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And with that closes week 2

January 14, 2012

Tomorrow I have my first experience interacting with a real program-contracting company (due to my busy schedule and 2 majors, I never had the chance to do that in the US yet, something I plan on rectifying once I get back home). I don’t know the name of the company, but it is a pretty major firm (yet a bit under the radar). Maybe it’s for the best because of the nature of my project, I’m going to be signing a non-disclosure agreement. I just hope it’s not so intense that I can’t use them as a reference later if the project goes particularly well.

I’m super nervous about this. Sure, I’ve been forced to conform my code to naming, structure, and documentation standards I’d rather not (see also: 1400 and !John_Clark 1620). However, my instincts say this is on a whole different level (major firms usually are to keep everything integrated). Furthermore, I’ve never really worked with a group that really gave a damn before. Well, I take that back, I’ve had some good groups before. However, I’ve never made a collaborative program with them. The closest I’ve come is helping people on personal projects by writing small methods for them. It was never a project I was at all involved in. It was more of a “could you help me, I don’t really know how to _____”, and if it was within my power, I would hammer together a small method that would make it happen and let them use it.

I’m also worried about the pacing. Normally, when I don’t understand why something is failing or how a critical function works, I write a small separate program (which can take a few hours) showing how it works, hammering out the details, and getting functional results. From that I can reference it every time if I need a reminder of how it functions. It works wonders, but I don’t think I have that luxury now (unless my back is to the wall and I absolutely need to figure out how a function works).

There’s also the fact that I (and my entire group) have a concurrent project that we need to do before a certain point in March (luckily, I have the same group for both). This one isn’t for a real life company though (come to think of it, I don’t really know the details for this one). The company project is supposed to theoretically be 26.7 work hours per week (about 5.34 hours a day, assuming I don’t work weekends…which I inevitably will), but there’s no way to know if that’s the case, and no way to know what effect concurrent development will have on each project. Not sure how much my other group project is going to be. Between that and the final for the non company group project class, productivity will inevitably suffer for the big company project (particularly between February and March). I don’t want to make a super push during April, but that’s probably what’s going to be done.

I’m probably over thinking things. I know I’ll have to make some sacrifices, mostly involving things like hanging out with the International students (although I don’t want to completely cut them off), seeing the country, etc. Hell, I already rejected a free Norwegian language crash course that I really wanted to take (I feel it’s important to keep the same academic schedule as the group). However, one thing I will NOT sacrifice no matter how high my demands are is I will not cut off GF or my family back home. I want to communicate with them at regular intervals. I know this sometimes happens with real life intense projects (to the point where they ARE your life and you forget how live outside that workspace for a while), and sometimes they yield awesome results (see also: how they make SouthPark episodes). However, I am not willing to give that up if I can help it. Considering the two females of my group have boyfriends that they visit on the weekends, I’m probably not alone in this mentality.

Well, no use in fretting about it, we’ll find out how it pans out tomorrow.


The next day (why are these always in 2 day spurts)

Woke up (kinda tired, since I stayed up late practicing my programming) and wandered over to our meeting site. Our group is meeting at [NAME OF COMPANY REDACTED UNTIL I AM SURE I AM ALLOWED TO MENTION THEM] to discuss our project. IMO, people behind the project are still in a bit of a theoretical phase themselves (in some ways), which made things kind of vague. I’m honestly extremely nervous.

I’m trying to brainstorm ideas for a Scrum backlog for this to find a starting point. However, I can’t think quite where to begin. The group is meeting on Monday, we’ll see what we come up with. I’m told this project will have 3 touchstone meetings. What I picked up about this is that we are going to show what we have of the project to a group of people who will be as tough and demanding as John Clark (and possibly as blunt, minus the cursing). I’ll be the stronger for it, but as someone who takes failure/under-perfomrmance/etc extremely personally, this is going to be a rough ride. I don’t want to be someone who blames my group (unlikely, they seem competent), and I CERTAINLY don’t want to be a burden that the group would legitimately blame.

After that I was stupidly nervous. Also, I know I am going to miss out on the secondary experiences of living in Norway, just like that one guy said I shouldn’t. However, I have to give EVERYTHING to this project. The Norwegian language crash course, the various trips to wherever, the parties and gatherings…all must be sacrificed. My schedule should stay the same as my group (all of us have only those two classes). If I have time to drink, I have time to code. If I have time to go to Oslo, I have time to go to group meetings. I think our “official” work days are during “regular work hours” (8AM-4PM, M-F). I think this is in part because one of our group members has a 5 year old kid. However, I plan to work whenever I am awake (I might take a nap during my “work day” if we aren’t skype contacting if I am permitted, so it balances out). I KNOW I am the kind of person to deeply and completely immerse myself in identifying, understanding, and completing my tasks. This is the commitment I signed up for. I am a student first, and I am STUDYING abroad. Granted, I would LIKE these secondary experiences, but to slightly modify a quote from KOS-MOS, “I believe it is obvious what gets priority” (I changed “who” with “what”).

Apart from that, all I did was some banal grown up stuff. I Bought groceries and things I couldn’t carry on an airplane (got a decent Razor for ~75NOK (a little over 20 bucks, which by Norway standards is a good deal)). I did my Laundry (it is kind of hard to decypher those machines at first, I am so accustomed to the machines at my folks house they graciously let me use, as well as the detergent that is easy to identify whose lid doubles as a measuring cup). I was going to practice with my devtools I was told to use for the task after I had downloaded them (the freeware ones, the remaining 2 I am going to see if I can requisition from either the school or the company [I prefer the former, as I can keep it that way]), however I decided to give myself a night off and spent it melding with various sites I love and have lost touch with given how busy I’ve been. I plan to mess with the tools tomorrow (as well as talk to GF a lot). I think since I don’t have one of the key tools though (the one that’s not freeware), I’ll have to re-evaluate my plan. However, I do plan on advancing critical knowledges and/or skills some how. I don’t want to be inert just because it’s Saturday (I do plan on allocating some time to talk to the awesome one and/or the folks, but still). We shall see what’s going on.

Anyways, Week 2 of school complete. Since I’ve been cloistered away doing school work of various forms, I am not going to be taking as much pictures (which is too bad, I like doing that). I’m sure these entries will get sparser once the work piles up (since we are compiling our backlog and don’t have a certain key tool, we aren’t making anything quite yet).

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