In Depth #5 – Insects and Justice

Since the last blog post, we’ve had spring break and it’s been a week since we’ve come back to school! I wasn’t able to attend lectures during spring break, but I did go to a class before and was able to obtain the content for the classes I missed, so I studied up on my own time. When I first began attending the lectures, we started off by learning about blow flies and the insects themselves. Now, the content has been moving forward towards applying our knowledge. We’re learning more about how forensic entomology can be used for not only estimating time of death, but how it can be used for other purposes like telling if the body has been moved or for drug/toxin identification.

I found it the most interesting that forensic entomology could be used for drug/toxin identification. If there isn’t enough flesh left to test the body for toxins, maggots can be used! Maggots bio-accumulate toxins, which means that by examining the maggots left on the body, traces of drugs or toxins can be found. So if there’s toxins or drugs in a victim’s body, the larvae/maggots feed on the tissue that contains those toxins. While the larvae eats the tissue, it accumulates the toxins from the victims tissue into it’s own body. So by examining the larvae, we can identify the toxins or drugs that were in the body! Who knew that insects could be used for such a wide area of purposes, and not just for estimating time of death?

While I wasn’t able to record a transcript of a conversation with my mentor, as I am listening to a lecture and unfortunately, not having a conversation, I was able to identify different hats I had to put on while I was listening to the lecture! The hats that I feel I put on the most were the white hat, red hat, and black hat.

White hat: While listening to the lectures from my mentor, I’m gaining information. However, while I’m listening to lectures, there’s information I’m gaining and there’s also information that I already have. While listening, sometimes the information I get contradicts the information I already know, or I think I know. For example, when my professor gives examples of when they’ve gone to testify at court, I’m always surprised at the difference of what being a forensic scientist is like in reality, compared to what I knew it to be. So by using the white hat, I’m able to clarify and further understand the reality of being a forensic entomologist.

Red hat: Sometimes I get confused. While listening to the lectures, I’m receiving a lot of information, but the feeling I get from it isn’t always the best. For example, when my mentor mentions case studies and talks about how there isn’t always sufficient information concerning specific species of blow flies, I get frustrated and confused. Forensic entomology is a very useful area that’s helps make it so justice is enacted rightfully and accurately. So why isn’t there a lot of data about different blow flies and their development? If this data is going to be useful in making sure there aren’t wrongful convictions, why aren’t people running around trying to get this information? These were the questions that came along with the frustration that bubbled up within me while I was listening to the lecture. Luckily, the black hat helped clear it up.

Black hat: While listening to the lecture move on, and throughout the next few classes, I realized that there were legitimate reasons why there wasn’t enough data. Firstly, obtaining data isn’t the easiest process. It takes time and effort. Secondly, forensic entomology hasn’t been around for the longest time. While data is being compiled, there still isn’t a lot of data accumulated quite yet. Thirdly, while people are working towards obtaining data, not everyone in the world is a forensic entomologist. Thinking critically using the black hat and combining it with the information that the white hat provided to me, I was able to come to a better understanding about the field of forensic entomology.

Caitlin and I have begun brainstorming ideas for our final In Depth presentation. So far, we’re planning on having 2 mock victims/bodies where we can replicate how they would look and different conditions they would be in. I’m also hoping to have an area where I can talk about forensic entomology and about the different techniques used!

In-Depth Post: The Six Thinking Hats

April 7th, 2019 – 2 months left until In-Depth night

 

Progress:

Here is what I have discussed with my mentor during our meeting:

 

What I have done – We talked about the stuff I have already learned and made, what I did well, and what I need to work on.

What I tried to do – I talked about what I have been trying to do since the last meeting, what I struggled with.

What I’ll do next – We discussed what I should work on next, how I can improve, and my goals.

 

The biggest challenge I have faced during my learning has been making a complete song that doesn’t feel like a loop. Recently, all my focus has been on learning how to create b-sections and continuing my songs without being repetitive. I have consulted my mentor and he sent me this to help me. Friends who have heard my music have recommended that I listen to other songs to learn and get inspired. Although I have tried many things, I still can’t seem to get the b-section right. To overcome this hurdle, my mentor has given me a task: create 5 songs with just piano and drums. This assignment is what I have been working on since my meeting, and I hope to learn something from this process.

I hope to understand the art of making complete songs by mid-April so that I may begin working on my final product: two complete songs. I really hope that I can accomplish this, and I look forward to the rest of April and towards May.

 

How to have a Beautiful Mind:

I will go over conversations I had with my mentor and identify the corresponding hats:

Blue

Red

Black

White

Yellow

Green

Mentor: So, what have you done since our last meeting?

Me: I’ve tried to continue my songs, with a b-section, but I feel like something is missing. I can’t seem to make a second part without it sounding bad.

 

My mentor directs the focus of the conversation with the blue hat and asks me what I have been doing since the last meeting. I use my red hat to express that, despite my efforts, I have not been able to figure out what I have been doing wrong. I also use my black hat to share that my work has been sounding poor due to not understanding how to effectively make a b-section.

 

Me: I don’t understand how to make a b-section.

Mentor: A b-section is like the first part of the song, but slightly different. For example, removing the drums and changing a few notes. Try putting a twist on the first section.

 

The white hat is being used to share that I don’t know how to make a b-section. My mentor also uses the white hat to explain what a b-section is, and then a green hat to explain how to develop a b-section that sounds good.

 

(after listening to a song that I made)

Mentor: I think it’s pretty cool, I think you should try following some more song structure.

 

My mentor uses the yellow hat to point out the value he sees in what I have already done, motivating me to work harder. He also uses the green hat again to suggest an alternative idea to what I had done in my song (I just added more layers rather than follow structure).

 

This mentoring session was quite short due to my mentor and me not being able to interact with the project as we were having the conversation. This is because my laptop can’t run the program and it must be done on my desktop PC at home. So, in addition to the normal mentoring sessions, I think it will be beneficial to have ‘meetings’ from my house through skype.

In-Depth Post #5

It has been a while since the last in-depth blog post, and I have completed a lot since then. I met with my mentor for the last time before moving on from the research phase of in-depth. Since the meeting, I have created a guide for the process of logo making. I learned about these steps through my meetings with my mentor, as well as online research. An important part of logo design that I didn’t know about before I started in-depth is the discovery meeting. Outlining the brand identity and preferred typefaces/colours are crucial to a successful logo that will stand the test of time. Creating the logo process guide also gave me a chance to work with the vector graphics editor I will be using for my logos, Inkscape. It took me a little while to figure out how to create and merge specific shapes, but I now have a decent understanding of the program. Now that my logo process guide is complete, I will begin designing logos.

screen-shot-2019-04-07-at-5-30-51-pm screen-shot-2019-04-07-at-5-31-21-pm

During our meeting, my mentor and I had discussions while using the different hats from Edward De Bono’s, How to Have a Beautiful Mind. One example of this is our discussion of evaluating logos.

Me: So, do you have a rubric for when you evaluate your logos?

Mentor: No, not really a rubric. I guess it’s just the client, their needs. As long as it’s what the client asked for and they’re happy with it, the logo is good.

Me: What about you and your team? Do you take your opinions into account?

Mentor: Yeah, how we feel about it matters too. It still has to look good to us if we’re going to present it to [the client]. I guess the rubric would be: does it look good to us? And does it fit the client’s needs?

In this discussion, I start out by using the blue hat to define the purpose of the discussion. My mentor’s first answer involves him using the black hat because he is talking about how he critiques his logos. My mentor’s answer to the second question involves him using the red hat because he is talking about the importance of his feelings about the logo, as well as his team’s feelings. The white hat is also used in this answer when he talks about the logo fitting the client’s needs. The client’s needs are outlined on a questionnaire that his company gives to the client before they begin designing the logo. Since the client’s needs are information, my mentor is using the white hat.

My mentor also used the yellow hat when I talked more about math in logo design, which I did in my last meeting as well.

Me: How often is math useful in logo design and compared to just using your eyes?

Mentor: Well, stuff like grids can be useful, depending on the logo. Our eyes like symmetry so it makes sense that using symmetry in a logo would work well. But sometimes, you just need to look at it, you know? Like Google. People noticed their logo isn’t symmetrical, but if you make it symmetrical, it looks off.

My mentor used the yellow hat when he was discussing why symmetry should work in a logo. These hats will also be helpful in logo critiquing discussions.

I am excited to use my logo guide to help create my logos!

Indepth Blog Post #5

 

In Depth 2019 has been going well so far, but there is lots left to do if I want to have anything for In-Depth night. For the past week and a bit my mentor has been extremely busy with UBC exams and wrapping up the semester, but I still was able to see him, twice. The first time I went to learn was all day on a Saturday, then the following Friday for our second meet. Friday was a little crazy since he was busy with multiple other projects while still trying to teach me. So far, I have built the general skeleton of the arm, and I have mounted 2 stepper motors. Take a look of the arm in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2AdCaXbebE&feature=youtu.be

In the video, I am using something called a potentiometer which outputs an analog signal that has values from 0 – 1023. My code will tell the stepper motor (in reality the code gives instructions to the stepper motor driver that then operates the motor by quickly switching the polarity of the copper coils within the motor) to either go a certain direction if the potentiometer reads below 300, or if the other direction if the potentiometer reads above 700, if the potentiometer reads within 300-700, then the code will not send any instructions to the driver, meaning the motor will not turn. There is also a complicated mechanical part to the arm as well, but I will explain this in detail in future evaluations.

 

For the majority of our conversations, the white and black hat is used, since we are usually talking about very technical problems and solutions that require precise facts to be discussed and evaluated.

When I asked this question, I wore the blue hat, as I was setting up a conversation.

(Blue hat) Me: So why can’t we plug the stepper motor directly into the microcontroller, instead of using the driver?

(White hat) Mentor: That’s a great question, but because the stepper motor is simply just a few electromagnets and a shaft, it lacks the sophistication of say, a servo motor.

(Yellow / black hat) Me: Meaning we would have to manually change the polarity to initiate the steps (make the motor turn)?

(White hat) Mentor: Yes, which will be challenging, and hard to control. The driver basically takes the instructions we send it, via the microcontroller, and using an H bridge, will take the simpler instructions and use them to turn the stepper motor.

(he went on to explain more details using the white hat)

(Green hat) Me: Ahh, ok, I see that it makes much more sense to use a driver, but would it make any sense to try and create our own stepper motor driver?

(Red hat) Mentor: Probably not, a successful driver needs a lot of work to build and could take up a lot of valuable time.

(Black hat) Me: So why spend all that time when you can grab one on Amazon for a few bucks.

Mentor: Exactly.

 

 

Here is my code, see if you can find the statements which read the potentiometer values:

const int stepPin = 9;
const int dirPin = 8;
int customDelay,customDelayMapped; // Define variables
bool r = false;
int tim;
int s = 300;
void setup() {
  pinMode(stepPin,OUTPUT);
  pinMode(dirPin,OUTPUT);
  Serial.begin(9600);
}
int direktion (){
if (analogRead(A0)< 300){ //here is a line that reads the potentiometer
 Serial.println(analogRead(A0));
 digitalWrite(dirPin,LOW); //Enables the motor to move in a particular direction
  digitalWrite(stepPin, HIGH);
  delayMicroseconds(s);
  digitalWrite(stepPin, LOW);
  delayMicroseconds(s);
  }
 if (analogRead(A0) > 700){ // here is the second line that reads the potentiometer
    Serial.println(analogRead(A0));
  r = true;
 digitalWrite(dirPin,HIGH); //Enables the motor to move in a particular direction
  digitalWrite(stepPin, HIGH);
  delayMicroseconds(s);
  digitalWrite(stepPin, LOW);
  delayMicroseconds(s);
  }
  else{
    r = false;
    }
    if (r == true){
  }
}
void loop() {
 speedUp();
direktion ();
}
int speedUp() {
 int tim = analogRead(A0);
 int newCustom = map(tim, 0, 1023, 0, 1023);
  return newCustom;
}

In-Depth Blog Post #5: Understanding

With so much time since the last post, I have a lot of new progress to share in this post. Over spring break, I spent some time practicing coding, and learned how to clean up my code and change variables within code to change things when the app runs. I have also raised the difficultly significantly, and the projects are starting to take more time.


 

Status Update:


 

Scrolling Shooter:

This was the main project, that took me a long time to complete. Using the triangle turning and moving code from the last post, I added buttons to press, some stars in the background (with parallax)!, a projectile and some obstacles to make a space shooting game. There is not a goal to win yet, but I learned how to create game boundaries, make parallax like effects in more than one direction, and how to code collision checks.

 

In-Depth Post #5

Over the last month, I have spent lots of time working on polishing up my effects and coming up with an idea for a final trailer to present on In-Depth night. I am planning on an action/sci-fi movie trailer, so there are going to be a lot of special effects involved. In preparation, I am working on polishing up effects and getting better at creating visual effects. Right now I am experimenting with UI (user-interface) elements and creating futuristic screens. Overall I feel like I have a good hang of video editing, and I am just learning more and more video tricks to help with my final product.

I am still continuing to practice my colour grading skills, so I can make my shots pop out more and add that little extra bit of vibrance. This relates directly to the mentoring session I had, where we discussed a ‘flat’ shot versus a ‘dynamic’ shot. We looked at examples online, where there was a comparison of no colour grade versus a colour graded shot. Then my mentor taught me about video in general, because what’s the point of video editing if you don’t know what you are editing in the first place? We talked about bitrate first, which is simply put the number of bits per second of video and audio files. Generally, the larger the bitrate the higher the file size and quality, and vice versa. Additionally, with a higher bitrate of video, you also have more colour tones. A 4-bit video only has 16 possible colour tones, but an 8-bit video, which is most videos, consists of 256 possible colour tones. 16-bit video consists of a 65536 possible colour tones, and even higher a 24-bit video contains a mind-boggling 16777216 possible colours. You get the point, the higher the bitrate the more colour tones you have in your videos.

After bitrates, we discussed chroma subsampling, which is another complicated topic. To keep things simple chroma subsampling is a type of compression that reduces colour data for luminance data, which is also known as brightness. This lowers the storage, while not hindering the actual video so it’s a win-win situation. Additionally there are different formats of compression, such as .mp4, .AVI, etc. They are all different ways of compressing the video file, but .mp4 is the most common video format.

I made sure incorporated Edward DeBono’s ‘How to Have a Beautiful Mind’ into my mentoring session; here is a transcript of our conversation:

Mentor: So can you tell me why many HD videos on Youtube still look blurry and pixelated even when they are 1980×1080?

Here my mentor uses the blue hat because they are focusing our conversation to a certain topic, and setting up “the sequence of hats for the session” (p.101).

Me: Based on what you said before, is it because they have a loss in compression?

Mentor: Yeah exactly, while uploading the video to Youtube’s servers there may have been a change or loss in the compression of a video, which is why the quality is skewed.

Here the white hat is used, because I stated a hard fact that my mentor confirms. I tell my mentor what I know based on previous experience, and they give me more information to elaborate on my answer.

Me: So does that mean they have a lower bitrate?

Mentor: In a sense, yes, but it doesn’t always have to do with the bitrate. Sometimes it just has to do with the encoding of the video, and the compression. For example newer codecs such as H.264 have higher quality than an older codec such as H.263.

Me: Oh, okay. Also, when we looked at the colour grading examples, what causes a video to look ‘flat’, and how can you add more depth to them?

Mentor: Well the luminance of the video has a large impact on how much ‘depth’ your video has, and the contrast between subjects and the background. You can add more depth by increasing the darkness of darker areas in your scene, many movies only have a dark grey in place of true black, so it doesn’t look like a void, but sometimes it just makes your image seem two-dimensional. This reminds me, you should increase the contrast of your videos as well, to add the illusion of a three-dimensional look.

Here my mentor uses the yellow hat to explain to my how depth is created in video, and how adding contrast adds depth to a video and makes it look less flat.

Me: Speaking of luminance contrast, is there a possibility that using contrasting colours will also add depth to your videos, since according to your previous statement contrast makes a video pop out?

Here I use the green had to probe for another possibility, and if luminance is the only way to make a shot pop out. I demonstrated my perception and creativity to find an alternative method to add depth to my videos. Additionally, I use the yellow hat again when I demonstrate my optimism to share another viewpoint, and when I give my hypothesis as to how this idea would work.

Mentor: Clever point! That would also work because you are still adding contrast to your shots, and making them look less-saturated. You are making excellent progress so far, and you seem to already know so much about video editing.

In this last statement, my mentor uses the red hat to express their feelings on my progress, and what they felt about our In-Depth project based on their “emotions, feelings, and intuition” (p.93/94). Additionally, my mentor uses the black hat to tell me how they felt about my videos and an honest point on how I can improve my work. By telling me how to make my videos pop out, I can make them look that much more vibrant on In-Depth night.

Here are some screenshots of me working in After Effects, and me further exploring the software:

screen-1 screen-2

Is Canada a “postnational” state?

Justin Trudeau’s definition of a post-national state is a place where “race, religion, language, culture – are vanquished in favor of an inclusive citizenship based on simple acknowledgment of shared humanity” (The Washington Post, 2017). What Trudeau struggles to define is the dictionary definition of post-nationalism, which is “a mindset in which the identity of a nation is no longer important” (Oxford Dictionary). Canada is still a regular country; however, it is made up of a vast amount of different ethnic groups and cultures. Due to this wide array of communities, Canada has “no core identity, no mainstream” (Justin Trudeau). Instead, we have a wonderful thing called multiculturalism, which, as stated in the library of the Canadian Parliament “consists of a relatively coherent set of ideas and ideals pertaining to the celebration of Canada’s cultural diversity” (Canadian Multiculturalism, pg. 1). The popular beliefs from the plethora of cultures in Canada are used to create a set of common ideals, a Canadian identity. This identity is important to most, if not all Canadians, because it is comprised of their own cultures’ ideals. Therefore, Canada does have an identity that people feel the need to protect, because in protecting Canadian identity, they are protecting their own cultures’ identities. Thus, Canadians find the country’s identity important, which goes against the dictionary definition of post-nationalism, making Canada not a post-nationalist state.

Is Canada a Post-National State, a country, or a nation?

Canada is a country because we are globally acknowledged as a country and we have legal borders recognized on a map. Firstly, every person in Canada has different values and beliefs depending on their region, which means that Canada consists of many small nations, not that the entire landmass is one nation. If Canada were a nation then, by extension, all first nations tribes would be considered a part of the same group with the same values and beliefs. In 1963 Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher said, “Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity” which exemplifies the idea that Canada allows people to retain their individual cultures and beliefs when immigrating. The fact that each person has this privilege means that we can’t possibly, as Canadians, be a nation with one belief set.

Secondly, the idea of a Post-National state requires two conditions. The first being a complete absence of any core identity or mainstream ideals. In direct contradiction to this, we see evidence such as the Canadian national anthem. “When the first familiar chords of “O Canada” play at schools, hockey games and other events, Canadians stand with pride in honour of their country”(Canadian Government, 2018-11-08). The Canadian national anthem contains lyrics such as “True patriot love, in all of us command” and “We stand on guard for thee” which show a sense of Canadian pride. The second thing required for a Post-National State is a complete transcending of borders. “The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) ensures Canada’s security and prosperity by facilitating and overseeing international travel and trade across Canada’s border.”(CBSA, 2019-02-06) Canada still has a geographically recognized border which is heavily enforced and regulated in the form of passports and official documentation, therefore we have not yet reached the status of a Post-National State.

Finally, Canada is considered a country by both two methods that most experts use to define a country. The first of these methods is the Montevideo Convention, which states that a state should possess the following qualifications”(a) a permanent population, (b) a defined territory, (c) government, and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.” All of which apply to Canada. The second of these methods is the Constitutive Theory of Statehood, which claims that the only defining quality required for something to be a country is whether or not it is recognized as one by other countries. Given that Canada is an active member of the UN, it is clearly considered a country by all other member countries. The evidence provided here shows why Canada is neither a nation nor a Post-National state, and why it should be considered a country. The overlapping pieces of evidence are the presence of a legal border, the appearance of Canada on a map, and the subsequent recognition of Canada globally as a country.

 

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/04/the-canada-experiment-is-this-the-worlds-first-postnational-country

http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/douglas+todd+dangers+postnational+canada/11779069/story.html

https://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/eu-ue/policies-politiques/border-douanes.aspx?lang=eng

https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/anthems-canada.html

 

 

Canada – A country, nation, or postnational state?

 

Canada is a nation united by the very fact that we are diverse and multicultural. Prime Minister Trudeau states that ‘there is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada’’ and tells us that this makes us a postnational state. On the contrary, the fact that we are diverse and multicultural does not take away from our identity, but is rather one of the core values that lie in the centre of our identity as Canadians. The mainstream in Canada is being diverse and multicultural, which unites Canada as a nation. Yes, is undeniable that Canada is a country, “Canada has borders, where guards check passports, and an army” and we are recognized internationally. But Canada is also recognized as a nation that has shared values, not a postnational state. In Canada, “our government believes in the value of immigration, as does the majority of the population” which influences our country to bring in more immigrants, which only reaffirms the core value and identity that Canadians share, of multiculturalism, acceptance, and diversity. These values, this piece of Canadian identity, piece of the Canadian mainstream is not only recognized by us Canadians, but internationally as well. “The world needs more Canada” is a statement made by previous U.S president Barack Obama in regards to our stance on immigration, a stance that is fueled by the shared value of acceptance and diversity that Canadians hold. Michael McDonald tells us that living in Canada is like being part of a family, that “some are born into the family and others are adopted. There is a shared family history — interpreted in diverse ways”. This brings us another view of being Canadian that represents the Canadian identity, which is one of a family. If we look back into the past, historically, families banded together, often united under a crest or symbol that represented the family and their values. Canada is very similar to a family in that sense. Each person in the family is unique, but in the end we Canadians share core values that make us a nation.