Last week was very quiet for me: starting with Memorial Day in the US meant a gentle start for me in Europe, too, and the week ended on Wednesday evening as we then had our own long weekend for Ascension, here in Switzerland. It was nice to have some time off just before a work trip: I’m getting up before dawn tomorrow to head across to Toronto for Autodesk’s annual internal Technical Summit (generally a really interesting and useful event – I’m very much looking forward to it).
Over the last few years – as those of you who follow me on Twitter may know – I’ve been heading up on a regular basis to the Bernese Oberland (mostly on weekends) with my family. It’s a gentle 1.5 hour drive from our home, making it very accessible.
My final professional activity of last week was our regular team meeting, which I took from the road (my wife was driving). I mentioned I was heading up to the mountains, which my boss said always makes him think of “The Sound of Music”. In fairness he’s not actually far from the mark. Although I fear that if my family and I started singing in chorus we’d only raise eyebrows and scatter the local wildlife. :-)
I’d planned on catching up on some MOOC-related work over the long weekend, but the weather was so nice that it ended up having to wait until our return on Sunday.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been plugging away on a few different MOOCs in my spare time. Here’s what I’ve worked on, so far:
- Coding the Matrix: Linear Algebra through Computer Science Applications from Brown via Coursera (my posts on it)
- Foundations of Computer Graphics from BerkeleyX via edX (my posts on it)
- Autonomous Mobile Robots from ETHx via edX (my post on it)
- Cyber-Physical Systems from BerkeleyX via edX
I haven’t talked about the last one, as yet. It’s one I’ve taken to shore up my knowledge of embedded systems: writing software that integrates with hardware is a very different skill, so this is helping exercise that part of my brain. The latest Lab exercise involved programming a virtual robot (an iRobot Create, a programmable sibling of the Roomba) to climb hills, determining the incline via its onboard accelerometer and avoiding obstacles based on various other sensor readings.
I’m basically done with these robotics-related classes, at this stage, which is a bit of a relief. I’d originally been concerned about the theoretical focus of “Autonomous Mobile Robots” but I ended up managing to keep up with the assignments fairly well. I’ve also completed most of the “Cyber-Physical Systems” assignments (enough to scrape a “pass”, anyway), so that will soon be finished, too.
There’s a really interesting class being delivered by TUMx (the University of Munich) called Autonomous Navigation for Flying Robots. This one actually costs money to get a certificate ($50), so I’ve thus far only signed up to audit the class (although that has as much to do with timing as the cost). The materials look really interesting, though, so I’ve downloaded 4 weeks worth of lecture that I’ll try to dig into on my trip across to Toronto.
As you can probably see, I’m a huge fan of MOOCs, although I admit it can be hard to find the time to work through them. I recommend taking a look at some of the online classes that are available: you can very often get access to top quality material by just auditing classes, assuming you don’t feel you have the time to keep up with the homework assignments.