Justin R. Erenkrantz Where do you want to go today?

FAQ in WingDings
or for those of you who do not understand WingDings: FAQ

You newbies, might be asking what in the world is a FAQ? FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. Most people pronounce it "back" with an "f" instead of "b." So, it ends up sounding like "fack." Enough of that...

Note: I went through and cleaned up the HTML to be standards-compliant, and added a bunch of links since now more places have websites. But, I didn't change any of the content. I originally wrote this FAQ about four years ago. Keep that in mind! See FAQ: The Next Generation for more FAQs that might be relevant now that wasn't addressed here. -- justin, 12/15/2002

Note, I do recommend reading this in order, but...

For Quick Reference

Q: Why should I care?
A: Hmm, I'm not really sure. You clicked on this page, not me.

OK, all of this assumes that you actually care about learning a bit about me...

Q: Who are you?
A: That is a good question. My name, in case you missed all the blatant name dropping on the previous pages, is Justin Erenkrantz. I'm currently a student at the University of California, Irvine. I am an Information and Computer Science major (read geek). I also have a severe sensorineural hearing loss.
Q: Severe sensorineural hearing loss??
A: I have approximately 70% to 80% hearing loss. This means that without any assistance I can hear 20% of what 'normal' people can. My loss is in the high-frequency ranges (female voices), but I can usually make out low-frequency noises (male voices) without my aids on. Anything over 85% loss is labeled profound. I do not believe that I was born with my loss. I was born ten weeks premature and was in the neonatal care unit at Medical City in Dallas. Since my heart and lungs were not yet fully developed, my heart stopped at times. In order to revive my heart, I was given some medicine. It was later found out that this medicine was ototoxic. Ototoxic literally means destroys the ears (or rather the sensitive cochlea hair cells that receive sound in the ear). So, if I had the option of hearing 'normally' and being dead, or having my loss and being very much alive, it makes my choice quite clear, doesn't it? Anyway, I don't know any differently...
Q: So, how did you manage?
A: I'd like to think it affects my life very little now. I believe that I can now communicate with people in a normal fashion (verbal communcation). Very few people who have as high a degree of loss as I can 'fit' so seemlessly into the 'normal' world. For as long as I can remember, I have always worn hearing aids (since I was 2½ that is). I went to Deaf Education classes at Prairie Creek Elementary in Richardson, Texas right after I was fitted for aids (at 2½). While there, I learned how to communicate in a silent world via sign language (which I have shamefully forgotten - it has been over 12 years since I have used it on a day-to-day basis). Yet, I also learned how to speak and listen. I was one of the 'lucky' ones who was able to 'graduate' from Deaf Education. After I entered kindergarten (½ day for kindergarten, the other half for Deaf Ed), I was mainstreamed (placed with 'normal' kids). No one else in my deaf ed class was mainstreamed at such an early age. Since then, I have always taken classes with 'normal' kids.
Q: So, how does it affect your life now?
A: Nowadays, I almost ask for no concessions on behalf of whomever I am talking with. Maybe when people first see me, they are put off by the aids, but after a while, people end up not noticing them (so I hope!). I do look at people when they are talking (lip reading), but it is also a polite thing to do! I do watch television with closed captioning (which drives most people nuts), but without it I can miss a lot due to outside factors (blah, blah, blah). I do listen and enjoy all types of music.

As a quick aside, I do draw a comparison between myself and the burgeoning field of speech recognition. If there is ever a model of almost perfect speech recognition I am probably it. Because of my loss, my audible range is compressed into 20% of normal. If you are familiar with Claude Shannon's information theory, you will know that this will lead to entropy. With a loss of approximately 75%-80%, a lot of data is going to be inevtiably lost. Therefore, there must be a highly advanced error correction scheme in place. Therefore, I must discriminate sounds much more acutely than normal people would have to. Now, this discrimination is so highly refined that I can usually pick up more details than 'normal' people. By taking in all avaiable information (connotation, body language, lips, knowledge of the talker, etc.), I am able to fill in the gaps of what I can not hear. Sometimes, I do (like voice recognition systems) choose the wrong word. At times, this can lead to gross misunderstanding. Oh, well...
If you are interested in learning more about hearing loss, please see:
A Primer on Hearing Loss or
Self-Help For Hard Of Hearing People, Inc.

Q: Why in the world are you doing this?
A: Partly because I wanted to resurrect my old website, and I had an opportunity to do a website as part of my ArtsCore class.
Q: Where are you from?
A: Well, I was born in Dallas, Texas and stayed there for 16 years. So, Dallas will always be my hometown. Then, my parents moved to Springboro, Ohio (in between Dayton and Cincinatti). Suffice it to say that there was nothing to do there. I called it the quasi-boonies. That sums it up, quite well. So, I spent my junior and senior (sort of - more on that in a sec) year in Ohio. In Springboro's defense, I learned a lot about life there (we won't go into that). Being the übergeek that I am, I applied to college at far, far away places.
Q: Before I discuss the topic of colleges, let me first describe what happened my senior year of high school.
A: Before I go into that, you need to know that I went to a very good private school in Dallas. So, when I moved to Ohio, I was a year ahead of everyone else. But, since I didn't know that when I came to Ohio, I did not plan on graduating a year early. So, my junior year of high school I took primarily senior level classes.
Q: So, what did you do your senior year of high school?
A: In Ohio, they have a program called the Post-Secondary Enrollment Opportunity (PSEO). It allows high school students to attend college at the school district's expense. The catches are twofold: a) you must provide your own transportation and b) some places limited the number of credits you could take on their campus. So, a) I became a commuter student, and b) I had to go to two different colleges (University of Dayton and Sinclair Community College).
Q: How was it going to two different campuses?
A: Besides the scheduling nightmare (one was on semesters, the other was on quarters), it was a lot of fun. Going to two different campuses allowed me a wonderful perspective on life. University of Dayton is a small, private Marinist college, while Sinclair was a community college. The difference in the students is striking, but not in the way you would normally expect.
Q: What do you mean?
A: At Sinclair, most of the students ended up there due to some special circumstance (money, family problems, academics, military, etc.). But, what was fascinating was how those experiences made them mature. The discussions we would have in our English class have very strong parallels to the discussions I currently have in my ArtsCore class at UC Irvine (which is all Honors students). The other thing that struck me about Sinclair was the quality of the teachers. To be honest, I expected that the teachers would all be rejects. In my experience, that was definitely not the case. In fact, the best teachers regularly turned down jobs from "better" four-year colleges because they liked the challenges and students that they were working with. But, on the other hand, neither one of those schools could even begin to challenge me in my reason d'etre: computers.
Q: So, where did you apply?
A: Unlike most people, I was accepted at every college I applied to. In one way, that kind of made my choices that much harder. No way in my wildest dreams did I imagine that that would occur. The list included: So, as you can see, I had a lot of choices.
Q: If you are as good as you say you are, why aren't you going to some place I've heard of?
A: To the informed, there may be some obvious omissions from my list. I did not choose to apply to UC Berkeley (I'm not that liberal), MIT (Pittsburgh was about as far west as I was going - my parents' family is in Rhode Island, so I've seen their winters - no thanks!), and Stanford (while I was in Dallas, I met their Dean of Admissions - suffice it to say I left the meeting feeling like Stanford, while they are probably a great institution, is full of elitist snobs - not my kind of place).
Q: Okay, why did you choose University of California, Irvine?
A: After considering (hell, I did more than that) all of my choices, I felt that UC Irvine and ICS (Information and Computer Science) offered me the best choice. I am not a fan of computer engineering. I have absolutely no desire to design hardware. I want to program and design software. ICS focuses almost exclusively on software not hardware. UC Irvine is a program that is on its way up. Many students in ICS may not recognize that, but I certainly do. I do not have a desire to go to a big 'stuffy' place that says, "Look at what we did thirty years ago! We are big and powerful." I wanted to be somewhere that said, "Look at what we are doing now! Isn't it fun? Wanna join?" ICS has a good core of teachers, programs, and the unique independence as a department (they are their own school - that is - ICS is not beholden to any other department a la Physical Sciences, etc.). The final reason is that I felt that I would be supremely challenged by UCI. The Artificial Intelligence work going on is fascinating. Not to mention the Bio/ICS combination on campus, whenever I see a conference regarding biomedical computing, I see someone from UCI on the board of that conference. Great place to be. I highly recommend it.
Q: So, where do you live right now?
A: I currently live in the ICS Theme House in Arroyo Vista at UCI. But, last year, I lived in The Shire in Middle Earth. The Shire was a lot of fun (if people ever say otherwise, smack 'em). If you are a Tolkien fan, you can guess what the other houses in Middle Earth are named. The Shire is a predominately CHP (Campuswide Honors Program) dorm. So, therefore, it is a pretty geeky dorm (being a geek ain't a bad thing). But, that's cool with me!

Begin Rant
One of the things that gets me is all the ICS majors who still live at home with Mommy and Daddy. Sorry, but get a &@$^# life. Move out! It'll be the best thing that ever happened.
End Rant

Q: Anything happen in the last two years that we should know about?
A: No. Go away. This page is an utter disaster as far as HTML goes. I shudder at my naviete - I used Microsoft products back then. No more. Ahh, to be young and foolish again. Hah. I believed in <BR> tags. I know better now. Nice content though. Had more on it than I thought it did. I'm starting to look at grad schools now. Yum.

Any other questions, you can e-mail at the address below (see my name down there?).

Note: Netscape's table engine blows chunks and IE 4's cache algorithm sucks. This page will look best on IE 4 due to severe problems with Netscape's table layout engine. Why do you think Netscape threw out the old table engine in Mozilla and rewrote it? It blows. I tried to make it look passable on either browser. Not sure whether that succeeded or not...

Last Modified Friday, 20-Aug-2010 02:46:16 EDT These pages were made by Justin R. Erenkrantz unless otherwise stated. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. These pages will look best in an XHTML 1.0 compliant browser.

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