Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Update 4: Just added the Angry Pig patronus

For the unaware: Two days ago everybody on facebook started using an app that would ask a few questions and then tell them what their Harry Potter patronus ought to be. Facebook decided this was important so I kept seeing that my Aunt Sally's patronus is an otter. Convinced that no mere internet survey could accurately identify my patronus, but curious nonetheless, I set out on a quest to identify my patronus and post it on facebook. The result is a growing collection of USU related patroni. Images were manipulated using GIMP 2, fonts were downloaded from mugglenet. Any similarity between the facebook patronus app's border and my border is strictly coincidental (read: copy/paste).

I'm confident this project will get old in a week. In the meantime, if you have a special request for a patronus you'd like me to make please leave a comment and let me know. Bonus points if you point me to a good image I can use to make it.

Feel free to use the patroni for fighting off dementors, making fun of the facebook masses, and slaughtering BYU this coming Friday.

Go Aggies.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Writing From Home

Goal: Blog more.

Problem: I don't have much to say.

Solution: Still searching for that one.

So, theory: The reward for doing something good of your own free will exceeds the punishment that comes from doing something bad of the same magnitude. To put it mathematically, as I am wont to do:

Let's flip a coin 100 times. If it lands on heads we say that we did something good and we reward ourselves 70 points. If it lands on tails we say we did something bad and we subtract 60 points. This is not my probability class, so I won't make you work it all out, but you get the idea. Even if we are only getting heads 50% of the time, we still come out with a positive score.

Now, I don't throw this out there to suggest that making bad decisions is okay because our good decisions outweigh them. I don't believe that's true. What I do believe is that our good decisions are worth a lot more than we give them credit for.

I had a good talk with a good friend the other day (It was a good day- just because I wanted to use "good" another time in this line.) She's teaching English in the blessed land of Mexico and she said that when the kids say a specific thing in English after being prompted they get a reward. When the kids say that same thing without being prompted they get a much larger reward. I think this reward system is pretty analogous to life. It's one thing to do a good thing because it's an assignment for a class or because you're part of an organization. It is a very different thing to make a decision on your own to put yourself out there and do something awesome. I think bonus points are awarded for that.

When I think about successful people, I can't imagine it's just because they had an awesome coach that made them who they are. Sure, the coach is essential, but I bet the great ball players dedicated extra time to playing and to practice. I'm sure they decided to eat better and followed through with it. Other people's efforts to make us do great things will only take us so far. If we're ever to truly become great we must become independently motivated and create our own success. I state that like it's a fact- it's not really. That's just the way I'm feeling tonight and it is what I believe.

So, what do I want to become? I want to become an awesome programmer. I am not yet awesome. I'm not even really a programmer yet... So, how do I do it? Well, there must come a time when I decide that I'm going to learn how to do it. I must decide to practice and create things on my own. If that doesn't happen I'll never become great. My CS professors can only carry me so far. Arjun the loveable Indian lab instructor is only so powerful. I've got to man up.

That's my theory of the evening. Chances are worth taking because the reward for success exceeds the punishment for failure. The reward for following someone else's instructions and being successful is great, but the reward for creating your own success is far greater. It's an offensive game instead of a defensive game. Defense is turning in all your CS assignments and getting an A on it. Offense is all that plus making your own stuff. That's who I want to be in my educational career.

"Do better."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

National Talk Like a Pirate Day

Yarr, happy National Talk Like a Pirate day. I'll refrain from writing this post in pirate-speak, but you should know that it takes a great deal of self control to talk like a normal person. I love this holiday like crazy, and this year if the first that I've been able to actually remember it the day of. Every other year I get very excited a week in advance and then forget. You could say that I celebrated my very first National Talk Like a Pirate day today.

So, there's this girl in my CS 1400 class that looks exactly like a girl I ran cross country with in high school. I've felt like a slacker for not talking to her yet, so today I went up and said howdy. Yeah, ends up it's not the person I thought it was. That's kind of embarrassing. So, that take my attempts to talk to random girls on campus count up to two. Both times were magnificent failures. Since I went about 2.5 years between attempts one and two, this should mean that my next attempt will come somewhere towards the end of Spring semester 2014. I should be close to graduation by then. Maybe I'll have learned to talk to girls by then.

In piratey news, I wrote all the solutions to my Math 5710 test in pirate-speak today. "Yarr, the events arrrrrr independent" and all that. I was very proud of myself. I was very comfortable with the math itself and feel like I did great on the test. I sure hope that my professor makes the connection between September 19th and the fun pirate notation all over my paper. I left her a few notes explaining it in normal English. I'm not sure why I insist on being so obnoxious on math assignments and stuff like that. I suppose that I probably shouldn't mess around on a test that's worth 18% of my grade, but I just couldn't resist. I mean, how many opportunities do you get to take a test on National Talk Like a Pirate Day? You've just got to take it. I guess I like to be original or creative in my homework and there's only so much of that that you can do in a math class. You've just got to find the way.

My classes are going great and I feel like I'm learning a lot. For the first time in my life I come home from school and do my homework before I do other stuff. It's weird, but I'm loving it. Life is good. I hope all is well for y'all out there in ye olde blogosphere. I hope to be producing some cool stuff soon. None of it is started so don't hold your breath- but maybe one day there'll be some fun stuff. Word, have a good night y'all.