Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer in Waterloo

In my last post, I detailed my life during the my work term. I just realized that almost two months have passed by since then, and I am roughly 4 weeks away from the end of lectures for the Spring 2012 term.

Since I have already arranged to go back to Loblaw for my next work term, this term I did not have to go through the usual pain endured by UWaterloo co-op students, commonly known as JobMine. That move, I believe, was for the best, since my current courses do not appear to be pulling back any punches.

Academically speaking, this term might turn out to be my most turbulent yet. Started off with a standard set of five courses, Linear Algebra II (that I had been trying to avoid so far), Intro to Actuarial Mathematics, Intro to Combinatorics, and two computer science courses covering Logic & Computation and Software Abstraction and Specification.

The actuarial science course started off well. The instructor pointed out that only those who find this course interesting should ideally continue on the path of an actuary. Truth be told, the content in the first couple of weeks or so was fairly interesting. However, the number of formulas kept increasing and the content steadily started becoming more boring...

Meanwhile, Linear Algebra II... now this one was a constant thorn in my side. I wouldn't blame the instructor... the content just flew way over my head. Went into the midterm having little to no idea about I would fare in the exam... Saw the math adviser afterwards, and agreed with his idea that the best course of action would be to drop the course, to avoid taking any hits to my average...

Combinatorics has some neat applications (especially when thinking in terms of CS), interesting enough that the proofs and computations were bearable. The Logic course was something that I had been dreading (due to nightmarish stories by former students of the course) but it turned out to be better than the others, mostly because we have an excellent instructor (compared to profs who usually teach this course). The programming course remains my favorite to date. I accept that it has its high-stress moments, but there is this unique sense of achievement when you complete a CS246 assignment, unlike my other courses...

The way I saw it, CS steadily became more appealing to me while my interest in actuarial science declined. Not the best idea to pursue a career in which I am not interested. Therefore I decided that some important decisions were in order.

Here's how it goes: I started off pursuing Actuarial Science. In the 2A term, I turned towards a Joint ActSci-CS. Finally, 2B, I decided to let go of ActSci, and put my efforts into pursuing CS. Let's see how things go from this point forward.

Enough about academics. On to happier stuff.

Recently (well, not really recently) I have started actively following all sorts of tech developments, especially in terms of consumer products (phones, tablets, PCs and the like). I've found that Twitter is an excellent platform for this type of thing. I've been following a Canadian tech blog, Techvibes, which held a giveaway for an HTC One S. And I won!

Here are some pictures of my new phone (close-up shots since I have no inclination to show off the clutter on my desk!)

HTC One S - The Box
HTC One S - The Front I
HTC One S - The Front II
HTC One S - The Back I
HTC One S - The Back II
The HTC One S currently has Android 4.0.x Ice Cream Sandwich installed, with HTC's Sense 4.0 UI. Initially, the phone was locked to Telus (I am on contract with Fido). Took me a few hours to root it and extract the unlock code (didn't feel like paying for it), thanks to a few excellent tutorials online. See the end of post for links to the tutorials I used.

So far, using Android has been a rather enjoyable experience, especially compared to my older BlackBerry Curve. Compared to iOS, it is highly customizable, but I feel that there is a certain "roughness" about it, something not really present in iOS. Currently, I have multiple operating systems co-existing across different devices... really enjoying the variety.

The camera on the HTC One S is awesome! Plus, it has a pretty decent built-in photo editing app. I recently started a Project 365 with the phone.

Here a few shots from the project, the rest of which can be followed here

Biology Buildings, UWaterloo © Osama Sidat
Apple Stabbed © Osama Sidat
I just hope that HTC provides an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update for the One S soon.

Went to Canada's Wonderland last Saturday. Had a awesome time! Rode the Leviathan, Canada's tallest and fastest roller-coaster

The Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland © Osama Sidat

The weather is pretty hot these days (I know, I know, 36 degrees isn't exactly that hot, but still, coming from a negative 20, it is). Recently replaced my stand fan... the new one's much more powerful, and blows around every bit of paper (or any lightweight thing, for that matter) in the room. Fun...

Well, I guess that's all I have for this post. Can't think of anything else to write here.

Until next time...

Take Care.

Links for HTC One S Rooting and Unlocking:

Thanks to all of the authors of the instructions in the links above!

I used a combination of all of the above instructions, additionally Googling whenever I got stuck (or when something did not appear to work). Bear in mind that you risk bricking your phone.
Note 1: For some reason, I had to root the phone twice before it was properly rooted.
Note 2: In the last link, the author uses the Terminal Emulator within the phone. I was not able to use that, so I used an alternative method which involved connecting the phone via USB to my netbook, and executing the relevant commands through the Linux shell terminal. Unfortunately, I did not document the exact procedure.
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