I’m currently sat at home, in my dressing gown with a nice glass of cider, reflecting on the past few months. It has to be said that they have been quite eventful indeed, particularly when compared to the prior year or so. In the space of around three short months I embarked on my higher academic career, moved out of my mum’s (where I’m currently writing from), met a wide range of people many of whom I have befriended and, amongst many others, taken up the Korean martial art Tae Kwon Do.
Eventful indeed, in fact, I don’t think it would be an overstatement to state that it has been one of the best times in my life thus far and has met and exceeded all of my expectations. I can still recall that sunny afternoon on the 10th September 2011, over three months ago, when I moved into my new home. The intense mixture of anxiety and anticipation that I experienced when I first met my flatmates, most of whom I am now great friends with. Many people find it difficult when moving out for the first time but I have to say I hardly noticed, this may or may not have something to do with the copious amounts of alcohol consumed by all in the first month or so, but that is neither here nor there… In fact, once the initial awkwardness was washed away by a sea of vodka and coke, we got on and still get on like a house on fire. I have to say, having spent a good few months away, that I prefer living out. I decided after a week or so back home that the advantages e.g. not having to cook or clean, are outweighed by the sense of freedom one has when living away. I can certainly empathise with people who do find it difficult to live apart from their family however, never having been extremely close to mine, I suppose I found it much easier.
Apart from living arrangements, university itself has gone better than I had hoped thus far. The grades I have achieved have all exceeded 70% (the criteria for a ‘first’) and my highest grade for an individual piece of work was 90%, something I am extremely happy with indeed, if I remember correctly, I was practically skipping home after receiving it in lecture! As well as achieving good grades I am also, to my relief, enjoying my course a great deal. The course (Computer Games Development) is, as one might expect, focused primarily on programming and it is this aspect of the course I thankfully enjoy the most. It can be a frustrating affair, I once said, while raging over an issue with my first assignment, that ‘programming games is more frustrating than playing them!’ On the other hand, the sense of reward that you get when you overcome an obstacle, similarly to playing computer games, can be profound. Another aspect of the course which, in the past, I have had but a mild interest in, is the science of computers themselves. In other words, how computers actually…compute! In one module we look at the computer at almost the lowest level, where data is sent via two arbitrarily charged electrical impulses represented by binary digits (0 & 1). From here we looked at different number systems (binary, hexadecimal, octal), logic gates, the microprocessor and main memory all the way up to the different hardware components that we see with the human eye e.g. the graphics cards and peripherals.
When I was younger computers baffled me, I remember wondering how they could perform such complex operations at so fast a rate and then simply putting it down to witchcraft and moving on! Finally lifting the lid on these ‘magic’ boxes is fascinating. I am also enjoying learning about the history of computers, primarily in my spare time as my course deals with the present and perhaps occasionally the future of computing. There was a great documentary on the BBC a while ago called ‘Code-Breakers: Bletchley Park’s Lost Heroes‘ which tells the story of how the world’s first semi-programmable computer ‘Colossus’ was invented in order to break the German code machine ‘Tunny’ in WWII.
This has been my first post for a while, mainly because I have been rather busy, something which I most certainly am not at the moment being back at home over Christmas. I am most probably heading back to university this week so I expect my posts to be a little more frequent from then on.
But, for now…