September 19, 2005

Various Thingamabobbers...

On the 3rd, Cameron and I moved to Bellingham and have been living up here since. It took until a couple days ago to finally get the internet set up, so I have been mostly reading and playing games. Since we moved, I have read:

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (all 5 books)
Harry Potter (1-4)

All were pretty good.

On the 12th, we went to Transitions and started registering for classes. So far, it looks like I will be taking the following:

Ada for C++ and Java programmers (1 credit)
Macroeconomics (4 credits)
Chemistry (5 credits)
Linear Algebra (4 credits)

Unfortunately, as most of the programming classes at Western are taught in the obscure language Ada, I can not take to many of the other classes until I learn it. Fortunately, it looks like it should be pretty easy to pick up, but the syntax looks evil, particularly because it is needlessly verbose. One of the things I really like about C/C++ is it's respect of the fact that those using it will be repeatedly typing the same syntax over and over again, and therefore the syntax is a brief as possible. A great example of this is the naming of types, such as int (integer), bool (boolean - true/false), and char (character). Of course, in Ada, the type names are the full word (integer, boolean, etc.). To make matters worse, instead of simply following a specific syntax to declare a function, you have to begin with the word function like so:

function X
random code
end X

Instead of the beautiful simplicity of C/C++:

void X()
random code

Another example of the unnecessary verbosity of Ada is in the if operator:

if condition then
end if;

as compared to:

if (condition)

At least it looks like it has some redeeming features, or I would seriously wonder what illness plagued the Computer Science department at WWU, and if they caught it from UW, where they teach in Java (a thoroughly horrid language which doesn't even have the excuse of being ancient. At least it is widely used though...).

Linear Algebra should be fun though. It will help me understand a lot of the math behind 3D graphics programming, such as that in DirectX and OpenGL, especially the uses of matrices.

As a start at a new college, one of the things that strikes me is how many people I will know on campus as a I start. Not only do I already know my room mate, but serveral people from Edmonds that I know at least a little bit will be here, Joel (Pax) from debate, and a few other people. I even ran into John from Science Olympiad on campus today.

The other interesting thing that happened today was the working on campus workshop that Cameron and I went to. We were the only people there, so we got to chat with the speaker for a bit. Turns out he started at Edmonds Community College like we did and even pursued a Computer Science degree for a while, before deciding that he didn't want to spend his life tracking down misplaced or missing semicolons and decided to major in math/economics. He even said that he and some of his buddies are into computer gaming and have lan parties about once a quarter. We'll have to keep him in mind when we try to start a club on campus.

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