Flu, LEGO and Crowd Simulators

This week I have developed a rather nasty case of flu. A particularly devilish strain of flu  that just happened to seemingly know that this week was the one week I wanted to be firing on all cylinders! As I write this post I’m bed-ridden and shaking like a leaf, but my condition is definitely improving so I should be better for just before Christmas.

On Monday I travelled down to Wolverhampton to stay overnight for a teaching event on Tuesday at Highfields School, normally I’d take an early train down on the morning of the event, but to ensure I’d get a better nights sleep my boss booked me a hotel! I was really looking forward to a relaxing night’s sleep… but that’s when the flu kicked in. Whoops.

I wasn’t exactly running on all cylinders when I got to the school, but I was still taken aback by the sheer awesomeness that surrounded me there. There were no corridors in the school… all the classrooms were wonderfully open-plan and there were canteens and seating areas on every floor. I was incredibly jealous – all the students had access to a cyber-café and had been given free laptops to do their work on. Their product design department had a 3D printer AND a laser cutter – sheer bloody madness!

We then proceeded to start work on the LEGO event for the day – two guys from LEGO Education came in to run the event and I was tasked with aiding the students with anything they needed help with. They were tasked with making robots to do specific challenges as part of the “Green City Challenge” pack, which has several different engineering problems incorporated into it – pushing, lifting and carrying being the main three that were tackled during the day.

Lego Robot

It was good to work with LEGO during the day, I’d not used Mindstorms equipment in years so I was a little rusty. But it’s really easy to pick up and the kids took to it like a duck to water. They didn’t need much help and really got into it once they understood the basic principals of moving the motors on their robot. It was an awesome day apart from feeling really crumby in the physical well-being department.

Other than that I’ve also been working on my dissertation in my spare time. I’m currently working on the model design for my characters in the crowd simulation I’m adding to. Carefully programming in vertices and having them deform and change based on the characters body type. I’ve been wrecking my brains over a bug I’ve been having for AGES and not been able to notice. A bug that meant my little models were rendering in very ‘abstract’ ways:

Vertex Problems

The bug had eluded me for ages until last night when my girlfriend pointed it out to me when I was grumbling through my array of indices: I’d accidentally skipped a few numbers in the array… Whoops! So after changing that I can now declare proudly that my project is now progressing nicely again! I’ll be doing another post about my current final-year project progress as and when I have my model completed and working reasonably well.

Also… today is the start of the Steam Christmas Sale… may we all be blessed by Gaben’s great deals.

 

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