Reflection | Kevin Wang

Instead of writing a routine update, I’d like to dedicate this blog to a reflection on the work I have done for the past eight weeks. I will first discuss what I have learned from the project. Then, I will identify, if not address, the problems I have encountered over the course of this quarter. Finally, I will plan for further projects and establish a set of more attainable goals. 

What Have I Learned?animatedwatson_desktop.gif

Whether the project is successful or not, the most important aspect of it is learning. In retrospect, working on my independent project has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I am astonished by what I have achieved so far.

As my work progresses, I find myself familiarized with many programming languages, APIs (Application Programming Interface), development environments, etc., due to the demands of the projects. Perhaps the numbers of languages and APIs I know do not matter; it is the experience of working with them that matters the most. To some extends, being exposed to a variety of languages, APIs, and environments is similar to being given the “skeleton key” to programming. After working with a wide range of programming languages, I have discovered the general pattern. With this “skeleton key,” I can program in virtually any language or use any API without the need to learn them in depth. For instance, Westtown Resort was written in PHP, which is a programming language I had never learned until this fall. However, with my previous experience with Swift, Java, and C as well as the help from the PHP documentation, I was able to work with my team to program Resort entirely in PHP.

Aside from the technical aspects, the research has also been a transformative experience in “developing my own voice.” What this seminar essentially offers me is a platform where I can express myself and interact with my peers. The weekly blog, for example, is a key component to the seminar. I have to admit that at the beginning of the semester, I rejected the notion of having to write a blog post every week. However, it did not take long for it to become evident to me that these blog posts I have written can have a profound impact on my work. The most noteworthy change I observed is that I have become more open to constructive criticism. It did not occur to me until late October that hitting the “publish” button like the one I am looking at at this moment does not mean that I have finished a week’s blog post. Learning occurs when there is interaction. For me, I learn when I hear back from my audience who comment routinely on my blog. Those comments, even the most critical ones, are what drive me to create, innovate, and redesign. For example, when I introduced the concept of the new Resort in my blog, a reader commented that I should choose OCR (Optical Character Recognition) instead of the current HTML parsing method to read users’ schedules in the new Resort. At the time, I was vehemently against the usage of OCR, citing its unreliability. As the Westtown Resort team starts to develop the next generation Resort, we re-examined the possibility of using OCR with the program. It turned out that the technology is reliable enough and will greatly improve Resort’s user experience. Stories like this remind me of the importance of “developing my own voice.”

Problems
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One of the reasons I enrolled in the Independent Seminar is that it gives me the flexibility to devise my own course plan. Unfortunately, it is this flexibility that has caused the delay of many of my projects. It is important to note that my independent research has been largely driven by several smaller projects. The goal is to turn these smaller projects into fully operational products and to market them. Unlike my larger goal for this independent research, these smaller projects do not have specific due dates. Many of which have production timelines that overlap with each other. It becomes problematic as I fail to concentrate on a singular project. Perhaps what I could have done is to put these projects in sequential order instead of the parallel order I am currently using.

While I have been a big fan of the weekly blog posts, I do have some concerns in regard to them. Since my research also includes a marketing component, I preferred not to disclose any information about the projects while are still under development. This means that I would have to find alternative topics to write about, such as a case study on a successful business model. Often, it is very hard for me to find the right topic that is both informative and relevant to my project.

Future Project & Goals

After evaluating my current progress, I have made several minor changes to my overall plan. The following is a list of goals I would like to accomplish by the end of this semester:

  • Finish developing the current project(s)
  • Release a fully operational product
  • Attempt to create an version of Resort that supports Blackbaud’s student information system
  • Conduct a beta testing on Resort at a nearby private school
  • Market Resort

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving.

Works Cited

Cocilova, Alex. “Anatomy of a PC Crash: 7 Scenarios, and How to Avoid Them.” PCWorld, IDG Consumer & SMB, 22 Jan. 2013, http://www.pcworld.com/article/2023665/anatomy-of-a-pc-crash-7-scenarios-and-how-to-avoid-them.html. Accessed 17 Nov. 2016.

Gromov, Vadim. “Freebie: Progress Bar.” Behance, Adobe, 23 Jan. 2015, http://www.behance.net/gallery/23015991/Freebie-Progress-Bar. Accessed 17 Nov. 2016.

IBM Russia. IBM, http://www.ibm.com/ru-ru/. Accessed 17 Nov. 2016.

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