Archive for November, 2012

So What Now?

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”   ~Pat Conroy

This is the first of the two reflection blogs that we are asked to write about for this class. This first one focuses on what I plan on doing next for beyond the course.  If I had to describe my plans in its most simplest form, it would be taking CIS 200 and go forward from there.

I believe though that this post though can go deeper and focus on what I plan to do within my studies of computer science here at K-State, but beyond into the work force or even further education.

When focusing on my college career, yes I do plan on continuing my studies in computer science further, which means that taking 200 a class that focuses on programming basics is a must. As mentioned in one of our video interviews 200, 300 (data programming and structures), and 501 (software architecture and  design)  focus on building the foundations for designing and constructing code. As I go further on beyond those “core” courses there is room to also put take electives for a variety of fields. One that was mentioned, security, did catch my attention and is something for me to consider when choosing electives. Another class that would be interesting is the game design courses that I could take later on after completing the core courses.

Along with my studies in my core courses here I also have signed up to minor in leadership studies. I believe that this pairing for my degree will be good for presenting myself to employers. I have also been trying to participate in the ACM (association for computing machinery) club here on campus but have been only able to attend the meetings that happen monthly. Hopefully, as my skills in programming develop, I will be able to compete in the programming contests that they sponsor.

After college is a totally different story. To be honest I haven’t really thought about what lies ahead that far in time. If I had to make a prediction of anything these are the main goals I want to meet in order for me to land a career. The first one is to get a job on campus that relates to the discipline in order to further hone my skills. Second, I will be trying to search for an internship  for a company and hopefully get to participate in that opportunity by the end of my junior year. If I can meet these goals, combined with degree and other activities I do on campus, I will have a pretty strong resume that will show employers that I will be more than qualified for the job.

As Mr. Conroy said the journey never stops. We as human beings will continue to grow and learn about the things that interest us. I can safely say that  look forward to continuing my journey in the field of computer science.

Sources:

http://catalog.k-state.edu/index.php?catoid=13 (catalog search for k-state classes)

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Are Computers Really Everywhere?

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them. ~Aflred North Whitehead

Our society today is heavily tech driven. You can’t just walk down a city street or through a park without noticing some form of computing technology being used right around the corner. You might be surprised by the most obscure things that actually use computer systems like sensors.

I would like to point out one interesting example of everyday computer systems that was brought up in class was traffic signals. Signals are programmed to switch between going, slowing down, and stopping at regular intervals. These intervals can be modified with the changing events and seasons. For example on Kansas State football game days, Kimball avenues traffic light is usually green to allow the humongous amount of traffic from die-hard football fans  to pass through, while those waiting to cross on browning are forced to find other ways around. During the fall and winter months  in Manhattan, traffic lights are adjusted especially with streets near the campus to accommodate the increased number of undergraduate/graduate students that are here. Traffic is also regulated through infrared sensors usually in the form of the cameras on top of the lights. These can adjust signals based on the number of cars waiting in each lane.

On the topic of sensors the first question that should be asked is, what technically defines a sensor? A sensor Wikipedia claims is a converter that measures a physical quantity and converts it into a signal which can be read by an observer or by an (today mostly electronic) instrument. A good rule of thumb for sensors are:

1. The sensor focuses on measuring the intended substance, temperature, property, etc…

2. Does not sense any other measurement (this could lead to inaccuracies in the data!)

3. Does not manipulate the data in any way

One example that comes to my mind is animal research. For example, research teams that are studying the eating, mating, and various habits of great white sharks will subdue a shark by baiting it with delicious food. After the shark is deemed safe to work on, scientist will attach sensors that can monitor the sharks position, perhaps stomach contents, and other tidbits of data. They could get a good idea of the sharks medical condition if there was an anomaly  in its usual patterns.

Sensors are also quite useful in areas of fault lines, avalanche zones, and areas consistent with forest fires. Sensors can pick up anomalies based off of the usual data and send said data back to researchers, which in turn could save lives and the environment. These sensors could also dispatch information to firefighters/rescue crews in aiding them on how to approach and deal with the situation.

An obvious area using sensors is in the medical field of study. For example people with diabetes have tools that can measure the amount of blood sugar in their system in order to prevent a diabetic attack. Heartbeat monitors for someone on a sickbed keep track of a persons condition if they are gravely injured so that doctors can act if that persons heart begins to give out.

That is just some examples of technology being used in everyday life. Among the ones that I listed there are tons more that help ease and prevent accidents and death as we go on throughout our day.

Sources:

Class Lecture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensor

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Copyright me Please

In making policy designed with copyright in mind, you end up making decisions about whether other important technologies, such as privacy-enhancing or file-search technologies, should be encouraged or discouraged. A collision is happening between creativity and protecting IP. ~Edward Felton

Ah copyrights, you know those things on major brand names and icons. You see them everywhere advertisements, commercials, or whenever a corporation feels that you violate their licensing and takes your video down on YouTube. With the increased number of new and innovative ideas copyrights will soon also have to innovate and change to meet that demand.

How does copyright work right now? The copyright/trademark system in general is giving the original creator of any form of work whether that be a logo, an idea, even a program exclusive rights to it but only for a limited time. This means that the original owner has exclusive rights to their ideas.

Originally copyright was supposed to be a way for the government to put some form of restriction on printing. The idea at conception was similar if not exact to what it I defined earlier. Copyrights were also territorial which according to Wikipedia means that they do not extend beyond the territory of a specific state unless that state is a party to an international agreement, this has become less viable today due to copyrights focusing on single parties. the amount of time that a copyright lasts has been defined by the remaining life of the creator plus fifty to one hundred years after death. For things that are copyrighted by anonymous or corporate entities, the copyright lasts for a set finite amount of time.

Mentioned earlier in this post I talked about exclusive rights to a copyrighted work. Exclusive rights include that the owner is allowed to create copies of the original work for distribution, to create supplemental texts/materials to that add-on to the original work, to display the work publicly wherever the creator chooses, and most importantly allow the rights of the work to others.

Even though the copyright system is far established in our society does that mean it is secure for the future? In an essay entitled the future of copyright Mike Linksvayer states that copyright laws have become more restrictive. That being said, he points out that as our technology rapidly develops it has become increasingly harder to enforce such restrictions. It comes to a point that Linksvayer states that neither abolition nor police state in service of copyrestriction  scenarios are likely in the near future.

When reflecting on this I can also agree that enforcing copyright laws in the near future will be quite difficult. As more ideas become easier to distribute through social media, blogging, and in the case of software (games, applications, etc…) online distributing systems it becomes more taxing to make sure that credit is given to the original designers of the work. It might just be something that we as computer scientists will have to reason out and solve as we go forward!

Sources:

http://gondwanaland.com/mlog/2012/04/30/future-of-copyright/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

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