Thursday, February 25, 2016

Finals Week! (Module 8)

The last couple of months have flown by, and the final week of our Pro-Seminar is arrived.  Most of all, I've enjoyed the opportunities to conduct some research on the tech. industry, further hone my writing skills and study techniques, develop some detailed career and academic plans and goals, study a variety of topics from project management to ethics, and collaborate with a great team.  With respect to Team Enhydra Solutions, I think we're solid and work well together.  Appreciating busy work-life schedules, we've still made time to meet twice weekly for an hour or more.  I look forward to continuing our collaboration in our Python/Multimedia class during the next module.  Otherwise, perhaps one of the most important accomplishments I've had, or what I will take with me is a greater sense of ease when it comes to publishing content online.  I'll take that and my improved writing skills with me to my next job, and I'll take up blogging on other subjects than my academic progress....

Our final videos:









Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Module 7

Team Enhydra Solutions has been voted to produce a video on advancements and stalemates in technological development over the decades.  We'll give some consideration to past fantastical forecasts and whether or not they've come into existence or to realization.  Then, we'll look forward to some of the current predictions for the future.  We're currently listing the specific projects we'll recount and the special media we'll try to use.

I watched a few videos with similar subjects to ours on Ted.com.  The first was "Bill Joy: What I'm worried about, what I'm excited about" (Joy, 2006).  He begins by speaking about the way that technologically simple solutions can still provide benefits for mankind, and still greater, as in the case of clean water sourcing having a greater effect on a population's health and longevity than access to antibiotics, which is certainly not to belittle the immense contribution of the latter.  He additionally adds that technology has created an asymmetrical situation in which single actors have a powerful capacity through technology to cause tremendous damage.  He mentions the developments in genome sequencing that enable digital development of eradicated diseases for study, if not immediately nefarious ends. It's worrisome that it is so difficult to defend against terrible acts which have become much easier to commit on a massive scale.  Joy argues that while these threats are severe, "we can't give up the rule of law to fight an asymmetric threat, which is what we seem to be doing because of the present, the people that are in power, because that's to give up the thing that makes civilization" (Joy, 2006).

By his efforts to redress some of the problems upon which he cogitates, Joy argues that we now need to design the future and attempt to lessen the risk of these problems or the probability that they will come to pass.  He is confident that improvements can be made in the following fields, upon which he focuses: education, environmental protection and pandemic biodefense.  Firstly, Moore's Law will practically result in affordable computers for educational use.  Secondly, new materials developed that are lighter and stronger, such as nanotubes, will have effects on the environment: "[they] can make water, ...fuel cells [that] work better, ...catalyze chemical reactions, ...cut pollution and so on. Ethanol -- new ways of making ethanol. New ways of making electric transportation. The whole green dream -- because it can be profitable. And we've dedicated -- we've just raised a new fund, we dedicated 100 million dollars to these kinds of investments. We believe that Genentech, the Compaq, the Lotus, the Sun, the Netscape, the Amazon, the Google in these fields are yet to be found, because this materials revolution will drive these things forward" (Joy, 2006).

Another video I viewed was "Joi Ito: Want to innovate? Become a "now-ist"(Ito, 2014).  In it, Ito discusses the changing paradigm of technological development, so that after the development of the internet, innovation is happening from the ground-up and with greater rapidity or immediacy.  Now, the developer's maxim might not be 'publish/plan or die', but 'develop or die.'  He elaborates,  "...so it's happening in software and in hardware and bioengineering, and so this is a fundamental new way of thinking about innovation. It's a bottom-up innovation, it's democratic, it's chaotic, it's hard to control. It's not bad, but it's very different, and I think that the traditional rules that we have for institutions don't work anymore, and most of us here operate with a different set of principles. One of my favorite principles is the power of pull, which is the idea of pulling resources from the network as you need them rather than stocking them in the center and controlling everything" (Ito, 2014).  Ito was able to resolve a problem himself using the communicative, immediate and organic nature of development through the internet.  After the 2011 9.0 earthquake in Japan damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Ito wanted to know the radiation levels that no government or NGO were able to provide or make available because his family resided only 200 km. away.  Right away, he took matters into his own hands with fellow concerned internet-users around the world, and this without prior planning, infrastructure or supplies. "Three years later, we have 16 million data points, we have designed our own Geiger counters that you can download the designs and plug it into the network. We have an app that shows you most of the radiation in Japan and other parts of the world. We are arguably one of the most successful citizen science projects in the world, and we have created the largest open dataset of radiation measurements" (Ito, 2014).


References

Ito, J. (2014, March).  Joi Ito: Want to innovate? Become a "now-ist. [Video File].  Retrieved from
     http://www.ted.com/talks/joi_ito_want_to_innovate_become_a_now_ist

Joy, B. (2006, February). Bill Joy: What I'm worried about, what I'm excited about. [Video file].  
     Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_joy_muses_on_what_s_next/transcript?language=en

Monday, February 15, 2016

Entering the Final Stretch (Module 6)

Part I.  Help Your Teammates to Develop Capstone Ideas

I firstly emailed my teammates to ask them if they knew whether the capstone project was a team or solo project.  Amongst the spring festival videos that I viewed, there were some teams, some pairs, as well as some singletons.  We'll follow up with this question if it is not answered as we discuss the project in greater detail.

All of the ideas mentioned in Monday's bi-weekly were very impressive.  All I have right now, personally, is a new car sales app for private owners/sellers to better interface with buyers.  Joe had several great ideas, including a rural community Uber for airport shuttling; drone food delivery that would help eliminate waste and feed the poor; leveraging bluetooth to provide better interactive home-based infotainment or facilities services systems dependent on who is in the place and where.  Wayne had some great ideas for a Google API for improving calendaring, wage monitoring and shift scheduling for various industry staff, such as those in fast-food.  Cian wants to build an app that would allow users to find quotes in books or lyrics, which would be very much appreciated by the artistic and literary minded.  Austin is considering a software for grocery stores that would provide them greater analysis and drilling down of big data for shopping habits and inventories.


Part II.

The CSUMB career guide is a valuable resource for the comprehensive, thoroughly fleshed out career information it provides.  We students are lucky to have access to it, as well as to campus services and career guidance counseling itself, which appear ready to provide real, quality assistance to student job seekers -- this is impressive.  Job hunting can be extremely difficult, so good advice is very welcome.

The guide includes mention of several of the top, desirable characteristics for new hires, also mentioned in smartsselling's Youtube:

Top Ten Characteristics of New Hires

1.  Communication Skills (written and verbal):  speaking in front of groups and in meetings; customer service; blogging; emailing with colleagues; writing business materials or other content.
2.  Honesty and Integrity:  upholding or adhering to one's belief system; telling the truth.
3.  Teamwork Skills:  contributing fairly; leading or working with the team leader; leaders giving subordinates some due rein; maintaining a respectful atmosphere; appreciating different personality types and the strengths and challenges each can each bring.
4.  Interpersonal Skills:  interacting well with colleagues, maintaining respect.
5.  Motivation Initiative:  feeling driven to address or resolve issues as they arise without constant prodding or direction; assiduous dedication to completing one's work in a timely manner.
6.  Strong Work Ethic:  being punctual; volunteering; going above and beyond; stepping up and taking care of what needs to be done.
7.  Analytical/Problem Solving Skills:  navigating and resolving complex problems on one's own without needing step-by-step guidance; possessing the smarts necessary for this; keeping one's brain sharp.
8.  Adaptability and Flexibility:  striking a balance between one's and other's needs; maintaining perspective; letting go or taking on responsibilities as a situation changes, when it serves the project objective.
9.  Computer Skills:  up to date knowledge of the latest technological tools available.
10.  Confidence:  possessing some self-assurance and not letting others belittle oneself without one's consent, as E. Roosevelt is often paraphrased as saying; knowing and believing in oneself; owning one's actions; for women, in particular, maintaining tenacity, toughness or competitiveness, when such may be branded (in a double standard) as abrasiveness, hyper-aggression or bitchiness.  Similarly, for women, rejecting a scarcity mindset and treating other women equally or on merit, not disparagingly so as to avoid perceived competition and thereby better secure one's own position.  (There are some important conversations currently taking place in the media on the state of the workplace for women, and as a result some of these ideas have been on my mind.)

The CSUMB career guide recommends beginning a career search with the identification of a sector of interest, followed by research on several companies within in it in order to learn their history, market position, needs and job opportunities/positions.  Resources for searches include the CSUMB OtterJobs database, career fairs and any professional associations to which one may belong.  To gain experience, one should seek internships, volunteer positions, on campus jobs or temporary work.  To impress hiring staff, one should maintain a positive attitude, put oneself out there and feel free to introduce oneself, prepare a "one-minute commercial" about oneself (name, major, position sought, work experience, class projects and background), request an informational interview, and, afterward, follow up and send a thank you card.  Good questions to ask one's contact include:  "how did you get started in your field; what's a typical day like for you; what are your favorite aspects of your job; what professional organizations do you recommend someone who wishes to make this career join; and are there any strategies you can suggest for me?"  These rules apply whether one is meeting in person or via social networks, the image of which, needless to say, should be professional.

Reading further, I found it interesting to learn that re-entry students and career changers should exclude irrelevant career information from their résumé: “Résumé content must be current and include relevant information only, don’t go back more than 10 years. Consider using a skills résumé format to highlight your transferrable skills.”  This certainly applies to me, as I'm making a significant career change for which prior experience is inappropriate.  One area in which I did not agree with the guide was the recommended avoidance of templates and different fonts.  I think there are some nice versions of these things available that provide quality formatting and an aesthetically pleasing appearance.  The focus should always be on content, results and what one has achieved, however, for graphic designers, these things may be interconnected.  In the same way one doesn't say one has great communication skills, but demonstrates it with one's document submissions and speech, this can be done well.  The list of key action words on p. 17-18 is excellent, also, and I will certainly refer to it again in the future.

After one submits one's résumé and a well-written cover letter, one that is specialized to the position and company to which one is applying and includes mention of at least three accomplishments relevant to one's ability to perform the role for which one is applying, one may actually get a call back and request for interview!  Unfortunately, sometimes this may take what seems like ages.  In the meantime, some questions for which to prepare are "tell me about yourself; what is your biggest weakness;  where do you see yourself in five years; why should we hire you/what can you provide us; why are you interested in working here; describe an accomplishment where you...; how is your background related to this role; describe your ideal job; how would a former supervisor describe you; tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation; what kinds of people do you work well with; do you prefer working independently or in a group; why did you leave your last position; how do you communicate with supervisors; how do you describe success; what else do you want me to know about you; what are your salary requirements; and do you have any questions for me/us?"  The guide goes on to state that 20-120 seconds is an acceptable response timeframe; avoid filler words to the extent possible or, really, mirror one's supervisor's use of such so as not to be labeled as too formal or informal; show enthusiasm and passion; and always focus on the skills you have that can be of use or valuable to the company.  Lastly, after the interview is complete, make notes on it, send a thank you email the same day and follow up one to two weeks after the interview, if one has not heard back from the hiring staff by then.  Sometimes companies require a lot of time before they make their decision due to various internal situations.


Otherwise, our team has started working on choosing our final presentation project topic. We're taking a little time to narrow down the options, but are probably looking at operating-system-level virtualization and containers.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Module 5

Part I.

It's been wonderful reading my colleagues' blogs on their educational and career goals.

When I read Wayne's blog, I got a sense that his aspirations and hard work will come to fruition because he has clearly researched and decided where his education will lead him.  In general, I am impressed with goals that are very specific because, as we read last week, goals can be so powerful, and, also, one can't reach a goal if it isn't firstly, accurately defined.  Wayne, if you happen to read this, I wish you all the best as you pursue your Masters at what will be our alma mater and a PhD at Carnegie Mellon in Computer Science.  Those are outstanding goals, and we know you can achieve them, so keep up the hard work!  Your aiming high will certainly be worthwhile when you forge a diverse, satisfying career both in academia and at a tech giant, World Wide Tech, the 28th best tech company for which to work in 2015, according to Fortune Magazine.  Your determination is inspiring, so thank you for sharing.

Similarly, it was great to read Shawn's blog and learn that he has set the goal of continuously working for the next twenty years, as he has for the same number past, which is very admirable.  I also relate to his sentiment that it's been so great to join a BS program and to be underway with it that successfully graduating seems like a wonderful end and accomplishment at this time in terms of educational goals.  Shawn, if you happen to chance upon this paragraph, I hope you get all you dreamt you would from this program!  Best of luck to you, and we know you'll achieve whatever you set out to do if you keep up the hard work, dedication and work-life balance, the latter allowing valuable time to spend with your family and friends, as you mentioned was important.

Part II.

For my capstone project, I would like to build software and/or an app.  Applications might include charitable projects within the city's social services arena, the non-profit environmental sector or academia.

Part III.

In addition to reading about ethics, cognitive biases, assumptions and inferences, logic, and argumentation, I'm reviewing the materials provided to assist students with preparing their internship applications in order to complete and submit one this week.