Sunday, November 23, 2008

aiea high school career fair and ics industry day

i had a couple of STEM events last month. the aiea high school career fair and the ics industry day. one of the events was really successful the other wasn't.

i've given a lot of talks at a lot of different stem events; roosevelt career fair, ics industry day, coe fall career day, honors program, and coe career fair.

and one of the things that i've noticed is that organization of the event is really critical. for example, (now that i think about it more) the aiea high school event was really organized well. here's why...
  • BEFORE the presentation started i over heard one student said to the other, "ryan, you want to be a software engineer". ryan responded with, "yeah maybe". woah! they know what a software engineer is.
  • it seemed like the students really wanted to learn about what we did.
  • when i asked, if they liked math, they pretty much all raised their hands. i think we got the entire math team or something
  • when we were done with the presentations the students asked a lot of questions.
  • after the presentations were long over, a handful of students visited us again in the gym to ask more questions

    aiea high school got it right. they seemed to put the right students in the right presentations. i was super happy with the students we met at aiea. (i was pretty surprised at this! i graduated from aiea high school...)

    on the other hand, the ics industry day was sort of the opposite. it probably wasn't organized the best. (and i can be critical of the organization because i helped organize it!). this event usually attracts more than 30 students, but for some reason this time around i would guess that we didn't get more that 10. maybe one can claim quality over quantity at this statistic, but it still discouraging nevertheless. AND i feel bad that i let the other companies down, by not meeting their expectations.

    we happened to be bring our intern to the event, who is from the college of engineering. and after the event, our intern explained how he didn't understand how come the ics students didn't come to the event. i think he also said, he didn't understand why they didn't come to the fall career fair either. something is different in the students... hm... i get way more resumes from engineering students compared to ics students. engineers seemed to be much more prepared when i talk to them. engineering students walk around the fair talking to and questioning the companies. ics students seem to stumble upon us. i can't tell you how many times i get the "oh i didn't know this was going on today" from ics students. i don't know why that is.

    needless to say, i was little disappointed in the turn out. but, i was really happy with the few students that i talked to. for example, i talked to one student that i met on techhui. he seems like a pretty bright student. regardless of the low number of students, talking with students like that makes it all worth it.

    next time things are going to be different in the ics industry day. i think i made a few errors in my planning that i will correct. for example, i will keep the presentations to much shorter; like 10 minutes max. or maybe no presentations at all an just go with table presentations. i want to talk to more students.

    upcoming events: another roosevelt career fair, 2008 Holiday Science & Tech Fair with Pau Hana
  • Monday, November 17, 2008

    DFTC and more core values

    atlassian just put out this cool video about their core values:

    create useful products people lust after
    open compnay, no bullshit
    build with heart and balance
    don't $#&@ the customer
    play as a team
    be the change you seek

    i thought this was awesome, particularly because it really lets the software culture of our generation shine through. note to other software companies out there; we think atlassians core values are awesome.

    i might as well continue the core values talk and share one of my favorite talks about core values. its from mitch kapor, the founder of lotus development and now on the board of directors of mozilla foundation, linden lab (makes second life), and is doing many other things...

    here is what mitch kapor had to say about trusting your employees; download this podcast and fastforward to 31:30 (note the following is a paraphrase of his talk):
    how do you trust the people you hire?
  • its earned and built. no found. its on going process, invest in it.
  • i think it helps shared framework of principles and values
  • a set of external set of standards
  • if you are willing to invest in a discussion of about what we believe in and what standards are we going to hold ourselves accountable to,
  • then you have a means by which to negotiate and navigate all of the stuff that happens, because stuff happens in a company. you never have enough resources
  • you can't watch everyone. it requires people to have a lot of initiative. but if you know everyone is operating against the framework of principles then you know they are guided
  • everyone will learn together
  • people will sort themselves out and trust will be built
  • it requires a commitment; everything worth while requires a commitment
  • there needs to be an equal commitment (from the company)
  • if you put on after the fact, its going to fail.

  • in closing, you must provide a clear vision of your company's values and goals. you need to trust your employees, but more importantly you need to allow your employees to trust the company. and DFTE!

    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    make for stem

    i've recently been reading a lot of the MAKE blog and like Geekdad it has a lot posts that are STEM related. its a pretty cool blog that extends their magazine information,

    The first magazine devoted entirely to DIY technology projects, MAKE Magazine unites, inspires and informs a growing community of resourceful people who undertake amazing projects in their backyards, basements, and garages.

    by definition this is all cool STEM stuff that could be used to generate interest in students. i want to highlight a couple of their postings are related to software.

    scrolling mario game in scratch

    You can play his game by visiting the project's page on the Scratch site. If you would like to check out his code, make an account and download the file. Scratch is pretty easy to get started in, and has many possibilities. You can get a free download of Scratch as well.

    and Processing Monsters by Lukas Vojir

    I'm trying to get as much people as possible, to create simple b/w monster in Processing, I'm gonna later use in a short music reactive video.. while the bottom line is to encourage other people to learn Processing by showing the source code.. more about processing monsters

    here are some other postings that i liked:
  • MAKE: Blog: Gear heart
  • MAKE: Blog: Umbrella stand will water your plants
  • MAKE: Blog: LED "Art Object" is the new LED throwie
  • MAKE: Blog: The Ocarina of iPhone?
  • MAKE: Blog: WattzOn - Personal energy audit
  • MAKE: Blog: momo - haptic navigational device
  • MAKE: Blog: Stribe kit released
  • MAKE: Blog: "Dumb" eco-questions you were afraid to ask

    check out more of my shared STEM blogs.
  • Monday, November 10, 2008

    an idea called EventMedia

    so, i yet another one of my ideas. here it is... well it has to do with iphones and its called EventMedia. and just by that description it sounds really boring.

    my idea is pretty general, but i have a pretty good example. here is the general idea; i want to be able to introduce web technologies to live events to supplement its entertainment or even educational value. seems pretty obvious right?

    lets say you are at the Players Championship (a golf tournament). you are a huge Sergio Garcia fan, but you can't give up the chance to see Tiger. so, of course you follow Tiger. as you are walking along the course, you wish you were two places at one time. actually, tiger and sergio rarely swing at exactly the same time. so, you are really wishing that you could follow all of sergio's shots and all of tiger's shots. so, you turn on the special Players Championship EventMedia application and you select "virtual follow sergio". this application will notify you (via vibrate) 10 seconds before sergio takes his shot. it will give you his current tournament score, his current shot (on the whole), distance to the cup, his club selection, his past scores on this hole, etc visually on the screen. you watch sergio hit his next shot on your iphone for the next 20 seconds as wait for Tiger to make his way to tee box. awesome! other features include, "eagle chances" notifications, "blow ups" notifications, real time leader board, press conference feeds, and of course TV commentary as you watch it live. add in the social aspect of spectators "twittering" cheers, picture gallery, and maybe event real time betting and you get more awesomeness.

    the idea is pretty simple and obvious. EventMedia could be applied to all sorts of sporting events (woah think about the advertisement possibilities), business situations like conferences, large public gatherings like political rallies, etc. or this could be a huge hit during an olympics, where you want to be some many places at once.

    imagine this... EventMedia initiates the wave via your iphone at your next football game... while recording it for your facebook profile! hahaha.

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    pro bono publico

    just by chance i started on a pro bono publico project for a good cause. a few weeks ago i got a call from the University of Hawaii Center of Disability Studies. i was confused at first... my contact was going on about how my name was recommended by Gerald Lau from the ICS Department (thanks Gerald) and that she couldn't get any students interested in doing a project for her even though they were going to pay. so, during that phone call i decided that i'd help in whatever way i could. but there was a catch... the catch was that they were desperate to get something working ASAP.

    their needs were simple. the Center of Disability Studies were putting on the Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities, a major international conference, but they didn't have an automated online system for their call for papers. instead, they had a PDF form that required them to manually extract information and manage the paper submissions. the conference can attract up to 350 paper submissions, so a manual approach is obviously not ideal. the task wasn't really that big or complicated.

    i pitched the idea of working on the project to my company and i pitched it to some of my programmer buddies. but... i had a feeling that waiting to line up either option would take too long. whenever you have to pay someone something it becomes a much lengthier process to get started. so, i pretty much decided to do whatever i could for free; pro bono style.

    so, what do you think is the first thing i started to do? i bet you are saying, "you started to hack". thats a safe guess, but that would be WRONG. the first thing i started to do was start the project management process. i started to note the problem, features, requirements and tasks. i don't have my original document, but here is my living project management document

    last week friday was my customer demo. i showed off what i was able to accomplish over the weekend and at night. i even had someone QA my work. but... i found a bug during my demo, apparently my project management skills aren't that great. (just in case you are wondering, it was a minor bug that i fixed in 5 minutes. and we didn't release yet so no big deal). i release the system on saturday and monday is the big integration day at UH. hopefully things go well...

    the people at the center of disability studies have been really nice; saying thank you way to much. they have been trying to get me on as a side contractor, i've been considering but i think thats best left to the "professional side contractors". i'm much more interested in pro bono work. its much more inline with my thoughts about socially conscious programming and paying it forward.

    anyway, i've done programming for free before mostly for friends and family, but never for complete strangers. so, this was a new experience for me. what made it really possible was that i had a feeling that i could accomplish it or that i could ask my coworkers for help. that really lowered the risk and made it much easier to commit to. in all this was a lot of fun! it was great to work on something that meant so much to someone. i enjoyed this experience a lot and hopefully i'll get to do it again soon.

    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    what does your bomomo art look like?

    i really enjoy reading posts like this from geekdad; 4 Flash Games to Help Educate Your Kids. in this post, i found bomomo to be particularly interesting

    This art-based game is beautiful. It allows you to explore shape, and more beautiful in its open-ended style that allows you to play and create amazing images forever. A series of bubbles follow the mouse in very subtle ways, in the beginning it is a little slow, so may be difficult to hold children’s attention. But, there are ample buttons to click and options to try. And, you can save the final results as a jpg file.

    i like these types of applications because i think they are relatively quick to understand, they aren't that complicated, and they are really interesting. i think they would work great to get kids interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). here are a couple of other applications that are equally cool; pivot, light bot, and of course scratch.

    here is my bomomo art:

    i think bomomo is cool because i never created effects like this before. each mouse stroke is a new experience. and you start to wonder what other cool things you can make by changing the angle or speed of the mouse pointer. then you realize there are a whole bunch of other things to try out. you never really get it to do exactly what you want and you can never really make something you intend. but, i think thats part of what makes it interesting. you have to resign to the fact that its art.

    i decided to ask a few of my engineering friends to try out bomomo and see what they could come up with and hear what they thought about the application.

    JaredS: It was a nice way to generate random pieces of artwork. The different "brushes" provided some very unique forms that would be difficult to replicate using another more standard paint-like program. The app responds nicely to mouse movements and the interface is very slick and simple.

    RyanK: Sort of trial and error to figure out what it all does and why and how.....I liked and disliked the fact that it tells you nothing. It was fun getting it to do what I wanted.

    RobertP: Bomomo is cool. It’s fun to see what all the different tools can do and what kind of pictures you can make. It is something different each time. It brings doodling to a new dimension.

    JasonL: if he made the size adjustable with keypresses and the color adjustable with keypresses this would be a better application. cause using the mouse with one hand and the keyboard with the other is a real possibility. and an undo button. but someone could take this app and become an artist with it having control on the color and the size of the dots would allow a "real" artist to make beautiful artwork. and if the artist needed new designs...just create a new tool with a different algorithm. but seriously that is one of the coolest things

    ChadK: Actually, I think the cool part of it is that it provides a medium for art that could only be produced through software. Also it doesn't allow you to have a lot of control so you have to allow yourself to think more flexibly.

    AltheaL: the program reminds me of the first time finger painting – having fun and being curious!

    it seems like my friends had fun with bomomo. their art work is pretty cool. in all i think this is a really cool application that could be used in a classroom. what do you think?

    btw, here is a gallery of other peoples bomomo art work.