Oldmachar Academy Visits RGU Computing

Overview of the Day and Setup
Yesterday – Monday 18th Nov 2013, 21 students studying computing from Oldmachar Academy – S5/S6 visited the School of Computing Science and Digital Media at the Riverside East building for a series of workshops covering how to build a PC, iPad Programming using Codea and Computer Networking. The general outline for the day was as follows.

09:30 Meeting just inside the entrance to the Riverside East Building, followed by a tour
10:00 Build a PC Workshop
11:00 Snack
11:15 iPad Programming Workshop
13:00 Lunch
13:45 Networking Workshop
15:00 Workshops completed & party exited from Riverside East

The workshops were carried out by Dr. Daniel C. Doolan and Iain Bell with help from one of our MMD4 students Peter Prjevara. The day began with the workshop team getting setup for the workshops a little before 09:00 in the morning, Susan Frost from the support team also gave a hand in getting all the equipment setup in the south east area of Riverside East on Level 2. By around 09:25 all preparations had been completed & Dr. Doolan went to the main entrance to meet the group for an 09:30 start. We waited just a few minutes for the remaining couple of students to arrive before commencing a tour of the building.

Tour of Riverside East
Starting from the main entrance we proceeded east, making some quick stops to look at the learning café and to overlook the main dining area with a view south across the river and the wonderful autumnal landscape. The next stop was in the Atrium to take note of some of the architecture, before heading down to level 2 to see the 175 seater lecture room located in the Research/Teaching Drum. Everybody took a seat in the lecture room as Dr. Doolan demonstrated the use of the document camera system by directing it towards the audience so they could all see themselves on the projected screen.

Following on from this we made our way up to level 5 at the far north east end of the building to take a look at some of our computer labs, commencing with the 116 seater first year lab N533, equipped with 6 Epson projectors and 2 x 55 inch 1080P NEC MultiSync V552 LCD display panels. Next we proceeded west along the level 5 corridor taking a quick look in one or two other labs, before completing the lab tour in N525 the 30 seater iMac lab.

The next stop of the tour was to visit the library where we met up with Victoria Farmer. We split the group into two to reduce the disruption to those using the facilities, I took the first group all the way up to level 9 taking the stairs, following a quick trek around level 9 we then went to level 8 to see some of the compact shelving before heading back down to the main entrance on level 5. Victoria took the second group firstly to level 8 and then on to level 9, taking the option of the lift rather than the stairs. Once the two groups had finally reformed we then made our way down to the level 2 dining area and headed east to start the first workshop of the day.

Build A PC Workshop
The first workshop of the day was Build a PC. Dr. Doolan commenced by giving a lecture on the process of building a PC, this was punctuated with a number of videos highlighting certain parts of the process. One of the example videos shown was a time-lapse video showing the entire build of a water-cooled Core i7 System with a Sabertooth X79 motherboard and a Coolermaster Cosmos II case.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yj4M9eMCkAY&w=640&h=360]

Following on from the lecture Iain Bell took the lead on the practical session in building an actual personal computer. The students were split up into six groups for this as you can see in the next video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-W-rO3sz3U&w=640&h=360]

iPad Workshop – Codea Programming
Around 11:00 to took a short break before starting into the iPad programming workshop. I discussed a number of things starting with algorithms and what sort of a process one would go through to make a cup of tea. One of course can’t talk about computer programming without discussing how to deal with the inevitable errors that will occur, hence it was essential to highlight the first computer bug discovered in 1947 – an actual Moth. During the course of the workshop we looked at things such as variables, graphics, 24 bit colour, random number generation, touch detection, testing for conditions, loops, one and two dimensional arrays and other such things. The following videos should give some sense of the programs we wrote following the theme of LED’s and a Matrix of iPads.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5zNxIYPunQ&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTu8Eowolbk&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGKfL88PDTc&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdT8nFxORjY&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3mEquibGZ0&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5y9nUcvApE&w=640&h=360]

At the end of the iPad workshop we assembled in the Atrium to take some group photographs with the iPads running a program which would generate a letter the likes of which you would see on an LED Matrix display. The videos below give some sense of what it was like shuffling everybody around to ensure all the screens were visible for the photographs. Two texts were spelt out “Oldmachar Academy” and “Thank You for Today” both of which nicely fitted into the 16 iPads we had available.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKbZodUioDQ&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-J9G5s3X2Q&w=640&h=360]

Lunch Time
By this stage it was time for lunch, during which a number of student videos were displayed on the Schools 60 inch plasma TV. The videos were mainly the work of 4th year students undertaking a module on Audio and Video Production. A small sample of these videos may be seen below. In addition over the past days the newly appointed Green Screen Room hand been setup with a 12 camera motion capture system, hence some time-lapse videos of this process were also shown.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDFYw3SdTeY&w=640&h=360]
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3u4btSsOJs&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgaR5NPNCcc&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icNW6E9IHEo&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJZXj8kPQaU&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KAUIMzt75g&w=640&h=360]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwW_OIDRy7I&w=640&h=360]

Computer Networking Workshop
After lunch it was straight into the final workshop on Computer Networking, again as with the Build a PC Workshop Dr. Doolan started it off with a short lecture on computer networks, covering things from the types of hardware: hubs, switches, bridges, routers and the like to types of cabling UTP, STP, Coaxial, Fibre. Then it was on to the types of network topologies and elements such as protocols and services such as DHCP. The talk finally concluded by looking at Bluetooth networks in the form of Point to Point, Piconets and Scatternets. The very last slide highlighted some distributed computing projects that millions of people around the world are involved with such as SETI@Home, Folding@Home and ClimatePrediction.net .

With the talk concluded Iain Bell again took the lead on the practical workshop, whereby half a dozen laptops were connected together through a switch and IP addresses were assigned to each machine. To test that all this was working we of course used the classical “Ping” command to test if data could be transmitted from one machine to another. Following on from this the students proceeded to share resources and create some security settings. The workshop completed with about 10 minutes set aside to demonstrate client/server operations through the use of Unreal Tournament.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcoQqEXqZBk&w=640&h=360]

Terminus of the Visit
The workshop concluded around 14:55 and after saying a final few words I lead the group to the entrance of Riverside East, with the final person exiting precisely at 15:00 right down to the very second.

Tidying up and Copying Footage
All in all with was very much a fun day and everybody seemed to have a good time. By around 15:30 we had managed to pack up everything and get it back to its proper place in either the storeroom to the support team office. During the course of the workshops we hand a number of Canon 700D cameras in operation to record the videos you have seen above and take some pictures. Hence it was now time to start getting this content off the cameras. Tommy Taylor initiated the first download with one of the cameras, and I started another camera a short time later. All the footage had been copied by around 17:45. During which time I was able to edit a number of photographs and send them on to the marketing department and also catch up on the days email.

At 17:30 it was time to meetup with the Computer Society in N533 for our usual weekly meeting. Given that it was assessment week the labs were quite busy with a good number of people all working on Coursework. Once the CompSoc meeting was concluded it was now time to set about preparing the video material for editing.

Editing and Video Generation
I was able to start the editing process once I was finished with the CompSoc meetup and managed to concluded around 23:30, generating the 10 videos you see above from around 30GB of material. The editing process was carried out using Adobe Premiere. With a final review of the rendered videos and copying them in preparation for upload the workshop event finally concluded around midnight for me.

Blog Post and Uploading
The next day it was then a matter of uploading the videos to YouTube and writing up this particular blog post. This took perhaps another 3 hours sandwiched in during the morning, the attending of a BIG Data Event in the afternoon and the Launch of the Universities Oil and Gas Strategy in the evening.

Below are a few photographs taken during the day.