Tuesday, March 31, 2009

UCT RAG Floats 09

UCT RAG Floats Parade 2009 was themed "Where in the world". The general idea behind the floats parade is to collect change for SHAWCO but also allows residences to work in teams to create the floats with varying degrees of success. Some floats were slightly unstable but the EBESC float had a alien spacecraft with flashing lights which was quite impressive.

UCT Ballroom participates annually by dancing in the procession between the floats doing Samba line dance, a travelling version of Samba that is done individually. We ended up dancing behind the EBESC float this year as the float we were meant to dance for had generator issues.

The stop start nature of the parade made for some interesting reworks of the line dance but overall I think it was rather fun. My legs and feet were killing me later though. An hour of Samba on tar in takkies is not the best way to treat your feet. The impact alone is killer on the knees.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day 09

Ada Lovelace Day is an opportunity to write about women in technology. I decided I would write about one of my old lecturers who is using her computer background to help advance the field of visualisation of molecules.

Michelle Kuttel obtained her degreee in Computer Science and went on to study computational chemistry for her PhD. Her PhD thesis focused on Simulations of Carbohydrate Conformational Dynamics and Thermodynamics. While working towards her doctorate Michelle was the sysadmin for the chemistry group at UCT.

Following her doctorate Michelle has been lecturing students in Computer Science at UCT while working on visualising algorithms for carbohydrates and the simulation of carbohydrates. She also supervises students who are testing new docking techniques for molecules, visualisation of carbohydrates and high performance algorithms for computational chemistry.

Michelle is well-known in South African circles for high performance computing and was one of the original team to push for the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) that is now operational in Cape Town.

For me, Michelle and other female researchers at UCT were proof that females could survive the world of computing and still do the work they love.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Dash of culture

Mixit was an interesting experience. Put together to literally show a mix of dances, the pieces didn't gel or flow into a seamless show. I was intrigued by the music choices and how the dancers expressed what was essentially electronic music with a slight melody. Definitely not my favourite show.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Standard Bank IT Challenge

The Standard Bank IT Challenge is a four hour programming competition where each university enters four teams to compete for one place per university for the final. The teams are supplied with 1 PC and allowed to program in C++, Java and Pascal. In past years there has been support for Python but not this year. The problems this year varied from a string manipulation to a brute force solution for tiling a grid. The final ranking put Stellenbosch in first place solving all five problems with [censored] from UCT, in second place solving four of the five problems. The finals will take place in May in Johannesburg. I have never competed in the final before and it will be an interesting experience. Finals report to come in May :)