Week 2 – Learning Skills, Draft, and Captstone

Learning Skills.

Learning online is not an easy task. The big plus of being able to work at your own pace, on your own time, is offset by the amount of discipline it requires. It also means you do not have access to teachers and classmates the same way on the same schedule as you do for normal learning. It makes it all the more important to have proper habits for studying and absorbing material.

1. The value of a schedule:

This is perhaps the most important to me. It is key to get into the habit of studying. Having a design time and space to study means means you can prepare ahead of time for it and is no longer a chore as much as a habit. It also helps you realize how long each task can and will take time, and time can be distributed properly.

2. Extracting the Important Details

This is a difficult step but I have found it incredibly important. Unlike conventional learning where extracting the details is helped by a teacher during lecture; online learning requires the student to often times figure it out from material. Reading and making the connections between past ideas is particularly important as it facilitates the retention of the material as well.

3. Taking Notes

Normally this is regular business for me. I’m an avid note taker, and often write everything in the board (or take pictures) and jolt down main ideas of what the teacher is saying. Online courses make this a different process, but it will require similar skills. Having the advantage to stop, and playback videos makes it convenient to not take notes, but they should still be taken as the writing portion not only helps to reference material but retain it as well.

Activity Log


Project Management Basics

For all ideas and projects a company may have, only a few make it to the market and even fewer make it out of development. Some of those issues can be tracked to failure in scope, time, or even funding. To succeed, it is important to not only understand the project, but also have someone that can help lead the project. A project manager can be helpful not only in organizing the project, but gathering requirements and scoping work.

It is also important to create breakdown-structures that reflect what it takes for each phase to be accomplished as well as the work on each phase. Using a tree structure, the work can then be represented as a breakdown of tasks and deliverable. For instance, a Project may have a phase, a phase may have a deliverable, and the deliverable a work package. This will help organize a project in such way that each component is accounted for.

However, to further organize work, it would be important to use tools like Gantt Charts. This are breakdowns of the time required to accomplish each work package. They help illustrate the total amount of time per package, for the project as well as the connected dependencies within the timeline. Ultimately, all these tools are aim to make the project structure less chaotic and more predictable allowing the people involved in the project to allocate time and resources and minimize the amount of blind spots to bring a product to fruition.

Capstone Project

PUSD IT Management System (Summer 2018)

This was an incredibly interesting and complete project. The presentation was very clean and well thought out. I particularly liked how intimately familiar he was with the problem, the history of the struggle for the school staff and the background he provided even going into the funding the school received previous to this project.

He used a wide range of technologies and created an interface that was very easy to use. I was surprised by the amount of both work and care that went into this project. It’s a comprehensive solution to ticketing and inventory that is further hooked into google for authentication and with the school district student database. The system has a full list of the staff, the tickets and inventory. Finally the system has both import and export of data via CSV which makes it easier to update data and makes that data easy to consume by other external system. It offers a full IT solution for the school district with what seems like very little setup for them to maintain.

Ultimately this system seems to really seems to solve the friction the staff was suffering from previously working through inventory in spreadsheets and complex ticketing system. This sets the minimum benchmark for how I’d like my presentation to go and the comprehensiveness of the project.

Lab Resource Manager App (Summer 2018)

This was an interesting application to me. It solves a very specific issue with a very narrow subset of customers. Mostly that the LRM database is designed to be used on a computer and not a device, making it difficult for technicians to update where items are in the lab/warehouse.

The presentation overall was good. There are some specific things that could have been easily done to improve it. Recording the screen of a cellphone is always problematic. Instead, Jason could have used a screen capture application the browser mobile development version or even a tripod to keep the target cellphone in focus and avoid shaking. Recording the presentation you can hear clicking which can be distracting. However, the presentation shows all the features of the application in action and it’s easy to follow.

The application is at first glance a simple inventory search and tracking management system hooked into the company database and using a REST. But there are two factors that make it stand out to me. The use of the camera to register scan bar codes is a great piece of integration that users would appreciate. Typing on mobile is not always great, specially in the field and with long string of numbers and letters. Last, the fact that it is specifically geared and designed for mobile device as a web interface. Keeping it simple means any device can support it without needing to setup anything. Having safety features like validating the position of items on a shelf is an great, real world case scenario.

I think he also touches some things i’m already dreading about capstone. Mostly working alone and keeping motivation when there is no one to even look at your code. I think the honesty on his struggle for the project was important advice for future students.

To me this is a very successful project because it solves a real problem, it’s practical and clean and combines design, architecture, features, and integration with other systems.

Quicipes (Summer 2018)

Overall, this was an OK presentation. As a whole it was clear and concise and explain well what each part of the website was. The introduction was long and with the static images for each slide that did not change, it made it easy lose attention.

I do think that the project is not very complete. The application is introduced as a mobile solution, but the presentation was done entirely in the regular browser. The feature set is fairly limited with only admins being able to add recipes, no search functionality for ingredients or time required and no filtering for dietary restriction. The demonstration was also very short so I never got a sense of how the application actually worked.

I think there are good takeaways to make stronger presentations as well as what level of complexity I want for my own capstone project.

Weekly Learning

This week was a bit more work than I expected. Having the outline helped a lot on developing the paper, but I still had to sit down and compile and evaluate all the research about Twitch. I did learn a lot about the company, and diving into the topic helped cement that I want to stay in the gaming as part of my career.

It also provided me with perspective into what it will take to work in the gaming service industry and where it is going. I can essentially future proof myself by picking up the needed skills ahead of time, and focusing my education on those aspects that will make me a more valuable developer.

Study Time

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Week 1 – Industry Analysis Outline

Industry Analysis Outline

This has been an incredibly interesting assignment. Writing the outline is not easy since there has to be a bit of research upfront. However, it has forced me to sit back and reflect on the industry I want to work for, and what kind of job I want in it. I am already a software engineer, and I’m tangentially doing what I want. But this assignment has put a lot of things in perspective as far as how I see my job and what I want to do in the future.

I originally wanted to be a game developer. I love video games and that has been my goal for a long time. After doing more research on it, I find the service side of gaming far more interesting. Not only because the problems are more oriented towards my interests, but because they have a much lager impact in the community as a whole. For instance, both industries have similar challenges on how they monetize individuals, but their approaches are drastically different. Traditional gaming needs to survive on the cycles of retail and launch of a games can make or break an studio. On the other hand, mobile has faster development cycles, and much longer lifespans than triple-A titles. Mobile also relies heavily on micro transactions as the free-to-play models has taken over the market. But game services do not follow either model and rather use crowdsourcing, donations or subscription base services. All those are far less aggressive and the users do not feel use. The sentiment towards this services is far more positive than micro transactions in games.

Working on this industry primarily has given me a particular insight into how people behave and why targeting for monetization is so important. It is something I do strongly believe has value, and I want to keep applying towards other industries. The paper has helped me put this into perspective not only to the value of what I want to do in the future, but also what I already know, and more importantly what it will take to get there.

I picked Twitch because for a couple of reasons. It’s a company that is currently growing and that means there are a lot of opportunities to learn and carve a path. I also have a lot of love for what they do as a company for gamers. Twitch has made it possible for gamers everywhere to make a career doing what they love and sharing it with others. That is a feeling that resonates with me as software engineer. Last but not least, Twitch has to maintain a large number of systems. It needs to deal with video streaming, chat services, monetization, recommendation engines, third party integration, and open development APIs amongst many others. That means the company is facing issues from scalability, to caching and storage, to machine learning on a daily basis. Very few platforms face that many components in a single product. Although it’s likely each component is its own service, it’s clear they all have to work and orchestrate together to make the end user experience seamless and enjoyable.

Get to know the team and the School

The team had already met the previous week. This was our first official meeting as a team. Overall, we have a good dynamics and communication. I was originally a little scared of how working with a group and online was going to go, but we as a team have been putting a lot of work even in this first week to help each other succeed. Even just discussing the assignment helped clarified a number of issues with it, and passing it around to the other members for review means we got to catch each others mistakes. It also is encouraging to be able to get someone to keep you motivated even if it’s just to get their feedback or not let them down.

Weekly Study Time

This week is also the first week I’m officially working on my weekly schedule. I have tried to stick very strictly to it and successfully completed the first week. I already had to tweak it to fit next week’s events, but sticking through it has been key on the success of my previous assignments. Scheduling and blocking the time, and sticking to it has made it easier to form the habit. I do realize at this time the schedule is a bit rough, but I have made sure to allocate enough time to also properly unwind and get enough rest each day.

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Week 0 – Orientation

Starting the new program as CSUMB online. This is orientation week and this is the first entry on my journal. The main idea is that we can start tracking our learning, and we should be documenting our journey through the program.

For me, this will also be a way to make sure I am meeting my own goals. Just keeping this weekly journal up seems like such an overwhelming commitment, but this program is also something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I’ve been going to college since I graduated high school. The road here has been slower than expected. Working full time has often meant taking one class at the time, and sometimes even pausing school altogether. Getting here is already something I am very proud of, and that I intend to see through all the way.

Orientation itself was a big step for me. Both doing a presentation and getting to know my classmates for the next 100 weeks is very exciting. The program is very well structured, and designed with the challenges of working full time on mind which gives me a bit more peace. Everyone in the program seems ready to offer support and help, and having a preset study group will help me stay on track. I realize we’re all in this together and we’ll do our best to help each other succeed. The next step is starting to get to know my teammates and starting to work on the small projects like our resumes and get on a consistent studying pattern.

For the first assignment I have to create a study plan. This is probably the most challenging part cause I have to sit down and plan out the time slots for the next two years.

Weekly Schedule Time: 

First Study Session

This week the team had the first group study session. Overall, we focused on the team resumes and getting to know each other’s personalities and schedules. The team is pretty well rounded and we’re all excited to work on getting through the program. The team resume is an interesting challenge. Getting to know both the professional experience of the team, strengths and weaknesses and how we can sell ourselves as a package.

We also have to work on agreeing with each other on things that seems surface level, such as the layout of the resume or how to word the services we’re selling. However, it also speaks as to how we should be communicating on code reviews, or other share projects. Learning to compromise and trust our teammates is essential part of both an educational and professional foundation.

The assignment itself is also a reflection of how we see ourselves. For our team, the layout was fairly basic but the focus was on the services we offer. We also identify through our culture and our expertise. In that sense, we accomplished what we set out to do. Our presentation is concise and to the point offering services that we can back up through experience and knowledge.

I was also very impressed by the quality of the resumes my cohort presented. It is clear each team personalities came through in their work.

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