The Birthday Calendar

As I was doing a really bad job of keeping track of how old anyone was going to be at their next birthday, I embarked on a weekend project to make this easier.

I already had a Google Calendar with birthdays in, but as these were recurring events, it only had names, not ages… The Solution: auto-generated ICS files to output the ages along with the names!

Please feel free to use this yourself. You can find it at http://calendar.clempaul.me.uk/. You don’t need to create an account, simply sign in with an OpenID (Google and Yahoo! accounts support this) and add your birthdays!

It’s All Over!

Four hard years of work are all over… I’ve finally graduated from Imperial and now have an MEng Computing with first class honours (not to mention a bunch of post-nominal letters – everybody should aim to get at least a few Smile with tongue out).

Exams went about as well as I’d expected, and my project was generally well received. I guess if they weren’t I’d probably not have got a first…

It’s a shame I don’t get a student discount anywhere anymore… surely my ID card should expire at the same time as my email account is deactivated… (that’s to say in a year’s time Smile with tongue out)

I’ve moved out of my house now, so I’m back home in Surrey for a bit until I’ve found somewhere new to live. I shouldn’t be away from London for too long though, after all I do have a job to start at the end of August.

Other than finding somewhere to live and a couple of programming exercises for Bloomberg, I’ve basically got nothing to do for a few weeks Smile. I fully intend to use this time to sleep a lot and watch lots of TV, after all, what else is there to do with my time…

Thank you to everyone that’s made the last four years such a good experience. I’ve certainly gained a lot, and have made friends that I intent (and expect) to keep for life! Congratulations to everyone else who’s just graduated! I hope you all did as well as you wanted to!

PS: If you want to grab a copy of my individual project (although I’m not overly sure why you would), head over to SongHawk.net. This will give you a link to an installer for the Windows version. I probably won’t bother releasing the Windows Phone 7 version – it’s not like I have a Windows Phone to find/test fixes for any potential bugs….

Where did the time go?

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was starting university, and I swear the start of fourth year was only a few weeks ago, yet my penultimate term as an Imperial computing student has just finished…

No more lectures…

No more courseworks…

Of course, that’s not to say it’s all over (yet!) – I still have my exams and the rest of my project to complete, but that all seems rather minor in the grand scheme of things.

Looking at my calendar, it would appear that I just have a large amount of free time coming up, but there is unfortunately still a lot of stuff to fit in. On the other hand, I do plan to use some of that time to just relax and enjoy my remaining time as a student – after all, if time keeps going as quickly as it has, it won’t be too long until it’s all over…

With a bit of luck, the rest of my time at Imperial will go well, and I’ll have fun whilst doing it! (Although I do envisage a few late nights in Huxley as we plough through all the stuff that we’re supposed to know but don’t)

Let the revision (or should I say learning?) begin!

Projects, Programming Languages and Procrastination…

(ooo… alliteration….)

I’m writing this blog post when I really should be doing something useful like working on my final year individual project, but hey, sometimes you just want a break and I’ve played enough Freecell recently…

So, what is my project? I’m writing a program to extract metadata (play counts, track durations etc.) from music libraries such as iTunes and Windows Media Player, display statistics and find additional information about genres, artists and albums from the Internet. That sounds simple enough, but there are a number of different data sources being used, and figuring out how to display all this data isn’t the simplest of problems…

To do all of this, I’m using F#, a functional language that runs on the .NET Framework (part of my project is evaluating how good F# is at being used for this kind of program). I’m liking the language a lot, it’s got all the benefits of being functional as well as all the benefits of running on .NET. If you want to map a function over a list of tuples, that’s fine… if you want to create a GUI using WinForms or WPF, you can… if you want to interact with other programs over COM, that’s still ok… it’s just a shame that using non-F# libraries can’t really be done in a functional style, but that’s far from being the end of the world. As good as functional code is, sometimes it’s just helpful to be using object-oriented code instead.

Visual Studio’s support for F# isn’t as good as that for C#, but it’s sufficient for most of my needs, and it’s certainly far better support than anything had for last year’s group project (but that’s one of the issues with using a new language… no IDE support whatsoever!).

Anyway, that’s probably enough for now… I’ll probably blog about my project again (nearer to completion), but that’s what I’m spending most of my time on at the moment… particularly as lectures are taking up a reasonably small amount of my time this term.

The end of another year…

So, we’ve reached the end of 2010… It’s been a fairly busy year, with my placement and the start of my fourth year, but it’s been enjoyable and definitely not all work and no play!

I’ve had a few good days out since my last post… Back in July I attended the Bloomberg Summer Party which was a brilliant day out with lots of free food and drink, and lots of activities including hovercrafting! In August I went to the Notting Hill Carnival which was good fun… It certainly helped that the weather was fine :D

I’ve also been making good use of my evenings, seeing Dara O’Briain at the Hammersmith Apollo in September, Avenue Q and Have I Got News For You in October, Battersea Park fireworks in November, and Zane Lowe & Deadmau5 at Earl’s Court in December, all mixed in with nights out at various pubs/clubs…

I spent five days on holiday in Spain with Dave & Hugh, which was five days well spent! The weather was really hot the whole time, and I even went in the sea every day (it certainly helped with the sunburn…)! It’s also nice that the Spanish don’t really have any idea about measures… spirits seem to be served by pouring into a glass for an arbitrary amount of time, which was fine by me :)

The last term has gone really quickly… it feels as if it’s only just started, despite the fact that it’s actually just finished! The workload was pretty high, and it all seemed to pile up into the last week. Fortunately that’s all done now, so I can concentrate on my individual project for a bit before next term’s coursework comes round. It’ll also help that I’m only taking three options next term as opposed to the five I took this term.

Amazingly, getting home from London seemed to go without any issue whatsoever, despite the large amounts of snow across London and Surrey. There is however more forecast in the next few days, so hopefully it wont cause any problems with my plans for Christmas or New Year’s Eve (when I intend to be back in London).