs and lows that came to define it.
I had two terms of school this year, the first calendar year as such for me. A year ago, I was wondering what it would be like to finish second year, if I finished second year. Well, I made it. In terms of grades, 2016 was a good year. No, 2016 was a great year. I finished top 10 in my class in the term that’s supposed to be the hardest term, not just for ECEs, but arguably any program here at the University of Waterloo. Despite my doubts, I finished strong in 2B as well, with my average falling only 3%. I think I’ve proved to myself that the last three terms haven’t been a fluke, and that I’m capable of being successful here. Heading into 2017, I think I need to remind myself of that from time to time. It’s been a very tough school year, easily the toughest I’ve ever lived. I wouldn’t be here without the incredible support from my friends, not only academically (I seriously cannot understate how fortunate I am to have the friends I have for carrying through me pretty much all our labs), but also emotionally, and always being there to hear me complain about something or the other, and sharing a nice dank meme from time to time to get us all through the year. I hope only to someday return the favor. Being the last day of the year, I’m in a pretty reminiscent mood, and I’ll say this; university has introduced me to some truly wonderful people, who have been a constant source of joy for me in 2016.
My coop term was not good this year. In fact, I can extend that to most of my coop experience this year. I blew some interviews for phenomenal jobs, underperformed where I was employed, and ended the term by getting laid off. It feels like a lifetime ago, but I suppose it was only at the beginning of this year when I interviewed for my dream job, right here in Calgary. I can’t think of one thing that wasn’t stellar about the job. The pay was ridiculous, the perks were ridiculous, the location was ridiculous, the job was ridiculous. I would have been beside myself with joy if I had gotten the job. But I guess that’s just life at the end of the day. Very rarely do we ever get what we truly desire. I’m still a little bitter about being passed up for the job, and I don’t think I’ll ever really forget it. Instead of spending summer at home, I was spending it in Waterloo, at a job that never really clicked for me. I’ve already posted about why I was disappointed with the coop experience, and it’s not something I really want to get into right now. A couple things to come to mind when thinking about that term, though. The first was being courted by the company like I’ve never been courted by anyone before when they were in the hiring process. The second is the unforgettable experience of being laid off along with everyone else one week before the term was supposed to end. And the third, the third cycles back to what I’ve already discussed; the friendships made during the term. The friendships I made over the coop term were probably the best part of the coop term, and made the term worth it for me. I don’t say this often enough, but I really appreciate having the friends I do. The final term of 2016 saw me get a job at Intel, which I am very excited about (and equally nervous). After the disappointment at the beginning of the year with not being given the job in Calgary, I did something I thought I’d never do, and turned down an offer to work in Calgary for another company. So far, I don’t regret it at all, and I hope that 2017 doesn’t change that sentiment.
2016 was also a rough year for me due to several health scares within my family. It has been a mentally strenuous year, with several close family members receiving bad medical news, and even the death of a close family member. These are things I haven’t talked to anyone about, but I feel like I spent a lot of time this year worrying about the health of others. I won’t sugarcoat it, this year has been hard. If nothing else, the only thing I want from 2017 is continued good health for all those I hold dear to me. To be honest, I never thought I’d need to worry about things like this. This year has been a rude awakening to the fact that at the end of the day, there’s really nothing more important than your health. I really, really hope that 2017 is better than 2016 in this regard. We’re not kids anymore, but we’re still too young to worry about stuff like this, aren’t we? Though truly, are we ever old enough? I sincerely hope not.
Nothing in life is without its silver lining. I came to an important realization this year, one that I wish I didn’t need to come to, but will stick with me regardless. Life is painfully short. And because of that, we should live it to the fullest. So in 2017, I’m willing to try things I’ve never tried before. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t live a very outgoing life. I want to change that. I want to do things I haven’t done before, go places I haven’t been before, and explore parts of life that remain unknown to me. Whether that means joining school teams and clubs, hitting up more concerts, checking out the GTA on weekends, getting Tinder or finally losing some significant weight and getting into shape, I need to make 2017 a year where I stop writing about these things with a whimsical, idealistic tone, and actually go out and get it done. I don’t want to use the passing of yet another year to throw around cliches, but I swear to God, I’m serious about doing all this in 2017. I have nothing to lose but time, and we have precious little of that as it is. (And with a Donald Trump presidency approaching, who even knows if any of us will be around to reflect on 2017 next year?)
I’m leaving for eight months tomorrow. My work term will end on the last Friday of April, and school will likely start on the first Monday of May. It’ll be quite a while until I meet my friends and family here again. Being home these past two weeks has really made me realize how much I miss them, and the simple life of being back home again. That being said, I know we’ll continue to be in touch. It’s a testament to the strength of our bonds that I’ve only grown closer with everyone here in Calgary since leaving for Waterloo. It’s impossible to say what the new year will bring, and I hope it’s nothing short of phenomenal (and the either the Flames or Iginla win the Stanley Cup – actually no, just Iginla). So here’s wishing for a 2017 filled with great health, wealth and prosperity for all. Happy new year!
Well, I made it.
After receiving my unofficial grades yesterday, I can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that I have successfully passed my second year of undergraduate studies, and now exactly one half of my undergraduate degree. In keeping with tradition, I think now is as good a time as any to reflect on the past term.
It was really rough. I know 2A killed us with the schedule and workload, but 2B was a different beast – the material was actually hard now. That’s not to say that before, it was a cakewalk; the key difference is, back then, with a few hours of hard studying, I could understand the concepts and move forward. That pattern didn’t hold true this time round. The content was genuinely difficult, and only grew more difficult the harder I worked at it. Often, I would have to resign myself to what appears to have been a common theme of this term – simply memorize what I had to do, and blindly approach problems rather than gaining an innate understanding of what was really happening. It’s not a good way to learn, and it’s not the way I want to learn. And yet, here I am, having successfully passed a term due to memorization.
It really sucks. I’m not a fan of exam based teaching (really, who is?), but I know that there’s no practical solution around it. That being said, up to now, I’ve always been able to enjoy what I’m learning enough to actually appreciate the content being taught. This term, I didn’t get that. I hated, or rather hate, having to memorize material only to regurgitate it out on an exam, then promptly forget it for the rest of my life. I’m not paying 8k a term to memorize content, or at least, I don’t want to…because I suppose I am paying 8k a term to memorize shit, now that I think about it. And I hate that it’s like that. I really want to appreciate the content and learn and understand it, but I couldn’t this term. And that really, really sucks.
I suppose I’ll break it down, as I do every term. There were 4 core courses this term, and an elective. The core courses were signals and systems (really just math), operating systems, embedded microprocessor systems, and circuits. The elective I took was Econ 101, and I’ll start with that one.
Everyone says econ is birdy, but I’m here to break the myth – econ is really, really difficult. The workload for this course was pretty light, but I seriously struggled with the content. It may be that I’m just really dumb, which seems to be the overwhelming reaction whenever I say econ is hard, but I think everyone’s wrong. The material was seriously dry, too…I thought we’d be learning about command and market economies, about Keynesian and trickle down economics, all topics I’ve found fascinating in the past. Instead, I was treated to figure after figure of the most boring, bland material I’ve ever had to study. None of what I learned felt remotely interesting either. Maybe macro is more interesting than micro? I don’t know, and I don’t plan on finding out either. Thankfully the marks were plentiful in this course, and at the end of the day, that’s all I really needed out of econ.
Of the four core courses I had to take this term, I’m really bitter about three of them. I’ll begin with circuits, the most magical of courses. This was a continuation of the circuits course we took last term, which I had found brutally difficult to begin with. It didn’t get any easier this term. The content was hard, but honestly, it was compounded exponentially by one of the most incompetent professors we’ve had to this day. It really is quite incredible how every term I think we’ve hit rock bottom in terms of absolutely useless professors, but every term this school never fails to prove me wrong. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we were treated to Bosco’s magic “tricks,” a traumatic experience I’ll never truly forget. This man was an utterly horrific professor. I don’t think he could have been a worse teacher if he tried. I learned absolutely nothing from him. All my circuits knowledge came from one of two courses – my notes from last term, when we had an excellent circuits professor, or my friends and roommates, without whom I surely wouldn’t have passed the term. There are a couple things I won’t forget from this course. One is the complete ineptitude of the professor – here’s a perfect example. At 8:30 in the morning, Bosco himself would be pretty tired, and as a result wouldn’t teach anything in the first half hour. Then, with ten minutes remaining in the lecture, he would cram in everything he should have taught an hour ago. This happened every, single, lecture, WITHOUT FAIL. Another great example – he is perhaps the most technically incapable person I have seen. He could never figure out how to use the doc cams in the class, and one time called someone to fix a broken monitor, for which the fix was turning it on. Yes, this man has a Masters from Caltech, and a PhD from Berkely. Unreal. He completely annihilated us on the final, but made up for it with a generous curve. Perhaps the one persisting memory I’ll keep from ECE 242 was lab 5, the amplifier design lab. It was one of the most difficult labs we’ve ever had to complete, with next to no guidance or assistance provided. I’ll never forget staying up until 3am working on a seemingly impossible design, kept awake with low quality beer, pulling numbers out of my ass with my roommate to meet the criteria for the design goal. We somehow escaped that lab with a 70, and I thank God I never had to do it again. As I do for this course, actually. I’m done with mandatory circuits for the rest of my life! And not a day too soon, thank Feridun.
As bad as 242 was, it wasn’t anywhere near the worst course, which I’ll save for last. Instead I’ll pivot to ECE 207, our course on signals and systems. This was a pretty average course, but it was made special by the prof, Damen the demon. You know how most engineering professors are nice people, but can’t teach for their lives? This guy was the complete opposite. He was a very good teacher, but an absolute petty, vindictive monster of a professor. Let’s start with the god awful grading scheme – 35% midterm, and 65% final. That’s it. Nothing else. So your entire mark is broken down to exactly 2 tests, lasting a total of just under 4 hours. That’s…ridiculous. And the exams were insane, both in terms of length and difficulty. I remember walking out of the midterm, thinking I had gotten maybe 10% on the paper. The content itself wasn’t terrible, but Damen made the course a nightmare when it really should have been okay. He was completely unwilling to work with the other professor, which resulted in the two sections having different exams and grading schemes, and in the department’s opinion, “completely different courses” (don’t even get me started). The one good thing to come out of this course was the heaviest curve I’ve ever received. I had 27% going into the final, which was brutally difficult. I ended with a 92%, which means, yup, I aced the final! Yeah, no. I hope to god I don’t have Damen for probability, which is the course he is notorious for.
Let’s switch it up with a good course? Those are pretty rare in this department, but every now and then one of them pops up. Such was the case for ECE 254, operating systems. The main reason this course went well is because a competent professor taught it (I’m noticing a trend here, am I the only one?). While he may have been rather monotonous, he did a good job teaching the material, and his notes were nothing short of excellent. For me, this was my favorite course this term. Some of the material I did find very boring, but for the most part, I thought it was fascinating. The exams were fair, and representative of the course material taught in lectures. The labs, however, were difficult. Very difficult. Before I proceed, a quick shout out is in order, to my homie who’s carried me on every single lab for as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t be here without you. This term especially, my friend(s) came clutch with the support on the labs, for which I am utterly useless. I really need to change that, too…it’s not fair to my partners, and I don’t learn anything by being useless either. These labs were important too, with the last three labs accounting for almost 30% of the course grade. Thankfully, we (haha, “we”) did very well on these labs. This course as a result was probably the easiest one we took this term. I really enjoyed it, and I’m seriously considering pursuing further academic studies in the area. Operating systems are fascinating, and essential to all the products we use today. I’d love to get more involved with them in the future.
Before I start on the last course, and as a result completely lose my cool, maybe I’ll just talk a bit more about some of the things that happened this term. A couple things come to mind right away – the work term report from last coop, and the technical presentation. I put in the bare minimum effort into both of these, and it showed, as my marks for both of them were the bare minimum marks required to pass. To be honest, I’m kind of proud as to how lazy I was over these, and I found my marks to be extremely humorous rather than concerning (no lie, I’m grinning like an idiot and chuckling to myself as I type right now thinking about those abysmal grades). The work term report is pretty self explanatory, and I did it on what I was doing last term. That being said, I did it in about one week, forcing myself to write 3 pages a day until I finished. I really couldn’t care less about it. I bullshitted like there was no tomorrow, including my masterpiece – a full page table with testing data, in which I made up every single number in the table. I then graphed the results, and forgot that they would all be the same color when printed in black and white (oh god, this is actually too funny). I tried to make sure my formatting was at least correct, since rumor had it that that’s the only thing they care about. Well, the rumors were correct. I passed the work term report with a “satisfactory,” the minimum passing grade. The comments from the marker were nothing short of hilarious. One of them was something like “The first two pages of your body are bad.” Oh god, I laughed so hard when I read the comments. The marker was a savage, but I deserved it. I know my next one will be marked way harder, so I’ll try to actually make an effort.
As for the technical presentation, it’s a pretty stupid requirement because apparently engineers are bad at presenting, and making them do one presentation is the way to make sure that the problem is remedied. I couldn’t resist making a meme of this as well, so I did just that. I asked my roommates for some suggestions, and jumped on the first one that sounded good – version control systems. I went back to the ECE 155 tutorial notes, rehashed everything that was there, touched it up a bit, and took my 6/8 (also the minimum passing grade) and never looked back. It’s pretty stupid that we have to do it, but it really wasn’t something I lost much sleep over. Other than the occasional funny story you’d hear due to it, the technical presentation wasn’t something I spent a lot of my time thinking about. Happy I don’t have to do it again, though.
One other story jumps to mind when I think about last term. Instead of summarizing, I think this sums it up nicely:
To anyone who says this school has no spirit, I simply refer them to the above link. I have never been prouder to be part of this school.
Okay, now that I’ve been cheered by some memes, let’s get into the worst of 2B: ECE 224, embedded microprocessor systems. It was so, so, so so so boring. Don’t let anyone, in particular one of my friends, tell you otherwise. It was some 700 slides of the most dry content I have ever had to subject myself to (I know I just said that about econ, but I take it back, this is worse). Bits and pieces of the content were interesting, sure, but the vast, vast majority of it made me seriously question my decision to go into computer engineering. So the important question is, was it the content at fault, or the professor? And the answer is 100% the latter. The professor we had for this course was the worst professor we had this term. To give you an idea of how completely useless she was, consider this. Two days before our final exam, she was teaching a major section of the course, and finishing up the course. Most professors, hell even Bosco for that matter, finish the content at least a week before the final, so as to give you time to prepare for the finals. Not gunaguna. The content for this course boiled down to mostly memorization as well, which I really resented. This course is probably the most relevant course this term in terms of what it means to be a computer engineer, and the fact that I had to memorize content rather than understand it is truly upsetting. But when there’s 700 slides, can you really blame me? These slides are older than I am, too, by the way. The one silver lining with that line of thought is that I enjoyed the labs way more than I did the lectures. We were forced into groups (because the department still thinks we’re toddlers incapable of making decisions, I suppose), but I got really lucky, and was paired with a super chill guy who I ended up working extremely well with, and actually turned into a friend as well. That being said, the labs for this course were extremely time consuming, by far the most time consuming of all the labs this term. I did think they were cool, though. In the second lab, we wrote the software for an audio player, which is definitely cool. My respect for people who design and make audio players has shot through the roof as a result of this lab. Unfortunately, interesting as it was, the labs were run by an interesting guy, one who managed to earn the dislike of most of the class. He was an extremely aggressive lab instructor, and that’s me being nice. I’m pretty thick skinned, so when he told me and my partner we should go to Conestoga College because of our code, I thought it was more funny than hurtful. That being said, I can definitely understand why most of the class hated him, and want nothing to do with him again. He had a way of putting people down instead of helping them, which would really turn off most people rather than provoking them into the right direction. He was a real hardass about the labs too, making them way more annoyingly difficult than they needed to be. He gave no guidance whatsoever for the second lab, which is what made it so difficult – it was the first lab we had done where if you approached it the wrong way, it would be unbelievably hard to work with down the road. Thankfully, the labs didn’t cost me marks in this course. The exams did! I got just over a 50 on the final, but I was happy with that – I honestly thought I would fail the course after the final. It was the first final I’ve written where I started the paper and swore to myself because I had no idea how to do the first question. And I blame the professor 100%. She was nothing short of atrocious, and I hope no one ever has to suffer from her teaching. That being said, I simply cannot wait to see the electrical engineers suffer through this course in 3B (and suffer they will, the 3Bs who took it with us were literally useless in the labs). I’m just happy this course is over. I think over coop, I’ll try to genuinely learn the material myself, because I know it really is important. I don’t want it to go to waste.
Phew, that takes care of the courses. So what else happened this term that’s noteworthy? Nothing really comes to mind, other than the poor finals and the time taken up by labs. God, I feel like I lived in E2 this term because of the labs. Again, I wouldn’t be here were it not for the efforts of a particular friend when it came to the labs. Everything that went poorly this term, I blame on the time I had to sink into the labs instead of studying like I should have been. It really led to the finals going as badly as they did, and the ensuing feeling of hopelessness and mid degree crises that plagued me throughout the term. I’m really, really happy I passed this term, because it is not one I would want to repeat.
Speaking of passing, I know I made it sound like Armageddon when I discuss the term, but in terms of grades, I did pretty well. My average only fell 3% from last term, and it really could been a lot worse. Sadly, I am almost certain I won’t crack the top 10 again this term, but really, I was never to bothered about my grades anyway. I’m just happy to have passed.
One other thing I forgot to talk about this term, coop! I’m very excited to say that I got a job for Intel Corporation as a software developer! The only downside of it is that I’ll be back in Waterloo, but for Intel, I don’t mind that much. I’ve already got a couple interesting stories about Intel and the whole coop process this term, but I’ll dedicate that to another post, mostly because I need to wrap this one up.
There is one more topic that will need its own post, again simply because I need to finish up right now. It does belong here, but there you are. The topic of discussion? My choice to switch into computer engineering. 2B was the first term where the electricals and computers went their separate ways, and began to study different topics. Long story short, I’m happy with the decision I made, and I’ll explain it in a post shortly.
That’s it for now! It’s been a hell of a term, and I hope I’ve written enough to be able to remember it clearly when I reread this post in a couple years (at this point, these posts are really just a public journal for me). I’m ecstatic that it’s over, and amazed that I’m still here, exactly halfway through this degree. Let’s hope exactly two and half years from now, I’ll be writing the last of these.
Also, Merry Christmas all!
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. It might seem strange to some that I didn’t finish my first game until I was 20, but is that really a bad thing?
Well, if I’ve been missing out on games like this one, maybe. This game was, how do you say, to sum it up, in a word, awesome. It played like a movie. Like a movie! I think that’s pretty incredible. I’ve never been a gamer, so for some reason I had the assumption that most games were one-dimensional, where there was no story telling involved. How wrong I was! I found myself growing attached to the characters in the game (I’m a little ashamed to admit how upset I got over the deaths of some characters) and entranced in the fictional world. I can see the appeal of games – in a game like this, it’s a great place to escape reality for a bit. I’ve loved doing the same for years with books; this is the exact same thing.
Being a casual gamer (perhaps even less than that), I don’t think I’m quite fit to give a review on the game. I don’t really know what to critique, to be honest. The graphics were stunning. The gameplay was fun. There was a lot to do. I could be wholly wrong on all these counts, but being my first game, this is my opinion. Maybe it will change after I play a few more games.
One thing I thought was great was the attention to details the developers put into the game when creating it. Apparently this is the norm with the Assassin’s Creed franchise, but I thought it was really cool how a lot of the main characters were based off of real people, and not just pure myth. I guess I know more about pirates in the 18th century now than I did before I played the game, so there’s another takeaway from it.
The one thing I didn’t particularly enjoy about the game was how difficult it was at some times. It might just be because I’m very bad at it (for example, I didn’t know of the existence of the map until I played 30 hours), but I thought some sequences were very challenging. Also, I wish the multiplayer section of the game wasn’t so dead, but I supposed that can’t really be helped, given that this game is now 5 years old.
I paid around $8.50 for this game on the Steam sale. Given that I got 45 hours of gameplay out of the story line (which is only 60% complete right now), I’d say it was very worth it. I don’t know if I’d pay the regular $40 for it for only 45 hours, however (and likely less if you aren’t as bad at it as I am). However, I sure got my money’s worth out of it, so I couldn’t be happier.
It feels like a game that is very re-playable, and I know I’ll take it up again sometime down the road. For now, I think I might start Batman – Arkham City, but I’m actually kind of getting into CS:GO, despite my efforts to dislike it. But with school coming up in roughly a month, I’ll likely take a break from gaming for a while.
All in all, my first experience in gaming was very fun, and I really am looking forward into playing more games. I might share my thoughts on those in the future, we’ll see. I think it’ll be interesting for me to read this post after I’ve played some more games, and see if I still feel the same way about the game. Until then, if you’re looking for a casual game to get into, I would definitely check this one out!
If Robert can revive his blog, then so can I!
It’s been a long time since I’ve written a book review. In fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve finished a book to completion. I can think of a number of excuses to present my lack of reading lately: reddit, … actually that’s it. The internet has taken a greater hold on me than I’d like to claim. It’s made me lazy and unmotivated, and it really is something I should cut out of my life a little bit. But maybe tomorrow.
This book was released last year, as the first of an expected series featuring the two characters Dunk and Egg, a hedge knight and his squire (who’s secretly a Targaryen prince) wandering the Seven Kingdoms. The stories are meant to be prequel novellas to the ASOIAF world that is so beloved today. I typically don’t really like franchise spinoffs or prequels, but given my life of the ASOIAF world, I thought I’d give it a try. I’m happy to say I have no regrets.
There were three stories in this book, and each delivered (though, I would say, to different degrees) the epic tales which we’ve come to expect from Martin. All the elements that make the ASOIAF books so great are present in this book: the enchanting plot lines, the incredible attention to detail, the captivating character development, the surreal ability to completely capture you within the universe. As these are meant to be short stories instead of the marathon epics the other books in this series are, the plot lines are perhaps simpler than what they could be. Though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in my opinion. It’s nice to be able to pick up a book and enjoy it without becoming too invested in it, which is something the Game of Thrones books definitely require you to do. Even though I’m not as emotionally attached to Dunk and Egg as the protagonists that live in the main series, I think it might just be because I haven’t read as much involving them that I have their counterparts. The character development is superb as always. I really can’t think of any author other than Martin that even comes close in their ability to write a character so real and relatable. And really, when you’re looking to escape from reality a bit into a fictional universe, isn’t it best if it feels simply like another reality?
I can’t really think of anything to complain about this book. Like I said, the simplicity of the plot lines is, in my opinion, a boon rather than a hindrance. It also allows for the elimination of Martin’s greatest writing weakness – filling the story with useless filler material that goes nowhere. Readers of the ASOIAF series will know exactly what I’m talking about…but in this case, Martin has been able to avoid throwing in completely unnecessary plot lines just for the sake of having it there. The one thing I think Martin may have done in this book that he didn’t is to write from Egg’s perspective as well, instead of only Dunk’s. It would be interesting to see his thoughts as well. Perhaps Martin plans to incorporate this in the later novels. Fingers crossed!
All said, I truly enjoyed reading this book; it made for some excellent light reading the past week. By the way, it’s also illustrated, which I know is something that’s more channeled towards children, but who doesn’t like seeing a few pictures when they’re reading from time to time? If you’re a fan of the ASOIAF series as I am, and are waiting for The Winds of Winter as desperately as I am, I think you’ll really enjoy reading this book. Most fans will probably already know where Dunk and Egg end up in history when the main series takes place – Egg will become King Aegon the Unlikely, and Dunk will become Ser Duncan the Tall, the Commander of the Kingsguard. It’s pretty cool to see their humble beginnings, and venture as to how they end up where we know they someday will.
I think Martin is planning on writing anywhere from 9-12 short stories featuring Dunk and Egg, so I eagerly anticipate seeing the return of these two characters. That being said, I’d still much rather see the Winds of Winter before Dunk and Egg return…it’s been far too long a wait. Can you imagine a world where the people who watch the show are the ones who spoil it for the people reading the books? I can. I live it every day. 😦
A quick note on what I plan to do next, regarding the blog – it’s nice to write again. I will try to do it more, but I really can’t say how that’ll go. At the very least, in the coming week I’ll put out a review of the first video game I ever finished, and in the coming month, I’ll put out a reflection on my third coop term. Hope to see you then!
It’s my twentieth birthday today.
It feels very odd to have a 2 as the first digit of my age now. It’s the dawn of a new decade, I suppose. It doesn’t feel very different from being 19, but we’re only a day into it as of right now.
I’ve got mixed feelings about hitting twenty. On the one hand, it’s ushering in a new decade, one which seems to be full of fun times based on what I’ve seen with other people, and in the media. But I also feel like I need to take on more responsibility as an adult now. I don’t think it’s acceptable anymore for someone to pass my behavior off with the remark, “he’s just a kid.” I guess that hasn’t really been acceptable for some time now, but hitting 20 just seems to hit that fact home a little harder.
I also feel like at this age, I should have my life figured out, for the most part. I should know what kind of career I want to pursue, or maybe what kind of academia to pursue. At the very least, I should know what I want to do after university – hell, I should know what I want to do in university. It’s a little concerning that I don’t know the answers to any of that yet.
But the decade is still young – only a mere day, in fact. So rather on dwelling on the challenges that will come with it, I’ll instead take a moment to reflect on how much fun the last one has been. There have been both ups and downs, but mostly ups. I’ve got pretty much nothing of substance to complain about in my life right now, much as I like to complain on the internet. I’ve got a great family, great friends, go to a great university, and overall live a great life. If nothing else, I hope the next decade brings much health and prosperity to all I love. Because when they’re happy, I am too.
Maybe ten years down the road, on the verge of ushering in yet another decade, I’ll look back on this post, and reflect on the way things unfolded. I’d like to emulate what I’ve seen in my successful coworkers by the time they’ve reached (or are around) that age. (I’d also like to emulate my parents, but I don’t really know what they were like when they were that age – after all, I wasn’t alive to see it!) I want to be something like my last manager at my second coop – mid twenties, and already in the management chain, living life to the max in downtown Toronto. I want to be something like the lead developer at that job – also mid twenties, and a pivotal part of a company that wouldn’t be there without his efforts. I want to be something like some of the better professors I’ve had – early thirties, settled down, pursuing their passions and bettering the world with their efforts.
Above all, I want to be successful, important, and happy.
So here’s to doing just that. Let’s make it count!
I need to make a decision, soon. Between electrical engineering and computer engineering. I have roughly two months to make my decision, and as of right now, I don’t know what I’m going to do.
It’s the same conundrum I faced two years ago. the same one I wrote about at that time. Though at that time, it was a slightly larger problem, because I didn’t know what branch of engineering to do at all. I guess now my choice is limited to two, but the repercussions feel much larger.
The last time I faced the problem, I didn’t really make the decision. I knew I wanted to study engineering at the University of Waterloo, but I didn’t know which one. UW is the one school which forces you to choose your branch right from the get go, which is something I really didn’t want to do – I would have much rather done first year general like just about every other engineering school. It’d give me the chance to try a bit of everything, and find out where my interests lay. I didn’t know what to choose, so I didn’t.
Someone, let’s say Bob, told me that ECE is good at Waterloo. So I applied. I got in, and two years later, I’m writing this post. Most people I tell this story to find it a little shocking, but it worked out really well for me. Despite being immensely challenging, I love what I study, and am genuinely passionate about the material I’m learning. That might sound as phony as Hillary Clinton, but I’m not lying when I say that the material that we learn in class is incredibly interesting to me. I, or Bob, couldn’t have made a better choice on which branch of engineering to do.
So if it was up to me, I’d just keep doing what I’m doing now, and not change or make any more decisions on what to study. But alas, that’s never the way of life. It so happens that I now need to choose which of the two disciplines I will pursue: electrical engineering or computer engineering.
If I had to give an answer right now, it would be computer engineering. I don’t mind programming, and even enjoy it at times. That sounds bad, but it’s an accurate rendition of how I feel towards it. I guess it really depends on the project I’m working on, though, to be honest. If I really dig the project, I can be very passionate about programming. But that’s obvious.
My reasons for picking computer engineering aren’t great though. In fact, the major reason I can give is because I’ve only done software related coops, and have more experience with it than I do with hardware and electrical engineering. It’s not easy to get a hardware coop. I never chose the software industry, but rather fell into it as a result of the structure of Waterloo’s coop program, where easily 80% of the posted jobs are in the software industry. Like the decision that landed me in ECE, it wasn’t actually my decision, but one that hasn’t worked out too shabbily, fortunately. That being said, there are times when I feel I don’t want to pursue a software career.
The primary reason is self-awareness; I’m not a great coder, and I know that. I also know that it’s a skill that can be honed over time, and I don’t doubt that with enough work, I could be half decent someday. But I don’t really want to work a job at which I’m objectively bad at the work. If I end up in the software industry, my honest gut feeling is that I’ll suffice for whoever hires me, and do nothing more than that. I’ll get by, but I won’t be anything special. I won’t be bad at my job, but I won’t be very good either. And though I don’t know yet what I want my career to be, I know that I don’t want to be able to describe it like that.
There’s also the pressure knowing the fact that if I choose to do software, Bob will be very disappointed in me. As he’s told me previously, anyone can write code. I don’t know if I can live with that kind of disappointment hanging over my head for the rest of my life.
But computer engineering isn’t just software. It’s also hardware, design of all sorts, management. All of those sound intriguing to me, but the fact of the matter is that I have zero experience with all of them. I’ll definitely try to pursue them, but what if I don’t like them? What if I’m as mediocre at those trades that I am with regards to programming? What if I can’t even find a way to get a foot in the industry? Those are just some of the questions that concern me.
That leaves the other option, electrical engineering. And all the previously listed questions also apply to this field. Additionally, I have even less practical experience with electrical engineering than I do with aspects of computer engineering that aren’t programming, which I have zero experience with. I’m going to try really hard to get a hardware job for my next coop, but I’m not that optimistic, and I don’t think you could blame me, given everything I’ve just written. I have a few other concerns with the field, too.
I actually think the stuff we learn about computers in class, be it code or hardware, is interesting. I can’t say the same about the stuff we learn about electrical engineering. The fact that I had to end that sentence with “electrical engineering” goes to show how little I know about what exactly it is that pertains to the industry. Don’t get me wrong, I love our circuits courses. But when I think about it, I only liked circuits because I was able to understand it reasonably quickly, and was pretty good at solving those problems. I struggled, and continue to struggle, with programming much more, but I find that way more rewarding than I do circuits. When I strip everything down to the core, I’d much rather design a class for a program than I would a high pass filter for a circuit. And I think that speaks volumes about the decision I’m going to make.
I also hate the labs we have to do for circuits, with a passion. To be fair, I also hate the computer labs, but I hate the former way more. I am completely inept at that kind of thing, and if I have to do it for a job, well, I wouldn’t have the job for long.
It still leaves me woefully ignorant of electrical engineering. But that being said, I don’t know what I can do to rectify the problem. It’s a massive decision, one that will literally define the course of my life. And I have absolutely no idea what to do.
So I’ll probably ponder on it a lot, then make the damn switch to computer engineering, and pray to god that it works out.