Monday, 27 October 2008

*tex Pain

I've just finished writing my first report in Latex. I have also just experience Bibtex, the referencing package. The idea seems simple; keep the reference details and main content separate; and let Bibtex process it and pump out a correctly formatted bibliography.

The reality is that you will spend hours chasing horrible error messages from Bibtex about undefined references due to the minefield of possible syntax errors. The lesson is, use a proper latex editor in combination with some form of reference organiser to remove some of the pain.

Having said all this, i will definitely be using Latex in the future, primarily because it prevents me from getting distracted with formatting whilst writing the report. The end result is also much prettier.

Monday, 13 October 2008

2D CAT scan emulation software

A draft of the brief for my 3rd Year Project:

Recently the principles of CAT scanning have been transferred to non-medical applications. Examples of this include using GPS satellites to map weather in the ionosphere as well as scanning for oil and gas reservoirs. Typically in these environments it is not possible to move the scan points nor to scan the target from all angles. With such restrictions it is possible that large, important structures may not be resolved by the scanning process.

The objective of this project is to write a software tool to emulate the scanning, interpolation and processing stages of computer aided tomography. This tool will then be used to study the effects of restricting the number and position of scan-lines on the final reconstructed image.

The inputs to the program will be:
  • A bitmap of arbitrary size and colour depth that will be used to represent the 2D object being scanned.
  • A text file fully describing the position and orientation of the scan points.

The program will output:
  • The raw scan data
  • The reconstructed image
  • The reconstructed image after image processing
  • A measure of the similarity of the target and scan image

The program will have the following variables:
  • Position and number of scan lines
  • Absorption model – additive/integral
  • Image manipulation techniques – applied after interpolation
  • Target/Image comparison techniques – a selection of methods to evaluate the accuracy and resolution of the scan output
  • Batch processing

The goal of this project is to design an appropriate set of test images and scan configurations to be processed by the emulation software. Theses tests should highlight the circumstances that lead to important data within the target image being lost as a result of the scanning process. The results may then be used to comment on the suitability and effectiveness of CAT scanning in a range of real-world non-medical applications.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

A Better Timetable

The Problem:

The university timetable (at Southampton University) is rubbish. A flat PDF with cryptic course codes and building/room numbers which require at least two other resources to translate into any sort of geographical location. If you are in a hurry (which i usually am when looking at a timetable) not only is it extremely irritating having to log in to various portals (none as exciting as Narnia) just to get at some pretty simple info.



The Solution:


A web based timetable which integrates all the info in one place. The steps involved:


  • Upload the rubbish PDF file downloaded from university website.

  • The file is processed on the server and converted into a database table format

  • All user-identifiable information is stripped from the pdf

  • The user then selects a memorable identifier that identifies their timetable, there is no need for a password (cannot link student number/name with timetable)

  • The user or someone the user has shared their timetable with goes to the site eg. http://www.better-ttable.com/?table=funkymonkey

  • The page then shows the 'now & next' lectures. Each one shows the building number and name and on click highlights the building on the map

  • you can browse the weeks timetable and add extra lectures (tutorials etc.) and 'week specific' events (non recurring)

  • There is a mobile version of the site adapted for the small screen




I just wish i had time to actually do this :-( , perhaps sell it to the uni when it becomes a roaring success