year

Entering third year. Again.

I’ve done 8 months now at Airbus. Feels no where near that long, and it’s only a little while and I’ll be packing up the car, Hullward bound again.

I’m glad I’ve had this year to sit and think, really – uni goes by so quickly and it feels like the center of your universe whilst you’re in it and like all your friends are going to be with you forever, but the reality? This too shall pass, which is sad, but at the same time exciting.

I still don’t know what I’m doing after third year, I have a few options and a few different cities and countries, really, I’d be happy to live in (Bristol ranks quite highly, where before it wouldn’t even rank anywhere so I guess that’s something), and a few different pathways to go down.

Anyway, this isn’t about after uni, this is about thoughts on next year.

I wrote about this time last year that my final year project would be Life of Pi in mixed reality on a platform called CAVE (5 screens forming an immersive environment – 3 walls, floor and ceiling), which the Uni got just last year. I’m hoping Helen gets a student to do it this year, because I still feel pretty bad that I was all set to do it, and then “err…I’m going to Bristol BYE UNI” and it looked like a cool project, but at the time I wanted to come up with my own idea, but had very little time in which to come up with any inspiration.

This is where having a year to sit and think helps – I came up with something I’ve been wanting someone to make since…err…since I started scanning music in to use on my laptop when away from the Godley Sheet Music Library back at home. Can you tell what it is yet?

What I will be doing is a Sheet Music Library something akin to what itunes has done for people’s music collections – it will collate, organise and generally make using sheet music on a laptop a lot easier. I have listed I want to be able to use MusicXML as the main format which makes it easy to port your library out to software such as MuseScore in order to edit and play back (although I’m hoping I can put playback into the app itself…).

Why doesn’t this already exist? I have no idea. I don’t feel as though music innovations that hit the masses happen often – several orchestras probably already have something like this along with wireless page turners (something else I’d like to put in, but probably won’t have time – my theory is using Adafruit BlueFruit EZKey, trinket and a broken keyboard piano pedal, it shouldn’t be difficult but those are famous last words…) and conversion to and from editable music and MIDI for playback has been done both commercially and in the open source world, but that’s just it: musicians aren’t always computer scientist type people, so probably don’t know about the open source world, and quite personally if I see “OMR APP FOR JUST $300” I think “erm. no…I can live without that”, so whilst open source options are freely available, they’re not really that accessible. It’s also the case I have yet to see something that collates features from 3 different kind of bases – organisation, editing, playback – most will do one, but not all.

I like this idea much more than last year’s because it’s something I will benefit from not just academically, but in the sense that I can then take my music wherever I go. I think it’s important that your final year project be something you want and are passionate about, not just a generic game title someone else came up with, and this is why I didn’t go to my supervisor at work and ask for one: don’t get me wrong, planes are fun to get geeky over and the work I’ve done this year has been awesome, but my passion generally lies most strongly in my hobbies and therefore I think I will succeed and fair better with this project than any related to Aerospace.

As a techy note, I’m going to be writing this in Python because I feel very comfortable with python after this year, and I think that’s where there’ll be most open source libraries for research from, in addition to features python has such as the ability to wrap libraries from other languages in python using SWIG. This also shows where I’ve come from as last year, I was kind of hesitant to even suggest writing an FYP in anything other than C# or C++, fearing there’d be little departmental support, but when I mentioned to Jan who’s hopefully my new project supervisor, he didn’t seem astounded and was supportive: why should he, or any other academic be shocked at my personal choice? Programming is programming and you write in what YOU’RE most comfortable in, not the staff, and at the end of the day most CSy people, particularly academics, would be able to understand and debug python anyway…

Oh, and it probably goes without saying that I will be open sourcing my work once I’m done with it and it’s cleared from being assessed, and potentially making it into a system similar to the home media center style OS made for the Raspberry Pi so that it’s even more portable. But that’s for after uni…

A side note: I got come dine with me social sec (again – I was going to be doing this last year but then got an accidental placement…) which should be good fun. If any freshers or second years are reading this, you should really join because it’s a great way to meet new people and eat lots of free food. And discover new places to eat in Hull.

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