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Grade Predictions, Fall 2006

CSE 378 – I’m gonna be bold and say 4.0
CSE 322 – I think I did well… 3.8
BioEn 302 – Lets be optimistic and say 3.9
Bioen 304 – Lets be honest and say 3.0

Changing Lanes?

After thinking about it for a while, and talking to a fellow student, I am strongly considering changing from Computer Engineering to Computer Science. The transition process is supposed to be fairly straightforward. The reasons:


  • I am already recieving an “engineering” degree — Bioengineering
  • “Computer Science” is more well-known than is “Computer Engineering”
  • I can take pretty much the same classes, but EE 233 is no longer a requirement (I was looking to petition it away at any rate)
  • I already have the neccesary foreign language and writing credits (And I get to utilize these credits!)
  • “Computer Science & Bioengineering” sounds better than “Computer Engineering and Bioengineering.” I think this is because the repeated sound is dropped. Furthermore, degrees that sound different (ie, not repeating “engineering”) sound like more was done to get them both (which is somewhat true, because of my many credits). This is primarily psychological, but it seems to me to be true.


  • I need 3 more VLPA credits
  • Here at the UW at least, Computer Engineering is actually a slightly harder degree to get. I won’t be taking it any easier as a CS major, but in the future it may become the better-regarded major. For right now though, CS seems to be more well-known.
  • A name is a dumb reason to change majors

Here is what my schedule might look like (note the few changes, marked with *):

Winter 2007 (16)
BioE 303 (4) — Signal Processing (BioE core)
BioE 305 (4) — Analysis of Physiological Systems & Transport (BioE core)
CSE 451 (4) — Operating Systems (CS Senior Elective)
CSE 466 (4) — Software for Embedded Systems (CS Senior Elective)

Spring 2007 (16)
BioE 357 (4) — Molecular & Cellular Bioengineering I (BioE Core)
BioE 481 (4) — Research & Design Fundamentals (BioE Core)
CSE 461 (4) — Introduction to Networks (CS Senior Elective)
CSE 471 (4) — Computer Organization & Design (CS Senior Elective)*

Summer 2007
Quit Job (?), Find Bioengineering Research Laboratory
Need 3 VLPA Credits*

Autumn 2007 (16)
BioE 482 (4) — Senior Capstone Research/Design (BioE Core)
BioC 405 (3) — Introduction to Biochemistry (BioE Requirement)
CSE 467 (4) — Advanced Digital Design (CS Senior Elective)
CSE 401 (4) — Compilers (CS Senior Elective)*

Winter 2008 (15)
BioE 482 (4) — Senior Capstone Research/Design (BioE Core)
BioE 470 (4) — Systems Engineering & E-Medicine (BioE Senior Elective)
BioE 490 (3) — Biomaterials (BioE Senior Elective)
CSE 490i (4) — Neurobotics (CS Senior Elective, BioE Senior Elective by Petition)

Spring 2008 (16)
BioE 455 (4) — BioMEMS (BioE Senior Elective)
BioE 457 (4) — Molecular & Cellular Bioengineering II (BioE Senior Elective)
CSE 444 (3) — Introduction to Database Systems (CS Senior Elective)
CSE 477 (5) — Hardware Design Capstone (CS Senior Elective, if allowed)

The Unraveling of a Monopoly

Microsoft as we know it is on the way out. Sure, you’ve probably heard about the lack of compelling features in Vista. Maybe you’ve even heard about the scary “trusted computing” “features” of Microsoft’s newest operating system. I know that I’m not going to be buying it anytime soon. It took me quite a long time (2004) to convert to Windows XP, and I believe it will take me even longer to, if ever, take the “next step.” I don’t want my OS to report anything to Microsoft. I don’t want to have to have genuine advantages on my software. I want to own my software, and do what I please with it at that point. You’ve probably heard these arguments before. But that’s not what this is about. This is about the Open Document Format. Specifically, it is about a spreadsheet I received tonight, a file ending in .ods, that threw me for a little loop.

The document’s author offered the following:

I assume most of you are using/have on your system OpenOffice, so this is an OpenDocument spreadsheet of my proposed database structure.

Well, he was wrong, at least about me. I don’t have OpenOffice installed. I’ve tried it; I didn’t like it; I went back to Office 2000 (the best it ever has been) and I didn’t look back. Until today. Until that .ods file showed up. I knew that Excel wouldn’t open it, but I tried anyway. I was right. So I looked for a viewer. None seemed preeminent or worth downloading. Then I thought about something — Google Spreadsheets. I tried it out, and sure enough it understood the format.

Sure, I was disappointed with the integration — I couldn’t open it right out of gmail (I had to save it and then upload it). And Google Spreadsheets seems to be rather slow. But its not installed on my computer. I only use it when I have to. Its free. Its easy. And it worked.

Most likely, Google Spreadsheets will only get better. Office? I’ve only seen it get worse for years. Microsoft has done many great, and perhaps many terrible, things. I personally think personal computing is much more advanced overall because of Microsoft. But I don’t recall seeing Microsoft innovate in a very long time. It seems poetic that this side of their demise will so closely foil their rise. This time, a document format forces me not to upgrade to a new version of Office, but to start using a different program.

TRC’s Nanocrushers at the State Championship

Earlier today, I was a referee at the FIRST Lego League Washington State Championship. The Titan Robotics Club’s Nanocrushers, a team composed of 7th and 8th graders, competed there today, after securing their spot in the championship after achieving the top score at the Issaquah qualifying regional one week ago. Working very well as a team, they were able to score an amazing 355 point out of 400 possible. Two unlucky events conspired to prevent the Nanocrushers from scoring a truly astronomical 395 in one of their three matches. At the end of the day, only one team scored higher, with 360 points. In addition to their great competition play, the Nanocrushers also won the 2nd place Robot Design award. I believe that they were the only team at the competition to win two awards. Not even the State Champion Garden Gothic Lawn Gnomes were able to pull that off.

Overall, I would say it was a great success, hopefully a portent of great things to come from these kids and the whole Titan Robotics Club. Congratulations to the Nanocrushers!

Three Days, Four Tests to (Momentary) Freedom

Monday 8:30am: BioEn 302 Final
Monday 2:30pm: CSE 322 Final
Tuesday 2:30pm: CSE 378 Final
Wednesday 8:30am: BioEn 304 Final


Adam: so hows life going
Ryan: well, malalignment of romantic expectations is always a bummer
Adam: what?
Ryan: girls
Adam: yeah
Adam: that is a bummer man

Dead Week

I have never really experienced dead week — generally, I have always been doing well enough in, or not cared enough about, my classes to seriously screw up my sleep or life over it. However, this quarter I am finding things shape up somewhat differently. First, I do care about my classes enough these days — I have decided to eschew my past of ignoring classes that aren’t the most interesting to me.

So, instead of floating along and getting a B-minus grade in Bioengineering Physiology, I’m going to try for the A-minus, even though I loathe the class. This is highly abnormal for me, and it will require some real work — including a good job on a term paper, a well-done lab write up, and some hardcore studying for the final. Similarly, despite getting the class-high grade on my instrumentation class midterm, I don’t think much of the teacher or the way the class was taught. In the old days, I would probably start to coast about now, and get the A-minus instead of the A. But this year, I’m going to try give the repeat performance an actual shot. Its not like I don’t try on the tests — I always do — but good grades sometimes depend on preparation as well, which is not my usual strength.

My CSE classes are somewhat better, because I’m more motivated to do well in them, as I find the subjects more fascinating and the teachers more competent — generally the classes are more worthwhile. However, in my microarchitecture class, after a week long after-thanksgiving hiatus, there are suddenly three labs due on Friday — the same day as both of the Bioengineering lab reports and the Bioengineering lab paper. That means six major assignments are due in less than a week. And finals is the week after.

So, I say to myself, welcome to dead week.