Fundamentals of Success, Life and Academic Performance

The following videos outline some general rules of success and how one can ultimately change the world, through focus, dedication and commitment coupled with giving back to the world / community that has contributed along the way.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – In this video he outlines 5 key Rules of Success. A far more detailed and in-depth interview exploring Vision, Goals, Confidence and Time Management may be seen (online)

One of the key elements mentioned in the video above is to have a clear vision, a destination. Perhaps the following video from Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country, 1991 (IMDB) is a good example, as the Enterprise is asked by a Klingon outpost for its Destination – “What is your Destination, Over”. Even with a warp capable Starship like the Enterprise, without a Heading / Destination one will just drift through space without ever getting anywhere. Many star athletes “begin with the end in mind” to quote Stephen R. Covey and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, they visualise and see the ultimate goal the wish to achieve.

As with all journeys one must first have a direction of travel, in the case of Samwise and Frodo departing the Shire in The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001 (IMDB), their initial destination was the village of Bree. As with all journeys one must set off by putting one foot in front of the other and embrace the adventure that lies ahead.

Admiral William H. McRaven – highlights 10 key life lessons that are very much centered around how one can change the world by adhering to some basic principles. A more detailed account, along with a 20 minute video may be seen (online).

Many of the above Rules & Life Lessons can be readily applied to Academic study. As Schwarzenegger mentions one has to “work your butt off”. Putting in hard work and focus is essential, however perhaps even more importantly is to focus on working hard at doing the right things. The following video below highlights several key things that the top 10% of students do in stark contrast to the other 90%. Two of the key things that make all the difference is to develop a Schedule / Plan and also to put in the work doing Practice Exams / Homework.

An interesting article in which the speaker in the video above contributes, can be found (online) and is aptly named the “Science of Student Success”.

Just turning up to class for example, isn’t going to guarantee success in coursework / exams. One must put in the work. Its just like having a Gym membership, paying the membership fee, and going to the gym for just a few weeks or on the odd occasion will not produce any results. One must put in the work over and over again, moreover it is important to do the right thing, hence how one works out at the gym with the correct form is also crucial. The real key to building muscle mass is not stopping once you have done 10 reps just like everybody else, the real value comes at the very end by putting in that extra couple of reps. This extra bit of effort is what makes all the difference to making the most of the training session. This is something that Schwarzenegger mentions time and time again in many of his interviews.

Perhaps it is apt quote Colonel John Hannibal Smith from the A-Team – “I love it when a plan comes together”. The videos below depicts Hannibal (George Peppard) from both the TV Show and the more recent move (Liam Neeson) saying the well know line.

Commitment is also a key ingredient, as is well voiced by wise Jedi Master Yoda “Try not, Do or Do not, there is no try” – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980 (IMDB). Trying to do something half-heartily will not lead to success, if you are going to do something the commit to it 100%. Another very good example of this is from The Karate Kid, 1984 (IMDB), at the point where Mr. Miyagi ask Daniel if he is ready to begin his Karate training. Daniel responds by saying “Yeah, I guess so”. Mr Miyagi in turn outlines a short story about walking on a road, both the left and right sides are safe, but if one walks in the middle, then sooner or later you will get run over. Again it all comes down to Commitment, either you are going to do something and give it 100% or not.

Perhaps one of the most important thing at University, especially in Computing is to treat it like a Gym. Only by working out and learning to tackle new problems can one problem solving skills improve along with their programming ability.

Any other tips for success?
Do you know of any other good strategies useful on the road toward Academic Success?
Have you seen any interesting videos recently about how to focus, do the right thing and ultimately achieve the best results?
What interesting things have you learned from watching the videos above?
What are the most profound / useful things you can take away and action from the above videos?

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Kainos AI Camp and Hackathon – Week 2 Summary

This post gives some idea of what the final week of the Kainos AI Camp and Hackathon was like. The start of the second week commenced on Monday morning by reviewing what was explored the following week. A number of people from Kainos also attended in order to capture some interviews and video of the AI Camp in action. Around the middle of the week Kainos’ CTO Tom Gray (online) visited to give a talk about the company followed up by a Q&A session. During the final two days of the week two further tutors took part to explore the world of computer vision.

A day long Hackathon took place on Saturday 15th with teams consisting of two to three people developing some really excellent and interesting ideas. The hackathon concluded with all teams presenting their work to a panel of Judges, with some really great and fun prizes available to the winning teams along with a number of individual prizes as well. The previous day – Friday 14th Sept, the participants spent much of the day thinking of the ideas for the hackathon, getting into teams, and exploring the possible data sets they could use. It was really great to see the amount of in-depth detailed discussion and enthusiasm that electrified the room with creativity. A huge shout out to all the tutors must be given particularly to Chloe (online) and Jake (online) who ran most of the two week event.

The tweets below should help to give you a good sense of what Week 02 was like along with the capstone Hackathon event.

Summary of Week 01 (online).

Social Media Feeds
Kainos (online)
Kainos Academy (online)
Kainos CTO – Tom Gray (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Chloe Thompson (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Jake Young (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Mary-Jane (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Liam Ferris (online)
AI Camp Co-ordination – Don Le (online)
Guest Speaker (Convolution Neural Networks) – Alan Dolhasz (online)
Guest Speaker (AI & the Media) – Kari Lawler (online), Youth4AI (online)
BCU Computing (online)
AI Camp Hashtag (online)

AI Camp Week 02 in Tweets
The following embedded tweets below should give you some sense of what the second week of the AI Camp was like along with the final Hackathon event that took places at Kainos’ Offices located at Alpha Tower (online), Birmingham.

Kainos AI Camp and Hackathon – Week 1 Summary

Over the first two weeks of September 2018 Kainos has been running a AI Camp and Hackathon event (online) hosted at BCU Computing. The AI Camp schedule runs from 09:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday over the two week period, with a final Hackathon taking place on Saturday 15th Sept at Kainos’ office located in Alpha Tower, Birmingham. Around twenty of those who signed up were selected to participate in the AI Camp and Hackathon. The group consisting mainly of Computer Science / Computer Science and AI undergrad students along with some from Physics as well, spans a number of university institutions across central England.

Just prior to this event another had been held in Belfast during the last two weeks of August with the final Hackathon taking place on Saturday 1st September. That left the tutors running the AI camp with just the Sunday to get packed and fly to Birmingham to get going again first thing on Monday morning with the second instance of the camp.

Social Media Feeds
Kainos (online)
Kainos Academy (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Chloe Thompson (online)
AI Camp Tutor – Jake Young (online)
AI Camp Co-ordination – Don Le (online)
Guest Speaker (Convolution Neural Networks) – Alan Dolhasz (online)
Guest Speaker (AI & the Media) – Kari Lawler (online), Youth4AI (online)
BCU Computing (online)
AI Camp Hashtag (online)

AI Camp Week 01 in Tweets
The following embedded tweets below should give you some sense of what the first week of the AI Camp was like.

University incoming Class Photos – (Examples in Video), an engaging Start?

It seems that quite a number of Universities start off the academic year by organising a class photo for all the new incoming students. A number of such examples can be seen in the videos below.

As can be seen in the video directly below, such group photographs aren’t just limited to the University arena but also spans across the Universe, in particular with this example of the 10 year anniversary group photo of the Marvel Universe.

Marvel Universe 10 year Class Photo

1. Is this a good method of building a sense of community, pride and belonging right from the very start of the University experience?

2. Do many other Universities create incoming class photos?

3. Is it nice to receive a hardcopy print of the photo, or is it better & more environmentally friendly for it to be available online through the likes of Facebook so participants can be tagged, given we are nearing the end of the second decade of the 21st century?

4. Have you seen any institutions outside of the US taking on this form of welcome activity?

5. Have you seen any other interesting forms of welcome activity that generates a sense of community and excitement?

6. What is the smallest & largest gathering you have seen for a University class group photo, 3000, 5000, more?

7. Are such incoming class photos generally taken at the University level for all incoming students, or have you seen any that are at College/Faculty or School/Department level?

8. What was the most fun / interesting incoming class group photo you’ve seen?

Butler University – Class of 2021

Butler University – Class of 2020

Butler University – Class of 2019

Butler University – Class of 2018

Butler University – Class of 2017

University of Chicago – Class of 2019

University of Chicago – Class of 2018

University of Chicago – Class of 2016

University of Connecticut– Class of 2016

Cornell – Class of 2016

Duke University – Class of 2020

Duke University – Class of 2019

Duke University – Class of 2018

Duke University – Class of 2016 (Over 40 minutes duration)

Duke University – Class of 2013

Emory University – Class of 2021

Emory University – Class of 2016

Emory University – Class of 2014 (First ever class photo)

University of Iowa – Class of 2019

University of Iowa – Class of 2015

University of Massachusetts – Class of 2020

Michigan Technological University – Class of 2013

Michigan Technological University – Class of 2012

University of Minnesota – Class of 2020

MSOE – Class of 2018

University of North Texas – Class of 2019

Northwestern University – Class of 2021

Northwestern University – Class of 2020

Northwestern University – Class of 2018

University of Pennsylvania – Class of 2016

University of Pittsburgh – Class of 2021

University of Pittsburgh – Class of 2020

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) – Class of 2018

University of Southern Indiana – Class of 2018

SMU – Class of 2021

SMU – Class of 2020

SMU – Class of 2016

SMU – Class of 2015

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2021

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2020

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2019

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2018

University of Texas at Austin – Class of 2017

Wesleyan University – Class of 2018

West Point – Class of 2012

BCU Global Game Jam 2018 – Tweet Summary

The 2018 Global Game Jam event took place over the weekend of Friday 26th Jan to Sun 28th Jan. In the case of BCU registrations commenced around 17:00 on the 25th, with the opening ceremony starting at 18:00. The theme for the 2018 event was “Transmission” the previous year was “Waves”.

The event started to finish up around 13:00 on Sunday 28th Jan with the teams uploading their games (online). At 14:00 presentations kicked off, with a number of companies and organisers present to judge and give prizes. The Vice Chancellor also attended for most of this final presentation session along with half a dozen academics from the School of Computing and Digital Technology. After the handing out of a number of prizes, one being to visit Fish in a Bottle (online), the two day event wrapped up around 15:30.

In all over 70 people took part, from universities across the country along with a number of graduates out in industry as well.

The following tweets below, may give you some idea of what the event was like. One can also see a collection of tweets from last years event (online).

I also made a further post during the weekend of the Game Jam – highlighting a good few tweets that depict the use of Tents at these events and Hackathons in general (online). Some large hackathon events have been in tents that would have taken days to construct. Some teams bring tents with them and have in-tent coding going on during the event, while others take more a campfire approach. In the case of one hackathon held in a sports hall, a large portion of same was taken over with tents.

Post-it Note Art in Video

During the summer I spent some time at Google London along with around a dozen other academics from half a dozen universities. One thing in particular that caught everybody’s attention was the displays of Post-it Note Pixel Art adorning the interior windows. As you would expect, many of the mosaics were game characters. It seemed like a really good, fun and collaborative way of brightening up the offices spaces and bringing them to life.

It would seem that this use of Post-it note art has spread from Google London’s office to its Dublin Office as can be seen in the time-lapse videos directly below (posted less than two weeks ago – 15/09/2017), whereby Wonder Woman now adorns some of the windows of Google’s Dublin Office.

Some other offices have also made use of Post-it Notes to make the otherwise plain walls sparkle with excitement and colour. The videos below depict the creation of a murial of several characters such as Iron-man, Wonder Woman and Batman requiring a total of 8024 Post-it notes (online). The work of art was of a temporary nature as they were moving to another office within a few months. The manner in which they removed the artwork was quite unique employing a leaf-blower to prise the post-it’s from the walls.

The video below shows yet another office taking a Star Wars theme to the creation of their Post-it Note murials.

It would seem that this imaginative use of Post-it notes commenced with a simple “Hi” being posted on the window of an advertising agency, with another agency right across the street replying to same (around 2 years ago). This quickly escalated into an all out Post-it note battle (online) as can be seen from the news segments and videos below. The hashtags #postitwars and #canalnotes also began to be bounded around on twitter. If you do some further searching around you will find several other examples of Post-its being used for artistic purposes going back several years previous to this post-it war.

Quite a few other videos may also be found online with companies and individuals adorning their windows and walls with post-it notes.

From the time-lapse video below captured in a sports hall it would seem that post-it note art has been taken to a whole different level in terms of sheer scale.

The following website (online) has some useful tips for creation Post-it note art. From suggesting to use 3M Super Sticky Notes, to measuring your wall space and planning out a grid. On another Note – pun intended – you can find out more about the accidental invention of the glue and inception of the post-it back in the late 1970’s (online).

Overall this form of art seems like a really fun and simple way to liven up an office space or blank wall / window. It could be a really fun and collaborative way of turning whitewashed walls of university computer labs into something exciting, immersive and inspirational for instance.

Visit to the UK’s Biggest Gaming Event – EXG 2017

Last year during University Welcome Week, several bus loads of BCU Computing students along with a number of staff headed off on an adventure to visit Bletchley Park (online). This year The UK’s Biggest Gaming Event EXG 2017 happened to be taking place during welcome week, so several hundred students and staff ventured to the NEC to explore the world of computer games – past, present and future. The photos below should help to give some small sense of what the event was like.

One could find several hundred retro games available to be played – a detailed list available from the Retro Strand (online).

EXG 2017 is running from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th Sept inclusive, so plenty of opportunities still exist to check out the event and play some games. The 2016 EGX event had over 75,000 people in attendance (online), will this year be even bigger?

Useful Links
EXG Website (online)
EGX Facebook Page (online)
EGX Twitter Feed (online)
EGX on YouTube (online)
EGX on Twitch (online)

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This EXG 2017 Trailer on YouTube may also help to give a good sense of the event.

The following embedded videos are of various talks that took place during the opening day – 21st Sept. These talks include Andy Serkis discussing Planet of the Apes, Xbox One X & the Future of Console Technology with Digital Foundry, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Designing The City of Kings, a MMORPG inspired board game with Frank West and How Firaxis saved XCOM from complete disaster with Jake Solomon.