Digital Logic

Computer Science

Happy New Year!

by on Jan.03, 2012, under Computer Science, Games, Leisure, MMOs, Personal, Technology

Well, the holidays are officially over and I have no excuse to avoid writing here. This term I’m taking three courses at the University of Waterloo, two of them being distance education and one of them requiring me to make the trip to campus. The three courses that I’ve enrolled in this term are:

  • ENGL 109: Introduction to Academic Writing (Online)
  • PHIL 215: Professional and Business Ethics (Online)
  • CS 447: Software Testing, Quality Assurance and Maintenance

It may seem like an odd course selection for a 4B Computer Science student, but I haven’t taken an English course in a long time and it’s never a bad time to improve one’s communication skills. I’m really hoping that the philosophy course will tie in nicely with the software engineering content that I’ve been learning over the past few terms. From what I understand, the typical software engineer is responsible for not only designing software, but designing good software (as in, software that makes sense from a design and usability perspective). PHIL 215 is also one of the courses recommended by the degree requirements checklist for my year.

CS447 is the final course in a series of three software engineering-related courses (the first two being CS445: Software Requirements and CS446: Software Architecture). I’ve found myself being extremely interested in the design philosophies of software from the software engineering perspective. This is kind of surprising, given the attitudes of many of my classmates towards these three courses (generally not positive). The courses have also been some of the highest marks I’ve received at the University of Waterloo, and their content has been extremely useful in some of the side projects that I’ve been working on lately (more on this later).

On the lighter side of life, I have been playing BioWare’s new Star Wars game with a few of my friends and have been thoroughly enjoying it. As a former World of Warcraft player (clean and sober for 2 years now, thankfully) it’s fairly easy for me to nitpick the small flaws with SW:TOR, but I have to admit that the holiday launch was one of the smoothest I have seen from the MMO genre. One of the major ideas that the player community is missing is that many of the features that they take for granted in mature games like World of Warcraft were not present at launch, and time will only improve the technical quality of the game.

I also recently upgraded my computer’s graphics hardware by installing two XFX HD6950 cards in a CrossFireX configuration. This is my first multi-card installation and from what I have seen so far, it works pretty well. I did have some minor issues with screen tearing (even after enabling vertical sync) which I will attribute to the 3D engine not working well with multiple graphics cards, but installing Catalyst Application Profiles seems to have fixed the problem. Additionally, I did have to install an additional 120mm fan on the side of my case (which is obnoxiously loud) in order to regulate the temperature of the cards under load. Because of the layout of my motherboard, the video cards sit right next to each other, causing the top one to suck in hot air from the bottom one. Before the fan was added, the temperatures of the top and bottom cards were 95C and 80C, respectively (a little too hot for me). Adding the fan reduced the temperatures to 75C and 65C; these are well within acceptable bounds given that they’re powering a 1440p display.

That about wraps it up for my life right now. I’m still planning on writing about (potentially) interesting facts on a daily to weekly basis. Once I determine the load that classes and work are placing on me this term, I will decide how much time I can devote to this blog. Until then, I’ll be posting here whenever I have something to say.

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