Saturday, November 6, 2010

Midway, Work, Work & Robots

I find it difficult to believe, but I’m already halfway through my term of lectures. Week six is now behind me, which leaves six more ahead of me. A handful of deadlines are out of the way, but there’ll be a handful more over the next week or so. Time certainly flies.
As part of my final year, I’ll have to complete and submit a final year project. This project can be anything we want, so long as we find a lecturer willing to supervise us, though it usually takes the form of a large piece of software. For my project, I’ve decided to write an application for Google Android phones.
The application, which I’ll call Pocket Scanner, is intended to take photos of hand written or typed notes, and extract information from the using optical character recognition. The idea is that you can quickly make notes of information, tasks or appointments on your phone.
I’m still not sure if I’m getting in over my head or not here. A couple of my friends certainly seemed to think so. The most difficult bit, I think, will probably be the OCR. I’ll have to find a decent open sourced engine and incorporate it. Though if it’s too CPU intensive, I’ll have to tear it apart and host some on a remote server. My supervisor seems to think that crafting a simple, intuitive and efficient user interface will be my real challenge. I’m someone who has no experience in UI design, so he may have a point.
I started back at work in IKEA yesterday. I got hugs from all my co-workers and was put right back on the floor as if I’d never been away. Certainly, I feel like I can do the job as if I’ve never been away, though it’s a radical shift from Irdeto. The half hour cycle in isn’t a problem, though I can see it being not fun in poor weather. Living in Ireland, this is inevitable.
Recently, I watched some classic animation. Gundam 0079: The One Year War. It’s the movie version of the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam. A show which created a genre and spawned 30 years of sequels, adaptions and derivatives. I had heard some mixed things, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.
It was fantastic. Now, it had it’s share of faults; The animation was dodgy as hell and the pacing got ridiculous poor at times, with characters being introduced, developed and killed off within the space of three or four scenes. Yet, even with these in mind, I was still amazed at how good it was.
The main cast of characters, and even the supporting cast, were diverse, interesting and had depth. They were all developed throughout the season and they had matured a lot by the end. Some would act in ways you weren’t expecting, but this only served to deepen and further develop them.
The story was great, and the plot was genuinely interesting. The twists were unexpected and the threads were all resolved with satisfying conclusions. The only given is that the ‘good guys’ defeat the ‘bad guys’ in the final conflict. Though the relative positions of the protagonist’s and antagonists factions is never clean cut, each having an array of notable heroes and villains. While the story initially appears to be about the ‘good’ faction fighting a war against the ‘bad’ faction, it is really about the conflict itself, mostly as seen from the point of a group who became embroiled in it against their wishes.
Gundam 0079 was solidly entertaining from start to finish. I can easily see how this work has spawned so many sequels and derivatives. It’s also pretty clear how many of the genre staples were based on many of the major plot points, and at the time, unique twists. I think I might try to watch some more old robot shows.

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