We Now Interrupt This Program For An Unexpected French Conversation

As I am typing this, the weirdest thing of the last while is occuring. You see, I have these wireless headphones, which I use for most of my music listening. A few minutes ago, while I was attempting to listen to said music, instead, what I got was a conversation in french. “Wait!” I said to myself, “I don’t have anything french on my computer!” Hitting the stop button in Winamp, the conversation continued. Eventually, I got static again, and then heard the sound of beeping and ringing (dialing and ringing), followed by hearing instructions for what I assume is a long distance payment plan service.

At around this point, I adjusted the frequency of my headphones to get my music back, but the experience was odd, amusing and unexpected.

Woo! TigerEvents 0.5.0 Public Release

Finally, after long hours, little sleep, and lots of work, the 0.5.0 release of TigerEvents, code named “It’s Finally Our So I Can Take A Break” was released the other day on both Sourceforge and Rubyforge.

The focus of this release was getting all the proper administration interface stuff working properly (sorry front end only users) and trying to document it enough so a person can take the code, set it up, and run it on another machine.

Now that the initial file release is out, all I have to do is upgrade my.dsu.ca (merging is going to be a pain in the ass), work on 0.6.0 (which involves merging my development branch back into the trunk, ugh), and redo that ugly, ugly interface.

Regarding the interface, I plan to do something even more minimalistic than some people’s ideas (the one’s I am getting are awesome though, don’t stop). It will, at the very least, grant more open space, as opposed to cramming everything important into a small area. A primary advantage of starting out small is that it will be simple (except for all the XMLHTTPRequest stuff I need to do), and if people want more, I just add more, instead of scalling back and forth.

Oh, and I will do my best to get rid of that blinking text box.

A License To Bitch

As already mentioned I have been working on a project called TigerEvents, which powers the my.dsu.ca website.

This project, written entirely in Ruby On Rails, took 4 part time students 2 months to code a working, publicably usable beta. Pretty sweet, since some of us had other, paying, supposedly full time jobs on the go as well, and all of us had other responsibilities.

The my.dsu.ca website has gotten 102430 requests since Aug 25. Not bad I suppose, but I think we can do better than that.

The main problems? I know it, you know, it’s the visual layout. Sure it sucks. A layout like this is when a graphical artist that is supposed to do work totally flakes out and techies are left in charge. Also high up on that list is usability. Some things work well, some things……… not so well (hey, it’s beta). So how do we fix this? Well…….. I am hoping that you, the public, the intended audience, the actual, non-involved USERS could give me a hand here. Let me know what you like, let me know what you don’t like, let me know what YOU would like to see.

Go ahead, chew me out, rip it to shreds, praise it, stomp it, love it, hate it. Just give me something I can use.

DCSI

The 4th Annual Dalhousie Computer Science In-house Conference (DCSI) was held last Thursday and Friday. How was it? In theory, it was packed with speakers, including a distinguished keynote speaker. In reality? I can’t say much about the talks, as I didn’t have time to attend any.

Why was I so busy? Well, I agreed to do some stuff as Social Rep for DCSI, such as running BBQs and receptions. However, I also expected to be helped by the DCSI volunteers. Unfortunatly, since the Volunteer Coordinator did nothing, there were next to no volunteers. This resulted in the BBQ starting up late, and me setting up the reception stuff all by myself (note, this meant that sound equipment stayed in storage, no way in hell was I dragging that out and putting it back in, especially since they probably hadn’t even thought about music).

Another dissapointment was the low turnout of professors. As previously stated I can’t say much for the regular talks, however, at the reception I saw four professors, two of which were markers for the posters. And I heard that people had to go and knock on office windows to make sure professors came down to the keynote speech. So what is the point of presenting your ongoing research if no professors show up? Without their commentary and feedback, how much does a presenter get out of the conference? Is it any wonder that several people did their presentations and posters at the last minute?

The major problem as I see it is the acceptance policy. That policy being ‘we accept anything from any CS Student and you don’t even have to revise it if it is really crappy’. I mean, how much can people care with standards like that?

All in all, DCSI was dissapointing. I don’t blame the committee chair. He was just doing the best he could after being abandoned by those he thought he could count on. But the fact remains that things need to change before DCSI becomes something worth attending.

On a more positive note, people really seemed to like the inclusion of King’s Quest in my research poster and was the first thing any of them noticed. Also, following the advice from Jane Tougas to have ’something extra to draw people toward your poster, like candy’ I realized that a bigger draw than candy was having a bar right next to your poster.