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Life drawing? Sep. 3rd, 2010 @ 11:04 pm
Hi everybody. I'm a science student at uwaterloo, but this post is more to do with waterloo region in general than the university. I was just wondering if there are any drop-in life drawing sessions that run maybe weekly or biweekly (or more) in waterloo? I don't expect them to be free, but affordable. If they're on campus that would be absolutely perfect because I don't drive, but let me know about anything you know of! Thanks in advance.

"I have a plan." Well, no, apparently I don't. Aug. 18th, 2010 @ 09:56 am
I was a full-time undergrad student this semester.

I needed some dental work done, and I thought to myself, "Well, full-time undergrad students are covered via a Feds-negotiated plan. I might as well take advantage of this insurance I've been paying for as an undergrad before it runs out." So, on August 3 and 4, I had a checkup, got some X-Rays done, and got a couple of fillings. I was expecting 70% coverage for the bulk of this work.

Imagine my surprise when I returned home after a week-long absence, to find a letter from SunLife telling me that I would not be reimbursed because my coverage had expired. What?

After looking at my fee statement and the Feds website, this is the conclusion I've reached: Feds only assesses the dental plan fee in Fall and Winter terms. So if you return to school in a Spring term after not having been in school for Fall or Winter, guess what? You do not have dental coverage.

I am an edge case — not everyone returns to studies in the spring after being employed by an on-campus organization for a year. But I can't be the only person in this sort of situation. Academic probation, 8 month co-ops, other people who take a break from school — be warned.

I'll have to pay the whole $716 out-of-pocket. Which sucks. Thanks for the dental coverage, Feds.

Cross-posted to my own blog.

Acciddent, any help? Aug. 14th, 2010 @ 07:20 pm
I just ran into an traffic accident... I stopped my car just because the car driving in front of mine suddenly stopped, and shortly after the other one driving behind me hit my car and hence caused my car hit the one in front. Now the person who hit my car is only willing to pay for my car's damage but not for the one in front of mine, and she insisted I have to pay for that car even though it was she who caused all the problems. She stayed for a while and explained to me what she would do for this accident, and left her contact and insurance information, then left away.  I'm wondering if she should pay all the cost for both cars, and should I still call the police even we all have left the place already?

Any suggestion would be really appreciated !

SUBLET: Winter 2011 Aug. 4th, 2010 @ 07:23 pm

I have 3 rooms available for sublet for the Winter term (Jan-April 2011) at 202 Lester , preferably girls wanted. It is BRAND NEW (still being built right now), furnished, and is a less than 5 min walk to both UW and WLU.

-5 bedroom apt
-other two girls are in math faculty; quiet, keeps to themselves
-air conditioning
-onsite laundry
-2 elevators
-dishwasher, garbage shoot, snow removal

-$545 not including utilities, add around $20 for inclusive

engineering wrench Jul. 29th, 2010 @ 07:56 pm
Is the UW Engineering wrench available for sale on campus?


-pic not mine-

Other entries
» This just in
David Johnston reported to be next Governor-General
» University lectures are the ultimate meritocracy
Sometimes profs complain that putting lecture slides on ACE hurts lecture attendance. That isn't necessarily the case.

Two profs I have this term use slides in their lectures. Both have put the slides on ACE. In one, attendance has shot through the floor: we still have 79 people in the class (according to the schedule of classes) but fewer than half actually come to lecture. In the other, the vast majority of students enrolled (88 people) attend lecture.

What's the difference?

The two profs have similar slides in that they contain all the material I need to learn for the course. But in one class, the prof just reads the slides. Over and over again. In the other class, yes, he explains the material on the slides. But he also adds context. Background information. Interesting anecdotes related to the material. Making connections between and outside the material. The slides are sufficient to learn the material, but people still attend lectures, because lecture is a value-add proposition.

Back when I was in first year (before ACE), there were two profs teaching PHYS 121 — One was weak, one was fantastic. Guess what? The weak prof's lectures were sparsely attended. The fantastic prof filled every seat, to the point where people were standing at the back and sitting in the isles.

Here's what I'm getting at: "I won't put my slides on ACE because then people won't attend class" is a weak excuse. All students want to learn the material. Some are actually genuinely interested. But all students hate wasting their time. The greatest determining factor in students attending a lecture is the quality of that lecture. Nothing else.

To the credit of the prof who reads the slides, she does still put the slides on ACE, and doesn't complain about poor attendance. The textbook she chose is good, and her reading list is clear and complete. She doesn't care what students do as long as they end up learning the material. But there are other profs who do complain about their apparent unpopularity, yet still have terrible lectures. Forcing people to attend bad lectures does not make one a better professor.
» awesome business cards from UW CECS
Since I've posted a good share of complaints in this forum, I think it'll only be fair to compensate it with a success story, too! :-)

As was suggested in the UW student "bucket list" post, I've decided to order the discounted student business cards a few weeks ago, 45 cards for 5 dollars. I was honestly surprised by the quality of the typeface, the print and the paper — the cards look absolutely stunning! In addition to that, they were running a special, in that you can exchange one of the received cards for a business card holder. So, in total, you get 44 cards and a business card holder, all for a 5 CAD charge on your WatCard. (To be fair on the complaint side, however, the cards were a few days late, but they were totally worth it even with the unexpected extra wait time.)
» tasteless logo-lacking products in the Waterloo Store
I'm amazed how the Waterloo Store is full of products that carry neither the old nor the new official look of the university.

Specifically, I was looking for a number plate holder, and they had two options with "University of Waterloo": one plastic holder with the old styled font, and a new metal holder with the text set in a random font saying "University of Waterloo", with the word "Alumni" on top, sans any logos. I've inquired regarding the metal plates, and was told that they've received them merely a month ago. Obviously, I could not receive any satisfactory response on why the official font and logo were not used on the product (I was told that non-official stuff sells better, which I find hard to believe). On the contrary, I was pointed to the fact that the majority of the products in the store lack official marks of the university! WTF?

As a DRC SCS UW graduate, where can I buy a quality licence plate holder with the official new look of the university? If it'll mention DRC SCS, so the better. I thought I could depend on the Waterloo Store to satisfy such a need, alas, they did not meet my expectations.
» Visualizing UW's exam schedule by faculty

So my exam schedule is unfavourable. I have exactly two exams during the exam period: one on the first day and one on the last day. Great.

"Man, I always have an exam on the second-last or last day." I thought to myself. "I wonder if science consistently gets screwed over with a disproportionate number of late exams."

There was only one thing to do. I used the source data to make a graph. And actually, the distribution seems fairly even.

UW Exams Spring 2010 - CORRECTED
For the time being, you can also find a PDF version here.

I had to make some approximations in creating these graphs. First of all, this graph does not include BUS courses, since the PDF released by the Registrar's office didn't include that data. I counted AFM under Arts (IIRC the Arts contingent of Accounting Finance Management is much larger than Math or Science), and I counted Software Engineering as...well, engineering.

Our school is nerdtacular, so some of you might be interested in how I made these. I converted the Registrar's office into a plaintext file. Then I wrote a couple of perl scripts: one to parse the data and spit out the totals, and another to take that data and spit out an eps file containing pretty pies. Explanatory text and finishing touches were added using Inkscape.

I've thought of a few ways the graph could be expanded:

  • Make another graph, showing a breakdown of courses by year. Are all first year exams on the first day? Are fourth year exams more spaced out? Are there any trends at all? I'm curious, and I could plot this with only a few modifications to my code.
  • Plot by student rather than by exam. The graph I made is just for exams. It doesn't distinguish between exams written by 10 students versus 100 students. But I would be able to write another script or two that could scrape that information out of the Schedule of Classes. That might be interesting.
  • Make it interactive. If I really had free time, I would have done this in Flash or somesuch. When you hover over a pie slice with your mouse, the graph tells you what exams happen at that time. It'd be awesome, but more work than I'm willing to do with no clear benefit.

Anyway, after having gone to all the effort to make the graph, I thought I'd post it. Maybe someone else will find it interesting. Also, I think we should all have a moment of silence for CS 370, the only class to have an exam during the final time slot of the last day.

I've used blue for science and yellow for arts. These are the colours UW uses to represent those faculties in the bookstore, the colours they use during convocation, and (approximately) the colours UW has chosen for marketing. But it's backwards in my head, because during my frosh week all the science kids had yellow bracelets and the arts students had blue. Because the first thing I saw (the frosh bracelets) were wrong, the wrong colours are forever lodged in my head. See, FOC, you need to pay attention to details like that.

And yes, I called it frosh week.

Edit: The scale in the legend is wrong. Math fail, Ugh. I'm working on fixing it...

Edit 2: The scale in the legend has been corrected. Also, I fixed some grammar errors. I think I have the dumb today.

Edit 3: As per the suggestion below, I have also provided a PDF using UW's actual official faculty colours, which are listed here. However, I'm keeping the PDF with the colours I originally chose online as well — I think UW's colours are ugly in this chart. AHS and Science look too similar, the Math pink is too hot, and Environment deserves a better shade of green.

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