Showing posts with label programming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label programming. Show all posts

Sunday, January 20, 2013

One student's experience at CUSEC 2013

SYSTEM.OUT - My Experience at CUSEC 2013

N.B. A revised version of this post can be found on my blog.

On January 17th, I attended CUSEC 2013 (Canadian University Software Engineering Conference) in Montreal. Initially, I was interested in going to hear a talk given by my friend and mentor, Gail Carmichael– not to mention the chance to meet notable people in the software industry.

Delegates, organizers, and presenters

The unofficial theme of the first day seemed to be "visualizing data." One of the speakers I was most excited about was Ben Fry, one of the co-founders of the Processing language. I've used Processing before, and Fry used several live examples of Processing programs being used to visualize information. Perhaps a description from the processing website tells it best:

"Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to create images, animations, and interactions. Initially developed to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context."

Me and Gail, waiting for the next talk

Continuing the theme of visualizing data, the next talk was from the San Francisco-based company Palantir. Their mission is to simplify the process of analysing large or complex data sets, by using tools to visualize it in a more human-readable way. In the hour-long software demonstration, a live demonstration of Palanir's software was used to map E. Coli outbreaks across the United States. By adding data to the map, the user was able to locate the specific meat-distribution plant that was the source of the outbreak. It should be evident that this method is both faster and potentially more accurate that other means of tracking the outbreak.

Overall, it was a great conference, and introduced me to the cool things that people are building with software. I had a great time and learned quite a bit - from the speakers, representatives from software companies, and students from other Canadian university. I hope to volunteer with planning CUSEC 2014, and would recommend the experience to other computer science or software eng students.

- Liz Allen

Liz blogged about her experience at the conference she attended as part of the CU-WISE initiative Blog To Attend A Conference Fund. Check out our Opportunities page for more details.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Girl Develop It Ottawa: A Developer’s Guide to Interaction and Interface Design

Check out the upcoming workshop for Girl Develop It Ottawa - it looks awesome!

From the GDI Ottawa blog:
Have you ever wondered what role design plays in development? How are design decisions made? Are you a developer who is designing and implementing your own interface without the support of an interaction designer?

During this 2-hour course, we’ll review some common interface design patterns and test drive some pragmatic approaches you can use to create and validate simple, intuitive interactions. Topics include: Basic Controls, Page Layout, Forms, Menus and Wizards.

This course will be packed with examples, with plenty of time for hands-on exercises!

Find out more details and RSVP here
 Don't quote me on it, but I bet this course will fill up fast, so do sign up soon if you're interested!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Girl Develop It Recap

On the evening of Tuesday, December 6th, the second half of Girl Develop It Ottawa's Intro to HTML and CSS workshop took place - and as you can see in the pic below, everyone looks absorbed in their code!

As one of the assistants for the workshop, I had a great time and found it to be an interesting experience. If you're a developer who likes helping people learn, I think you might enjoy assisting with or leading a similar class (see this post on tumblr.)

Seeing people walk through the process of building a web page from scratch, and troubleshooting when they ran into problems, reminded me of when I first began dabbling with HTML and CSS many years ago. I liked meeting the students - who came into the class with varying levels of prior experience, but were all friendly and curious about code. I credit this to instructor Suzan Hill's teaching style, which was clear enough for the almost complete beginners in the class, while students looking for more information were able to ask the assistants questions in detail.

If this sounds interesting, you'll be happy to know that GDI Ottawa has more programming classes in the works. For anyone who wants to get started with web development on their own, I've included a link below to one of the online resources I've found helpful for HTML/CSS learning and reference. 

Online intro to HTML/CSS guide

Liz Allen is a computer science student at Carleton University. She tweets about technology and life at @liz_codes

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Girl Develop It Ottawa Kicks Off its New Chapter

One of CU-WISE's original founders, Serena Ngai, recently started a new chapter of an organization called Girl Develop It.  It's all about getting non-technical women in Ottawa to learn how to program.  To me, this has the potential to help blur the line between women in tech and women near tech, which can only be a positive thing.

I recently taught at the chapter's kickoff workshop, where participants learned some basics of programming using Scratch.  You can read all about my experience on my own blog.  I also posted on the new blog for the Ottawa chapter, which I encourage you to follow to keep up to date on future happenings.

If you want to learn how to program or just meet a bunch of ladies who are trying it for the first time, be sure to join the Girl Develop It Ottawa Meetup Page!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Carleton Students Win a Prize For Innovative and Challenging Mobile Game

I recently competed on a team with three other students from the School of Computer Science (Jamie Madill, Andrew Erdeg, and Jacob Agar) in the Great Canadian Appathon.  It was a 48-hour mobile game development competition.  Our team didn't place in the top three, but we did get a prize for the most technically challenging game! (I will admit that wasn't thanks to me - Jamie happened to be working on fluid simulation for his thesis and implemented it for the game.)

From the Carleton newsroom article:
The goal of the single player puzzle game is to fill coloured drains with matching fluids that takes full advantage of the interfaces offered by modern mobile devices. The player can dig trenches in the sand to channel the fluid by drawing shapes on the touch screen in the same way they would trace out shapes in the sand. In order to move the fluid, the player simply tilts the phone, causing it to spill down the channels. The challenge lies in not wasting fluid by channelling it down mismatched drains.
The most unfortunate part of the competition? There were hardly any female programmers! (I guess that's why the National Post featured me in one of their articles covering the event.) This was a great experience, so why not give it a shot at your next opportunity?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Great Canadian Appathon

I wrote the following on my personal blog and thought the CU-WISE community might be interested in participating, too!

Carleton's Game Development Club is one of six host schools for the upcoming Great Canadian Appathon:
The Great Canadian Appathon is a chance for post-secondary students across Canada to showcase their skills in developing great games. Students can get together in teams of up to 4 people to hack their game together for 48 hours. The event is presented by XMG Studio and the National post. The Prizes are being sponsored by TELUS and the finale event is being sponsored by KPMG.
A few friends of mine were hoping I would join their team, and yesterday I finally decided that I would.  (I was a little worried about time because there are a few projects I have to wrap up in the next couple of months, but this looks like a really fun opportunity I don't want to miss.)

This is supposed to be one of those hackathon-type events where you work for 48 hours straight to come up with a game programmed completely within the allotted time.  I've never participated in any of these before.  The closest I've come is the one all-nighter we pulled for our school's notorious software engineering class project.  (And that's the only all-nighter I've ever done in my life!)  I'm a little nervous about it because that's not really how I work usually.  My eye problems alone make it impossible to work all night.

Luckily, it sounds like the plan is to design as much of the game ahead of time as possible, and maybe even prototype it.  Then the idea is to have us work in shifts with partners, so those who like working at night can.  According to the Appathon's rules, you don't even have to be on campus - you can work online if you want.  I don't know if it's a gender thing or just because we're getting older, but I personally really appreciate this flexibility.

The competition is happening March 11-13, so I'll post about our experience after that.  In the meantime, if you happen to be a student, consider giving it a shot yourself!

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's not thirteen weeks; it's three.

School is gearing up again for the fall, and one of the biggest challenges my first year students seem to face is time management. So here's a small lesson from Professor Greg Wilson:

Rule 1: It’s Not Thirteen Weeks, It’s Three

This was the hardest one for me to learn, and it’s almost always the hardest to get across to both students and their clients. University terms may be thirteen weeks long, but students are usually juggling five courses, and many have part-time jobs as well. That means they can only put eight hours a week into their project without sacrificing grades somewhere else. If you figure a full-time work week is 35 hours, that means students actually spend 8×13/35 = a bit less than three weeks working for you.

Take a look at the rest of his excellent post on Three Rules for Supervising Student Programming Projects for some other hints about what his most successful students had in common. It's interesting reading for mentors, teachers and students.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Global Game Jam 2010: Anyone is Welcome

So I just found out about this event being held this weekend and think it sounds really fun so I figured I'd share.

The Global Game Jam consists of groups all over the world getting together this weekend, seperating into local teams and spending 48 hours developing a game prototype relating to the years topic. But what really hooked me was the NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY not so fine print. To quote their website:
Although having computer skills is helpful, code experience is not necessary. Designers, developers, artists and anyone is welcome to try their hand at making a game during the GGJ.
I'm in computer systems now but coming out of high school I laughed at my friend who wrote a program to calculate the quadratic formula on his graphing calculator because I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to spend their time working with bloody computers. I still don't get along with computers on a regular basis which is a constant source of amusement to people who know me as I'll be happily typing along one moment and the next time they notice me i'm literally growling and shaking my fists at it since throwing my laptop across the room would be a bad thing. The point is I now really like programming and the logic puzzles it presents but I simply don't have the experience to jump into most projects that are looking for programmers.
This competition is a chance to get to see how a game is made and contribute ideas and pieces without anyone expecting you to know all of it or understand half of it.
Yes there's sure to be some top notch programmers which is all the better for a beginner to team up with as you can follow what they do and ask questions. But if programming isn't your thing but you'd like to help design a game you can also do graphics or audio or a whole bunch of other stuff i probably don't even realize is involved in making a video game.

Check out the Carleton Game Day Mini-Conference and School of Information Technology's Game Jam site to sign up (registration for both events is free)