Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Weekend 6

On Friday groups did paper prototypes for projects.  I worked on code to get the other developers setup for the weekend.  The intent was to take pictures of the paper prototypes and put them into the web pages... that didn't happen, but we are further along with some things so that is ok. 

My visual story team met and we picked a story... progress.

I also attended the Think Global, Hack Local Hackathon which Kim is involved in.  I went as a mentor for the teams of comp-sci students.  A few other people from the MDM went to for mentoring.  Due to hockey games on Sunday I couldn't see what the end results were, but Kim said that they were well done.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 23

5am comes way too early.  By 7:30 I am back in bed until 10:30 - yay I slept!  Maybe I won't fall asleep in class later today.

I missed a train and wind up at the speaker 5 minutes late... but I am not the only one.  I hate being late though.

On the train ride I realized that we could take the chat thing we did in Meteor and make rooms for each of our project teams to talk in.  If we do that we can get off facebook and start using our stuff.  On the train I read a post by Larry talking about transatlantic cables and telegraphs as an analog for our project.  I tell him that was funny because of the chat idea.  He says that we haven't even shown that the chat works at all... I disagree, as we have been chatting on it.  Perhaps Larry has a different interpretation than me?  Now I am going to get the damn thing done fast.

John does the law part of the course.  It is interesting, and I want to find some way to push the discussion, but I don't really know enough to do that :-/  Must Learn More Law.  Or something like that :-)

John brings in another speaker and we talk, and do an exercise, about hardware, media, business models, etc... and where we seem them being in the next 5 years.

After that Nahum and I do some work on the new chat thing, but we are pretty brain dead.  Deb also quickly fixes our, admittedly, horrible UI design.

I stayed awake for the whole class.  Naps are good!

Day 22

Today is where we show our videos.  Somehow I manged to do most of the documentation earlyish (as in on the weekend) so there is just a little bit left to do - where are we going to show the video and will Brad show up?  He doesn't so I delete his slide.  Arron says put the movie at the end.  I want it closer to the start, but don't want to argue.  George says it should have been even earlier then where I want it.  Oh well, live and learn.  And learn I did.

All the videos from all the groups were great.  We then break up and form new groups for the next assignment.  I grab Nahum since I know he can program and isn't Arron.  Arron would be fine, but I am trying to work with new people.  Hopefully Arron is ok with that... in the end our whole team winds up in different groups.  I am working with Carlos again for the 3rd time... oh well, Carlos is cool :-)

Day 21

Big day... time to get the project back on track.  Normally I would not be involved, I'd sit back, do my part, and when things fell apart try to help recover it.  This time I am actively trying to right the ship at the start instead.  I really don't like doing that, I prefer to think that everything will work out and then get annoyed when it doesn't. 

We started off class with Larry and Kim giving us some information on where they see us being at so far, and what a Team Charter is.  This is good, it sets the stage for what we need to talk about today.  When the question comes up of what is next everyone just looks around the room.  "5 minute break" I finally say.  I guess, technically, we are leaderless at the moment and that is how we should proceed.

I snag some of the other people from the weekend meeting to see what they think now that Larry and Kim have talked, the basic plan stays the same so I write the agenda down... item #0 is to pick my replacement :-)  My goal is to make sure that everyone feels that they have a voice in the process.  Picking who is going to lead the process is a good first step.  If they pick me then I have their backing, if not then they wouldn't have wanted me doing it anyways.  I get the only nomination. We move one.

I talk a bit about what happened last week and the plan is to now go around the 38 person circle and get everyone to respond to 2 questions: what do they want to get out of the project, and what do they need to feel involved.  This starts a discussion on why we are doing this.  I pointed out that each team was informed that we were going to do this, and it was up on Facebook for everyone to read.  If they were not happy with the idea then they should have said something before the meeting.  We talk a bit more.  We vote.  People are unhappy with the result so continue to argue.  Kim saves the day.  Thanks Kim.  We break for lunch.

I talk to a few people at lunch and when we come back I make it clear (I hope) that the before lunch thing was meant to help us address the issues that came out of last week - basically people not being heard and people losing trust in each other.  We won't answer the questions, but people need to keep that in the front of their minds.  We also start following one of our rules of play: you only get to talk twice on a topic.  This makes things move much faster!

Next up is the proposal to use the Lean UX process.  There are complaints about this idea too.  Apparently people just don't read things... sigh.  We vote on it, and the break off into groups of 5 for 1.5 hours to do the Lean UX process.  We actually finish early!!!1one! 

At this point in time I can see the end, and we need to move along.  I take over instead of doing things by vote.  We don't have time, and people should now feel involved.

Based on all the feedback we get a list of 6 features to do.  Time now to vote for our leaders.  I wanted a write in vote, but we decide to use a show of hands.  What is funny is that the steam that "won" last week and Maria are in all the leadership positions.. which means that we are back where we fucking started!  However now people have had a say.  I wound up running against Haig since he was the only one nominated for a position and I wanted to be sure that people chose that position too.  Thankfully they chose him and not me!

10 minutes until 5:00 and we have one last thing to do.  One person suggests that we wait for our leaders to tell us what to do.  No!  We have come this far, and there is very little left to do, and waiting for the leaders means losing another week.  We break off into teams around the features that we are interested, and the foundation team which is going to be mostly programmers deciding things like version control and directory layout.

We finish by 5:00.  Agenda done.  My voice is shot.  Off to LEGO class.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Weekend 5

A lot happened this weekend.  I worked on Visual Story documentation and the website (which Arron had to finish since the web and video is broken in ways I don't understand).

The management team met in person and on Facebook to discuss how to proceed.  I had an idea, and it matched the one from Haig pretty closely so we went down that road.  We came up with using the Lean UX process to identify features.  We also need a way to go forward without the fractures that we seem to have developed as a cohort.  In the end, since I am not a member of the "winning" team, and thus less of a focal point, it was decided that I would facilitate/moderate the meeting on Tuesday.  I just want to get everyone on board and put any bad feelings behind us.  I want us to actually move forward...

Had time to bake some pumpkin pies for the MDM Thanksgiving dinner on Monday.  Sadly my son got sick just after we arrived and wound up throwing up in the kitchen area - he just about made it to the door too :-(  Poor kid.  We wound up leaving early because he was still feeling sick.

Day 20

The up at 5am for hockey practice is going to kill me. I am sure of it!  From now on I am taking a nap before going to school...

Went in early so Arron could show me how to add the audio and visual scratch effects to the movie.  Coolness.

The lunch speaker was cancelled due to illness.  It seems that everyone is getting sick, I guess it is that time of year.

I had a bit of a panick when I realized that last weeks assignment and this weeks assignment submissions were screwed up.  Fortunately Richard was sympathetic and I wound up fixing one and email him them both just to be sure.  I also helped Richard with a book edit, the one I found a few weeks ago.  He finally found some language that, while less precise, removed the issue to the point that I would not have raised it.  That seemed like the best solution.

Richard finished off his part of the course, and I was sooooo tired I almost fell asleep :-/

John started the legal portion of the course.  We talked about IP and hypotheticals which I really like to think about.  I was too tired to think though... again nap after hockey next week.

Day 19

We talked about two movies, Resident Evil and Tomb Raider, that are based on video games.  We found out why the end of Resident Evil was good and why the end of Tomb Raider was bad.  Basically Tomb Raider ignored all the things that were set up in the opening when it came to the end.

We have a new paper to write, I am doing the opening of a video game, where we need to set up things that would be able to be used in the game, specifically the climax.

The programmers had a meeting after class, where we each went over what we knew, what we wanted to get out of the project, and what we don't want to see.  We have a bunch of people that "know" C/C++, only 3 of us have web programming experience.  We want to all learn, and we all want to feel useful.  We decided to use Meteor, a JavaScript framework for both the client and server that uses MongoDB.  None of use know how to do all of that, so we are all on an even foothold, and we will all learn.

I did up a quick prototype of a login system and then stole a chat client demo.  It worked!  It was very simple... awesomesauce!

After that I learned how to edit a movie...  and I did a good enough job that we are not going to throw it away :-)

Day 18

Pitch day!  We each did our pitches, answered questions from the panel, and then had lunch.  Once that was done they announced the "winner", the team with the idea that most resonated with them.  The team I was on did not win, but was one of the other two teams that got an honourable mention... basically we had features they liked.

We then had to get organized.  One thing is that no team had planned ahead on how to actually organize us, well one team had a bit of an org chart.  Chaos ensued with a number of people feeling disenfranchised.  Arron and I have a disagreement on this, I see people as choosing not to be involved, he says they were not included.

In the end I wound up on the "management" team as co-lead for the developers/programmers/engineers.  I think I just cycle through those names when every I have to talk about the team :-)

We wound up with 11 managers in a group of 39 people... mostly because the teams started to "need" communication channels, so we had a UI/UX person be the representative on the engineering team... which is insane since we have NO IDEA HOW WE ARE GOING TO ORGANIZE THE TEAMS YET!

Day 17

Ok, I am behind on the blog again... but it has been a very busy week!

In improv we built our dream houses.  Why?  Because it helped demonstrate the agile method compared to the waterfall method.  Why?  Because the agile method is better.  Why?  Because it allows you to adapt to the situation and get more people involved which is a good thing.  Why?  Because if people are invested they will work harder at the process, the team will get more ideas, and you are able to adapt to changes in requirements more easily. 

Also Patrick told us to ask why a lot :-)

For the dream houses we tried the waterfall method, which really was just us sticking to defined roles and a defined process.  We then tried agile which has us do user stories and pick a single feature form each of our person dream houses.  We then built our dream house.  Ours was a tree house, and we built it in an actual fake tree!

We also had to pass a ball between us, as fast as possible, making sure that each person on the team touched it 10 times.  We kept refining this until we were asked to have each member touch it 10 times in 1 second.  My team figured it out :-)  I am not going to give it away... but it took some out of the box thinking!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekend 4

Not too much going on this past weekend.  On Friday we shot our films for the visual story.  It went quickly, which was the plan.  We are pretty sure we got all the shots we need.  If not a re-shoot is easy enough, it was all done at my house and almost all inside.

On Saturday Arron showed up with a DVD of the pictures, since 2.11 gigs is too much for dropbox.  Sneakernet for the win.  He joked (correctly) that it was like an old datacomm question of how fast does it take to transfer bits... I took it to school with me and Matthew (my son) who was helping another group shoot their movie.  That didn't go so smoothly... the shoot was a 2:00 and at 1:15ish it turned out the other kids could not make it.  That meant a script rewrite on the fly.  I managed to help a bit with wardrobe and entertainment by juggling apples :-)

Patrick had is do some research, agile development and improvisation.  I'll need to read what everyone posted.  I also need to read the essays from Visual Story.  I didn't get a book from Richard on Thursday... I could get one today... argh.

On Sunday Judy, Matthew, and I hung out for his birthday.  Presents, hockey game (him playing), and a movie: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.

Still sick... but feeling much better.  One more day and I should be back to normal I think.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 16

Still sick.  Grrr.

Today we talked to some people, fleshed out our idea, did a some more work on it to flesh it out more, things like user stories.

After that we had a speaker from MakerLABS, neat stuff.

After that we had a substitute teacher, Chuck from IBM.  Oddly Richard wasn't gone, his plans changed, but so we got Chuck and Richard.  Mostly Chuck.

We learned some neat things, basically how to find your job in the future.  Make a triangle with what you are (programmer) what you are passionate about (kittens) and what you want to change (ill fitting shoes).  And then you look at what opportunities for things like programmers and kittens, programmers and ill fitting shoes, and kittens and ill fitting shoes.  The opportunities that are at those intersections are possible job opportunities.  Neat stuff.

At the end of the day we posted a partition of our first iteration of our pitch to Facebook for feedback.  This does 2 things, gets us feedback, and shows that our idea could work, or not.  We got feedback so I guess that it could work :-)

Day 15

Yah I am sick.  Sigh.

Finished watching Magnificent Seven just before class started... eep.  George went over that and Seven Samurai.  We then did our synopsis of them... oops was meant to be in the other order :-)

Class ended early, after another NFB film... a movie made of things from the cutting room floor.  Bizarre, but I can see the random movie idea working :-)

After that met with the Projects 1 team where we interviewed Larry and Kim to find out their requirements.  Then we came up with an idea and showed it to them and confirmed that it passed the "it doesn't suck" stage :-)

Deborah and I worked on it on the train, she wire framed it up so we can show it to people in the morning.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day 14

Rain rain go away.  It poured when I was about half way to the CDM. Rain jacket? check. Backpack rain jacket? Check. Umbrella? Umbrella? Umbrella? Nope. I got very wet.

At dailies we presented first.  We didn't get much feedback (not good) we learned a few things, but not exactly what we needed.  We think the problem was that we stopped too soon.  We had the right idea but needed to, at the very least, probably go a bit further.  We should have applied the 5 whys to the RFP to see why we think they are giving us this RFP.  Live and learn, and we didn't have to throw out anything so there is that.

Most other groups wanted to make games, or apps, or websites, or games AND apps AND websites.  One thing that comes out of it is that there are probably many audiences, and we may be picking more than one "winner".

We also showed George our prototype film.  He seemed pleased and is allowing us to use music, as long as it is done more as a sound effect.  Arron and I talked about that on the way to BCIT afterwards and think we finally get exactly what he means.   Shooting this Friday and, if we are really lucky we will be done on Sunday.  I doubt we will be done on Sunday, but it is good to have goals!

I think I have a cold.  Sigh.