Friday, 17 January 2014

Life: Semester 2

So my first week back at uni has actually gone alright. Year 2 Semester 2. I am now officially past the half-way mark of my university course, at least in terms of teaching. Things are starting to heat up with some pretty cool topics this term, it's always nice to be excited about learning.Here's some casual notes about the modules I have to do this term:
  • Models of Computation The name sends shivers down my spine. It sounds like it might be a little difficult to keep up with when it starts to snowball – kinda like the maths module from last term. So far, so good though; considering that the initial exercises almost totally overlap with last semester's Natural Language Processing module.
  • Computer Systems & Architecture Oh good, lots of low level stuff. Programming's always been my main interest with other things taking a back seat and I'm really quite terrified of the architecture of a PC. Most of it was covered during my A-Level Computing course with Lalin – who pretty much single-handedly got me into uni with his help on my personal statement – so hopefully I'll be able to call back that knowledge. Somehow.
  • Team Project The last of the compulsory modules. It is terrifying. In teams we have to build some sort of game from scratch in what is meant to mimic a work environment. I'm buzzing about it because it's pretty much the first time I'm gonna get to test out my programming ability – not really stretching myself outside of the course (something I should really do) – but also terrified with how wrong it could go. Pretty stoked on my group, and initial impressions are that everyone gets on rather well – negating up to half of the 5 hours of teamwork lectures we've had – so hopefully we'll be able to implement the ideas we've got. That said, if the lectures don't get any more interesting soon then I'm not sure I'll have the mental capacity to do anything.
  • C/C++ Seems like a fairly fundamental programming language to know, y'know unlike Haskell, so I'm looking forward to getting to grips with it. That said the lecturer could make things several times more concise, and not go on about pointers and stacks for two lectures. If you're glad that you don't have to teach the basics of programming don't then waste the time you've gained with monotony.
  • Introduction to Computer Security Possibly the most interesting module on first impressions. The way it's been sold so far seems as much an ethical hacking course as much as computer sec. That said he did introduce it as the hardest module we'll have to take this year – as much down to the fact that it's not been run before and so the difficulty level won't be properly set. I couldn't even get my Truecrypt set-up to run, so maybe I'm not taking the right course...

Overall I'm really stoked on pretty much every topic this semester, and that's something that's been missing after Foundations of Computer Science (or OCaml Lite) alienated me pretty much right off the bat, combined with Functional Programming from last semester. To make this semester worthwhile though I'm unfortunately actually gonna have to revise Functional to make sure I get into next year. Still have no idea why it's compulsory. ARGH FUNCTIONAL.

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