The biggest adventure of my life…so far.

February 26, 2009

So I made a decision and I’m going to Japan to work for the Seiko Epson Corporation. I’ll be gone for at least 12 months and I’m not quite sure what to do with myself right now. I’m excited and scared and anxious and about a million other things right now.

Pretty much everyone I talked to told me to take the job. (could this be everyone’s way of trying to get rid of me?) It really helped to get more information from Isaac, with much thanks to Andrew, because Isaac gave me a lot more information about his experience there and definitely made it much less scary. Isaac also put me in touch with Siwan who did an internship in the city that I’m going to, but I’m still waiting to hear back from him. All in all, thank you to everyone’s help and support!

The last time I went to Japan, I went to school. It was amazing! I did a tour in Tokyo and a tour in Kyoto. In fact I got to stay in a traditional japanese hotel in Kyoto, which was really cool since the school funded that trip. The classes I took were interesting. There was actually a timetable slot to learn japanese tea ceremony for all the students in the school as well as brush and ink calligraphy. All the students were also so enthusiastic about everything and so energetic. They were lots of fun to be around.

Now I’m more excited to go. I just have to make sure I get everything done before I leave and try not to get too distracted. School’s not over yet!

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Code Sprint 09

February 23, 2009

Code Sprint is over and I’m even MORE excited to work on the project. I really enjoyed that sort of environment where there was a wealth of knowledge readily available as well as meeting and getting to know all the other people working on the same project as i am. Everyone was very welcoming and open to new ideas even if they were often way out of the ballpark. It was a lot of fun not interacting with a computer all day. It was definitely an experience for me. Meeting Liz and learning from her was a great experience. I really learned a lot about usability testing and prototyping. I also never Google-d so much in my life.

Some highlights:
– Usability testing. It was extremely interesting to get feedback, though contradictory. Learning how to properly do usability testing was also extremely useful. So Thanks LIZ!
– Eran’s “Chicken Timbits” will also NEVER be forgotten…
– Watching David run around trying to set up networks and help pretty much EVERYONE in the room was amazing. He did an awesome job at solving everyone’s problems.
– Unfortunately I was out of the room the last day when we got graphs and greg apparently yelled it out, scaring everyone else in the room. I wish I could have been there for that!

Some things to note:
– this was mentioned in the post mortem, but I agree that having the code sprint at the beginning of reading week would have been better. THEORETICALLY, yes, assignments and homework should have been done before the code sprint. However, the likelihood of that is not very high.
– I wouldn’t have mind if i had to pay for more of my own meals. I think the value in the experience is definitely worth it.

I’ll report on the progress Liz and I made at the Code Sprint as soon as I’m caught up in all of my other classes! 🙂


Search Revisited…

February 20, 2009

This is a new version of search. Please forgive the AWFUL Photoshopping. Some things to note:

– We removed the language selection from search because we were unsure of how to search user inputted data in different languages. Since the user input has no language type associated with it, unless it’s the default language, there would be no way to search for items in a particular language that is not the native language. This would be a nice feature to have in the future though. However, the Help pages might be written in different languages later on, so language search for help pages will be useful for that even if it can’t search through user content.

– We added the search by content and projects. By default, from the simple search bar, it will search all contents and projects, so we made that the default for the advanced search. If the user want’s only one content type, then they ca deselect the “All” option which will also deselect all the other options as well. The same goes for projects. Selecting on the “My Projects” or “Other Projects” will select all projects under those headings, OR deselect.

Those are the major changes that we made. Please comment on this! … Just not on how terribly I photoshopped that image together.


VCS UI … finally…and what do you know? It’s Monday!

February 16, 2009

Ok so here is the first draft of the VCS UI. There’s another part coming. With file systems, it’s often natural to view it as a kind of tree structure. So I kept that here. On the side, users will be able to navigate through their files as they would in MS Explore or other OS file system browsers. Also, when the user clicks on a file, the contents will be displayed in the right panel. You’ll also notice that there is a “More Details” link. Clicking on this will slide* out two more columns. One will be the revision number, who committed it, and the size. From there, the user should be able to select two revisions and click on a “Show differences” button and the differences will be displayed. It is still unclear what the best way to do that is. From the previous comments, a side by side view would be nice, but when i looked that that, I didn’t like the way they displayed the line numbers. I thought that it was very confusing especially if you’re doing a review. Since both documents have different line numbers, users would have to specify which line numbers they were referring to and which revision as well. I’m not a fan of this. I suggested a multi-coloured approach. Perhaps a mix of both will do and better line numbering.


Search updated…Finally!

February 13, 2009

Okay so I’ve been saying that I would have this up “soon”. well “soon” has FINALLY come! Some changes to note:

– Calendar buttons in the Last Updated section. I left it as 2 fields because users may not want to specify both and by making it one line, I think they would feel compelled to fill in both to get the best results, which may not be what they want. So when they select a date from the calendar, it will appear in the text box next to it.

– Languages. I changed it to a drop down where the default will be “Any Language”, but if the user selects “Select Languages from List”, then a scrollable text box will appear and they can select 1+ languages.

This took a surprising amount of time to get done. Not quite sure why. But that means that I won’t have the VCS UI done for tomorrow. I should have it done by Monday (Family Day). There are still a few things that I want to work out.


Where have all the women gone?

February 11, 2009

This is totally unrelated to designs.

I just replied to a thread on the CDF forums about the lack of women in CS. There are lots of studies about why women are not as interested in CS, but I haven’t gotten around to reading them. There are hundreds of factors as to why women choose to go into CS. For me, I like building things and knowing that I’ve created something that other people can use to make their lives easier. Even if that isn’t the present case, I’m working towards it. That is my reason to WHY. How did I know that I liked programming though? I’m pretty sure it started in high school. My first TIK course was in Visual Basic. I caught on to the syntax, structure, and ideas pretty quickly and the other girls envied me. I became the go to person if the teacher was busy. I was lucky though. The other TIK class with the same course code and description was learning how to use Microsoft Office. If I had been in that class, I may never had learned about programming at all! Crazy! But out of 100 girls, I was the only one in my grade that pursued a degree in computer science. I think one other person applied and started, but soon after dropped out and went into economics or politics.

I think it really depends on a person’s personality. I like to build things and have since I was able to pick up a Lego block. I also dislike succumbing to peer pressure, so I tend to do what I want. However, for some girls in high school, they can’t help but conform to stereotypes and crumble under peer pressure. So how do we reach out to them and expose them to programming? What about ENJOYING programming? We can expose them to it, but it doesn’t mean that they’ll enjoy it enough to pursue a degree in it.

I like the Storytelling Alice project for middle school girls, but I don’t think it will work for high school girls. As a final project in high school, we were asked to create a game using all the structures we learned about. I made a short RPG whereas the majority made trivia games about pop culture since it was easiest and they like keeping up with pop culture. SO perhaps if we can incorporate an Alice-like software and integrate it with pop culture SOMEHOW, it could reach out to high school girls.

Since I’ve been in CS though, I have a tendency to think that I don’t know as much as other people. I realize that in life there will always be people who like putting you down, but sometimes it feels like a lot of people in CS are like this. They may not intentionally mean to be condescending, but they sure come off that way. It may be because in their high school they were in fact one of the smartest people in the school. There are a lot of incredibly bright students in CS who were top (or close to top) of their class and perhaps feel a little threatened now to be a bottom feeder and competing against all the other top students from around the world.

Then again, what do I know? I’m just a woman. 😉


Monday Update…Not that I regularly update on Mondays…

February 10, 2009

Okay, so due to some time constraints, I haven’t been able to draw up and scan in a new version of the Search app with all the comments taken into account. I’ll get around to it. It will be done by Friday for sure.

I did meet with Veronica and Aran this morning to talk about the VCS UI. Well I mostly told them what I wanted and they told me weather it would be possible or not. I’m trying to look through their API to see what’s possible, but I definitely think that anything *should* be possible. Anyways here are a few things that I think it will have:
* Tree hierarchy of the file system including all branches. Basically like Windows Exporer. The view of this should be be a smaller portion of the screen (like 20% perhaps) just enough to see the directories and filenames.
* Next to the exploring portion, will be a text area where a selected file will be displayed and users can scroll through the content of the file.
* It would also be cool to give users the ability to view the details of the document with a right-side slide-in column. It will display the different revision numbers of the document as well as who committed it and possibly the size. I say possibly the size, because in the context of small student projects, the size may not be that important. However, for large projects, it could be useful.)
* There should also be a navigational links bar on top, so that users can click on a parent directory and be taken straight there.

I’m not so sure what to do about adding files and committing new revisions yet.

Aran asked me to think about merging and differencing as well in terms of UI. I gave it some thought, and for now I’m thinking that once the user has selected 2 revisions to merge, it will appear in either a new window or page or possibly even in the current text viewing area. Where the texts are the same, it will appear in black, and where they differ, the differences will appear in different colours. So similar to the command line (in that it shows the differences one after another separated by ‘>’ lines) but instead of using ‘>’, we can differentiate in different colours, which is more eye-catching and easier to look at, I think. This same method can be used for differencing as well.

Sketches of everything will be coming soon…to a blog near you.