Sunday, July 30, 2006

3 days left! UGH!

Studying is progressing slowly. Too slowly for my taste. Sigh. I might fail....this is very bad.

Words that seemed to have popped into my mind. It would make a great quotation if I ever finish something great:

"It is only when we accomplish something great, that we realize our own mortality."

I think there is a second part to this quotation, but my muse hasn't blessed me with them yet.

And I also have to write my blurb for the yearbook too. Sigh.

Till we meet again, my Valkyrie.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Damn it, if I can't find motivation.

I am so screwed. Exams are like 5 days away. Haven't started studying. Yet, I find no motivation to study.

Screwed! No job either! Screwed about that too! Screwed!!!!!!!

My brain hurts...owwie! Damn you 411!

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Would one say I'm an adult? What defines a person as an adult and a child? Is it age? No. I've seen adults that can be considered as children and children that could be considered as adults. Is it knowledge? Yet you have ignorant petty jackasses that would probably be more suited to preschool than working at a workplace and you have children that are geniuses still in school. No, it is responsibility and power that defines adulthood.

Now, would you say I'm an adult? No. I am more knowledgable than most 'adults' nowadays. The power I wield however, is still miniscule. My responsibility is also low. Am I adult enough to be in a relationship? Maybe a high-school level relationship, where nothing ever happens except spend time together. Maybe. I can manage that. But beyond that? I don't have the confidence, power (money and a car), responsibility (credibility), to pull it off. After all, past university, most people enter relationshipss expecting something of it. I am probably no different. One of my problems with relationships stem from the fact that in high school, it doesn't go anywhere really. As well, not having a car really limits your option of doing anything.

People usually start a relationship by bringing something to the table. Whether it is transportation ("I have a car, worship me.") or money ("I'm rich.") or power ("I know of a great place downtown."), each side brings something to the table. I have to say that I don't have much besides loyalty. Unfortunately, shopping with just loyalty is not easy. I guess I need to get something else to bring to the table. The problem is what. And also, why is my timing always so bad? I bet someone (any sentient being) has something against me and basically said "Well, let's dangle all these attractive girls in front of him, and have them all be in relationships by the time he's interested in them." That, or I just really really have bad luck in this area. Anything can happen I guess.

Had a really interesting dream last night. It involved some type of factory, robbers, a car, a car elevator, a gun, me shooting those 4 robbers dead, a mechanical malfunction of the factory involving water and me trying to close a valve underwater to save the factory and trying to escape from the rest of the robber gang. It was definately interesting, althought I have forgotten most of it. Too bad. Till next time, my Valkyrie.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy 100th post

Well....FYDP is a pass!

After working on it non-stop for the past few weeks, I've almost despaired about non finishing it whatsoever, but we pulled through. That's something to be happy about anyways.

I feel like after the FYDP is over, there seems to be a lack of urgency, even though I still have 2 projects and a lab to finish. It's too early to celebrate just yet. I still don't have a job, and I still need to figure out what to do with my life.

I guess the last one isn't really urgent.

But yes, what exactly are we doing? Imprint had an interesting article about gender roles and how it allowed certain people (girls, mostly) to not think about purpose at all, because their 'purpose' was to get married and start a family. But meh, its a new age and I'm a guy, so that does not apply. Glad I'm not the only one to have this problem, but still, I'd like to solve it.

Ahh, a good nights rest was useful. I think I can focus a bit more now, but I still want some more sleep.

I guess I should write more, but I don't seem to know what to write, or how to motivate to write more by myself. Sigh. Till I see you in my dreams, my Valkyrie.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Almost yet another week

Sigh. I was supposed to update daily for this term, but so far, its more like weekly. I guess it takes time and effort I don't seem to be able to conjure up.

So what have I done this week? Fourth Year Design Project. If you didn't know already, our group is trying to create a portable wireless 'child leash'. In otherwords, it is something you put on your kid and as soon as he/she wanders out of range, it will start to beep.

The problem comes from the fact that our idea has been changed several times. Last term, when we first thought of this idea, it was supposed to use timestamping to find the distance. Ie, a wireless signal with time information would be sent back and forth. The difference in the timestamp and the time it was received would be the 'distance' given that the EM wave travels at the speed of light. The problem with this? One, the two devices (the parent and child devices) needed to time-sync with each other first. Second, we forgot how fast the speed of light travels. Because it travels so fast, the microcontroller must also be very fast in order to have a low quantization error. When calculated, a 300MHz microcontroller was neccessary to generate a 1m quantization error. There is no way you can get a 300MHz low power MCU. It just isn't possible.

So being the smart people we are, we decided to go for phase. The problem now is that we couldn't find out where the Phase comparator output was. The phase comparator is in the PLL of the board. What it does is that it compares phase by generating an error signal proportional to the phase difference and mixes that with the input signal until it matches the exact phase. When the PLL error goes to zero, the signal is considered "locked". The problem is that the phase comparator was not accessible by a pinout. Not that we could see anyways. So instead, we looked at a schematic of the board and found a CP_OUT. Charge pump out. It looked similar to the part of the PLL where it was generating an error signal. So we used it. However, we had no idea how to get the phase information. So we used an oscillascope to test it. Found a waveform that we suspected that we can use. Then we try to capture it with our board. The board had an integrated ADC (analog to digital convertor). What happened is that for the past week and a half we have tried to get the thing working. It just doesn't see it properly. That, or the ADC gets stuck or the transceiver gets stuck on code. I finally find out that we are looking at the right place. The CP_OUT was the chargepump out of the PLL. The difference is that in recent times, most PLLs have been converted from the active PLLs we learned in ECE318 and replaced with passive PLLs. Active PLLs require more power. Passive PLL uses a current source and a passive RC circuit to generate a feedback loop with a transfer function a la ECE380. But we still couldn't figure out how to use it. After investigating it for a long time, we decided to take the average of 100 samples of the minimum of the waveforms formed when the chip was transmitting or receiving. The problem was that the ADC still didn't detect it. It seemed to only find the steady state value.

So two days ago, I got the bright idea of using a 3 board solution. 2 boards will be constantly sending and receiving, while the last board would be used as an ADC. While this solved the problem of getting infinite loops within thecode. It seemed that the ADC itself was interfering with the transmission. What was happening was that the RC circuit of the sample and hold circuit of the ADC was interfering with the passive RC circuit of the chargepump/PLL. I could finally see the effect after running the ADC like such because of running the two boards seperately. All was in despair until we were going to our lab this afternoon. After the 471 mandatory lab, Roma, Vani and I caught up to Cutberto. Lan had asked him just before, but Cutberto only asked her to send him the documents (datasheets and the like). However, we had our boards and datsheets ready when Roma, Vani and I caught up. So we looked at it. And he asked a bunch of technical questions that I kind of had the answer for, but I wasn't sure. He gave us a suggestion on how he would do it. Instead of taking the CP_OUT, he would take the mixer signal and run his own PLL on it. For that to work, that would mean we would not make the checklist for sure. However, he noticed RSSI which we had dismissed earlier because it was the signal strength indicator. He told us that it would work. After looking at it, I did agree. It was acutally using phase through a limiter to determine the relative signal strength. In that case, all we had to do was use it. It was true that the RSSI did decrease with people in the way, but that can be just called a 'feature'. But we have 2 communicators that were able to determine the distance apart.

Just now, I have put the finishing touches on the state machine code that would make it autonomous. Hopefully it will work! It features a variety of features, including an alarm, panic button, on/off switch and 4 selectable distance ranges. Com'on. Work damn it! Hopefully we can get the buzzer working too!

Not much else. DSP Project done. AI Project still need to do. Still need a decent job. We'll see what's going to happen in a few days. Hopefully, it will something good. The two weeks is almost up. I can't wait till the good stuff happens. Then exams. But at least now, there's hope!

Oh, and my sister bought a book that basically allows you to find out what type of person you are. It makes for very interesting reading. Very good insightful stuff.

I think this project was the most motivating thing about Waterloo so far. It is concrete and I can see what's happening, what needs to be done, what needs to be fixed, etc. I really don't know how I'd have done it if it was a boring project. It may seem simple on the surface, but I think I learned a lot in how to program microcontrollers, especially the MSP430 series. As well, I think I learned quite a bit about transceivers and PLLs as well. Very interesting.

Well. Tomorrow is another day, and 5:30 in the morning is not when I do my best thinking, no matter how I slice it. Till I meet you again, my Muse, my Valkyrie.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Another week passes.

So far, most of the time have been spent on fourth year design project. We've hit a major roadblock and it seems like we need to put a bit more time on it. Hopefully, we 'll get pass it. We have until the 17th to actually get it working.

Yesterday, we had one of the most successful gatherings for our class. Ammon staged a bbq at his house, somehow getting more than 30 people there. Lan and I helped by helping with the shopping. My budgeting was so precise that it was exactly on the dot. Darren and Alex helped by cooking the whole time. We did a lot of stuff, from pingpong, to eating, to supersoakers, to talking, to Winning Eleven, Smash Brothers, Mah-Jong, Poker. It was a fun night. Thanks Ammon, once again, for being such a gracious host.

Not a lot of time to think really. But pretty interesting dreams. Some of which I can't really remember in the morning, but it was exciting and thrilling. Somehow, I hope that I can remember them. I lack the motivation to write most of my dreams into stories, maybe I can use them to illlustrate my overall life in general. That would be interesting. Although, I'd wonder what a dream filled with an apartment building with weird elevators, a spy plot and guns represent.

Oh well. I hope to see you in my dreams, my Valkyrie.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day folks!

I'm back home and just lounging around. It will probably be the last time I'll get to do so because of our fourth year design project as well as various other projects. And then its back to exams.

So I signed off the ottawa job because I have a chance at getting the Algorithms job and as a bonus, its in LA. I really want that job now. Other than that, nothing really special in the job/work department.

Nothing much going on in my personal life either, and I don't plan for anything to happen in the next little while. After all, my philosophy on this has changed to a fatalistic approach where you can try all you want, but it just won't happen if the girl doesn't choose you. You can be half-decent in academics, work, or any other part of your life, but you have to be number one with the girl in order to even approach success. And thus, I think that anything of that sort is beyond my abilities or my motivation right now. Hopefully, fate or luck throws me a bone and life progresses it further, but I'm not holding my breath for that. In the mean time, I think I'd be too busy to care.

This summer weather with its gentle warm breezes and clear skies (especially the gorgeous night skies) always makes me nostalgic. Nostalgic for what I can't be certain of, but it always makes me feel tender and gooey inside. Somehow it reminds me of a small park with a path running next to a rarely used railroad and I'm walking down this path with someone. The breeze blows gently and we discuss trivial things as we walk down this silent quiet path by the railroad. I don't know why, but I can visualize it too. It actually reminds me of this small path that's in Waterloo near Bearinger.

Another thing, I'm starting to notice that quite a few dreams remind me of certain places around campus that I wouldn't know before. By seeing these places, I can recall those dreams quite clearly. It's kind of strange, but kind of mystical and exciting at the same time. At least it's more interesting than real life most of the time.

Oh well. I really want that Evolution Robotics job down in LA. Hope I get it. In my personal life, I wish it'll get better, but that's never critical. What I really want right now is motivation and a clear purpose. In the meantime, I'll stick with my dreams and long walks down the path of starry summer nights.