Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Developing Mobile Apps, Blackjack Algorithms, and Baltimore Emotions

One semi-traditional blog post that I have written is the report on the courses that I'm taking and why I'm taking them. Since I get to pick my own courses (for the most part - I do have to fulfill requirements for graduation, after all) I'm always pretty excited about the content. So, without further ado, here are my courses:

First up is Introduction to Mobile Computing. Guys, I was really nervous about this one. Principles of Operating Systems is a pre-requesite, and I did not enjoy OS at all. But I needed at 600-level course, so I showed up the first day with trepidation, prepared to drop it if things were bad. However, I was nicely surprised. The lectures are all demo-based, rather than theoretical, which is excellent news. The assignments are all partner based, which is also great news. I'm partnered with a friend of mine so it promises to be fun, and I'll get app development experience out of it which is great.

Second is Introduction to Machine Learning with my favorite professor ever. The topic is really interesting. Our final project for that course is to apply Machine Learning to an interesting problem, and what I want to do is create a computer that can beat Blackjack (like the book/movie 21). So I'm researching the rules, etc.

Third, Race Gender and Poverty in Baltimore. This is my honors seminar, and it's really interesting. I'm taking it with the professor who taught me GWST 100 and the current assistant director of my school's honors college. I'm enjoying that it's interdisciplinary, and we get to volunteer with a non-profit which will be fun.

Fourth, Computer Architecture. Super boring, but required for the major. It doesn't seem that bad though, just not interesting.

Finally, Gender and Women Studies 352 - Women in Technology (or something like that. In my mind, it's just GWST). Required for CWIT, should be interesting so far I've enjoyed the readings.

Monday, February 4, 2013


I got a Twitter. This is the social network I resisted for the longest, and I finally crumbled. If you want me to follow you, put your Twitter handle in the comments, and if I follow you, return the favor?

Why was I resisting Twitter? Because I didn't understand it's use. I thought of it as a self centered status updater. I just didn't see the point of public text messages. However, I realized Twitter is more than that. It's a writer's artistic challenge. Summing up a thought in 140 characters or less takes talent. There are tons of "Twitter-sized gospel messages". There's a book of famous literature in tweet form (I really enjoyed that).

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries (#LBD) (one of my favorite web series of all time) first got me thinking about the use of social media to tell a story. This production team is dedicated - there's a YouTube account, Pinterest accounts, Tumblr accounts, Twitters, Facebook pages, and webpages for the companies (, @pemberlydigital). The timeless Jane Austen classic, told in a new way...but it needed Twitter to be told that way.

One of my friends who recently graduated has to tweet for her job (@bcgc). People get entire jobs for keeping a company's social media presence alive. And if Facebook is the place for friends, Twitter is the place for corporations. So I got one to follow that kind of media.

The cybersecurity world is largely fueled by user knowledge and security. Social Networking is the perfect way to share quick cyber security tips, so Twitter is full of Tech tip writers (like @tekdefense) that publish short and quick protection tips.

So far, my transition to Twitter has been pretty easy. I didn't have an account before, but that doesn't mean I don't understand the concept of tweeting. I know about RT and # and @ tags and all that. I've already had a whole text message conversation with my old suite mate, totally publicly on Twitter. So, as a friend of mine put it, it looks like I'm gonna stick around.