Magic, Motes, and UPE

Time, it would seem, continues to pass. This not being unexpected, it does not need much comment.

So, interesting things that have happened recently:

  • The JHU Magic Club has continued to thrive. For various reasons, I've morphed from "just" a DCI liaison into quite a lot of capacities: treasurer, website maintainer, inventory organizer, .... In short, I do most of the work. That's OK with me-- I actually quite enjoy seeing the club go from a mere thought into something that's really happening. We have had an amazing twenty-nine people show up to at least one of the last three drafts-- amazing! I was also able to judge, in full stripey regalia, the most recent draft, which I quite enjoyed doing; as I've noted before, I'm a much better judge than I am player (as I hope the members would agree)-- and even in such a casual setting (Regular REL, 16K-- a long way from the tension of a PTQ or a Pro Tour), I do feel like the tournaments I get to work at are improved for having me there. (Again, I hope the members would agree-- but certainly they appreciated this tournament's being run a full hour faster than either of the previous two.)
  • I've also received confirmation that I'll be judging at the Lorwyn Prerelease at George Mason University, hosted by Dream Wizards; yay! This will be my first opportunity to work with the mid-Atlantic judging staff, whom I met a week ago at a *very* informative judging seminar, run by the local high-level judge, Brian Schenck. If nothing else, it'll be a good opportunity to see how the new expansion's Planeswalkers interact with the rest of the game. (For those of you who don't play Magic, a brief translation: big powerful things go boom in the new set. BOOM!)
  • My research is slowly starting up again; up first, completing some fun Command&Control systems for Telos motes, which was a project I was working on last semester. Then adding new features-- and, possibly, trying to get the SunSpots to play nicely with the rest of the mote world. They're great, powerful little devices-- but they don't natively speak ZigBee, unlike the Telos motes (they just speak raw 802.15, without the extra .4 protocol), so I'd have to either implement that part, or find someone else's implementation.
  • The JHU Chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the CS Honor Society, is trying to redefine its place within our department. After our induction last semester, we didn't even manage to elect a full officer contingent; just myself, as vice-president, and Jonathan Lasko, a Master's student in his final year, as president. We're hoping to be able to help more with recruitment efforts-- but there's an inherent problem. In contrast to most JHU clubs, there's a huge entry requirement (to wit, being an honors student in the Department of Computer Science)-- and it also requires that you be at least a 2nd-semester junior to join (and most people join their senior year). This means that (except for the people who both make it in their junior years and elect to stay for the concurrent Master's degree) you never get more than a year and a bit as a member-- which makes establishing continuity and reliability extremely difficult. We're hoping to be able to negate that through doing things (like recruitment efforts) that don't really require continuity as such, but it's still an uphill battle; hopefully it's one worth fighting.

As for uninteresting things that are happening– I’m writing this post while sitting in my office hours in the Hacklab at JHU (so called not because it’s a hangout for the computer elite, but because it’s big and oppressive and the CS majors want to cut the whole thing into little bits; we are, unfortunately, required to hold hours here, as opposed to either the nice CS lab, or any offices we might be able to lay claim to in other buildings). I never quite understand why students don’t seem to start their assignments until the night before– while that’s a good strategy in (say) math courses, it doesn’t work very well for programming courses. So as always, I have three students, and, according to the TA schedule, Jai will have the usual mad rush of students three hours before it’s due (mid-afternoon on Wednesday). Well, at least my four hours of office hours helped a few people (which I really quite enjoy– teaching kids who then understand when I’m done is quite nice); I hope, as I do each week, that I’ll be flooded with students next week.

If not, you might see another post from me then. :-)