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Archive for October, 2010

Isn’t There Something Wrong Here?

October 22nd, 2010 No comments

As a prelude, I was originally going to write a post about how my Google Interviews went, but I decided that would be bad form considering that I am being considered for a position there, so will sum up the experience as having gone well.

I came across 2 news articles just now that both bother me for slightly different reasons. One of them is about the US’s new financial aid to Pakistan’s military (the size of which shocks me!) and the other is about the data Google’s mapping cars captured.

The main part of the whole “giving aid to Pakistan” that bothered me is not that we are giving it to Pakistan, but that the US is talking about putting aside $2 billion for Pakistan’s MILITARY! I totally understand disaster relief (the flooding in Pakistan), and can even understand giving money for civilian infrastructure in Pakistan, but specifically to their military? When was the last time we publicly funded another country’s military with US money that wasn’t South Korea or Israel? Yes, yes, we must bolster their military so that they can help us fight terrorist organizations like the Taliban in the Middle East, but doesn’t $2 billion just sound like a bit much? We apparently gave them $7.5 billion over the last 5 years. WOW! Hey government, I think I found a way to balance your books a bit to reduce debt, STOP GIVING ALL OF IT TO OTHER COUNTRIES!!!

Ok, let’s assume you have sold me on Pakistan being our greatest ally in that area of the world with their proximity to Afghanistan and such (and cooperation with the US for tracking the Taliban and such down). Wait, they helped? Aren’t there still numerous reports of terrorists being TRAINED in parts of Pakistan? So we are going to help their military beef up so that they can take on these terrorist training camps and knock them out… like that’s going to be the main area that they will put this military sanctioned money…

As for the Google story. I’m sorry, if you don’t at least secure your wireless network, that’s like leaving your front door to your house open with a sign that says “Not here right now.” Driving by and seeing wireless traffic and data that is unsecured is not invasion of privacy. It is not taking the necessary precautions to secure your own privacy. Let me use an example that is easier to relate. If you put a lot of personal information on Twitter or Facebook, and then don’t lock down the privacy settings, and then don’t EXPECT spammers and scammers to use that private data, you are naive for lack of a kinder word.

With that being said, it is a bit sketchy that Google went and recorded the data that was seen while driving around in their Google mapping cars. I mean, they didn’t HAVE to collect the data, could have just seen it and moved on with their lives. But the VOLUME that Google was able to see and record says a lot about how people treat their personal, supposedly private, networks. Twitter calls the volume of information that they give access to a “fire hose” of data. I don’t really see unsecured wireless networks as anything else really. Talk about easy pickings! I just wish people weren’t pegging this problem on Google and were instead blaming the people truly responsible, the Joe Schmo who doesn’t know how to setup their private network to be actually private (even though it requires as much effort as logging into your router and clicking the enable “WPA” or “WEP” encryption button and logging the passphrase on your computer and maybe a sticky note if you need it). This isn’t rocket science people!!!

Senior Design Project

October 16th, 2010 No comments

Let me start somewhere close to the beginning of the semester for this story. Our group picked the “Patient Database Administrator” project, thinking that we would be building a full tool for docs to access all their patient records. Yes, in retrospect that sounds too HUGE to be able to do in a single semester, but that’s what we were thinking. We then, before meeting with our client, found code that a previous group had built for this same project, and assumed they were related. At this point, it is 2-3 weeks into the semester, and we still haven’t had an opportunity to meet with our customer!! Once we finally did (for 3 HOURS on a Friday night!!), we managed to make clear the purpose, goals, and scope of this project: create a custom form generating engine that our customer can plug into their overall tool to take all patient records and forms online (including managing the hospital as well).

This project description is of smaller scope than even by the end of that meeting, but we managed to make it more concise over the following weeks, which was nice. Let me describe our customer for a moment though. He is a big-thinking Neurosurgery doc who is finishing up his residency (in the final 2 years I believe) at Emory University Hospital. When I say big-thinking, I mean he sees the big picture very clearly, but doesn’t see all the little steps to get there at the same level as the people he has gotten to accomplish them. This lack of seeing eye-to-eye on many of the technical matters means that we senior design groups receive emails that regularly change, or attempt to alter, the direction we are headed with this project. Some examples include the frameworks we are using have been changed multiple times, typically with more added rather than our overall structure being simplified, and our technology choices were limited to some proprietary software (Flex, which is Flash) that we have to use FREE TRIALS to be able to code in for 60 days. Don’t get me wrong, Flex will likely make coding the front end a lot easier, but that doesn’t mean that it will make our lives easier as a whole since we have to use a framework called Mate with the Flex UI… it’s basically a wreck right now with us trying to put together enough pieces that we can get things rolling so that we can meet deadlines. A minor detail to add, being asked for working prototypes when we haven’t been able to get any real coding done yet, and being asked for the same documentation that has already been sent out, is really annoying from a team managing perspective. Really doc? I sent you those docs about 3 weeks ago!!!

Anyway, we have a lot of work ahead of us. Here is a quick breakdown of the technology limitations and our deadlines for production:

  • Java back-end
  • Hibernate to communicate with the DB
  • Flex UI
  • MySQL DB (ended up being the better choice out of the options, we got lucky here)

Milestones:

  • Start of semester: 8/23
  • Picked project: 8/29
  • Met with customer: 9/10
  • Met with DB professor on campus to discuss our design (and he loved it by the way): 9/24
  • Documentation due date and group presentation to class (end of Sprint 1): 9/27 — we were supposed to have started coding at this point, but didn’t have the time because we met so late with the customer and had so much documentation to do in the limited amount of remaining time for Sprint 1.
  • Upcoming, end of Sprint 2: 11/1 — we plan to have a prototype in place by then, but feel woefully behind because we had so much trouble setting up our local development environments. Really cost us on time!

So we have time to get things done, but are going to have to really push it the next 2 weeks to meet our planned deadline for a working prototype.

The Job Hunt

October 11th, 2010 No comments

Since I am a graduating senior from college this year (as opposed to just a senior, which I was last year), I have been going strong with the job hunt. Thanks to a career fair on campus in mid-September, I have actually had a pretty large number of leads and a decent number of interviews. I really wasn’t expecting the career fair to produce much going in, but was pleasantly surprised by it. My approach came down to:

  1. Ask the recruiter to tell you more about their company beyond what you already know about them (in the case of some companies, I actually knew who they were, so would mention that and then ask for more information).
  2. Follow that up with “how can my [insert professional interest here] fit into your company” or “what kind of [insert professional interest here] opportunities do you have?”
  3. From here, it became a case-by-case situation dependent upon what I was interested in that they mentioned, and any questions I might have had. To stand out from other candidates, I told some about projects that I have worked on over the summer and also told a few of the recruiters about the senior design project I am working on (to be discussed a bit in a later post).

You really cannot beat a strong resume though. Because of my large amount of professional experience at 3 different companies during my college career, I had an easy time finding additional material to discuss with those companies of actual interest (there were some that I talked to who just had absolutely NO opportunities to offer me, or were simply not situated to even need my talents and interests).

So, to give a small list of some of the companies I have applied to already, partially but not all due to discussions at the career fair, are (career fair contacts, and then the rest):

  • Wipro – applied.
  • Booz Allen Hamilton – on-campus interview scheduled for 10/14.
  • NSA – applied.
  • Cardlytics – haven’t gotten back to me via email yet, will follow up soon.
  • Endgame Systems – no online application, awaiting a call from them, but haven’t heard yet.
  • Barracuda Networks – applied.
  • Capital IQ – have gone through an on-campus interview with them.
  • — non-career fair opportunities —
  • Google – ON SITE INTERVIEW AT THEIR MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA OFFICE ON 10/18, ALL EXPENSES PAID!! Excited, obviously.
  • Manhattan Associates – applied and was personally told I would hear from them, but haven’t yet.
  • Factset – interviewed with them on 9/16, haven’t heard back though.
  • Cisco – applied.
  • Neustar – was my summer job, an am part-timing with them still. Will likely discuss this opportunity with them further in November.

The Google one is obviously VERY exciting, and we’ll see how the on-site interview goes on 10/18. Considering that they are flying me out there, and putting me up for 2 nights, I am SUPER stoked about it!!

Behind Again

October 8th, 2010 No comments

So it would seem that I can’t keep up with my desired blogging output (of at least one post a week). It’s been… a while since my last post to say the least! My focuses lately have been with applying to jobs, working for my part-time job (continuation of my summer job), keeping up with academia, and a bit of recreation in the form of beating Fable 2 last night. So, that brings me to what I am going to post about over the next week or so (and actually post about, not just “want” to post about).

  • A review of Fable 2: I believe I did a review of Fable 1 way back when I played that, so might as well do a follow-up.
  • The jobs I am applying for and what opportunities I am presently interviewing for (this is likely to be my next post actually).
  • My senior design project: we are actually working on a pretty cool concept, but I really don’t like the restrictions to what technologies we have to work with. Expect a rant on this subject…
  • Other subjects that come to mind, maybe my entrepreneurship class project…? Depends if I want to release this idea into the wild since it is a bit more unique.

The plan is to do the job offer applying one this weekend, and have it post on Monday. Then knock out the next one by the end of Monday and have it post late next week, etc. Basically the time-table I WAS working with before I started getting lazy about it.