Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last Day

Not much to do today, but there will be free pizza. After presentations tomorrow, the best part of my summer will be over and I'll get to be buried in college applications and schoolwork for the rest of the year.

Yay!

Tuesday

Gathered a little more data for infrared calibrations.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Last Monday

Last Monday at the CIS. So far, it's not going too ba-
...
I forgot my flash drive with my PowerPoint on it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

on building computers

I've got a big, 1200 word draft saved in here describing everything I've learned about computer architecture, hardware, and assembly since I started my first build about a year ago, but don't have the energy to finish and post it to a blog that only the other interns and those of you supporting this program will be reading. I'd rather set my own site up or do a series of video tutorials on YouTube or something. might get on it once applications are out of the way and all that.

winding down

Set my alarm to wake me 15 minutes earlier than normal today. It backfired, because I just hit the snooze for 30.

Anyway, last Friday at the CIS. Bob K.'s been leaving me time to work on my presentation and stuff, which is good. Pretty much done with my presentation, except for the title, which right now is just "Smith at the CIS." I'm going to talk not just about my research but also about my experience with the internship in general, so I thought a general title would be good, but I guess it wouldn't kill me to come up with something a little more interesting.

Will probably spend most of the day thumbing through the Fiske guide since I've been somewhat neglecting my college search as of late. Wouldn't kill me to knock out a supplement or two either.

(forgive any grammar mistakes or awkwardly-phrased sentences, I don't usually update my blog at 9AM when I'm still half asleep)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

the one thing about this lab

is the single window looking out into the hallway. It's irresistible to people walking by. Always looking in to see what's going on inside. What is even the purpose of a window in the middle of a building? Security? There's no window on the other side of the lab...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Look what I found!


I could store a whole Power Point presentation on this bad boy.
Edit:  I got pretty excited over this. Haven't seen one since I was five. I got so excited that I went on Newegg and ordered myself a box of fifty. Not a clue what I'll do with them, but there's an ancient box sitting in my dad's basement somewhere that's begging to have the floppy drive taken out of it.

August 15

Worked on presentation and a Sudoku algorithm I thought of.

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 12

REU presentations were today. Saw a few, including, of course, Matt's. They were good. Matt's going back to Notre Dame now, and he's the only other guy working in my lab about 90% of the time, so I guess I now have the place to myself . A little quiet around here now, but I get his chair.

August 10 - August 11

Wednesday: There was a cookout near one of the science buildings today. Free food is always good. Beside that, worked on presentation, college essays, and a cool algorithm I thought of to solve Sudoku puzzles with.

Thursday: Field trip to Melles Griot. They're a bit like RPO in that they produce lenses, but they're more specialized. And there was free food after.

Really, if I had to talk to any prospective intern about the perks of this job, I'd be remiss in not mentioning the fact that there's almost always opportunities for free food. I'm typing this on Monday, and right now the lunch box I brought in last Monday is still sitting in a fridge on the second floor.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day ?? (August 9)

I no longer feel like keeping track of days.

Today, went to use the wind tunnel in a building I can't recall the name of to test some sensors Matt worked on for a fire-tracking device (he'll be doing a presentation on this on Friday at 4:15, which, if you're reading this post, is today). Wherever we were, it was cool. After we were done with using the wind tunnel, we explored a bit and people we had never met were excited to let us into their labs and show us what they were working on. Cool day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What else happened on Monday?

Went to the airport with Matt Hart (REU student I work with) and Jason to pick up the WASP. I didn't get to operate it, but I got to carry it. It's heavy. Really cool piece of equipment.

video






Monday, August 8, 2011

The Scientific Method on a Slow Monday

Question:
There's a sensor in the next room. When I pass it, the lights in the room turn on. Is it triggered by changes in light, or sound?

Research:
The Mythbusters tested an alarm system once. It sensed sound, and they were able to get by it by moving slowly or by using certain materials to muffle the noise they made. I figure this thing might work the same way.

Hypothesis:
The sensor is sound-based.

Experiment 1:
I will throw a screw into the room and see if the pinging noise triggers the lights.

video 

Result: The screw did not make a very loud noise. The lights were not triggered. The screw is now lost. I hope it wasn't important.

Experiment 2:
I'll try clapping and making clicking sounds with my tongue to activate the sensor. I hope I can figure this out before the guys who work in there get here...

video

Result: It didn't happen, and I made an idiot of myself. Guessing at this point that my hypothesis is wrong.

New Hypothesis: It's light/motion-based.

Experiment 3: I'll try waving my arm around noiselessly.

video

Result: I approached it quietly and it flipped on before I could even try anything.

Conclusion: Clearly, the thing responds to light, not sound. This is different from the sensor I saw on TV because, of course, that was a sensor meant for security, not energy-efficiency. In this sensor's case, it wouldn't make any sense if it turned on the lights and the AC every time something went bump in the night.
Edit: Bob (my supervisor) told me it's infrared. So it might even react to changes in heat.

Some interesting stuff did actually go on today besides my important experimentation. I'll blog about it later.


Day 23

Field trip to Xerox today. Got to hear about some of the things they're working on (not just printing-related stuff, surprisingly) and see a factory where they make their flagship two-ton printers. I like machines, so that was pretty cool.

Days 21-22

Not a whole lot to do at the moment in wake of the computer project. For now, I'm working with some fire research footage and working on my presentation.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 20 (August 2)

A pinch of presentation work, a dash of data recording, a couple of calibrations. About done with the computer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 19 (August 1)

Did some work on my presentation for the end of the month. Need to get a better camera than the one on my phone to take some pictures with.

The Mysterious Solid State Drive (July 29)

I was worried today that the SSD I installed Windows on was too small. I had hardly installed anything but the OS on it but all but a couple of gigabytes of the 64GB drive were occupied. Upon further investigation, I found that Windows itself only takes up about 15GB and nothing else on the drive even exceeded a couple of megabytes, meaning one of two things: the drive was defective, or there were big, invisible files taking up a lot of space.

Fortunately, it was the latter case - a couple of well-hidden files called "hiberfil.sys" and "pagefile.sys" were the culprits. They're both files that vary based on the amount of memory the computer has, so with this machine's 24GB they occupied a good forty or so. pagefile.sys had to be moved to the 7.5TB drive where there was plenty of space for it, and disabling hibernation (something I don't think is often used on desktops anyway) got rid of the other one.

So now the boot drive has plenty of free space.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 17 (July 28)

Ran some memory stress-testing software on the computer... for four hours. I saw no errors, so I assume that means it's all in working order. Fun bringing up performance graphs and seeing the memory and the CPU all maxed out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 16 (July 27)

Set up the hard drives on the computer. In a RAID 5 array, three or more drives operate effectively as one. One drive worth of space is used for parity (backup data) while data is simultaneously written to the rest of the space across all of the drives. This results in faster performance and better data protection - if one drive fails, a new, empty drive can be put in its place and the lost data can be pieced together from parity bits.

I still need to get this thing hooked up to the internet, though. Until I do that, I can't activate Windows and it constantly gives me pop-ups telling me I'm using bootlegged software. However, my hunt for the CIS's enigmatic systems admin has been so far unsuccessful...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 15 (July 26)

Got the last few parts today. It took a while, but I go the computer up-and-running and had time to install the OS before I clocked out. I'll edit some pictures onto this post when I get the chance.

I purchased a 720p webcam the other day, so I should be able to take some better pictures to put on this blog pretty soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 14 (July 25)

Actually got to do a little computer-assembly today after waiting an eternity for the parts to be delivered. I'll upload some crummy, low-res phone pictures.

these are the hard drives going into this thing. they total 10TB (or 10,240GB), which is enough space to hold all of the printed works in the Library of Congress. I don't know if a LIDAR requires this much space, but hey, memory is cheap.

motherboard installed in the case (a pretty nice case, at that). you can see the memory sticks installed in the upper-right of the motherboard.

this is a solid-state drive. since this has no moving parts like the magnetic disks in the hard-disk drives I showed at the top of this post, it can access data faster, trading space for speed (it's about 64GB). the operating system will go on this while the HDDs store everything else - this will allow the computer to boot up very quickly. also, look at it! it's tiny!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 13 (July 22)

Only worked until two today because I'm participating in the RIT College and Careers program. Visited my lab around six to show a couple of my friends around to find that the last major parts for the computer were delivered right after I left. At least I'll have plenty to do on Monday.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 12 (July 21)

Some parts for the computer that I ordered yesterday got here today, but more important parts that I ordered a week ago have yet to get here. Meanwhile I've learned to solder, so I'm soldering a circuit board together.

...and I did it all without even severely burning myself.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 11 (July 20)

No new parts were delivered today. It's inhumanly hot outside. I'm glad this building is air-conditioned.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 10 (July 19)

Today, I and others at the CIS are doing some work identifying damaged buildings from the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The application we're using is here. Anyone can sign up to look at satellite images and do what we're doing, so feel free to do so.


Also, first few parts for the computer arrived today. I'll take some pictures as I assemble it.

processor and motherboard. off-screen:  free flash drives that came with just about everything I ordered. I guess newegg has a lot of "memories" it wants to get rid of... ha-ha... ha.
processor (Intel i7-980) and gigantic cooling fan that comes with it. it's supposed to reach 100F on Thursday, maybe I should just plug this thing into the wall.

24GB of memory. I believe this costs the same today as 8GB did when I was building my own computer... less than a year ago.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 9 (July 18)

Ordered some more parts for my project, learned a bit about Microsoft Excel. Tomorrow should be more exciting, I hear.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 8 (July 15)

Went over the data I got from calibrating those sensors, ordered another couple of parts, and fiddled with my laptop which seems to have a battery problem.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 7 (July 14)

We rented a charcoal grill today to use for lunch, and spent some time outside eating, playing games, and watching the Blue Angels practice (the air show's in town). We've decided to do this every week. Later, I ordered the first parts for my computer project and calibrated some infrared sensors.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 6 (July 13)

Had a good day today. About done with my hardware research for my project, and I found out that there are weekly talks in the CIS on Wednesday at which free pizza is provided. I think we've rented a grill for lunch tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 5 (July 12)

I finished figuring out what kind of hardware I'd need for the computer project today, so I had some spare time. I visited a couple of other interns in their labs, took a bit of a longer lunch break to explore the campus a bit (amazing that I've been here dozens of times before this internship but I still don't know my way around), taught myself about RAID setups (a way of setting up hard drives in a computer - something I need to know for my project), and caught up with news about the Atlantis.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 4 (July 11)

Today, had a chance to talk with the other interns about their projects. Seems I'm not the only one with something interesting to do - some interns in Astronomical Imaging are working with Google Earth to make it work with a map of the sun, those in MRI are getting to learn how the machines work and what they'll be using them for, and those in Visual Perception are doing an experiment in which some of us might get to participate.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 3

Today, I and the rest of the interns decided that we would meet every day at noon for lunch. Had some stir-fried chicken at the Global Village, good stuff! Had the chance to talk to some of the other interns I hadn't met yet. Looking forward to the rest of my summer here.

Day 2 (July 7)

Last summer, I built a desktop computer to replace the ancient Dell in my family room. It was a fun experience during which I developed a great interest in computers. Later, I made a note of this on the resume I sent to the CIS. Someone was apparently impressed, as I'm now an intern in the Remote Sensing group.

My first project: build a computer to run a LIDAR.

Beats flipping patties.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First Day

Today, we were divided into groups (mine was named "Remotely Senseless") and sent out on a scavenger hunt in which we were to record our findings on camera. It was a good opportunity to explore the campus and to meet the other interns. After several hours, we were to return to the CIS building, assemble our clips into one continuous video, and present it. Naturally, my group won. We were awarded with Center for Imaging Science t-shirts which we will wear proudly tomorrow.