Aug 01 2013

Cyclists and horses do not mix

Hello everyone, how’s summer going?

Despite not being home in Dryden this summer, it’s flying by in Ottawa. Feels like yesterday that I started at Statistics Canada, and now we’re already a month past Canada Day! Just one more month until the dreaded study semester, then it’s CO-OP work term #2.

Bike-Share Membership Card

Bike-Share Membership Card

This summer, I’m participating in uOttawa’s Bike-Share program. How it works is that whenever I want to use a bike (between 07h00 and 22h00), I go down to the Protection Services office with my bike-share membership card to borrow one. It’s that easy. There’s been a few times where there weren’t any (they only have eight available for loan I think), but apart from that it works great. The bikes are actually better quality than the one I have at home.

Biking in Ottawa is a bit different from biking in Dryden. There’s bike lanes here and more complex traffic rules like one-way streets and restricted turns at certain times of day. Some things remain the same though, a front white or amber light is required when cycling between one-half hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise, as per the Highway Traffic Act subsection 62.17.

And of course there are bad drivers. Actually, I’m not sure which type of driver is worst: Aggressive drivers, distracted drivers, impaired drivers, inexperienced drivers, or old drivers. I’m pretty sure old drivers are the worst out of those five. A few weeks ago, I was going down Gladstone (or maybe it was Wellington) the other day and this old lady was backing out of a driveway who apparently did not see me. If I didn’t move to the lane on my left, she would have definitely ran me over. How can you not see someone who has a light and is wearing a high-visibility vest? They say that a teenager texting and driving has the reaction time of a 70-year-old driver, why aren’t old drivers banned in addition to aggressive driving, impaired driving, and distracted driving?

Horse-driven vehicle in the ByWard Market

Horse-driven vehicle in the ByWard Market

Surprisingly, another close call that I had was last week downtown in the ByWard Market area. In the ByWard Market, there’s usually two horse-driven vehicles since it’s a tourist area. I’ve never been on one before but they seem to be pretty popular. Anyways, I was behind a horse-driven vehicle in traffic and it suddenly decided to start reversing. Now under the Highway Traffic Act, all horse-driven vehicles must have two bells attached or be subject to a fine of $5. (I wonder who passed that law.) Except I did not hear any bells ringing when it started backing up, even with my music off. It didn’t have any reverse lights either, so I had no warning that it was backing up. There was also a vehicle behind me. I had to move out of the way to give it room to back up and possibly hit the vehicle behind, so I passed it in a narrow space on the right. While doing so, I saw it poop in its bag. Was that why it started moving backwards?

So I almost got ran over on my bike by a horse. How does that even happen? Cyclists and horses do not mix.



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Apr 27 2013

#Ottawa #Ottcity #summer2013

How is everyone enjoying spring? Apart from the rain yesterday, it’s been very nice out in Ottawa lately. I could do with some snow though…

I’m done my second year of university now, just 2.5 years more to go. 2/4.5 = 4/9, right? It depends on how you look at it really. Counting in academic years consisting of two semesters, yes I’m 4/9 or 44% done. Counting only study semesters, I’m 4/8 or 50% done. Counting both study semesters and CO-OP work terms, I’m only 4/12 or 33% done.

This summer I’ll be doing my first CO-OP work term at Statistics Canada working as a Systems Tester. Boring? Maybe, but it’ll be something new to me anyways. I’ll be starting in two weeks and I’m looking forward to it. One of my coworkers from this semester also worked at StatCan for his first co-op work term as well and he said that it was a good place to work.

Since I’ve never been in Ottawa during the summer (apart from my first time here on a tour guide back in grade 6 I believe), there will probably be exciting events to see around the city too. I mean, in the winter there was Winterlude. The club scene will always be there in the ByWard Market, but I’m sure there will be other things to explore. Then again, what’s more exciting than riding down the Transitway on the 95?

It will be a busy summer for sure, albeit one that I’m looking forward to! (What I’m not looking forward to: the heat)



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Feb 14 2013

If it’s the last time we ever see each other…

Hello everyone. Happy Valentine’s Singles Awareness Day.

What a busy week it has been. 9 CO-OP job interviews, 5 midterm exams (still one more to go for Saturday), work, it all adds up. So glad this week is almost over!

Lately though, Facebook has changed it’s status update box to ask me “How’s it going”, “What’s going on”, and “How are you feeling”. Recently, this question has been on my mind a lot:

If I came to see you [as in one of my friends] tomorrow and it would be the last time we ever see each other, what would you say or do?

Will we ever meet again? [Credit: FlobotsVEVO: YouTube]

Will we ever meet again? [Credit: FlobotsVEVO: YouTube]

There’s no way to “experimentally determine the expected result” for this question, so to find an answer I asked a semi-random sample of my friends, via text messaging and Facebook.

How it was done:

  • Subjects were chosen both based on (1) perceived relationship strength and (2) online presence on Facebook.
    • Subjects whom I felt I had a closer relationship with were more likely to be asked.
    • Subjects whom were shown as “online” on Facebook Chat were more likely to be asked.
  • The subject would be presented with the question: “If I came to see you tomorrow and it would be the last time we ever see each other, what would you say/do?”
  • If the subject questioned the purpose of the question, the explanation given was something along the lines of “It’s a question that’s been bugging me a lot for the past week so I’ve been asking many people.”
  • If the subject responded with “I don’t know” or any other phrase implying “I don’t know”, he or she would be informed that approximately half of respondents either said “I don’t know” or blatantly ignored me (this actually remained true throughout the entire experiment), and that this question is considered one of the most difficult questions to answer.
  • The subject would be given a chance to give a delayed answer if he or she requested to do so within a reasonable time after receiving the question. This occurred with one person.
  • The subject would be given a second chance to provide an answer within a reasonable time (i.e. within the same conversation), but not any time afterwards. An exception was made for one person.
  • If the subject has “read” the message and has not responded within 24 hours, the subject is considered to have ignored the question.
  • All answers were considered correct unless the answer was nonsensical. No respondents provided a nonsensical answer.


Of the 55 responses received, 48 responses were considered to be distinct (i.e. unique). A creative image is used to present the data. Each response is bounded by quotation marks if it indicates something that the subject would have said, else bounded by curly brackets (braces) if it indicated something that the subject would have done.

Read the rest of this entry »



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Jan 27 2013

Dying phones and freezing temperatures

It’s COLD outside! Give ARENA WALKING a try!

I don’t know if that message still comes up on the board, but it used to when I worked there.2012-01-21weather1

This past week was the coldest week of this winter in most places in central Canada. Temperatures reached to minus 30s in some places in Ontario. Here in Ottawa, it was -41 with the wind chill one morning, -45 in Sudbury/North Bay and -43 in Dryden.


Actually, coldness doesn’t exist. It’s not a thing. The concept of coldness is just the absence of thermal energy (heat), just like sadness is the absence of happiness. But actually, “cold” is relative. What others think is cold might not be cold to me. I’ve heard people say that it’s cold outside when it’s -3. To me, it’s only cold outside when it’s -25 or below. I love cold weather, and I’ve learned that cold weather is rare in eastern and southern Ontario.

There’s three things I don’t like about cold weather though.

Read the rest of this entry »



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Jan 13 2013

3 semesters down, 5 to go

How is everyone’s second semester going so far?

Marks have been up for most first semester courses in the past week and I’m more than satisfied with my marks. I did get one C and that was in data structures and algorithms in computer science, but all of my other marks were A’s and B’s. Yes, that includes computer architecture. I’m actually shocked that my mark shot up by 10-15% to a B+ after the exam, either that or the marks were normalized (or as most of you would say, bell curved).

My sessional grade point average (SGPA) for the Fall 2012 semester is a 7. That would bring my cumulative grade point average (CGPA, the one that actually counts for anything) to a 7.2, which is a 0.1 drop from 7.3, but at least I kept it above 7.

Grading system

The University of Ottawa uses a different grading system than most universities. Actually I’m not sure if I can make that statement because I haven’t really looked at the grading systems for other universities. We use a ten-point grading system, whereas most other universities I know of use a four-point grading system. However, you cannot simply multiply your grade point average by ten in order to obtain a percentage. Instead the grades are in brackets like this:

Letter gradeNumeric gradePercentage bracket

(Source: Academic Regulations, uOttawa).

So the fact that I have a 7.2 CGPA right now doesn’t mean my mark is a 72%, I’m actually near a 76% right now. Also with this grading system, there’s no difference between a 90% and a 100%, both give you the same numeric grade of 10.

I must also mention that an E is still a failure, but in some faculties it is redeemable. That means they give you a second chance to write the exam if you receive an E. There’s also other letters too, ABS for absent, if you skipped the exam, which is equivalent to an F. Or P, for pass, in the case of courses where you only pass or fail.

Anyways, now that I’m finished three semesters, only five more to go….



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Dec 27 2012

8 tips for biking in winter

Most of you reading this probably think that biking is a mode of transportation that’s only available in the summer. That’s incorrect, as I have biked in the winter for three winters now. I believe that my first time biking in the winter was after the snowball dance when I was in grade 12. A friend jokingly suggested that I bike to Tim Hortons, and I accepted. She was actually surprised to see that I made it, and I was surprised I did too. I decided that I could indeed ride my bike in the winter safely, so from then on I biked to work almost every time, and everywhere else too pretty much.

Having said this, I would not recommend anyone riding a BMX bike in the snow.

1. Always wear a helmet!

In Ontario, helmets are mandatory for anyone under 18. In the winter, I would strongly recommend everyone to wear a helmet, no matter how old you are. Snow and ice are slippery!

2. Brake early

It’s the same as driving, your braking distance is longer in the winter. Your brake pads will probably be wet and won’t work as well as they normally would. Also, keep in mind that a bike does not have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), and by applying the brakes hard you will most likely skid, just like a vehicle without ABS brakes. Read the rest of this entry »



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Dec 18 2012

Another 100%… or 90.125%, same thing

If 90% = A+ and 100% = A+, does that mean 90% = 100%? Let’s just say that 90% ≤ A+ ≤ 100%.

And that’s my final grade for Introduction to Software Engineering (SEG2105).

A screenshot showing the final grade for my SEG2105 course.

Final mark for SEG2105

I must say that I’ve learned a lot in this course about software engineering, and it would have definitely helped me last summer when developing software for work. The textbook, Object-Oriented Software Engineering: Practical Software Development using UML and Java, is very well written (it was actually written by the professor), and overall the course was fun. The end task was certainly something I enjoyed working on.

I’m now anxiously waiting for the final marks of my other courses to appear on uoZone! Hopefully I passed economics!



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Dec 04 2012

Semi-finals voting for the Dryden Memorial Arena

It’s December 4th. Semi-finals voting started yesterday for the arena. Remember to get your vote it!

Vote now – Aviva Community Fund

(Votez maintenant – Fonds communautaire Aviva)

For more information, refer to my post from October. You can also visit their Facebook page.

Please vote every day up to and including December 12th. Thanks for your support!



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Nov 29 2012

Rink attendant, meet software engineering

Hello everyone, how are you all doing in preparation for final exams? Or if you’re in high school, how are your culminating activities (end tasks) going?

I don’t have culminating activities. I have midterms, and they take place much earlier than the end of a course.

Actually, I can consider this assignment for my software engineering class a culminating activity. The combined weight of the assignment is 13% of the final mark, it sure feels like an end task. Of course there’s other courses that have assignments worth more, in my intro to business management class both assignments were worth 20%. But those assignments just didn’t feel like end tasks.

That really exciting end task

The assignment: You will develop a very simple application of your choice using a technology of your choice.

A screenshot showing part of the employee interface for the software.

A modal popup dialog for completing a task. Shown running on iOS 6.

Seems pretty open-ended, right? The technical constraints of the assignment included the use of a client-server architecture and the use of Java, PHP, or Ruby on Rails (although this requirement can be waived by obtaining permission from the TA, I know someone who is doing their server-side code in Python.) And then there’s the other requirements of the assignment: developing realistic requirements, design, and use cases; a UML diagram, as well as other things that demonstrate knowledge of the material learned throughout the course.

Since it’s such an open-ended assignment, might as well make it about something interesting, right? So I put together: rink attendant + software engineering. What did I end up with? A software application to control some hardware mechanism to automatically flood a rink, sweep floors, and mop spills.

Right… Hopefully that would never become a reality, then I’d never get that job back! I actually ended up with an application for managing shift and task information for employees and supervisors. The program was kept simple due to the time constraints of this assignment, avoiding feature creep is key here. Read the rest of this entry »



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Nov 08 2012

I Always Dance… Dance and Sort

These videos were shown in my computer science class on Tuesday and I thought I would share them with you. What an interesting and cultural way to teach a technical concept!

I’ll also add an explanation of how each one works, well the technical concept anyways, not sure about the dance! I suggest watching a bit of each video to get an understand of what they’re doing (or just for fun, that works too.) My explanations probably suck though, so your best bet would be to watch a bit of each video or look it up on Wikipedia if you’re interested in knowing more about how computers sort things.

Bubble sort

With the bubble sorting algorithm, the program checks every number from the start, compares each of them in pairs, and the largest number is “bubbled” up through the list of numbers.

Insertion sort

The insertion sorting algorithm starts at the beginning of the list. It picks the next unsorted number in the list and moves it towards the beginning of the list (i.e. the sorted portion) until it is in the correct position:

Read the rest of this entry »



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