Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Quick catch up

Wow, it has been quite a while since my last blog post and it has been excessively busy, its been about since the end of the summer and we are coming into the new summer.Originally I wanted to just have my blog for stuff I did at Kainos so I did not see any reason to keep it going after that, then I decided that I did want a blog but would migrate it to my own personal website however being a student the finacial situation is extremely poor. Its really just take it week by week and hope that I can make it to the summer. Even with the strains I have managed to do quite a bit this year.

Again I became a class rep the same as last year, I somewhat forgot how much work it is. Being a class rep is not always difficult but I tend to do things properly when I do them so that means dealing with every issue a student may have, being supportive and encouraging and helping them in their personal difficulties (as if mine were not enough to deal with). I won an award for it last year but I do not think I will this year, I have been active in the Student union, I have done a fair bit of voluntary work but I haven't had much extra time to do enough.

I am organising regular Hackathon events, something that I have put a lot of work into this year. Something I have learned the hard way this year is that bureaucracy is often the death of innovation. I had to fight tooth and nail to get my Hackathon going. The department officially from the start were in support of it but I hit so many walls and it took a whole semester to sort out. Now that it is I hope that the IT Sligo Hackathon will continue for years after I am gone. Once it is organised it is easy to re organise. There was crap with rooms, and resources and time and insurance and health and safety and....... blah blah blah. Hence it took a semester to organise but I learned that you just keep trucking no matter what, if you stop in the middle thats time wasted, if you keep going you will at least get something out of it.

I took part in the Games Fleadh which was a brilliant experience. Hard work though, I came in on a project because of words from a lecturer who said that good coders where needed, we managed to build an alright game from basically very little in 2 weeks. Far from perfect but at the same time I was very happy with what I managed to accomplish in such a short time, with so little prior knowledge and not much help in 2 weeks. I think it should a sort of adaptability I never knew I had. Of course we did not win anything but the experience was vital and I got to hear presentations from some great entrepreneurs and companies. It was very good and now I can go back prepared next year AND KICK ASS. Which will not be easy with the Queens crew about :) my good friend Peter Lockharte (Games dev in QUB) took home 3 awards including most innovative gameplay. It was very very good. Someone I'm proud to have as a friend. My college IT Sligo took home 1 for best sound which was my best friends (http://circlessuck.blogspot.com/) team and Queens University Belfast took home 5 or 6 in total so we have hot competition for next year, they have teams of good people whereas I am finding it difficult to find anyone to be on a team with who is up to grade. I wonder how human cloning is coming along. :P I think the moral of the story is I keep good friends since so many of them took home prizes.

On the down low sort of also I am always going around helping people who get stuck on programming related problems, this is a time cow, it sucks up a lot of time because I dont just tell them the answer I try to explain why so they will know for the future, there is a big divide between the very good and the bad in my course. There has been times that I have had to show people fairly basic programming concepts multiple times and still not have gotten them. Its why it is a time cow(turn of phrase on cash cow).

I could go on but that just the main part of what I have been doing, I've been getting speakers in for the college and doing some side projects of course doing and keeping my CA up to a first class honour aswell there is actually much more but I could go all day, its been a good and fairly productive year, now that it is coming up to summer time I guess its back to Belfast my 2nd home to get some vital work experience and soak in the genius of my fellow developers in there. May not have mentioned I am an intern software engineer for Kainos also so its been quite the year in review and its far from over. The thing I would love to do is set up a Coder Dojo but without me being here during the summer I'd have to find someone to take care of it but I would love to have the opportunity to go to something like that when I was young which is the reason I am so enthusiastic about setting one up in my area.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Week 4 begins... XCode be trollin!

Today (Monday) I finally got to really start my code. I have many problems to solve in the next few weeks. Things just seem to be continuously added to what I have to do. Monday has been very productive I have been firing through the Galaxy part of the app which is now called Astronomo. I was working on switching views between portrait and landscape which was much easier than I thought it would be. I need to get some table stuff sorted out tonight and start implementing my core data then tomorrow I hope I can get what I get stuck on in core data explained and have a huge amount of the basic framework out of the way.

Towards the end of last week we were given lectures on Maps and annotations and also a lecture on core data and web access. The lectures were good but somewhat hard to follow with not much background in the subjects and the lovely XCode crashing in the middle so I just sat and took notes. I am making a lot of progress now and I think I will have my app finished on time as long as my mentor Luke doesnt go "dya know what would be cool" another dozen or so times. he is very good at adding layers of complexity to everything. Its all off course productive but you sometimes see people with apps where it is just the normal stock Apple tool kit that is used, something in the grand scheme of things is very easy to implement. although he is right for the most part. i did something today that i though would take like 3 days in 2 hours. well i have the foundations for what i need to implement down, I just need to do a bit of math and the the graphic work from the designers to implement. I think Luke see's something that I dont know, he knows these things are not hard to implement but i dont know how to do and im like this will take ages to do, considering I thought core data something that should be so simple to implement is so difficult, I have no idea how to do it but with my good friend the internet most tasks can be accomplished pretty easily. some things you would expect to easily find are very difficult to find but you always get there in the end.

this is an image from Code Slice which is an interesting sort of monthly technology conference internal to Kainos where senior engineers and people from other departments come and fill you with their wisdom. I have gone to 2 of these and they are really good. helpful and interesting. Have to be in work at 8 on a Friday morning to go to it but I think it is really worth it because learning from professionals is the real way to learn.

The following 2 photos from Kainos board room is where we get much off our lectures and other interesting stuff. its where we learned about the Google maps api and annotations, Core data and off course web parsing. Google maps is lovely to use Core data however is definitely not. Sometimes I think I would be better off smashing my head repeatidly off of a wall then trying to get through core data. Once it is implemented though it is brilliant. 

And as promised my proposed splash screen from the 2 geniuses in graphic design.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Week 3, half way through.

It’s been some week. This is the first coding week and I have not done a tap of coding, mainly because I have to get my database done and out of the way, I have been an information gathering machine basically for the past 3 days. Today Wednesday seems to have been the most productive day out of the three, I think it just takes getting used. Basically now I think I am finished gathering information. I gathered it and added it to an excel spreadsheet to save time and now I have to convert it to a well laid out XML doc. Transferring the data will probably be time consuming. I’m not sure I might try and get it out of the way tonight or just relax a bit. Feeling a bit exhausted to be perfectly honest. Being somewhere, where you do not know anybody is hard.  There is no support structure or nowhere to go, My friends go home in the evening to where ever they live which is non Belfast. I don't just go home and work but even when I do try and relax all I seem to do is stress over what I have to do. It’s like a horrible infinite loop, my tiredness is leading me not to do work in the evening and the amount of work I have to do is what is making me feel tired and lousy.

However I do feel a lot better now that most of the information I need is gathered and that the user interface design geniuses Gavin and David are hard at work. I always felt as though I did not want them to have to do so much work for me that I could do it myself given my interest and experience in design and they have their own huge work load but compared to what those two can do I am nothing. They always come around with something and my mouth just drops in awe thinking omg. The first time I thought maybe it was a fluke(they couldn’t possibly do something like that every time I was thinking) but they seem to be doing it every time they come down from whatever lab that they build these amazing concoctions in. I think maybe I will need them to do more to keep the whole flow of the app right but it looks more amazing than I ever thought it would.  Well anyways some cool looking stuff due soon. Get a look at the user interface in the next I would say.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Week 2.... What a week

This week we were on the BBC news video below.

ok so this week was interesting. One of the graphics buys Gavin got back from his holidays and is talking about doing a logo for the app. He did one for my friend Stuart and it was bloody amazing in my view

its small there because I took it from his twitter but I think its amazingly good. he did it up in like an hour I think. I really realised how good Kainos is this week. Its not just brilliant developers they have an extremely well rounded package from the designers to developers to testers. They always make sure a product meets their amazingly high standards before being released. I am looking forward to see what they come up with for me.

This week we basically concentrated on code design, not really coding but design before we start. We identified what classes we would need and wrote the algorithms we needed to create in pseudo code. I think next week we can get down to implementation.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Week 2 at app camp

Its wednesday and I just realised I havent blogged since Saturday so I thought I would post an update.  
Kainos Reception and front door.

reflection is not obvious at all. There is a pretty building behind me though
My desk at work in Kainos. ( I cannot work without a Windows machine beside me)

Anyways this week is code design week. Its been a hard week so far because I spent practically the entire day arguing with a user interface guy about how it should be done and then thinking of how i would redesign the UI. In fairness he is right, as a software engineer we always want to do the cooler thing because, well just because. We do things because it seems cool and we are curious about finding out how to do it. The things i want to do that are super complex for me makes it more complex for the user to use. Being good to your users is important so i caved and realised he knew exactly what he was talking about and was right. 

This week I seem to be ignorant to what I should be doing. I have tasks set out by UI guy(David) and the software engineers. the software engineers things are planning and Davids things are building a prototype to test it. I decided to do Davids task first because I miss coding to be honest and I really want to get the UI down so I can move onto more pressing matters, I will off course do my tasks that are set but might leave it late and not get it done to my normal standard. 

The week is going well though, even though my original idea was destroyed it does make the app easier to make. I have been more directed to a good user experience so I will follow it.

Friday, 22 July 2011

End of week 1

So the week 1 of development is over. I cannot say that it has been all that productive. Its probably just me though because I dont feel satisfied until things actually get done. This is probably the better way but I am feeling like I am not doing anything even though I put in a load of work everyday. After lunch today being a bit of an exception.

I went a bit against the "rules" and made a bit of a prototype which actually looks nicer than I thought it would. what you are supposed to do is not that obvious so I might have to take another look into that.

Design and the way I am going to do things is basically down but I think I will actually spend the weekend doing research into all the information I need for the app. There is a lot I need to include and finding it has been a bit of a bother. Information is sometimes is blotchy so there might be information for one thing and not for other which makes it hard to build when you have a database and you are trying to categorised.

Other than that quite a good week. Big productive weekend ahead I hope.