Sunny days, starry lights and lazy afternoons

Wowza! Another week gone. It seems that the days pass so incredibly slowly but the weeks are flying by. It is so strange that time can travel at both speeds - or rather that we can travel through time in such a multi-paced way. It's a beautiful thing, time.

Well, no matter how quickly or slowly the hours went this week, I'll still summarize them for you. This week, I went through all of the shape recognition classes and improved them. It is pretty complicated to explain because the shapes that we need to recognize aren't exactly general knowledge. A simple example though: Imagine a triangle, drawn facing up,  /_\ with three small circles below it. We had a recognizer for that, but it turns out that you can have two or four or a thousand circles below the triangle. I fixed that. We also needed a recognizer for a cursive 'y' character, because many of our users in our user studies have drawn curvy 'y' characters rather than the simple two stroke 'y' we recognized before. I renovated five or six other shapes, too, but I'll only bore you by giving the specifics, so I'll spare you.

This week, as a lab, we've completed quite a bit. We've almost finished "Instructor Mode" that allows teachers to make assignments. We laid the framework for this several weeks ago, but we are finally implementing it. I think it's really cool the way it works. Basically, a teacher enters the text for a question, enters a graphic if desired/needed, and sketches the answer the same as the student would. The student's sketch, then, is compared with the teacher's sketch (the 'key'), to find any mistakes. A student may have forgotten to draw an axis, or maybe he/she drew an arrow in the wrong direction. We can find all of that information, and feed it back to the user.

I think this is what makes our software so novel.  The instructor and student interfaces are nearly exactly the same. If the student draws a truss with the same structure of beams and nodes as the instructor, with the same number of arrows (forces), then the sketch is accepted. We also check for force names, force values, force units, equations, and just about anything else that the teacher specifies. If they specify it, we check it. If it all adds up, the whole question is correct! This means that a teacher can enforce whatever guidelines he/she may want.

This week, outside of work, has been really quite boring, though not miserable. I finished my 1,000 piece project and sent it off, and I am so excited for the recipient to open it. I'll be patient though. Please share my patience, I will share my information when I can. This week, I finished another 1,000 piece puzzle. My lab-mate Alexis and I have been exchanging  our puzzles once we both, so we traded again and I have new one to work on. I'm starting to forget which ones are mine and which are hers.

That's about all I have for this week! Hope yours was wonderful!