Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Module 2

Part I.  Adprima Review and Reflect Learning Strategy

Based on the reading, I've determined the top three skills I currently possess are as follows:
  1. Avoiding distractions is one of my strengths.  An ability to focus through a din or commotion has been essential for me in the classroom.
  2. Note-taking is something I do diligently and effectively.  It's a skill I've honed over the years that has proved invaluable because it has enabled me to manage large quantities of materials over the course of a quarter or semester, or even for future reference beyond a class.  
  3. Extracting the main idea of a reading as if it were a secret to discover or puzzle to solve can be delightful.  Doing this is not an innate ability, but rather a practice, the result of years of studies undertaken, metaphors, problems or stories analyzed, all over the course of an education.

My top three weaknesses or areas for improvement, based on the reading, include the following:
  1. The SQ3R method is interesting and one to which I will give further consideration.  I don't recall having the general, assiduous practice of making a point to consciously survey study materials before I begin reading them, so as to get a big picture beforehand.  Perhaps this is because I tend to try not to be presumptuous, am too rushed or just anxious to get underway.  This perhaps extends to my generally not being sufficiently inquisitive about the material before I have read it.  On the contrary, I tend to quell any questions or curiosity I have in favor of patience, expecting that the thesis, arguments or answers will be duly revealed.  These are certainly areas upon which I should improve and would indicate a more mature, relaxed approach to studying.  However, when I do read, I do so alertly and actively, attempting as I go to recall and recite the concepts I have been garnering.  Usually, I must then review the concepts three to four times before they stay in my long-term memory.
  2. According to the Adprima guidelines, I should not underline text in my textbooks, which I do from time to time; rather, I should highlight challenging sections or phrases.  I will switch accordingly, if studies prove the latter is more effective.
  3. Quick, high-quality performance on tests is usually elusive for me, even if I feel competent of the subject matter.  Therefore, I appreciate any advice I can get in this area:  firstly, to survey the exam before beginning and to answer the easiest questions first.  Resultantly, too much time isn't lost on questions that are more difficult, more time consuming than others, and more will be successfully complete.  However, I must admit, sometimes the allotted test time is so scant that it would take a Herculean willpower to follow through with this.  Additionally, the "memory dump" is a useful strategy to recommend in relation to good test-taking.  There have certainly been times when I have had to rely on a backup mnemonic device to remember something because the stress or pressure of taking an exam has blocked or clouded my memory.  To have written down a list of items beforehand would have made memory recalls less hasty and rushed.  Nothing would be forgotten or left off, as well, if one similarly began with an organized outline.

Part II.  Preview Time Management Skills

These logs are quite revelatory, but I'm pleased to report that I have been pretty successful at foregoing most time-wasting, leisurely pass-times, such as web surfing, this quarter, in favor of higher production, higher value activities.  Since I am inundated with my studies, I truly know I don't have time for such!  Looking at the spreadsheet, however, I can see an area for improvement would be during the morning hours.  Getting up earlier, getting started sooner, without so much delay, would give me a lot more valuable time.  The morning is the best time for me to be productive and creative.

Part III. Project Management Basics

A project is a temporary endeavor (therefore with a beginning and end) and should be divided into several phases over its life cycle: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and control, and closing.  Operations, in contrast, are on-going, repetitive, and the objective is to sustain business.  Managing projects to improve success rates can be done through time management, cost management, scope management and quality management.

A diagrammatic structure breaking down a project's work and phases can help visualize subsections to be executed by the team.  All the while, the focus must return to deliverables and hierarchical objectives, ultimately for the customer.

Henry Gantt designed the Gantt bar chart to illustrate a potentially chaotic project’s schedule, so that it could through its appearance become more organized.  Start and end dates/times that estimate each task's timeline are depicted by horizontal bars, which is done twice or more for both optimistic and pessimistic forecasts of completion.  Some tasks can occur simultaneously, but others are contingent upon the completion of one prior.  Lastly, there are terminal and summary elements.


Part IV.  Check Out Previous Capstones

Zane Harvey’s 3D Architectural Animation for the Museum of Natural History was a fantastic Capstone project that hopefully helped the museum digitally showcase their planned remodel to potential donors, so they could see a depiction of the building their money could help make a reality.  I think it’s great that he took inspiration from their mission statement, which is to inspire discovery, wonder and stewardship of the natural world.  The digital flyover he created with Autodesk Maya 2015, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and other tools, certainly succeeds in allowing anyone, including potential donors, to have a great digital view the proposed architectural model.

Nicole Longstaff’s “The Wine Experience” project assisted startup-entrepreneur winemaker Brent Virgin with promoting his business, which was a new, from-scratch brand with a unique model. The business was or is to be located on the charming, tourist-trafficked Cannery Row.  Her branding strategy included an artistic logo, marketing materials, signage, in-store products, a website and social media.  Importantly, she also included a graphics standards sheet for the customer, so they would know how to properly apply their logo going forward.  Nicole used the following tools: Wordpress, HTML5, CSS3, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and InDesign.  The lessons she learned are to always be self-motivated and not give up, which is something I take to heart.

The Ceres Open Source Management tool is a great software tool that could be reused by any organization, but was built for Student Recreation — with its bike shop, ropes course, hiking trips, basically, lots of social, active-minded activities.  The team saw a problem, which was that the organization’s events, rentals and services needed to be cataloged, tracked and organized by student staff, while old-fashioned note keeping and even Google Forums weren’t working -- the latter being the wrong tool for this job.  Ceres allows staff to create and modify inventory, all on one spreadsheet with tabs.  Also, there is a dashboard interface so users have good visibility of all components. Furthermore, it’s a web application, desktop or mobile-ready, so accessible to customers when they're on the go or in the shop.  It was built on two open source frameworks, ember.js and laravel.php, and it will be released as an open source project that’s free for anyone to use.  Well done, team!


Part V.  Summarize Your Week on Your Learning Journal

Our course is really getting underway. A description of my myself at this time would include ‘extremely busy,’ which is somewhat cliche or annoying for the reader because so are we all, oftentimes, but nonetheless...;  fortunately I am keeping my sense of humor and don't feel overwhelmed between this and my other two classes this quarter.  My calendared schedule is proving invaluable for managing my time and work, although it needs slight revision, and I know I’ve got to maintain my discipline and focus in order to see myself through these fast-paced eight weeks. I’ve had to make hard choices, such as canceling a pleasure trip to the movies in order to carry on with researching and a difficult coding challenge, but it’s worth it.  Ensuring I don’t waste time on lazy, wasteful activities will ensure that I get some free time in the near future.  Despite spending a lot of time studying, I still don't feel comfortable with my pace.  I want to get ahead of my work, not just keep up with it.  I’m getting more comfortable with my schedule, so I’m confident it will be sustainable.

The industry analysis I am conducting is on the autonomous vehicle, which I've found thus far to be a fascinating and challenging subject matter to research.  To my chagrin, more information seems available on the hardware, Lidar and cameras, for example, rather than the software, perhaps because the latter is subject to proprietary confidentiality, the industry being so competitive at this time.  Still, since I have not yet determined the particular industry in which I will work, post-graduation, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about Automation and Robotics.  Furthermore, while there are many fine companies feverishly working on producing level-4 self-driving cars, I chose to concentrate on Tesla Motors, Inc. due to their excellent commitment  to and success with electric vehicles, of which I am a fervent fan, and, secondly, their current level-2 semi-autonomous Autopilot program which is already in place for customers of the Model S.  While this is a highly competitive company and industry in which to seek employment, it is certainly one which I would join with alacrity in the capacity of software engineer.  I've also learned that, while a BS is sufficient for some roles, often a Masters or PhD is required.  Such attainment is a lofty goal, but not in my plans at present, since I am keen to work again, as soon as possible.


References

Kizlik, B. (2016, January 14). Effective Study Skills. Retrieved January 18, 2016,    
     from http://www.adprima.com/studyout.htm

KNOLSAPE. (2013, June 17) Introduction to Project Management. Retrieved January 18, 2016, from      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOU1YP5NZVA

Project Management Videos. (2014, June 2). Project management: what is a work breakdown        
     structure. Retrieved January 18, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEWhnodF6ig

Time Management: Beat Work Overload. Be More Effective. Achieve More. (n.d.). Retrieved  
     January 18, 2016, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/main/newMN_HTE.htm

umnWritingStudies. (2013, June 11). Project management: what is a Gantt Chart?
     Retrieved January 18, 2016, from  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIm8yWpBxFA

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