Sunday, 16 May 2010

Final Year

After finishing my placement, I moved out and back to Hatfield almost straight away, myself, Simon, Adam, Dave and Shane had found a house between Uni and Asda to live in for the year. 



Cucumber Software House


The name 'Cucumber Software House' comes from a team exercise in first year, when we were in a group and the lecturer (perhaps foolishly) allowed us to pick our own group name; 'Cucumber Software House' was what Dave shouted (after me and Shane had tried to make a backronym [1] out of rude words) out and it stuck. 



Upon getting keys and arriving at the new house, Adam and myself went for two of the upstairs rooms, and Simon went for one of the downstairs rooms, with Dave and Shane arriving a few weeks later to choose from the two left. Didn't do too much in the first week or so, mainly unpacking, setting things up, relaxing and sorting out the internet. Speaking of which, a company could make a killing if they had a student internet deal, i.e. one that wasn't a minimum 12 month contract (bah). 


I did have some amusement when I was setting up my computer in my new room. 


I turned it on to find a nice message saying 'Keyboard failure, Press F1 to continue, F2 to enter SETUP'. 


I quickly found out the problem, I hadn't plugged the keyboard in (so would be unable to press either F1 or F2). 


I probably spent the good part of a day moving stuff around in the room to try and find the optimal use of space, I did end up with some bits partially obstructing other bits, but it wasn't that much of an issue that was going to bother me that much. I did have a table in the middle of the room for most of the year, but that lead to lots of games and drinking around it throughout the year. 


Speaking of drinking, Simon was the next house mate to move in properly (i.e. more then a few bits to mark room territory, haha), and, along with myself and Liz, we had the first night of drinking at the house. I can't remember too much of the night, I think Simon remembered why Sambuca and/or Ouzo is dangerous and managed to pass out sitting cross legged in the hallway. Luckily me and Liz managed to get him back to his own room. The others started moving in towards the end of September, when Uni was starting. 




My final year also saw me as the President for PSIFA again. For Freshers Fair, Liz Simon and myself went in costume and brought along a load of books that the original founder of PSiFA (from 1978!) had written but had some spare for us to give away [2]. I put on a Jedi cloak with plastic lightsaber, Liz went as a Trek Ensign, and Simon made a Stargate character (I'm not going to attempt to try and spell it), staff and everything. The fair itself went quite well, with a good amount of interest from people, and some new students coming along to meetings throughout the year. We also had sweets (Flying saucers) to give out to people to entice them to sign up to the mailing list. 













First Cucumber Software House drinking night


Come mid October, Cucumber Software House had already started some awesome nights of drinking. Dave went from Zero-to-Hero while wearing a hat, with silly hats being par for the course for the evening (and most evenings come to think about it). 




Shane managed to prove that even a Halloween bucket could be used as a hat in a pinch (we had got a load of Halloween stuff early while it was cheap). 


Simon had the most hats at his disposal, with people wandering into his room to borrow one if they didn't have one of their own. He usually had first dibs on the awesome top hat though. 














He even got to re-inflate his quad guitar [3] for some awesome quad-air-guitaring. 














Harking back to a message I left on Shane's door in the first year, we re-made it for Dave's door (it was his fault for wandering off... honest...). 


















Most of the remaining photos get a bit blurry, as does my memory of the night. The last one was not taken by me, instead of me, using an extendible broom as an air guitar for some reason or another. 

















Halloween drinking night


Halloween drinking night was awesome as can be expected. There was a random Clown head! Some awesome air guitaring! Funny hats! Mr Flibble! Snakes everywhere! Random cocktails! Card games (with Adam spilling something on some cards, thinking the microwave would dry them out quickly, and singeing them slightly in the process...)! The various 'props' we had around stayed up around the house for most of the rest of the year, things like plastic bugs, plastic snakes, clown head and some other bits and pieces. 









November PSiFA 30th Anniversary re-union


This (academic) year was the 30th Anniversary since PSiFA was founded. We had a small re-union event in November, with the plan to have two more over the following terms, to try and get as many people there as possible. We had cake, party poppers, and guitar hero on the big lecture projectors. All in all, a fairly fun day. 











X-Mas


Hatfield went a little quiet over the X-Mas break. I stayed around for most of it, even making a tree for the house out of loo rolls, crayon and electrical tape! 


I think the others ended up burning it at the end of the year :-(














New years


More people were around over New Years eve, and we had a few people there for drinks to see in the new year. Simon got locked out by Simon, but managed to get back in (but not before being attacked by a sponge on a stick). 




As Simon didn't have a silly hat, he opted to make one out of long straws, balloons and tape, which, as it had a flag on top, was hard to wear inside while standing up. 













End of January


During a night of random drinking at the end of January, Dave managed to get himself taped to the ironing board, while getting revenge on Shane and taping a message to his door. 













Snow!


Some time in early 2009, there was a lot of snow for a few days. 


We made the most of it. 


I ensured I dressed properly: Long leather jacket to protect from snow, goggles to keep falling snow out of my eyes, hat and hood to keep me warm, and gloves covered by rubber gloves for warmth and waterproofing (kinda). A snow wall and *ahem* other structure was *ahem* erected in the back garden, and, as Shane wasn't around at the time, we made sure he got to enjoy it too by covering his window with snow balls. 


Our inflatable friend, Fernano [4], was enlisted to help out for some after PSiFA drinking one evening, and a bucket filled with snow kept drinks chilled throughout the night. 













Epoch 1234567890
In February, the Epoch [5] time ticked over to 1234567890, and, being a house of Computer Scientists and an Engineer, we decided this was a worth cause of celebration! It was also an hour or so away from ∏ (pi) day (3/14 in American date system). So double celebration! 


Standard night of drinking, silly hats and geeky conversation. 
















Upon seeing the photos of the night, Jess made the comment that I have many facial expressions...












...I don't know what she means...















96 Hour License
For RaG (Raise and Give) fortnight, PSiFA ran a load of events. The Ele house had a 96 hour license and we went for the graveyard shift for all 4 nights. The first night didn't go ahead as the Font closed early due to the toilets being blocked, and everyone crammed themselves into the Ele House (which then, as they were on the same drainage system as the Font, got blocked toilets too), and there were far too many drunk students around to try to put on any kind of serious film, so we skipped that one. 


The next night was a 'sing along' night - starting off with Greece, moving onto Mama-Mia, then Chicago, then The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and finishing with the South park movie. 


The following night was a Red Dwarf night, starting at 1AM after some karaoke, watching a load of episodes over all the series, finishing sometime at midday. I think I was the only person to remain concious the whole time (I say concious, I was pretty much in a lack of sleep induced daze and stumbled back to sleep after finishing). 


The next and last night was run by Simon; a Will Ferrell night. He tells me it went well and good times were had by all. I opted to catch up on the sleep I had been missing while staying up for Red Dwarf. 


We also held a 'Friday 13th' Zombie night, and Horror night, one month after another for RaG, showing an interesting selection of films. 



BBQs
As Spring and Summer came, we started having spontaneous Barbecues in the back garden whenever it was a nice day (surprisingly there were a few nice days in England!). A few times I attempted to cook some gammon on a disposable BBQ, with varying success.  


I also made a handy table out of a box, some polystyrene and some tape. Not sure what happened to that in the end, it was a fairly nice mini table. 















PSiFA 30th Anniversary event - June
At the end of the year, after the Uni Summer Ball (we got to go free because we helped out a lot for RaG) was the last Anniversary event for PSiFA. This was the largest of the three, with lots of people coming, a full day of events, cake, tour of the Uni, talk by the founder, quiz and lightsaber battles! Lightsabers that Simon made his personal challenge to break...








And that was pretty much my final year at Un... oh wait, I also did some work too somewhere between all that...



Actual work
Final year was four modules as usual, but one was a big project. The non-project modules I did were FOOD (further Object Orientated Development), EESE (Empirical Evaluation in Software Engineering) and PLDI (Programming Language Design and Implementation). FOOD started off slowly with UML (snore) but moved onto some interesting Java coding. EESE was interesting, basically reading articles and saying what you thought about it. PLDI was very interesting, looking at parsing and lexical analysis, as well as the history of programming languages, and we ended up semi-creating a mini functional programming language of our own. My final year project was one that created and stored character sheets for D&D characters, as well as creating (semi-) random maps, which was fun and challenging. FOOD was software engineering based, which was my strong point. I chose EESE and PLDI as they were kind of opposite ends of the Computer Science spectrum, one being the management side, and one being really close down to code and inner workings, hoping to find out where my strengths were and what to look at doing in the future. I ended up getting top grades for EESE and PLDI which were the two opposite end ones, a B for FOOD (probably fell down a bit due to UML), and an A2 for my project, so I ended up with a First overall, with the graduation ceremony taking place in November. 













Work work
A week after finishing my final exams, I started working back at Anritsu. As they had sponsored me for my final year, I had to do at least three months with them, so planned to work from the start of June until at least the end of August, before starting my Masters course which I had been accepted on so long as I got a 2:2 or above (which I did). I quickly got back into the swing of things, and started work on a small project that formatted the result of a test in a nice page. This went well and I finished it fairly quickly, so I was then set a more challenging task of a complex file comparison tool. I did quite a lot of planning and designing, and evolved it from a simple text comparison, to a graphical representation of any file changes, which was integrated into the main program. I think the little icons have since been changed (I made some quickly in paint), but (after a week or so of speedy bug fixes and workarounds) it was functioning well. I stayed for an extra month (ish) and finished towards the end of September, with an offer for another years sponsorship so long as I came back again after finishing my Masters. As it was short term, I lived at my Mums house (first time I had moved back in for about 2 years) and got the bus to Luton (very boring having a almost 2 hour trip each way) every day. 


Come the start of September, Liz and I had found a nice flat and moved in back in Hatfield. Small, but still quite nice. It meant I was getting the bus from Hatfield now instead, occasionally having a longer day as the Uno bus to Luton was a bit sparse during non-term time (I think its changed now... two years too late for me). And that was my (not quite so) final year at Uni!




[1] Backronym: Getting some letters to make an acronym, then assigning words to those letters, the other way round acronyms are supposed to be created. 
[2] http://www.concatenation.org/
[3] Quad guitar creation probably mentioned in old blog. It involved red electrical tape
[4] One of the Halloween props we got was an inflatable skeleton, which we kept around for most of the year
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_epoch