Category Archives: Uncategorized

Abstract Movement

One of the projects that I was quite excited to do in my first semester at RPI was code a piece of interactive art using Processing (which builds off of Java code).

This piece that I call “Abstract Movement” takes a number of different basic shapes in abstract art and puts them together in an interactive experience.

Media Studio Imaging was a class that I merely took to help fulfill an elective requirement, but I was surprised at how it actually provided unique and very relevant opportunities for me as I pursue my studies in computer science and engineering.

A Look into an Overlooked Hobby

Within my final project in Media Studio Imaging, I wanted to showcase tabletop gaming, a very enjoyable hobby of mine,  in a way comparable to the highly advertized video gaming hobby. While video games flood modern media outlets, modern board games, card games, and miniatures games receive little to no attention. Video games are often heralded for their beautiful graphics when the innovative and fascinating art designs of tabletop games gain little attention. In addition, there are unique benefits to the tabletop gaming hobby that is not seen in the video gaming hobby (such as always having the multiplayer interaction local, not needing to additionally buy a console, and not needing to worry about backwards compatibility).

Now, my intent is not to say that I dislike the video game hobby (I even find it is much better for solo gaming), but it is, in fact, to present these images in the hope of gaining more attention for an often overlooked hobby.

 

(final) dice_collage_final

 

(FINAL) GameBox_final(pixels_and_vectors)_v2

Who is in control?

Glowny_David_SP1_edited

This collage that I created, inspired by Fritz Kahn’s “Man as Industrial Palace”, emphasizes how far technology has been integrated into our lives. Now, so much of our senses are filtered through various forms of technology that it is also as if technology has become a part of our being, a part of our DNA. Thus, man and machine are interconnected, and the extent of our connection appears to continually grow over time. So now, the important question, is, “Who is ultimately under control?” While I am a strong advocate for the benefits of technological advances, I also warn against the possibility that these devices control our lives. We must maintain human control.

A New View

Fear and anxiety: two emotions that we recognize as commonly plaguing our lives.  And it is generally accepted that they produce ill effects on our moral and health. However, what if that was not the entire truth? What if there was actually a strong benefit to fear and anxiety? What if they actually made us better and stronger?

Well, that is one of the intriguing ideas that I took from Psychologist Kelly McGonigal’s talk at the TED Conference. Now, I am not sure how well I would be able to accept stress as a positive impact on my health and mind, but I will sure keep in mind how powerful the mind is over the body. Similar to the placebo effect, perhaps it is possible to manipulate stress for our benefit just by thinking it so.

However, this new perspective on fear and nervousness was again brought to my attention on one of the latest Doctor Who episodes when Peter Capaldi said, “being afraid is alright, because…fear is a super power. Fear can make you faster, and cleverer and stronger.” The adrenaline that pumps through our veins when we are afraid gives us the strength to be able to do things that we may not be able to normally do and we are kept on a heightened alert. Fear is, therefore, the ultimate mechanism for combating danger.

In conclusion, I would say that fear and anxiety can be pure forces of good only in the correct mindset, but that mindset might not be realistic for anyone today because of how we are brought up in this modern society. So, then, is it worth it to at least try to welcome fear and stress under a new light? I say so. The study mentioned  in Kelly McGonigal’s talk appears to suggest so, and I am all for not being afraid about being afraid and not being stressed about being stressed.

Speed vs. Quality

Efficiency versus reliability. This is one of the main issues that predominates in the modern age of technology. Is it better to release a product earlier and then improve it over time, or is it better to delay a release so as to fine tune the product and ensure that it means all of the initial expectations.

Recently, I have contemplated this with two particular instances which took opposite approaches. First of all, app design clearly tends to lean on the philosophy that the speed of the release is more important because updates and bug fixes can easily be made and implemented soon after the release and can be made continually with only minor interruptions to the user. However, I personally find this philosophy unsatisfactory at times, especially when an update is released for an app which supposedly improves the design but actually also hinders its functionality (thus calling for another update). The YouVersion Bible app for Android, for instance, was rendered unusable in its most recent update due to the fact that it now crashes immediately after opening it. Now, I know for a fact that this app was functional and very well designed before this update. When looking at this example, it is clear how proper care and testing would have made the difference between a useful and a useless app.

In comparison, however, I would also like to look at a very different market, Kickstarter. I have paid the most attention to board game projects on Kickstarter (since playing strategy board games is a hobby of mine), but the debate on quality versus faster releases has been discussed across the board on Kickstarter. One project in particular that lives and breathes the philosophy of quality over the speed of releases is the Alien Frontiers 4th Edition Kickstarter project and the Rocket Dice Kickstarter project. Both projects are reaching toward being a year overdue, but both projects emphasize great attention to quality. In addition to fulfilling stretch goals which were not originally intended at the announcement of the release dates, the designers have taken care to start over with new materials if the samples were not up to standards and constantly having the backing community double check for any errors that the designers missed. This may seem ideal to a consumer, like me, who so highly appreciates quality, but I am still left with a frustrating feeling of how long I must wait for a projects that were supposed to be completed nearly a year ago.

So what can we gather from this debate? The general principle that I can gather is that it is important for the producer to stick to his/her promises. If you promised to create a product with such and such features and with a professional quality, then fulfill those promises. If you promised to have the product completed and handed to consumers for a certain deadline, then meet that deadline. Now, to address the concern of rushed releases, producers must use beta testing and prototypes to accomplished quick releases. As a result, errors are expected, but a much-anticipated hands-on experience can be provided.

Graduation Speech

As Salutatorian for the Class of 2014 at Joseph A. Foran High School, I had the honor of writing a speech to give during the graduation ceremony. Below is a copy of the speech that I gave:

Ladies and gentlemen, faculty and staff, parents and friends, good afternoon. It is truly an honor to stand before you today to say a few words.

As I have talked to others in my classes, in the school band, in the Milford Youth Commission, in the Sikorsky STEM team, and in the Foran Mission Bible club, I have noticed that the common question that has been on our minds as we have gotten closer and closer to the end of our high school experience is, “Where do we go from here?” I was especially consumed with the question about my future toward the end of junior year. I found that I had a particular interest in math and science, and so I eventually decided that I wanted to follow a major in engineering. But then, of course, I had to deal with the question of what type of engineering to focus on. Aerospace engineering, materials engineering, mechanical engineering, there are so many options. It is so true that you really don’t know all of the careers that are out there until you attempt to start deciding on your own career path during high school. Kind of ironic right? We’re expected to solve the puzzle of our future without really knowing where a lot of the pieces are. However, I eventually found my niche between Junior and Senior year, discovering that I had a particular interest in computer engineering. I found my passion and I truly connected to others that shared my passion. I’m sure that many of you have had a similar experience recently, and if you haven’t, you will probably have it soon. But the most important point that I would like to make based on this experience is that I developed confidence and I realized that the ultimate question that is in the back of each of our minds is not, “Where do we go from here?” but rather, “How can I make a difference; how can I change the world?”

As I look back on this class of 2014, I cannot help but marvel at all the remarkable talent and diligence I have seen. Whether it has been in the classroom, through music, in sports, or through community service, I believe that our class has proven to be a model to follow. I am equally proud of the various ambitions that each of us have beyond high school. I know friends who are are interested in entering the medical field, others interested in business, others who will study to become teachers, and also some others who plan to serve in the military. The list goes on, but I think that each person has the potential to change the world in some way.

Many of you have probably seen that Cadillac commercial, you know the one in which the guy says, “the Wright brothers started in a garage, Amazon started in a garage, Disney started in a garage…” and so on. Well, I think that this commercial truly drives the point home. There is so much in the future that has yet to be decided. The smallest actions that we take now can eventually lead to remarkable achievements. You can start small and dream big. As one of my favorite bands, Switchfoot, once said in one of its songs, “Every day you’re alive, you change the world.” Each and every one of us makes a difference in the community in a unique way. In various ways and in various places, we each make a mark on the world.

And so, to quote a commonly held motto at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “Why not change the world?” There are so many opportunities out there for the taking, and every one of us has the potential to make a difference. And if you think that there are too many obstacles, that there is no way that you can make it big, just think back to the Wright brothers, Amazon, Disney. All of these groups started small, and none of them were entitled to success. They gradually earned it through small starts, hard work, and high goals. So again, “Why not change the world?” Within the upcoming months and years, as many of us will be taking on new freedoms and responsibilities, I hope that more and more people will absorb this profound question. Also, take to heart what Albert Einstein once said, “Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” In other words, great rewards come from dreaming big, and it is important to maintain confidence and not be afraid of making ambitious goals.

This graduation marks the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. Let’s make the best of it! Thank you, and God bless you.