Friday, October 22, 2010

End Title Nostalgia

Performed by The Warsaw Philharmonic, perfected by Yoko Kanno

Yeah, the 7/7 live was more than a year ago, time surely flies...


The end of my undergraduate degree is not "in sight", it is here to be felt.

On Monday there was a exam review tutorial which went so well that I became somewhat depressed towards the end since it ended so abruptly.  We shared some food and drink in the end, and one of our tutors even baked miniature cupcakes for us with cheeky messages and self-promotion attached, bravo!

 Rachel is the nicest person I have ever met

Then a friend organised a shared lunch on Wednesday which was good fun filled with nice food, bad jokes and photos with stupid faces.

Thanks to all the awesome people I met at uni, you have been an inspiration to me.

Apparently Grafton campus will become a mini-limbo from next week on with construction, and with all my exams in either City or Tamaki today will be the last time for me to be on Grafton campus in a long time. I went to the last undergraduate lecture, which had a disappointingly low turnout. 

Well, they totally missed out on Graeme Finlay's review session which could not get any better.

After the lecture I printed my last assignment after adding some finishing touches while laughing at my friend's ineptness in starting a lab report that was due on Wednesday. I then went to the aforementioned tutor to talk about exams before going home on a bus which I managed to catch just in time.

Yup, I know the bus stop outside Auckland hospital has always had some construction on during the semester and the bus time display has been having issues before it suddenly disappeared overnight. Nevertheless I was able to check real-time bus arrivals on the web via, with the stoo number 1028. If you need an idea for Christmas gifts, I highly recommend getting your loved ones smartphones, which will transform the way they go about your daily lives. :P

Anyway, the rest of the day was spent on daydreaming, eating melon-flavored ice cream, reading RA Weinberg's cancer bio on my kindle to the realisation that everything I thought to have learned from a semester's work in cancer biology is already summarised in the first fifteen pages of this great textbook.

Another few changes that happened to my life this semester:

  • Craccum magazine and talkback radio have quit my life entirely. The former due to lack of time and the latter because my new phone did not have a usable FM module and I am too lazy to get a standalone FM receiver. I did manage to discover the infamous ND magazine for the medics and found them good read for they have absolutely no serious content.
  • No more new books/games/movies/etc before I could clear out my existing pile. I have too much property and I still have too much after actively trying to downsize for much of the year. 
  • I have been wearing boots for so long that regular shoes are no longer comfortable; I wore my suede sneakers today for a change and my ankles almost broke down after a short climb uphill to home. 
  • Takeaway lunch became a regular feature of my routine, especially the chicken wrap and pork turnovers from the bakery on Park road. Spending on food did not help with my wallet however it had a spectacular effect on my wilingness to study, and I could have not made to every single lecture this semester without sustenance.
  • I actually began to enjoy reading journal articles; some reviews are so well written that they answer a many lectures' worth of questions in mere minutes. Note it was before I bought my kindle and this statement is the cause, not result. 
  • Ever since my first year I realised it is possible to go into any lecture without being asked who you are. However, I did not begin to informally audit lectures till this semester for a paper I could not take due to timetable clashes. Some of my new friends in class were shocked to find that I am not actually enrolled in the course, despite turning to lectures regularly, answered a bunch of questions and even prepared a presentation in front of the class. Looking back, I really should have done this earlier, especially in the first semester when I had a huge gap between my morning and afternoon lectures. I have already made loose plans with a friend to co-appear in random undergraduate lectures next year to make full use of our time.
  • Cellphone bills skyrocketed, partly due to the $20 mobile broadband which I could not live without anymore, but most of it is actually due to text messages and calls to friends. Next year I will consider going on account, 3GB data per month for $40 is just too good to be missed. 
  • I am a happier and more sociable person in the second half of 2010. It is true that I still get the occasional bouts of depression and anger, however I am doing much better than before like I said in several previous posts.It is time to believe that you are having a positive effect on others; even if they don't seem to reciprocate your feelings, it does not imply that you are abandoned by the world.
It seems that people only came out of their shell and began to know each other before they are about to get on their own ways, and I shall be grateful that I am definitely heading back to the same place next year as a postgraduate student, hopefully for my BSc Honours. Meanwhile, I should get ready for my exams which are both close (first one on the 28th of this month) and clumped (three exams in four days, huh).


Finally a little update to the kindle post I made last week.

Apparently I overlooked the fact that my Kindle DX is the international version (serial number starts with B0005) and actually has free wireless service in NZ. I was not able to use the browser due to some problem with region settings but finally managed to get it working.

It is a very generous for amazon to provide free 3G web access; it cost them US$0.12 per MB transmitted in the US and probably more for my AT&T powered Kindle to roam here. Would I use my Kindle DX to surf the web more regularly? Well no, and there are technical reasons apart from being unwilling to abuse Amazon's generousity: The browser on 2.5.x firmware is poorly coded in Java; it uses an obscure rendering engine that is not suited to large screens and probably does not render most web pages correctly anyway. It is a "nice to have feature", however Kindle 3 is much better in terms of browsing websites.

In more flattering note, I have managed to jailbreak the system to replace the stock Caecilia font with sans-serif Droid Fallback which is much sharper and easier to read, especially for the (ridiculously) smaller font sizes. This also brings the much needed CJK language support.(Not needed for K3 which support CJK characters out of the box, with some rightfully ugly Korean font)

The default screensavers are a mixed bag, which has since been replaced by my favorite paintings converted to the Kindle format.

The jailbreak is well documented and very easy to carry out, if you are keen please find instructions here, however take full note that this may brick your kindle and Amazon will not be happy when they find out.

I have attempted to use the kindle as a classroom tablet (very good, however you cannot take notes with pdf files) and read under direct sunlight(bad idea, the white borders had too much glare)I am also experimenting with the root shell access and see if I could get more from the device. Right now everything makes me want to actually learn Linux, did you know that you can manipulate people with shell commands?