Monday, 7 September 2015

Week 4-5: All hands on Deck, and Man the cannons

*Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock*

Well, for better or for worst, 2 assignments down and 2 more to go.

It was really a race to the finish last week as my team had to try and fix every bug they could find. Not to mention poor Evan had to wire up the location feature on top of all the bug fixing. Of course it was not all sunshine and rainbows for the rest. Quan Yang took a lot of initiative and did a lot of UI bug catching and killing. Andhieka stayed up to wrestle the CSS to ensure that all elements are in their right places and sizes. As for me, well, I did what I could. I made sure that all other admin stuff, like write-ups and aspirations are accounted for. I also tried contributing in catching some bugs and in giving opinions on UI. Overall, I am very impressed by the way it turned out, even if the teaching stuff is not. The UI was more complete and whole, the bugs were reduced to a minimum, and the locations feature feels natural since it fits the aim of the application.

Now that assignment 1 is completed, there are certainly plenty of lessons that I learnt from it (refer to post on me being a sucky PM x_X). There are some thing I regretted not doing sooner and/or better.

Anyway, no time to even mope over this actually. Assignment 2 was also completed last week (refer to post on Pinterest :D). Time is just passing faster and faster. Already, we are suppose to start on assignment 3, and start thinking about assignment 4. We are literally going into every assignment with guns blazing, cannons firing, and swords swinging. When they said at the beginning that we were going to hit the ground running, I think we are hitting the ground, digging into the dirt, burrowing through the earth, and arrived in China then started running. The assignments don't just drop you, it pile drives you. x_X

Anyway, lame jokes aside, I had my first meeting with my team for assignment 3 today. Again, another team I look forward to. Mun Aw sounded very knowledgeable about web application backend, and seem to have industrial experience in this area. Kyle seemed quite confident in AngularJS and Ionic. Min Wei looks like she feels out of place, but I think she will fit well into the team. I had never worked with any of the current team members before, but during meeting, everyone was really open to discussion. I feel that one of the most important qualities that any team should possess, is communication. And I feel this team possesses that quality, so I am very happy to be able to work with all of the members here. :D

Not going to say much else on progress since I think I jinxed it in assignment 1 when I counted my chickens before they hatched. Call me superstitious, but that is my excuse. xD

Oh, but before I go, since I am doing this blog post on Monday, I might as well mention today's external pitching party as well. Many interesting projects/ideas were proposed. Some seemed big, others seemed small, but all of them have their merits. There are two that caught my attention. 1 was the Garena project.

The Garena project caught my attention because I think if any group were to present a system for this. The application can easily be turned into a full fledged turn-key solution for companies to use to do catering and what not.

The other application that caught my attention was, surprisingly, Planit. For my orbital project, I did an application called MeetMeThere. It was a project group management application that included functions that allow for meetings and scheduling. I do not know if I had misinterpreted the student's application functionalities, but it sounded similar to MeetMeThere. I might contact the student to explore this since I always wanted to do a project management app and I think the development of his app can help me gain good insights into the group activities functionalities (if it makes sense to you).

Anyway, its getting really late and I have another project meeting in the morning. So, I am just going to end it here.

Here's Kiwi signing off..........

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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Blogging about Pinterest

So, we had sit through all 11 presentations, including the one given by my group. All in all, it was a fun session, getting to hear the different styles and attitudes of different groups.

Today, I will be blogging about the presentation on Pinterest. There are 3 noteworthy points that the team brought up that I felt are interesting and applicable to, not just Pinterest, mobile applications in general.

First is the point on flexible UI. The group showed us how Pinterest displays their posts in a visually impressive manner by using variable sizing for each post. This has an effect of maximizing the available screen space and placing emphasis on certain posts. I also recall that the group used the phrase "breaking monotony" when compared to other UI that uses fix sized elements. I think this is a valuable concept since, as mentioned by various other groups before, people are attracted to visuals. In many projects I have been a part of, the main problem is not that we do not have enough data, but how to display the data. This problem becomes even more apparent if the application has very limited screen space. Therefore, by incorporating design concepts, such as variable sized elements, it can help mitigate some aspects of displaying large amount of data.

Second is the point on inconsistent UI. The group has shown us several examples where Pinterest have tabs or buttons that are inconsistent across multiple screens. When I first started programming in poly, my UI were just a means to an end. Look back at them now, I have times where a button will suddenly become a text box then an icon then another button then something else entirely. As a matter of fact, my UI can be different at every menu. It was only after I have worked with applications that have a visual requirement that I realized that there is such a thing as consistency in UI. Hence, I find the group's point on this is important because it shows that even a production application can have problems in this regard.

Last is the point on removing the messaging function. The group brought up a point that since Pinterest is more of a picture sharing platform, then there is no reason that there should be messaging function. Especially since it is not working all that well. I think this is a important point, since developers tend to want to implement alot of functions into their apps. However, more often then not, most of these functions will be half-baked and not usable. Apps should be concise and to the point. I would like to draw the lesson from the group that did Things. The app should not distract you and should help you get things done.

Personally, I have not used Pinterest in any shape and form. I was aware of it's existence and know roughly what it does, but my real knowledge of it is from this presentation. Therefore, I can comment on Pinterest as a first time user. I do not know about most people, but when look at Pinterest, I feel abit over-whelmed. When I look at so much pictures, profile info and such, I feel like there are too much information to process and there is no space for a breather. On top of that, when I look at multiple things, I tend to look at them row by row. Pinterest seem to break my flow of concentration because when I look thru the posts, I am sudden looking at a profile and not a post because the post was of a different size. I know that I had commented that variable size can help with improving display, but it doesn't seem to work for me. 1 suggestion from me could be, force all post to only show the picture with out the profile info. Only show the profile info when the picture is navigated to. It might not work for everyone, but perhaps provide this as a mode for fickle people like me.

Well, that is all I think I want to say about this...

Looking forward to the next assignment. *cold sweat*

Here's Kiwi signing off....

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Week 3: Houston we have a problem

Once again, another week, another frantic rush of assignments, tutorials and lectures.

Let me just jump right into the fray of things... I suck as a PM.

Weird claim since we are balls deep (pardon my language) into assignment 1, knee deep into assignment 2 and assignment 3 is just over the horizon giving me the dirty looks.

I have been team leaders multiple times before. They were just rinse and reuse kind of role. Just do your work and make sure everyone else does the same. So, you can imagine my expectation when I was appointed as a PM when assignment 1 started. I had thought that the jobs and responsibilities would be similar.

What started this chain of thoughts were events from the past week. Several things happened, some issues became apparent and some discussions were held. Nothing too serious, everyone was professional about it and matters were attended to. The project is moving along as usual.

However, now that we are nearing the finishing line of this leg of the mad race, I cannot help but think to myself the way I have "managed" this assignment. There are things that I feel that I could have done better, and there are things that I think I should have firm stated at the beginning rather than keeping them to myself.

At the end of the day, I think I finally learnt what the difference is in being a PM and a team lead. A subtle difference, but, nevertheless, a very important difference. Not gonna dive into the issue any deeper since that will make this blog post about 3 posts long and I would not want to bore you with these details. Hence, I am just gonna have to keep calm and soldier on...

I apologise if this post is a bit more serious and self-loathing than the usual blog posts, but these blog posts were meant to be self-reflecting and I think it is only appropriate that I reflect on the negative things as well.

On the bright side of things, for assignment 2, the creation of the deck went smoothly but our team awaits the verdict of whether our deck is approved. We can only keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.

Well...

There you have it. Another eventful week... Nothing much else to say really so I think it is appropriate to end my post here.

Here's Kiwi signing off....

Monday, 24 August 2015

Week 2: Building a house of cards

Another week has passed, what a shocker!!!! If I did not know better, I would have thought that the weeks are getting shorter.

Well, this entry is kinda late since it is already week 3, but anyway, here it goes....

Just as the title of this post implies, we are now in the heat of developing our application. I will not lie to you, we are behind schedule by a day. We have yet to fully integrate our app and the write up is only approximately 50% done. Though I think we are not alone in this regard. Everyone is in overdrive and, by the looks of it, this is the same for every group in CS3216.

Things are crashing, development environment is not responding, SDKs are being a bully, and to top the icing on the cake, time is our worst enemy. Alas, this is just part of software development I suppose. We are all just building houses of cards and hoping that nothing blows it down.

Ah well.... enough of our project, the CS3216 classes are just carrying on per usual, the speakers are enthusiastic as usual, especially the prof(do I get additional points for saying this? ;) ). Not gonna deny this, but i can't seem to pay full attention in class(not just CS3216, but other modules as well).

I wonder why??? *Glances at a conflicting git commits and setup problems*

The weekend workshop was very informative though, the concepts in GUI wire framing touched on ideas that did not occur to me. I am just gonna blame my ignorance on the fact that I do backend. Can't blame an electrician if the house is not ready. (If you don't understand this look at footnote^) As for Damith's talk, I had attended his classes before and have tried to present in a module using his techniques. I have to admit, it works. Despite enthusiasm of the speakers, I was very distracted during the presentations, which was a real shame.

Again, I don't really know why I am distracted. *Glances at Docker not working and php threatening to error fatally*

As for assignment 2, I am glad that I have a team already (result of early "booking"), so that is 1 lesser problem to worry about. The app that our team is given is TeamViewer for Ipad. I have tried TeamViewer several times before, so I don't foresee much issues doing this assignment, but its too early to tell. We'll just have to see how it goes.

Anyway, that's all I have to say and I have to go fix a tiny problem before my house of cards decides to burn down to the ground.

Here's kiwi signing off....

Footnote:
^: I am usually the backend guy, so I "wire" backend functions to UI elements and stuff. Like an electrician wires a switch to the lights and fans. This expression means that if the visual stuff (i.e. the house) is not ready, it does not necessarily mean that it is the backend man's problem. Hence if it is not my problem, I rarely have to deal with UI concepts. This is not a funny line nor a statement that makes much sense to alot of people, but its not easy writing these blog entries :'(.

Here's a cookie for reading to the end...
document.cookie="user=you; awesome=true; expires=never; path=/";

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Week 1 entry

Welp, the first week is over... or more like was since it is Sunday already.

Like any other semesters, a very busy week this has been, what with all the new modules and stuff, not to mention assignment for CS3216 is already out. X_x

For the show and tell in CS3216, I saw many different talents, quite the artistic and tech-savvy crowd this class is, though I do not expect any less I suppose. Found some of the tech demonstrations quite interesting and fun to watch and enjoyed those who presented their musical talents.

As for me, I tried to bring my regular dry sense of humor to the center stage. Some people got my jokes but I think it flew over the majority of the class. I blame my delivery of the jokes, but as they say "It's a poor craftsman that blames his tools". In hindsight, I should have done something else entirely, but to be honest, I don't consider myself to have any specific talent. Let's just hope my contributions to this modules are better than my jokes.

As for the workshop on Saturday, nothing much to report there, since most of what was brought up was more of informational than it is actual lessons. I like it conducted this way actually. I was really glad the speakers were able to wrap up early since it gave us time to work on our assignment.

Speaking of assignment, I am very happy to have teamed up with Evan, Andhieka, and Quan Yang. I have worked with Evan before so I am comfortable working with him. For Quan Yang, I have seen his teams before, in other modules, and know that he works well with others. From our team discussions, I think working with Andhieka would be no problem since he is always active in voicing out his opinions and suggestions. All in all, I look forward to working with this team for this assignment.

Going back to the assignment itself, I think we are making good time, since we have already decided on the idea we are going to do, and from the discussion we had on Saturday, we have a rough idea of what we will be doing for our frontend application. If we can have a mock-up by the end of today(Sunday), I think we can make the mid-submission deadline no problem.

*smug smug smug* (Gosh, I really hope I come back to this post to put a picture here instead xD)

Anyway, regardless of anything, I am really interested to see how this idea turns out. Let's just see how everything goes. :D

Here's Kiwi signing off...

Saturday, 8 August 2015

What I hope to learn from CS3216

Hi all,

From CS3217, I learnt about software development on SWIFT, which was my first actual exposure to mobile development.

For CS3216, my main goal is to learn more about social media platforms. In the past, I have played around with authentication methods with Facebook and the like, however I have never utilized the API available on any social media platforms, such as posting stuff.

In addition, in terms of software engineering, it is easy to design and plan the development for an application that does not use third-party API. Hence, it will also be interesting to take into account of external API design where we do not have control over external processes.

Anyway, these may seem to be simple and small goals to aim for, but I hope to work with my team mates and learn more than what I had set out to learn.

Here's kiwi signing off...

Friday, 7 August 2015

Hello World!!!

Hello World!!!

Like learning any new programming language, I think it is only appropriate to greet the world for my first blog post. :D

Have done blogs before in the past, but they were for other modules. Hope this comes out better than the rest. x_X

Hope we have fun for the coming year and here is Kiwi signing off.