Evil Stomach Bugs & Hooper Memorial Presentations

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As I’d noted, Sylvia had been sick prior to coming down a week ago, and was still feeling a bit crappy then. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but then Chris became sick as of Monday morning, and then pop followed the next day. Dad & I were around at their place for dinner on Tuesday as usual, which was fine, but then by about midnight I’d developed that dry, sore throat that implies impending sickness. I went home to dad’s, went to bed, and then sure enough at 5:30am (Wednesday, now) woke up feeling not too good at all.

After a quick trip to the bathroom sink and back to throw up, I messaged Rob to say I wasn’t well and was bailing on our camping plans – we’d been intending to just camp overnight in Kinglake National Park; get a bit of scenery, some hiking, whatever – and went back to bed. I was in bed for most of the day; I got up again at about 8:30 or so to tell my dad I wasn’t well, but before I had a chance to speak found myself rushing to the bathroom to throw up again. And so on. I spent most of the day in bed, trying to sleep… the heat didn’t help much, either. I couldn’t handle food at all, and tried drinking lots, but even water came straight back up. I tried Mylanta; that made me throw up. I tried milk; that made my stomach feel better, before I threw up. I tried orange juice; that made me throw up, twice. In the end I had some Lemsip, which tasted so revolting that it took me forty-five minutes to drink it, nearly throwing up with every sip, but surprisingly it did seem to help a bit.

Thursday I woke up feeling about the same. At around lunchtime I chanced a tiny amount of cereal, although after half a dozen mouthfuls I gave up and threw the remainder into the garden. I then went back to bed. I was able to keep water down without too much stress though, which helped. I also had two chicken skewers and some pasta salad for dinner, which made me feel rather queasy, but still stayed down.

Friday I got up relatively early in order to get to uni for the Hooper Memorial Presentations, at which Rob & I were presenting our engineering project. These presentations are for the favoured final year engineering projects. It’s essentially a repeat of the final presentation, but with a whole lot more people – most of the lecturers, people from industry, etc. Certainly not what you feel like doing when you’re sick. I’d been contemplating constantly while sick whether I would be able to go or not… Friday morning when I got up I still felt bad, but I was bloody sick of lying around doing nothing, so I committed to it anyway. As it turns out, it wasn’t that bad… a little tough, with the heat and the infuriating drive through insane traffic – although still only about 90 minutes each way, surprisingly.

I felt quite poor just before our presentation – I’d been awake for several hours at this point, which was feeling terribly long given how much sleep I’d had the previous two days – and I decided just beforehand that I wasn’t feeling well enough to speak. Rob was aware of this possibility, and had been going over my parts of the presentation earlier just in case, but he wasn’t feeling all that great himself – some throat thing or somesuch – and wasn’t keen on going solo. As it happened, before I had a chance to say anything to Rob, Jim Royston announced us and then we were up and into it. So, I had no choice but to speak in the presentation.

All in all I think it went pretty darn well, considering. It wasn’t all that smooth – not as good as our final presentation, certainly – but it went well enough. I hadn’t had a chance to rehearse, so I was basically winging it, although since we had done the presentation five or six weeks before, it wasn’t completely ad-lib. As it was though, I was having a hard enough time remembering where the current sentence was going, let alone the overall flow of the presentation. 🙁

So, we did okay, but just okay. Some of the other presentations were really good – Dean presented his work on epileptic seizure detection, which was chock full of biomedical terminology, so it went well over my head, but still sounded cool. 🙂 There was one presentation of a laser-light projector, which draws shapes, using lasers, in smoke or on walls utilising persistence of vision. It was put to music and was pretty cool. The drawings were crude – lots of overshoot and some apparent problems with blanking at times, although that may have been intentional – but it was impressive nonetheless.

I had been hoping to escape after that, but we were then all dragged up to the staff room for the poster session, where basically everyone just mingled and chatted and whatnot. There was a whole lot of food, which would have been great if I wasn’t ill. It was good, but very tiring; I spent most of the time sitting on our table, trying to focus on distinctly non-nausiating thoughts.

Eventually I was able to leave, once it seemed those that wanted to talk to us had had the chance. One guy who was particularly interested in our project was from one of the defense departments, and worked on UAV stuff for them. We chatted quite a bit about things, and it was very reassuring to find out that all the big commercial UAV interests are having exactly the same problems we did. In particular, one problem we had encountered was motion blur when taking photos. We’d thought about mentioning in the thesis that the only immediately viable workaround would be to cut the throttle while taking the photo, but thought better about it because that sounded a bit amateur. As it turns out, that’s what at least some of the commercial UAVs do. 🙂

I also mentioned the UAV tech I’d heard talked about at WWDC in August. A guy in the seat in front of me on the bus down to Cupertino had been talking to the guy next to him about a UAV demo they’d done in Adelaide the week before. I can’t remember many of the details, other than that he mentioned they were using a 39 megapixel digital camera. That boggled my mind at the time, and really made our gig seem amateur. But then when I mentioned this to the defense department guy last Friday, he recognised that as some particular UAV demo that he’d seen. He noted, however, that the UAV in question weighed nearly two and a half tons. So if we go by pixels-per-kilogram, we’ve actually got about 250x the number that they did. 😛

He also made the comment that while the Americans (in particular, but not uniquely) talk about being power- and weight-constrained, they then go and build giant behemoths like that, so they really don’t know anything about real constraints, like we dealt with with our little plane. 🙂 That’s no doubt a terrible over-generalisation, but it made us feel a bit better. 😀

Anyway, after that I wandered back to dad’s, where I relaxed for the rest of the night – feeling a little better, but still a bit crappy.

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