Thursday, 10 June 2010

New Projects

Recently we have been asked to start a new project for Android using Eclipse. We are trying to incorporate a Bluetooth feature to an existing app project made by the Viking. This means we have had to go through some tutorials for Eclipse and Android to enable us to develop the project whilst gaining knowledge about this process. Whilst going through these tutorials- it has been a hard task because of many problems using both the software and our lack of experience. But it seems as though we have started to grasp how to use the software. The lack of the Bluetooth feature on the Emulator has been an issue and the developer phone we have bought is not up to scratch.

Recently, we have had the aid of Mr Rob Falla who has visited a few times for this project, and he joined in with our CRC session and added a valuable insight into his ideas for the project. This has been helpful because it is always useful to get someone else's point of view on different subjects. He also passed on some of his knowledge to us about different areas of Business and questioned our ideas to make us think in more detail about the situation.

We have also bought a projector in this time so we can show our work and our ideas to the rest of the team (and the World Cup) but Phil chose a Clearco- mistake. The image is blurry, it won't connect to macs and won't connect properly to the windows laptop. It is poorly made, has limited functions, bulky and overall a bad purchase. In preparation for the projector, we had to rearrange the room and it was surprisingly spacious, and looks much nicer. Lewis did have a different idea for the room but it was quickly dismissed by Mel after the words "beer" and "fridge" were mentioned.

Friday is the big day (unfortunately) as we are starting Cambridge Regional College for our course to compliment the work we are doing at the office. Ben and Phil have got an exam this day so they will not be attending on the day. Luckily there is work for them to do online so they can catch up. There will be a limited amount of work done next month because of the World Cup. Come on England!!!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Back again

Moment of the week: Lewis failing to pronounce the word Chinese and instead mumbling a load of rubbish.

A while has past and its time for a new post. It has been about three weeks and we have been progressing with our project for the car display. We also had another business fair, but this time it was in Ely. With some previous experience under our belts we were all telling more confident about the day ahead. The venue was smaller but we still were able to talk with many different people about the company, and they were interested in what we were trying to do with the company. The only bad points of the day was the lack of parking and that Lewis had some seeds stolen from him. From these businesses fairs we have learnt lessons of how to talk to possible customers for us all (even though most of the people talking to us were trying to sell us things at our own stand). Overall we feel that these have been great experiences for us, and taught us an important part of business.

Meanwhile our biggest part of work has been working on the display for the car. We have made improvements on the looks of it and we are gradually improving the system. We are also starting to get to grips with python and pygames which is quickly becoming frustrating, but there is a satisfying feeling when the problems are rectified.

There have also been many events in this time and people have been on holiday and it has been interesting to see what the office is like when different people are out. It is weird to see what the different people bring to our group. We have also had some visitors too and we have been given more information on other areas.

It would seem that it is settling down for us all now and we have all settled in and have got comfortable with the work we are learning. It is important though that we continue to get on with the work and look to progress. With growing interest from different companies and even the government, it is important to keep focused so we are successful in the future and can progress and grow.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

To date

Two weeks. Two weeks in life passes by in the blink of an eye. However, two weeks as a computer programming apprentice is eventful to say the least. So much has happened in the last couple of weeks that unfortunately our blog has suffered. So to recap on the events to date, as much for the benefit of this blog, as for our own recollection and realisation of our accomplishments we will discuss our actions. To follow on from our last blog entry, as a team we listened to the recording of our radio debut. This provided at least an hour of amusement as the realisation set in that a microphone in the face has an unusual effect on our vocabulary. 'Erm' and 'Really' being a main point of reference during our short interview.

The following days consisted of finalising our preparations for the forthcoming business fair. The final designs for our banners, leaflets, business cards, and shirts were sent to the printers. We also started on the development of our vehicle diagram and GUI of our electronic car dashboard. We laid out this brief diagram using pygame imported into the python programming language. Through intuition and trial and error we eventually ended up with a rough sketch of the program.

Before we knew what was happening we found ourselves setting up the stand. On our three tables lay our two apple macs, a variety of business cards, leaflets, and other such essentials.

Day of the fair. Our macs sprang to life displaying our prototype programs with almost as much enthusiasm as the people who programmed them. Today was the day. Love it or hate it, we would get through it. The day started slowly and with little interest from prospective customers. Apparently, apprentices aren't qualified to deal with the demands of software development. How narrow minded. If any of us believed this was the case we would not have been there. We needed to show we could, to stand out, to prove ourselves, to show that in this corporate event inexperience was not a disadvantage. We did this the only way we knew how, we embraced our youth. We played the Wii and encouraged others to join in. A talented member of our team played acoustic guitar and we spoke to the public without any fabrication or falseness associated with such an event. We socialised, not with the intent to sell but to express our passion for what we do. With in a short period of time we were approached by a local news paper for a photo as we were the only stand that stood out among the clone like stands.
We had positive responses from other stands and passers by, and although unorthodox we was original and genuine.

Although the day was far from perfect it went well for our first time at such an event. We all learnt a lot and it was an experience not to be forgotten. Granted, there are things we may have done differently given the chance. However, one thing we would never change was staying true to ourselves and the company.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Week 6

Moment of the week: Lewis finally passed his driving test! After 4 tries.

Monday was a Bank Holiday so we didn't have work.

Tuesday came along and after a 4 day weekend we were all rearing to go. We started off by talking about twitter badges and sorted out lines of code. This continued until lunchtime. After lunch, a man from a certain web based poll came in and spoke to us. For Tom, the chat was very short as he came down with the contagious skivitis as he left earlier than the rest of us, along with Carl who was his taxi.

On Wednesday we continued with the badges using Dashcode. We found this very frustrating as the code was some what difficult to get to grips with, as such we are still continuing with this. We also continued with the virtualisation project we had been working on, where we had to describe the effects and the cost of using this method.

Thursday (today) was a very interesting day as only 3 apprentices were there throughout the morning. Lewis had his driving test and another apprentice agreed to give him a lift from the test centre, who's car then broke down. Meanwhile Mel and 2 other apprentices went to a local radio station to pre-record an interview about the apprenticeship programme. When Lewis turned up we congratulated him and then proceeded to cook lunch. After a lunch break of football and yet more fifa, we continued with the virtualisation project and working on regexp.

Lunch Menu:

Tuesday - Sausage and Mashed potatoes
Wednesday - McDonalds and Dominoes
Thursday - Pie and chips

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Week five

This week was quieter than previous weeks. Our objective was to finish the preparations for the Huntingdon Business Fair 2010. This week was about polishing off work that we had already done and talk to the printers (Mitsa). We also started talking about the projects which would needed to be completed before the business fair, such as the electric car and the Quickvox website (
On Monday we came in and started working with GIMP (a photoshop clone) and for a period of time became very frustrated. We were using GIMP for the banner design which will play a key role in the advertisement of ScrumIT. With the banner taking center stage of the exhibit it was imperative that it exceeded expectations. Over the course of the week, many hours were spent realising our mental imagine of the design and deciding what was to be included. Mel wanted individual pictures of the team, where as none of us wanted pictures at all. We settled on a group picture in the end.
Going on to Tuesday, Ben returned from a serious case of Skivitus, the team continued with the GIMP project, and also started work on the control panel of the electric car. We did a CRC session trying to work out what was essential for doing this project, and we figured out the basics of what is needed.
Wednesday came along and we unfortunately found out that Lewis had caught a serious case of Skivitus (but still had time to go on Facebook). Mel took the executive decision early on that Domino's pizza was on the agenda for Lunch. We had finally finished the draft for the banner and along with other designs we proceeded to take them to Mitsa to ensure they were good enough for printing. While the selected group had gone, the rest of the team worked on describing virtualisation which was assigned to us all. This was complicated but was quickly on its way to being finished. Also during lunch, Emma and Phil took some free balloons from Domino's which were soon deflated and inhaled. Emma sounded like a chipmunk and Phil gave us a rendition of a song whilst under the influence of helium. This wasn't a great idea as later on it did not agree with us.
Thursday was Subway and Pay Daaaaaaay. Everyone was happy and distracted by the prospect of subway. We carried on with the planning of the car control panel and finished off the virtualisation report, only for it to not be read. Phil and Emma spent the day getting giddy over the upcoming party.

Food Menu:
Monday- tuna pasta bake
Tuesday- Curry
Wednesday- Dominos
Thursday- Subway

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Week Four, Month one complete.

Week Four started off with a Monday, of course.

Everyone clambered into the Studio for another week of "intense' programming. We were told this week we would be mainly focusing on our preparations for the Cambridgeshire Premier Business Fair that we will attend on thursday, 22nd of April. We managed all our tasks we needed to complete into an order of priority onto the whiteboard. For the On-coming days the whiteboard would be the focus point of most of our work. We needed to contact suppliers about banners, post it notes, business cards, leaflets and shirts. We went about this by searching each necessary criteria on the FSB (Federation of Small Business's) directory, and filled in our white board table.

Tuesday took a turn for the worst for a certain Apprentice, when an ill-advised Facebook status led to the inevitable bombardment of innuendo's and witty remarks as soon as he stepped foot inside the studio. This soon blew over as our first task was set. We were told we had to focus on the banner design for the Business Fair, which entailed a lot of deliberating about what would catch a customers eye and what information we wanted to say about the company. After lunch Mel asked us to assist him with fixing some software he had that required a UTC timezone, it would crash if it was not changed before daylight savings, Sunday... the pressure was on.

Wednesday came quickly, we already had some preset tasks that still needed completion and we cracked onto it straight away. We eventually had our table near to completion with a list of suppliers, prices and contact details, all that was left was to pick and choose the best one which suited our needs. Finally we had three banner designs, the designs were rough, but we had them :).

Thursday.. Pay Day!
We all piled into the studio for our last day, to finish off a whole month, of being SrumiT Apprentice's. Our table was finally complete, we had a wider range of suppliers and a clearer idea of which one's we were going to choose. Also we stumbled across a few solutions for the UTC time zone issue and towards the end of the day, we started on it.

Lunch Menu, Week Four:

Monday: Enchilada's
Tuesday: Pie and Chips
Wednesday: Pasta Bake
Thursday: Subway

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Week three finished

A new week ahead and we were given yet more new challenges. On Monday we all arrived to find Linux Computers in place of the Macs. This was because of the new project that we had been asked to complete. Mel believed that the successful completion of this project would help us to learn and have a better understanding of python. The program was 'Guido van Robot' or GvR. Tasked with doing 18 lessons, each of which increased in difficulty, to teach us the different ways to direct the application and control the program with a series of coded instructions. The aim of the lessons was to input the correct instructions to control the movement and direction of a robot named Guido. The lessons provided a scenario and a pre-determined path which our instructions had to follow. Guido was represented on screen as an arrow on a grid enclosed by impenetrable walls. This project was designed to help us understand how the programming language python works as GvR involves using the same statements as the afore mentioned language. On the first day we completed all the basic lessons, and understood the different concepts of the program. We all got to the stage where we could link the different instructions, and we were using the if, else, elif and while instructions.

On Tuesday, we carried on where we left off, then progressed to doing GvR lessons which were far more complex. These new tasks involved more thought, and also involved using many loop instructions. For the latter part of the lessons we had to think about the many different problems that came up. We found the solutions to these problems involved successfully linking the different instructions together to create algorithms. As the projects got larger, we faced another problem with the monitor screen size. This was an issue as we could not see all of what was happening in the programs so we were not always sure that they were successful!

By Wednesday we had all got to the final stages of the lessons, both personally, and as a team. Although we did each lesson singularly, any time a problem arouse we each suggested ideas as possible solutions. Fairly early on in the day we all finished and talked about the different ways we had completed the lessons. With these lessons we started to get an understanding of what would be required in writing programs in python, and the issues that we would have to think about. Even though this was challenging it was interesting and the fact we had successfully created these programs gave us a small sense of real achievement. While we were finishing this, Mel had invited Andrew to check on our progress and we all had a meeting with the both of them so they could check how we were doing with the work.

After checking that everything was fine for everyone on the team, Mel set us another task. The Huntingdon Business Fair 2010 takes place in the near future and we had to start thinking now about what will be needed. We proceeded to brainstorm and chart on the white-board about all the different things that would be needed in order to ensure the successful promotion and advertising of ScrumIT.

Thursday was a little uncomfortable for some of us. We had to take the next step by contacting local businesses and obtaining prices on all the different items we need for the fair - and this is still ongoing. However, we had to call a halt to this in the afternoon because of a visit by Jo Hinson from the regional college. This occupied the rest of the afternoon - signing papers, and checking forms so that we can start our course in the near future (end of April or start of May).

This weeks lunches:
Monday- Made our own pizza
Tuesday- Beans on Toast and a fried egg
Wednesday- Subway :-)
Thursday- Spag Bol