The end of a busy semester

Written on December 23, 2008

I'm back again. As the title of this post suggests, all regular classes have ended. I only had to take four courses in this first semester. But nevertheless we had lots of practics and projects. I'll try to summarize those projects to give an idea of what's keeping me busy. Please note that all projects are in groups.


We had two multimedia related projects. MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) was the subject of the first project. So XML showed up again. We had to annotate some movie trailers in MPEG-7. Afterwards a DID (Digital Item Declaration) and DIA (Digital Item Adaptation) was created. When this tagging was completed, the implementation of a MPEG-21 client could start. For this purpose we used C#. The user must be able to give a few terminal characteristics (e.g. screen resolution, remaining battery time) and some other preferences (e.g. movie actors, keywords). Our C# client would then filter the movie trailers by using the previous defined MPEG-7/MPEG-21 DIA information. Eventually, the most appropriate trailer should start playing.
The subject of the second project was error concealment in digital video. It was a far more complicated and time comsuming task than the previous one. We had to implement several error correction methods based on spatial and temporal error correction. Afterwards we had to evaluate all these methods through their PSNR (Peak Signal-to-Noise Ratio) values.

In addition, we also had some practics and one project about distributed systems. All practics had different subject. We used CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture), Java RMI (Remote Method Invocation), JSP (Java Server Pages) in combination with AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML), and BPEL (Business Process Execution Language). It were all small practics mainly to illustrate all these different technologies, so I'll save the details.
The goal of our project was to implement a citygame web application, making use of the Java EE framework and the Google Maps API. Basically the game consists of one thief and several detectives. Players can move to other locations on a map. The objective is simple: detectives must catch the thief, and the thief must avoid being catched. How did we realize that? We first had to create some JSP's for the main functionality (e.g. register, login/logout, account information, highscores). Next a map editor had to be created through the Google Maps API. Nothing hard, but I've spent a lot of time in debugging the JavaScript code. As well as for the game. In order to minimize page refreshes and to give our web application a more dynamic look, we used AJAX requests wherever possible. So far for this project.

One project was different than the others. It was a research project. We had to do some research in the field of computer architecture. We picked 'software transactional memory' as the subject of our research work and more specifically, we studied the java experimental framework called DSTM2 (Dynamic Software Transactional Memory). This library is available on the Sun website. This project was pretty cool. We could ran some benchmarks and afterwards we had to process and evaluate the results. It turned out that an overall conclusion telling which technique is the best, does not exist (yet). A good option might be to run for each specific case some tests to determine the optimal implementation.

And last but not least, we also had to develop the architecture of a new project. Next semester, we're given the opportunity to build a proof of concept for this architecture. The project deals with multi-channel advertising. But that's all I can say about it, because we all signed a non-disclosure agreement. No, just kidding!

Grand Theft Auto IV

So after much blood, sweat and tears, I finally finished all projects. Anyway, that's almost 2 weeks ago. I took a week off, in which I've bought Grand Theft Auto IV. It's much cooler than Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, thanks to the improved physics model. Perhaps I'll write my own mini-review. But now it's time to start studying. Because in two weeks, I must take my first exam.