It was quite a long week. 5 exams in 5 days. Should that even be allowed? My week went as follows:

for(n=1; n<=5; n++)
{
     StudyForExam(n);
     TakeExam(n);
     if(n!=5)
          StudyForExam(n+1);
     Sleep();
}

Notice that there’s no time for a break? Well, that’s because the next one was less than 24 hours away! Okay, enough complaining. The point is, I’m done midterms for this term =).

In the midst of this crazy week, there were still some funny moments that arose. You know that time after every exam, when little groups form and everyone starts talking about how badly they did? (Unless your class talks about how well they all did… we usually don’t.) Although it was depressing, I found it somewhat funny hearing their comments and reactions. And it didn’t just stop there after the exam, a bunch of classmates echoed their sentiments on their Facebook status. Here are some of the best comments/replies that amused me:

After the first exam: “Round 1: Epic fail”

After the first 3 exams: “I wonder if the sum of my marks for the first three exams has exceeded 100% yet.”

“is invoking the mercy rule.”

Facebook status:
failed 325 harddddddddddddddd”
Replies:
– “Who didn’t?”
– “Who didn’t x2 ?”
– “x3.”
– “0x04”
– “0x0F … it was so weird”
– “0xFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF”
[ECE 325 is a course on “Microprocessor Systems & Interfaces”… so we had to work with Hexadecimals =P. Geek failure at its best.]

And a completely random, but hilarious one: “today I realized the word bed looks like a bed”

My class cracks me up =P. It’s good to know that while we’re all suffering, I can get a couple of chuckles.

Although exams are done, I’m still stuck in exam mode and that translates to my exam sleeping pattern… That explains why I’m still up at this insane hour (2:50 am). But seriously, I really need to fix this schedule. Great, I just realized that there’s a lab report due on Monday which means I’ll be spending tomorrow (today) working on it. When will this end!?

Recently, a couple friends from Calgary came to visit us in Waterloo. As usual, we (who were considered local) had the daunting task of deciding where to take them for lunch. This was a difficult task because we weren’t too familiar with the restaurants in the Kitchener-Waterloo region and we wanted to make a good impression. It’s not like they come everyday! To make matters even more complicated, we wanted to find a good Chinese restaurant (because that’s their favourite type of food). Why did this make it more complicated, you ask? Let’s just say that KW isn’t known for their abundance of Chinese food, nor do they really have enough of a market for it. So it’s totally understandable.

After reading online reviews and surveying a couple friends, it was decided that we would try a place called “Cameron Seafood Restaurant” for Dim Sum.

camerons

When we first pulled in, it looked really sketchy. It was pretty much a house with a built-in extension (which we found out was the kitchen). Once we were seated, they presented us with a photo album. This was definitely one of the most unique menus I have ever seen in my life. It was actually really helpful for me, because I didn’t know the names of 90% of the dishes I wanted =P. As you can see, they cater to the non-Chinese speaking/reading population. Speaking of which, a friend told me that he saw Mike Lazaridis there once, but he was too afraid to approach him. If RIM’s CEO eats there, it must be good =). Actually, I’m not sure if he speaks Chinese or not, maybe he does… In any case, I liked the photo album idea.

Aside from the lovely menus, the food was also pretty good. It was authentic and I was really impressed that such a restaurant existed in Waterloo! It was a bit pricey, but hey, we don’t get visitors everyday. All-in-all, it was a good experience. We had a good time trying different dishes and would definitely go again.

camerons_food

I wrapped up my fourth work term today. I had a great time working as a Product Manager at Sybase, learned a lot and gained valuable experience. This being my third term at Sybase, I wanted to fully leverage my previous experiences to get the most of out these fourth months. So I fully committed this term to develop my skills as a Product Manager. I guess it helps that I was very enthusiastic about the work too =).

I gave an “End of Term Presentation” today and as I went through some of the projects that I worked on, I surprised even myself with the amount of work that I accomplished this term! It was one of those terms where you enjoy going to work and being challenged by the projects given to you. It may sound cliché, but it was true. Work is so much better when you like it!

Now, I have a few days to rest before hitting the books again. 3A starts on Monday. Meanwhile, I should probably get started on that work term report…

Hovering micro-robots

April 13, 2009

Some time ago, I was at a family’s house for dinner. We chatted about a range of topics, one of which was the types of research that my professors conducted. I thought back to my school terms and one example that really stood out in my mind was a magnetic levitating robot. My 2A Statistics professor explained that he was working on micro-robot that could be suspended in the air by manipulating electromagnetic fields. At that time, that was about all he explained to our class. So as we were discussing this topic at the dinner table, we weren’t too sure what real purpose it served. In order for this robot to levitate, there had to be magnets under or above the robot. We pictured a huge room with electromagnetic plates as the floor or ceiling. That doesn’t sound too safe, nor does it sound practical. But today, as I was surfing Engadget, I stumbled across an online article about my professor’s research! Finally, my questions were answered.microrobot_270x2081

Khamesee said that the micro-robot could be used in clean rooms or hazardous environments.

“Since there is no wiring, and the robot freely floats in air, it can operate in an enclosed chamber while the whole setup is outside,” Khamesee said. “It can work in hazardous environments, toxic chambers, and it can be used to conduct bio-hazardous experiments. Also, since there is no mechanical linkage, it has a dust-free operation, suitable for clean room applications.”

The research team, which includes Khamesee and graduate students Caglar Elbuken and Mustafa Yavuz, submitted the paper last fall to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for possible publication.

Another funny thing is that Behrad Khamesee and Mustafa Yavuz were my professors and Caglar Elbuken was my TA. Go Waterloo!

In less than a month, I will be back at the books again for my 3A term. I can hardly believe that I’m more than halfway done my degree! Time really does fly. The next term’s Mechatronics schedule is quite odd actually. Usually, Engineering schedules are pretty structured. What I mean by that is that we have lectures in the mornings and tutorials/labs in the afternoons. However, I guess this term the University decided to switch things up for us. I’ve got a random tutorial first thing on Wednesday mornings and a lecture Thursday nights. An evening class?! Unheard of! It will be interesting for sure. I wonder how long it will take me to get used to the schedule.

So, my next term will be a Spring term… That means less students on campus. I actually enjoy the spring terms when there are less students rushing across campus. Also, the nice weather makes it more inviting to get outside and walk to class =).

Speaking of the weather, the weather here is so odd! On Sunday, it was bright and sunny… no clouds. I was outside in a t-shirt. But this morning we were hit with a snow storm! Road conditions were so nasty, and slippery. And I thought winter was over

Winter is over?

February 16, 2009

In recent days, the weather here has been surprisingly warm! Not only has it been warm, but we’ve also received a lot of rain. This has caused most of the snow to melt and we can even see the grass on our property. It has definitely been a really weird winter. All this warm weather decided to arrive just after I brought my skates back for outdoor hockey… so I guess, no hockey?

Although it’s been warmer, I got this nasty cold that’s been circling around (sore throat, stuffy nose). I’m glad it’s the long weekend though, I can rest and drink lots of soup. Fortunately, I think I’m feeling a lot better today. Just need to keep drinking fluids!

Outdoor Hockey

January 24, 2009

Just two days ago, I made one of the most exciting discoveries of the season… I found out that we (the University of Waterloo) have an outdoor rink on campus! It’s beside REV, and in the summer it’s used as a basketball court. I do remember passing by several times and thinking to myself that it would make an awesome hockey rink. It already has boards on the two ends and is even shaped like a rink! I think they must’ve flooded it in the past as well. Anyway, I was super excited! It’s like having a rink in my backyard! Actually, when I was younger, I made two backyard rinks in two different houses. Each night, I would spend hours watering the rink, shoveling it and making sure that it was nice and smooth. Of course, I saved some time to skate around and shoot some pucks =D. I was crazy about hockey, and not to mention, had way too much time on my hands!

So, a couple of co-workers and I got together after work to play some shinny. It was quite warm that day, it went above 0°C, apparently this was the first time since December 29th. Because of this, the ice wasn’t the greatest, but hey, at least I got to play. The ice was rough and really soft, it totally ruined my skates. I even skated through this patch of pavement (Note to self: Get skates sharpened). But, in the end, we had fun and I hope to play again.

There’s something different about playing outdoors… Maybe it’s the crunch of the rough ice under your blades emanating from every stride and every turn, or the ability to see your breath as you take a moment to regain it. Whatever it is, the feeling is indescribable.

Windrow?

January 10, 2009

The city of Waterloo gets a lot of snow, even more than Toronto! The worst part is not shoveling your driveway, but if you’re like me, it’s clearing that pile of snow left by the plow at the end of your driveway. It’s not the light fluffy snow that settles right after a fresh snow fall. No, it’s the big, dirty, heavy chunks of snow compacted by cars driving over it. Did you know that there is an actual term used to describe this annoyance? It’s called a windrow. Now, you may be asking yourself, “What is a windrow?”. Fortunately, the city of Waterloo is kind enough to define it for us:

Q. What is a windrow and why is it in my driveway

A. Plows push most of the accumulated snow along the roadway. But some snow normally travels alongside the blade. As the plow moves past driveways, that snow falls to one side forming a windrow.

Although we all look forward to having the streets plowed, no one really looks forward to that pile of snow left at the end of the driveway. We understand your frustration with this situation. Once you’ve cleared your driveway, it can be annoying to see it obstructed with a pile of snow, or a windrow, left behind by the plow.

It is up to the homeowner to clear this snow left behind by the plow. If, however, a windrow of snow appears to be excessive, we will have a supervisor assess the volume and take some action if warranted. Remember though, that this would be an unusual situation.

We hope you will understand that during stormy weather conditions, our crews’ first priority is to clear the roadways and get the city moving safely again.

What makes matters even worse is if you live in a cul-de-sac or around an elbow curve. If you are one of those lucky home owners, you will be the recipient of an even larger amount snow waiting at the end of your driveway simply because of the placement of your house. Great, there goes my hope of being able to complain to the city…