Autumn 2015 – The First Few Weeks

Here we are mid way through the third week of this session of university.  After 3 weeks I can confirm as I first suspected that I have 2 very different subjects. Let’s have a quick chat about how they’ve each gone so far.

CSCI212 – Interacting Systems

This has definitely been the more enjoyable of the 2 subjects. I’m tempted to say “better” but that is such a subjective word. I’ve found it to be more beneficial to my circumstances and it’s been more fun to work through.

We’ve been beginning to deal with the various aspects of the operating system and the various layers which are involved. It’s still all fairly high level and for that I’m thankful. After our brief look at what actually goes on with the hardware I don’t think I’d want to be programming on such a base level.

Our first assignment has been to integrate a simple application with the Linux shell. We are to take the output from the command ps(1) and pipe this into our application. We have to store this incoming data in a hash table with linked lists if there are collisions. We are not to use STL and must code the structures ourselves. I have already coded a linked list class so I’ve been able to borrow heavily from previous assignments but the hash table is new to me. I’ve been working on combining the 2 for the last few days and have got it mostly up and running. I’ll post the code once I have completed it. After the data is stored internally we are to do a few simple calculations and output this to the display.

The assignment is really about testing our knowledge of data structures and our handling of string input data. It’s a fun and challenging assignment and I wish I had more time to spend on it. I’m still anticipating a good mark even though it might not be perfect.

One other thing I’ll mention is that I’m attempting to use Visual Studio 2013 as my IDE. In the past I’ve only ever used the standard text editor in Ubuntu so it’s a bit of a change. I am finding it much easier and the IntelleSense hints are very useful. All our assignments must compile on Linux though so I’m a little concerned that my code will be handled differently on Linux but I’ll make sure I take the time to test it before I submit it.

Stayed tuned for the code!

CSCI224 – Human Computer Interaction

By contrast this subject has been quite boring and unfulfilling. I have been told that it is a fairly easy subject but I am not studying at university to do easy subjects. I’m studying so I can learn useful skills and better myself and my career.

The subject only has 2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorial, approximately half of my other subject. I have found that the lecturer speaks in a monotone, doesn’t engage with the class and also doesn’t provide sufficient notes for the slides. Perhaps I’ve been spoilt with previous lecturers but I figure I’m paying a fair amount of money to be here so he should put in a bit more effort to teach rather than just recite the slides.

We have received our first assignment for the subject and it involves conducting a critical analysis of a device and it’s usability. It has a 3 page maximum and only contributes 5% of the total mark. It seems like it should be fairly straight forward and as long as I reference the terminology used in the lectures when discussing the features I expect to do well.

It’s due on a Thursday which makes it difficult for me as I’m working full-time and don’t have a lot of time during the week to get assignments done. I’ll basically get most of it done on the weekend and have it done a few days early. It’ll be ok. I shouldn’t complain as there are much worse positions to be in.

I’ll be sure to post a copy of my assignment and keep you all posted on my results.


So far the first 3 weeks have seen a stark contrast in my 2 subjects. This probably speaks more to my personal preferences than to the actual content. I obviously enjoy more technical subjects and writing code rather than reports. I do feel that the human computer interaction subject will prove beneficial and provide an interesting change of pace. I need to find a way to become more engaged with the subject.

Any ideas about how to become engaged with a subject you at first don’t enjoy? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Until next time 🙂

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