Friday, December 03, 2004

I Can't Believe It...

Well, it's not so much one thing, as a combination of several things. Here are the things that I am currently having difficulty believing:

1. That tomorrow (or rather, make that today) is the last day of this semester.
2. That my linear algebra exam is in three days, and I am hopelessly unprepared. (okay, I understand this one. It has a lot to do with the copious quantities of video games, porn, and Stargate episodes [every single one!] residing on my hard drive)
3. That my program just compiled. And I must add, I am quite thankful seeing as it is due tomorrow (today).
4. How damned good Half-Life 2 looks on a DX9 video card.

I'll go through these one at a time.

1. Yes, it is here. The last day of the semester. It came all too quickly, and if it wasn't for those pesky exams I would have four weeks of Christmas break. But, alas, I have five exams spread over two weeks. The next two weeks are going to be... weird... You see, I won't be going to class, but I can't be expected to study 22 hours a day (24 hours when I don't have an exam). So what will I do? Also, my roommate leaves on Wednesday, leaving me alone for the next nine days. Well, I'll have my computer to keep me company, I guess.

2. Linear algebra. I believe I have covered this topic in previous postings, but let me reiterate. Linear algebra is the work of satan. Why, oh why, must I learn to do things that computers were built for. Not that the knowledge gained in this course could actually have any practical application. Sure, I may know how to invert a matrix, and maybe even how to diagonalize it and find its eigenvectors, but what use is that? The prof kept alluding to Google during the last few lectures, but never actually explained what a search engine had to do with matrices. I did a bit of Googling myself, and I came up with this page, which is, curiously enough, hosted by the University of Toronto (even though it was written by someone from the University of Pennsylvania). But in reality, the only "practical application" I care about is how to pass the exam. It's worth 60% of the mark, and the other 40% isn't looking too good right now.

3. Ah yes; again the joys of CSC 181. Known formally as "Introduction to C Programming", it could easily be referred to as "Obfuscation 101". Or, perhaps, "An Introduction to Comments Where One Learns Nothing About Computer Science". Because that's the essence of this course. It assumes that you already know how to program, forces the syntax of a new language down our throats, and then it's 30 lectures of how to break up code into "functions", "classes", "structures", and ".h files", and then how to write excessive numbers of comments describing each piece. In all seriousness, and this is taken directly from the marking scheme, only 30% of the mark is based on if your program actually works. What is the other 70%? Let's see:
30% - Correctness (i.e. does the program work)
30% - Class, code design (i.e. how you broke the program apart and commented it)
30% - Design by contract principles (i.e. proper commenting)
10% - Style (i.e. whatever they want; basically commenting)

So, as you can see, 70% of the mark is based on your ability to follow instructions and write comments where they are supposed to go, and 30% is based on your ability to actually program. I can't wait until next semester's CSC 191, which is called "Algorithms and Data Structures". As such, hopefully it will actually have something to do with algorithms and data structures. Not 30% algorithms and data structures and 70% commenting.

4. Ah, yes, I saved the best for last. Half-Life 2 on my brand-new GeForce 6800 GT video card... it's practically orgasmic. The water in this game looks real. Let me say that again. THE WATER LOOKS REAL. The designers of the source engine have really outdone themselves this time. I personally have no idea how they model the reflection, refraction, waves, etc. in realtime without resorting to a supercomputer to raytrace it. All I know is that it is beautiful. I replayed the airboat sequence three times just so I could stare at the water. Oh yah, and the sky looks real too. Not to mention nearly everything else in the game. The AI is actually smart enough that if you have a squad following you around, they won't trap you in a room with a grenade that just got tossed in by blocking the door. Hell, they even know how to find good cover, watch your back while you reload, lay down suppressing fire... it's amazing. The city combat sections feel like something from Fallujah or whatever Iraqi city is the stronghold for the rebels now. And then you get to the Citadel.... oh man, if I had only had the high-powered grav gun earlier...

Well, writing this has left me feeling like I want to play more HL2. But I must be strong and finish my computer science assignment... but HL2 is so pretty.... but the assignment is worth marks that could be the difference between passing and failing... but HL2 is so much fun... yah, screw it. Half-Life 2, here I come.


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