Tuesday, December 18, 2007
1) Graduate within the next year: Well, I made a lot more progress on research this year, but it'll look like I'll have to be a student a bit longer. The good news is that it's looking like I'll graduate around this time next year.
2) Stay positive: Although this one sounds pretty generic, it had been pretty hard to keep my head up with the stress of research and other things in years past, but I believe I did an ok job of looking on the bright side of life.
3) Do a bit more to take care of myself: Over the spring and summer, I was doing pretty good in keeping this up by playing basketball, tennis, and scaling mountains, but once fall and winter rolled around, I took a step back.
4) Blog more: Post count is up, so mission successful!
5) Find that special someone: No g/f, so a big FAIL on this one. Although a recent fortune cookie said that love was around the corner........nah, that's not happening :P
Overall, I'd say I accomplished 2.5/5 resolutions, and batting .500 ain't too bad.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
This was the scene last night in Death's City, which lived up to its name with the numerous deaths of me, Grapes, Dragon, and Dragon's minions as we fought valiantly for over an hour to take down Lord Enorat.
Update: Some more action shots from Dragon's point of view
Friday, November 23, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
There hasn't been too many DS games lately that have caught my eye, but Contra 4 looks like a must-get :) I remember back in the day when little B and I had mastered Contra on our NES to the point where we didn't even have to use the world's most popular code to beat the game. With little B manning the spread gun and me manning the laser, those aliens had no chance.
Some of the weapon descriptions on the website are sort of amusing too...
Soldiers, especially Contra soldiers, have a lot on their mind. For those days when you can't be bothered by concepts like "aiming," the hunter will seek out hostiles on its own so you can enjoy the finer things in life - like jumping over bottomless pits and avoiding certain death.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
While I was reading through my usual list of tech blogs and sites, I saw a headline talking about the new rankings for the top 500 supercomputers in the world. I remembered a conversation with a friend who works at OSC saying that the new Opteron supercomputer they had just got up and running was suppose to be somewhere in that list, so I took a look around and found it to be at number 76 (and I can say I've used 0.77% of those processors in my simulation :P). It has a ways to go to catch up to the DOE as the peak performance on OSC's supercomputer is only 3% of the peak performance of the DOE's supercomputer. Although the DOE computer probably has its own manmade blizzard to keep all those processors cool.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
For those of you who didn't hear about it or missed it, you can watch the recent episode of South Park here where they sort of poked fun at Guitar Hero. It wasn't as epic as the World of Warcraft episode, but it was still pretty funny nonetheless. At least Stan and Kyle were playing the good GH songs :P
Monday, October 29, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Since Dragon and I've been stuck in our offices doing work for most of last week, we decided to take a day to go out and get some fresh air down in Lebanon, Ohio to see a corn maize. I personally had never been to one before, but now I can say I've been to the 2nd largest maize in the United States :P The setup of the maize is in the form of an eagle as you can see here, and if you can see it on the picture, it starts and ends near the top right where you can see a blue roof. I asked one of the guys working there how long it took to set up the entire maize, and he said it only took a day (from 6 am till midnight), which was pretty impressive I thought given the shear magnitude of the maize. To help visitors through, each visitor can choose a "passport" that contains 10 questions corresponding to 10 waypoints in the maize, and depending on the answer you choose, you could either go on the path to the left or to the right of the waypoint. There were a bunch of different passport themes, and Dragon chose the Halloween theme passport while I chose the sports one.
As for getting through the maize, Dragon and I employed the strategy of going left whenever the path would split into two or more paths. This strategy proved to work well as we somehow managed to skip waypoints 8 and 9 on our way to the exit in 1.5 hours!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Today was the release of Apple's new operating system, OS X.5, aka Leopard. Since Dragon has a Macbook and is uber enthusiastic about his mac, we took a trip over to Easton where the Apple Store would open at 6 pm to start selling the new operating system. We got there at around 5:55 pm, parked at the Macy's parking lot, and started walking over when we saw the line...
The Apple store is down and to the right...
Almost there! At around 6:30 pm, we got to the last turn.
There was an Apple store employee handing out version 10.5 water.
Madness in the Apple Store!
Though I didn't buy any Mac products, I did get this free T-shirt :)
Thursday, October 25, 2007
So I made a mental note that there was a guy standing by himself near the lower left of the "O" in Script Ohio, and after lunch I took a look at the picture that I had taken.
Sure enough, there was a guy was standing there alone on the lower left of the "O". So I went back to Penn Station and got the paper to take another look. The newsletter has a website, so I went to see if they had the same article posted on the website, and sure enough they did here. Although the photo was touched up a bit, I think I wouldn't be crazy to say that this is my picture that the newsletter is using. It's not that hard to find since if you look up "ohio state marching band" in Google Images search bar, my picture will be the first one to come up.
I'm gonna write an email to them and see where they got this image from...
Update 1: The editor sent an apology.
Yikes, thanks for bringing this to my attention Kungfucius. I'm not sure what happened here because the photo that is supposed to have run with the article was also of Script Ohio (provided by the band), but at a head-on angle. I'm not sure how your photo ran instead and I'm very sorry about that. I'll make a note on the website immediately that it's your photo and run a correction in the next issue.
Thanks so much!
And here's Joe using the game in last night's World Series game 1.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I was moving some data around today from my external hard drive and my desktop hard drive when Windows flags me that one of the files was corrupted. I didn't think much of it so I told Windows to skip the file, which was an old episode from the ROD TV series. It started flagging the next 10 episode files, but even then, I didn't think much about it since I figured there must have been something random that's causing it. Long story short, I turn off the external drive and connect it to test on my laptop, and when I turned it on for Windows to detect the drive, it didn't come up with the usual auto-detect selection window. So I try to open the drive up with Explorer, and Windows comes back saying the data on the drive is corrupt >.< -_- T_T Bye bye anime library :(
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
So with this latest shakeup in college football (former #1 LSU and #2 Cal losing), the new polls just came out with my Ohio State Buckeyes as the new #1. Though I'm pretty happy to see them up there, I hope the team uses this as a motivating tool for the rest of the season because most of the nation (including me) are not quite ready to anoint them as the best team. The Buck have pretty much taken care of business against the opposition so far this season, but given all the upsets so far, every single team the Bucks play from now on will believe that this will be their day to pull the upset.
I think coach Jim Tressel knew that he would have a totally new team at the start of this year given all the players from the 2006 team that went to the NFL draft, so he scheduled 2007 accordingly so that the team could ramp itself up to take on the tougher schedule later, and so far, it's been working. Like most analysts I think the most troublesome games will be at Penn State and at Michigan, but as this college season has shown, you have to take each game one at a time and not look ahead. Let the college football chaos continue!
Friday, October 12, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
M: (M's friend) said that little B has a girlfriend again.
M: Yeah, she saw it on little B's Facebook page.
M: Can you log on to Facebook and see?
Sure enough, under the relationship status, it says that he "is in a relationship."
M: Why wouldn't he say anything to me about it?
M: I'll have to ask him about it when we go to NJ.
Guess I'll have to be careful of what I put on Facebook next time...
Friday, October 5, 2007
Since I wasn't overly familiar of where the PennDOT/licensing office was, D drove me over there to get my license renewed. I was expecting this to maybe take an hour or so, but D told me that there was a separate part of the building dedicated to picture taking and renewals, so I figured ok, maybe I can get this over in half an hour. After D dropped me off, I walked into the PennDOT building, found the renewal room, and took a number expecting something outrageously high. Out popped the number 013, so I figured hmm...I can't be this lucky getting the number 13, so maybe they're rotating back their numbers because their counters only go up to 999. I looked up at the current number on the electronic counter, and it read 009. Woot! 10 minutes later, I walked out with a new license.
Coming home also means I get to play the resident IT troubleshooter. M just got a new Toshiba laptop, and she called me from work while I was driving home and wanted me to take a look at it to make sure everything was ok. When I finally got around to looking at it and turned it on, I was greeted with literally 20 things appearing in the taskbar next to the clock. Even though the laptop had a dual-core cpu, it was bogging down pretty badly having so many things loaded up (80+ processes in the task manager chewing up 90% of the gig of memory!), and it didn't help that the laptop had 2 virus scanning software running too. So I rolled up my sleeves and started nuking some programs and eventually got the laptop back to running more responsively.
Since one of her co-workers had recently gotten a digital camera, M also began asking me about digital cameras as well, and we eventually settled at first on the Canon SD1000 since it was small and relatively simple to use. I took her to Circuit City so she could play around with the display models of all the digital cameras they had, and M then decided to switch to the Canon A560 since the feature set was approximately the same and the price was about $50 cheaper. So we walked out of Circuit City with a shiny new A560. She was also quite impressed at how automated Vista was at being able to pull the pictures off her camera simply by plugging it in without having to install any software.
All in all, it felt good to go home :)
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
This past month or so has been relatively uneventful in the research front for me. I've been trying to get this paper written, and my advisor wanted one more example to demonstrate that the method I've developed is working correctly. The example we decided on was to simulate a magnetic photonic crystal (MPC) that has a peculiar property in being able to "freeze" waves that run into it. The difficult is that the computational resources needed to simulate this is rather high since the MPC structure is electrically large, so I've been using the supercomputers here at OSC to run my sims. OSC had just brought online a new Opteron supercomputer, which is rough 3 times faster than their P4 system before with my code. However, there's a lot of contention to use these resources, so any large jobs that you need done need to be sent through their job request software, and depending on the number of processors you allocate and the estimated time you think it'll take to run your job, their scheduler software optimizes it such that the jobs get done within a reasonable amount of time. At first when the system got online, I almost had all my jobs done quickly, but I guess the word's been getting out, and unfortunately right now for me, the wait can be up to 3 or more days, so it's been sort of frustrating watching my job request sit idly in the queue. It's even worse when you discover AFTER the simulation is done that you made a mistake -_- The good news is that once I get this all done and finish my paper, I can do my candidacy exam, which is second of three big step you need to hurdle before graduating (the Ph.D. Thesis defense being the last).
In other EM news, some US physicist have created an invisibility cloak, but unfortunately, you have to be pretty small to use it. What's sort of cool is that in the field I'm in, I could sort of see something like this coming since there're other computational groups here OSU that have simulated such materials to do these cloaking devices. Most of these effects can be achieved by using metamaterials, which can have goofy properties such as a negative index of refraction. But I guess we still have a ways to go before someone creates an invisibility cloak of useful size.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
I still had my XP install available since I was dual-booting, so I gave WiC a run in XP to see if that had any difference on the performance. And the numbers were pretty interesting to say the least.
This chart pretty much tells the story. At "Very Low" and "Low" details, XP is pushing about 50-60% more frames compared to Vista, but there's a crossover at "Medium", and strangely enough once we get to the "High" details, Vista begins to take over as XP becomes OTL slow averaging 0 frames per second. Although I would never play at that setting, it was still interesting to note. As for the reason why XP struggles at higher details, I have no idea :P
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
"Minimum" System Requirements
• OS: Windows® XP, Windows Vista™
• CPU: Single-core 2.0 GHz or faster (2.2 GHz for Windows Vista™)
• CPU: Dual-core Any Intel® or AMD®
• RAM: 512 MB (1 GB for Windows Vista™)
• Graphics: 128 MB video RAM, DirectX® 9.0c-compatible
(NVIDIA® GeForce® 4 MX, ATI® Radeon® 8500, 9200 not supported)
• Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatible
• Hard Drive: 2.5 GB or more available hard drive space
"Recommended" System Reqiurements
• OS: Windows® XP, Windows Vista™
• CPU: 2.5 GHz or faster
• RAM: 1024 MB (1.5 GB for Windows Vista™)
• Graphics: 256 MB video RAM, DirectX® 9.0c-compatible
• Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatible
• OS: Windows Vista™
• CPU: Athlon-64: 2800+ (1.8 GHz clock speed)
• RAM: 1.5 GB
• Graphics: ATI Radeon 9800 Pro w/128 MB of video RAM, DirectX® 9.0c-compatible
So with my system being a mix of the minimum and recommended requirements and some people having success running the game with lower than minimum settings, I figured I'd be able to run WiC reasonably with maybe mediumish detail at a medium (1024x768) resolution. In the graphics settings, there aren't that many things that you can adjust besides the resolution and amount of detail (ranging from "Very Low" to "Very High"), so there're only two variables in the benchmark results. The benchmark itself reminded me of the city map that a lot of us played with at PAX, with the focus mainly on some flying scenes, a tank scene, and lots and lots of explosions.
Here're the numbers that I crunched out. I ran the benchmark 3 times and took the result from the last run.
What's sort of interesting to note from these benchmarks (besides the fact that they're not very impressive) is that the frame rate in general seems independent of the resolution that I run in, which came as sort of a surprise to me since I had expected my graphics card to be the bottleneck, but the benchmark seems to show that my CPU is the likely culprit. One of the things you immediate notice about World in Conflict is the copious use of smoke everywhere after explosions, which looks very nice, but during those scenes, my system slows to a crawl -_-
As you can see from the in game graph, there are two parts in the benchmark where my system really slows. The first is near the beginning when a mini-nuke hits a part of the city, which illuminates everything in view and sends smoke and debris everywhere. The second is near the end of the benchmark where a few bombers basically artillery another section of the city for about 5 seconds, resulting in more smoke and mayhem.
So the moral of the story? If I'm gonna play World in Conflict, I'll probably be running it in "Very Low" details, which seems to turn off real-time shadows, reduces the texture details, and the models used look a bit less complicated. However, the smoke still looks pretty :P
Update: I played through the tutorial (since I pretty much had no idea what was going on or how to play when I was trying it out at PAX :P), and I'm thinking that the benchmark present more of a "worst case scenario" that you might run into while in WiC. At the medium detail setting, the game played pretty smoothly even during the artillery practice (which is awesome btw :) ).
Update 2: I just tried playing through the single player campaign on medium detail @ 1280x1024, and when the action starts to heat up and armies of tanks start exploding everywhere, my PC really begins to bog down, which hindered by soldier directing and camera movement. So it looks like I'm back to low (or very low) settings :P
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Friday, September 7, 2007
Starting at the sideline, you run and touch the alley line, the center line, the further alley line, and then the further sideline, but each time you touch these respective lines, you run back to the sideline you started at. I've done these back in tennis camp and during the tennis season in high school, so I figure hey, it should be a good workout. And to add to the level of difficulty, I told Dragon we should do this down all four courts that were next to each other.
So we line up at the sideline and start running. But by the time I get to the third line, my legs were already crying for me to slow down -_- I look over and David and his face had pretty much the same reaction as me. So after the third line, we both walk back up to the fence and were leaning over, huffing and puffing. During this time I'm thinking to myself wtf...I did these things so easily back in the day, and now I'm struggling just to get past one stupid court -_-
It's time to get off my butt and do some more cardio...
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Since Tochi covered most of the details of what happened in the climb up and down McGregor, I'll sort of my take of what was happening. When we woke up on the 20th for the climb up, I felt pretty rested and ready for the climb. Up till this point, the weight of my pack hadn't really bothered me at all since we've been walking on mostly level ground. And before the trip, I had weighed my pack with about 70% of what I would be carrying, which included the 3 person tent, sleeping bag, and some spare clothes, and it came out to be at around 28 lbs. So I figured hey, it'll be a tough climb up, but with some time and effort, we'll make it up eventually.
The first 1000 ft or so up to Coon Lake didn't seem too bad. MrMonk sprinted up ahead followed closely by Tochi, and I was about 7 to 10 feet behind being followed by Orca. I felt a bit winded at first, but I figured my body would adjust along the way as the trail wasn't too steep.
The next 2000 feet or so however were a killer. With the inclines getting steeper and the number of switchbacks increasing, my quad muscles felt the burn of each step, and eventually I let Orca pass me as each step began to felt heavier and heavier. It reminded me of the time when I took the swim test at Cornell, which I slowly did, but I was so spent afterwards that I was almost crawling to the locker room because my legs were exhausted from kicking. Tochi took notice and dropped back to share his water and encourage me on.
Slowly but surely at around 3000 or 4000 feet, my quad pains eventually died down, but they were replaced by a sharp pain along a tendon that runs on the side of the knee, which felt like they were being stabbed by a knife >.< So now every step I took I had to grimace a bit >.< The pack weight combined with the extra incline had began to take its toll on my knees...
Somehow I managed to get myself to the top, and I probably should have stopped there. While MrMonk and Tochi set up some semblance of a camp, Orca wandered further up the summit to do some scouting, and I tried following for a bit since I was a bit worried of her going up alone, but the steep rocky steps were too much for me. Fortunately she came back without harm.
At this point, I was hoping that some rest would do me some good, but with the rain coming down during the night and the ground being so cold inside the tent, it was hard to get some good rest in and have my joints loosen up a bit.
When we started our trek down the next morning, it was pretty much pitch dark, and I was sort of on the edge of sleep and consciousness, which caused me to stumble about 3 times and resulted in miscellaneous cuts on my left leg. The 4th time I slipped on a branch and felt the sharp pain in my left ankle >.< OMFG, I was thinking come on...I've already slowed the climb up McGregor yesterday, and right now I'm up 6000 ft in the mountains, the early shuttle we want to catch is 4 hours away from leaving, and I have to deal with a golf ball-sized left ankle now -_-
After I got myself back on my feet, my compassionate friends (or maybe they were too tired to be mad at me) asking if there was anything they could help me carry. I was sort of stubborn at first and didn't want to give in because 1) I didn't want Mt. McGregor to get the best of me and 2) I really hate making things burdensome for others because I screwed up somewhere. But since I already violated rule #2, I gave in, and Tochi, Orca, and MrMonk divided up the stuff in my pack, with MrMonk taking the tent, Tochi taking some miscellaneous camping gear, and Orca taking some of my backup clothes and the infamous box of wet wipes. With the increased weight of his pack, MrMonk decided to speed up his descent since he felt he would be less tired that way. Tochi also lended me his hiking poles to help me down the hill.
Now at this point, you might be thinking well, you're making a downhill descent, so even though you have a turned ankle and maybe some overworked knee tendons, that has to be easier right? I figured that might be the case too, but the downhill descent I think proved to be more painful than the trek up because you have to bend and extend your legs to catch yourself as you "fall", and since there was more knee bending involved, there was more pain involved -_- And I think Tochi's poles were hindering me a bit because for some reason, I felt like I was using way too much energy utilizing them to balance myself as if I were using crutches. Tochi and Orca were able to stop and take pictures at miscellaneous times during the trek down while I continued ahead, and even though there were points where I thought I had gone ahead too far (I would look back and not be able to see them), about 30 seconds later, they would be right behind me again, so I was pretty much moving at a snail's pace.
At some point on the way down Orca proclaimed "we're halfway down McGregor!", and I think we had about 4 or so hours to make it to the second shuttle to go back to the pier, so I figured hey, we might be in ok shape. An hour later, I asked on our progress, and Orca says that we hadn't moved that much elevation-wise (maybe 300 or 400 feet, and we had a total of 3000 or so to go) since the paths had started to level off in terms of steepness -_- So things weren't looking too good...
At this point, I finally decided "screw it, I'm gonna start walking/crawling/rolling/whatever down this hill as fast as I can" as held the poles in one hand, locked my knees so that they wouldn't bend to cause any pain, and keened in my vision on where to step so I wouldn't fall down. I had entered Super Saiyan mode, and I probably looked like a dual peg-legged pirate walking down the trails, and I probably aggravated my ankle a couple of times stepping on some lose rocks, and I might have even stepped on some small frogs along the way, but I didn't care, because I was gonna make sure that Tochi and Orca got to the shuttle in time. Fortunately, Tochi and Orca noticed my speed increase and followed down as well, and to make a long story short, we made it down with about an hour or so to spare :) After zoning out of Super Saiyan mode, I was dead tired and basically slept most of the ferry trip back. Fortunately my left leg was still in one piece.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Two hours later we arrived at Stehekin, and after getting the camping pass at the visitor's center, we were off to the world renowned Stehekin bakery for some lunch (chicken pockets and roast beef sandwiches for teh win)! They only take cash here, so remember to bring your greenbacks if you decide to drop in and eat.
After lunch, we set off on our trek again and ran into what was the Stehekin School, which you could enter and see what classes were like back in the day. It was complete with desks, old books, and even a film strip projector!
The next major visual attraction was Rainbow Falls. You had to take a rocky path off the main road to reach it, but the fall itself was quite spectacular, and it's pretty amazing how clear the water was. MrMonk and Orca were all over the place trying to get good pictures of the falls.
And since I was along with 3 geocachers, we had to go find a geocache, which was on a path next to a grassy airfield. I didn't take any good pictures from the hunt, but I bet Tochi'll have some good pictures of the find.
After finding the cache, we headed back the main road to wait for a shuttle which took us to the nearby campsite. After we set up our tents and got a campfire going, we cooked up some camping food for the first time, which basically involved boiling water and pouring it into the package and sit for about 10 minutes, kinda like instant raman noodles. We cooked up some teriyaki Beef, mac and cheese, and some beef stew, and I was quite surprised how tasty the camping food was.
Note that to this point, I really haven't been bothered by the weight of my pack since we've been walking on virtually level ground for most of the trip. However, this'll change the next day...