Brandon's Weblog

10/8/2005

Coding Again

Filed under: — site admin @ 7:46 pm

The last 3 months have absolutely FLOWN by. First and foremost, I started a new job on Sept 6th. I met iCAD’s VP of Research and Development at a college career fair, and was offered an interview. Shortly after came an employment proposal. I can’t tell you how happy I am to have this opportunity! Before I started working there however, Amy and I took an eleven day tour of the UK. We loved it! Castles and 13th century cathedrals galore :) . The time change was a bit of an adjustment (although more so when we came home), and riding a tour bus around the back country roads sometimes played with our stomachs, but in all, a wonderful experience. While at my new job, I encountered another game programming enthusiast! It didn’t take us long to decide we wanted to collaberate on a project :) More news about that will come as we get the ball rolling.

Now to some important stuff ;)

Deer season is upon us :D

Can you tell I’m happy about it?

Curse of the Poison Itchy!!!!!
The week before Amy and I went to the UK, Bob and I went to my parents’ to set up permanent treestands. Our original plan was to build our own, but once we got into it, discovered that it was really much more trouble than it was worth. Especially since Walmart carries some decent permanent stands for about $50.. Bob, my dad, and I spent 2 days climbing trees and setting up stands on my parents’ land. 2 Days later, it looked like we had come down with leprosy.. It was terrible. We had oozing blisters galore all over our arms and chests. Apparently we had climbed a tree with a fair amount of ‘poison something’, and it bit us good! As I write this well over a month later, I’ve still got the scars to show for it (as do the other two).

The payoff!
Last weekend, Bob and I went to my parents’ land to hunt. We had heard rumor that a new bachelor group had been hanging around (a few 8 points and some 6’s), so we were excited to explore that. We both had opportunities to shoot, but we both passed them up. Bob passed his up because it was tender meat…. REAL TENDER. I think he said that you could still see spot on the fawn. As for me, a four-point walked within about 15 yards of me, and stood broadside as if he were begging to be shot. I have to be honest. I really struggled with whether or not to take the shot. I was so excited to see a buck so blatently presenting himself to me that I immediately thought ‘TAKE HIM DOWN’! But suddenly, this little angel pops up on my shoulder and says ‘He’s kindof small, and would make a much better trophy next year’. It was true.. He was a bit small. And after our two small deer last year, I wanted to ‘redeem’ myself :) So I let him go.

The Father of All Deer
The next morning I assumed my position in the same treestand. It was a little difficult finding my way, because the fog was so thick that you literally couldn’t see 8 feet in front of your face. But eventually I got to my stand (without openly spooking anything which is always nice). I was half expecting to see the same young buck walk under me, but never did. Instead I saw HIM!!!! About an hour after the sun came up I caught movement about 50 yards away in the brush. Through the thick brush I could see THE DEER.. He was absolutely huge. I couldn’t see much of his rack (other than the fact that he had one), so I couldn’t get a count on him. Regardless, his body was very large. I never had a shot on him though. He was behind a brushline walking the fence line. I got pretty angry with myself because I forgot my calls that morning (don’t ask me how.. I don’t know, and didn’t know it until that moment). So needless to say, he is still prancing around out there. I have named him ‘Abraham’, for he is surely the father of all the deer on that land :)

7/28/2005

A very post due Update

Filed under: — site admin @ 4:07 pm

Heh, it seems that I’ve slacked quite a bit on my blog. Quite a bit has happened in the last few months, and I don’t really know where to begin. For starters, school went well last quarter (spring ‘05). I got hammered on my Digital Design finally taking me from an ‘A’ to a ‘B’ in my final grade. That was a bit disappointing, but it seems the majority of the class (including the graduate students) did fairly poorly on it. It was a ‘tough’ final. Anyway, all else went well.

I started taking 2 courses for this summer, but dropped my WSU Matrix Algebra course because the professor was quite possibly the worst instructor I’ve ever had in my life. It’s disappointing that people like that are allowed to obscond student’s tuitions and pretend to be teaching them something ( I know he personally didn’t receive the money, but the university allowed him to teach so….).

I am currently plowing through more Calculus in the name of higher education, and in a scary sort of way, am enjoying what I’m learning. I can’t say that I’m absorbing near as fast as I’d like to, but I can appreciate the value of what I’m learning.. SIDE NOTE: I am really impressed with Sinclair Community College’s math department. I have not had a bad instructor yet!

I just got back from a Career Fair at WSU, and have really mixed feelings about the whole experience. I interviewed with 12 companies, and it was really interesting to see their response to me. I was a bit disappointed in the fact that the couple of companies I was most interested in were the ones that were somewhat rude and quite frankly I felt like they blew me off. On the other hand, some of the companies that I really wasn’t expecting much from suprised me in their interest in me. There is one in particular that I think will be a good match for my skill set, and I hope that things work out in the secondary interview process (provided there is one :) ).

A bit about my programming:rrently have 2 personal projects on the board.

MotionX:
Yes, I’m back to work on it. It’s the project that keeps changing faces and has been refactored more times than I can count. I’m taking a ground up approach this time. The process started with me interviewing at a company recently who expressed that the really wished I had some .NET experience (that’s their main development platform now). In response to that I decided it was time I learn a little C# and C++ .NET. While cramming as much info about C# as I could down my little oversaturated brain, I discovered how easy it was to create UI’s with .NET, and moreover, that it was relatively easy to import dlls, and system libraries into your application. To make a long story longer, I found CsGL, an open-source OpenGL binding for C#. I played with it a bit and found that it was perfectly easy to work with. In addition, my buddy Bob pointed me in the direction of this site. The UI libraries are amazing, and really simple to use. The result: A huge flare in my interest to do MotionX in C#. When I say that I’m approaching this from the ground up, I mean that I have been sitting down and scribbling out my class diagrams, and functional flow diagrams (the way any large project should be done), and trying to really plan my program before I lay down a lot of code (though I’ll have quite a bit of reuse from my C++ project).

DoubleD:
While in my Digital Design class we built and simulated our circuits on Xilinx Foundation ( I think the version was 3.x but not quite sure). The software while powerful, was not very fun to use. The UI was horrible, and there were all kinds of hidden conventions and laws that you had to abide by or else your project would pretty much implode. What’s worse is that the license fee is huge, such that the students could only work on their projects in the school labs. Now for me, that meant spending approximately 10-25 hours per week just in the Digital Design lab doing my projects. I would have much preferred to work on it at home, but I couldn’t afford the $8000+ license. In response to this I started talking with my TA, and instructor about the feasiblity of writing a user friendly digital design package, that is affordable to students. It would support heirarchial circuit design, a graphical drag and drop visual schematic editor, and provide a simulator to test your designs. It would not have any kind of Field Programmable support (though if the project were successful, there might be room for the addition, but that’s not something I wanted to tackle). Anyway, they seemed very excited about the prospect. So I’ve been plinking away at the project and have a basic MDI application that allows you to drop wires onto a canvas, and connect them to terminals which then propogate their signals from input to output. I’m in the process of adding embedded primitives (AND gates, OR gates, etc..). The whole thing is in MFC using OpenGL. I’ve got a ways to go but it’s a start :)

Well I’ve got to go take a Calculus test :( I’ll post more later.

5/9/2005

Ughh, Survived Midterms

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:35 pm

Well, after a week of midterms and a wicked cold, I’m happy to say that I survived midterms. As difficult as this quarter has been, it’s really been a Love/Hate relationship. I love the material I’m learning, but I hate not having a social life, and studying 40 - 50 hours per week. I guess it’s just the hoops I’ve gotta jump through though.

I do have to take back a previous criticizm of my Digital Design class though. Last quarter I really DID NOT enjoy it, and questioned why I was taking it. This quarter however, the projects are much cooler, and I actually feel like I’ve got a little grip on the subject :) . I just finished my 3rd of 4 projects, and spent some time looking at the progress I’ve made in my lab book. This one in particular that I just finished was designing the circuit to handle the tail-lights of a 1965 Ford Thunderbird. The lights flash in different sequences based on various inputs to the control unit (such as left turn, right turn, hazards, braking, or any combination of the 4). Without getting into too much detail, I used a heirarchial design process in creating the control unit and the data path, and the whole circuit turned out pretty good. I don’t really know why I’m writing about this other than to say that for some reason, I really got a sense of satisfaction out of this project.

Speaking of projects, MotionX is back on the platter. I’m refactoring it AGAIN, but this time I think I’ve got things lined up pretty well. I wanted to work with it in VS 2003 / 2005, so I tried a direct port, but a lot of functionality got screwed up. I don’t know if that means that their are slightly different implementations of MFC between VS 6 and VS 2003, but it didn’t work. So I started back with the basics, bringing in my View classes and editing them as needed. What I really need is time to actually work on it, but this quarter isn’t allowing much of that. Summer quarter will be much lighter though, so I’ll dive into it quite a bit more then. I’m also taking Linear Algebra in the summer, so maybe I’ll learn a few tricks for vector manipulation with it.

4/30/2005

Being humbled

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:58 pm

Just a note to say that I haven’t fallen off of the face of the earth. School is really humbling me. Today I spent over 7 hours doing Calculus, and I’m still not done with it :( . I’m in that part of the quarter where all of the projects, homework, labs, and exams are landing at the same time. I feel like I’m in survival mode right now. I am not kidding when I say that I am easily spending 30 hours outside of school doing homework and labs. That doesn’t include going to classes. Tack work and some time with Amy on top of that and suddenly the week is gone.

My comfort is in knowing that God will not throw anything at me that he can’t help me handle, and that this quarter is just that. A quarter. Each day I’m one day closer to the end of it.

Also, I can’t post with out a little geek’n… For those who are into DirectX programming, Microsoft just released an update (April 2005).DirectX 9.0c I’ve just downloaded it but haven’t installed yet. They stated they have more tutorials, samples, and documentation (as well as bug fixes). I hope their documentation for the Managed DX is significantly improved. I’ll let ya know after I take a look.

Well, the bed is calling me :) ..

4/15/2005

Off to TN again.. Turkeys beware

Filed under: — site admin @ 5:08 am

Well, it’s 6am, and we’re almost ready to leave to travel to TN for my Mom’s 50th birthday (Happy Birthday Mom :) ). And according to my parents the turkey are still swarming :D :D :D . So, as you can imagine, I have to give it another shot. Only, this time without slicing my finger, and without missing the birds.. I’ll have another report soon. Stay tuned.

PS: The cool thing is that when I get back, the season starts here in Ohio… Bob and I have already begun to make plans.

4/12/2005

Top Google Ranking

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:12 pm

Just for kicks, I googled my full name tonight, ‘Brandon Forrester’, and to my total suprise, my blog was listed as the number one ranking. Cool, yet weird :D

4/9/2005

Added a CAPTCHA tool

Filed under: — site admin @ 7:36 am

Wow, after receiving an insane amount of comment spam, and having to moderate it out, I went out and grabbed a captcha tool via Bob’s recommendation. I found a few that looked a bit difficult to setup, and one that is all php based, and was easy to install. So I’m giving that one a go first. We’ll see how it turns out (if I don’t receive 50 - 100 spams this weekend, it works great :) )

4/3/2005

A Newfound Love! Turkey Hunting is SEXY :D

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:03 pm

This weekend, my friend Bob and I were suppose to go down to my parents’ land, and try our hand at turkey hunting for the first time. We have been down there a few times deer hunting together (both archery and rifle), and harvested a couple of deer our first season out :) Since this was my first time hunting turkey, I went to BassProShop and picked up 2 calls (diaphram, and box), and 2 decoys (reviews on those at the bottom).

Well, to get the story going, Bob was unable to go do to illness (hope you’re feel’n better man), so I talked my sister into heading down with me for an all-around family get-together.

Saturday Morning: My initiation to turkey conversation up at 4:30 am to try and beat the 5-ish sunrise. It was about 39 degrees outside and windy, so I bundled up in my thermals and camo. Grabbed my Reflex Buckskin, decoys, calls, and headed out. Now, my parents said that the turkey had been roosting in some trees just down from their house, so I headed in that direction, and found a good spot to setup my decoy. No sooner had I sat down, than I heard my first gobble :D . Seriously, it was the first turkey I’ve ever heard in real life. And it wasn’t far away. So now I started calling out to him, with my new skills in diaphram calls, and to my suprise he responded! We ‘conversed’ for about 15 minutes, and he was getting closer. My adrenaline was pumping buddy ! Then…. boom.. a shotgun went off about 200 yards away (neighbor’s land), and all went quite. I couldn’t get another gobbler to respond. I tried hunting a few more areas through out the day, but the wind was getting up to 40mph gusts, and every animal on the land was just laying low. So, it was an exciting start, but ultimately, I turned up very emptyhanded for the day.

Sunday Morning: A Hunter Emerges… well, sort-ofI slap the alarm-clock, and jump into the same role as before. This time, there’s no wind, and it’s about 50 degrees outside. One of those “beautiful” mornings that you associate spring with. Gobblers were all over the place. I would call out, and 3 - 4 gobblers would respond. Ultimately, I saw an entire brood, but they saw me quickly and dashed up the hill to a different field. The cool thing is, that I took note of where they were running, and I knew exactly where they were headed (there’s a bottlenecked ‘path’ at one end of my parents land that ALL of the animals like to use as a trail).

So I quickly grabbed my gear, and rushed to beat them there. In my rush, I jump about 15 more turkeys (hens and toms alike). Man they were all over! Did I mention my adrenaline was flow’in ? I even woke up with a migraine this morning, but I didn’t care.. Just took the medicine, and let the thrill of the hunt take over. So.. back to my story, I found an excellent spot at the bottleneck. An open 20 square yard patch of grass with a cedar lined trench next to it! perfect ! … I plopped my $10 decoy (which worked great by the way) in the ground, and dove into the trench. As soon as I made the first call, a gobbler responded so close I almost wet myself! We ‘talked’ for about 3 minutes, and he inched closer (though I still couldn’t see him). Then, in an instant, I saw 10 hens crest the rise of the bottleneck. I let out a faint ‘yelp’ for the decoy, and they filed right down to it like a magnet.

Let me clarify this so it’s crystal clear. My decoy is no more than 20 feet in front of me. This is my second day ever turkey hunting. There are 10 turkeys surrounding my decoy, and they are totally unaware of my presence. There’s a gobbler somewhere EXTREMELY close (this is probably his brood).

So now I have to make a decision. Do I take a hen, or wait for the gobbler. To be honest with you, excitement overcame me. I figured I was perfectly content to take a hen with a bow. It’s a challenging feat just to get these suckers within range, much less close enough that I could have taken one with a rock in hand. So, as smoothly as I could in the extremely awkward position I was in, I pulled my string back. Now, I have this habit of stabilizing my arrow on the draw with the index finger of my grip hand. As I ’stabilized’ the arrow on the draw, the razor sharp broadhead bit DEEP into my finger. Here’s the kicker. I DIDN"T CARE…. At that moment every hen’s eye’s focused on me. Crap.. They saw the draw. 8 of the ten lept to the air in an instant, leaving 2 on the ground. Maintaining my draw, I tried to site in on the closest one… She bolted (in case you didn’t know, turkey can run really fast). The next one however was just walking casually away. I thought : “I can hit a walking bird".. So I sited her in. I knew she was walking so I figured I’d have to lead her a little. I had a profile view, so I placed the site right on the front crest of her chest. Now, squeeze release trigger and…. The arrow flies right in front of her chest. Agggggghhhhhhh… I should have just put it on her body like a still target. Of course she didn’t stay around long after that incident :) ..

Well, many lessons learned in that one adventure. I had quite a few more adventures today, but to know about those, you’ll have to ask me in person :) .. but needless to say, THIS WAS FUN!!!!

In all honesty, I enjoy deer hunting, but it in no way compares with what I did this weekend. Turkey hunting is ‘interactive’ in a way that I couldn’t imagine. Maybe it was just because my parent’s land was SWARMING with them today, but it was incredible none-the-less. I LOVE TURKEY HUNTING !

BTW, my main call that I used today was the Knight & Hale Beginner diaphram calls. They were only $7 at BassPro for a package of 2, once I got the hang of how to make a sound with a diaphram, the rest worked itself out great. The other call I got was K & H’s lonesome hen box/slider call. Very easy to use, but the gobblers didn’t really respond to it. I ended up pitching it after a few attempts in favor of the diaphrams.

The decoys I used were Feather Flex Decoys. They were only $9 each, and as I noted, the turkey flocked to them :) ..

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