Sunday, May 11, 2008

The “How’s Your Thesis Going?” Post

It’s going good thank you very much. As most of you know I have forsaken work to complete my masters. I publicly mull over this decision in this post. It’s nice to see that people support me. My second to last semester is almost over I just have to take a couple of tests. I am not too worried about not getting a good grade, as my midterms were decent. After the exams I only have to concentrate on my thesis. Yay! I love making my ideas a reality. So what am I doing? Read on to find out…

I had to ask myself what interests me enough to take on such a challenge? The answer lies in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Currently the boundary that separates us from our computers is the User Interface (UI). The most popular example of a UI is Window’s start button. It allows us to access our programs quickly and easily (most of the time). Otherwise we would have run them using a command prompt, yummy!

So what could I do in this area? Help out HCI designers of course! They have to follow a set of heuristics when designing an Interface. They may not be aware that their design may be violating this set of guidelines. That’s where I come in; I’ll be creating a tool that analyzes end user behavior when using a UI. After the analysis is complete the tool will generate a report stating which guidelines were violated. As any marketing expert will tell you a good product is only as good as its name. So I am asking you the “I Don’t Know” reader to help me think of an exciting and relevant name for this tool. Because frankly speaking, I can’t think of one.

As always this post will be updated and reposted when new information is available about this project, so here’s the low down:

May 7: Took my server to work today. I had the networks guy configure it to support software developed by my company. I need access to a functioning copy of the application as a reference. This is why I am required to sign an agreement to carry out my research. Essentially the agreement will give me a licensed copy of the application for free, so long as I don’t use it for commercial purposes. That shouldn’t be a problem seeing how I don’t usually need to check up on any sales order or see how much inventory I have on hand (yeah, it’s an ERP). I am mostly interested in the interfaces of a select few forms. Those are going to be fed into the tool for analysis.

April 23: I did some serious amount of Java programming today. My brain took a while to switch gears (What’s a swing component? How do you add a method in this thing? Where’s the main method?). But once it did I was hooked. Now I remember why I got involved with this crazy profession it’s just plain fun!

April 16: I finally got my IDE up and running. It’s been a while since I’ve done some real hard-core programming. You see at work I do mostly Software Quality Assurance work. Sure I hang around programmers and code a lot but I never actually do any programming. There is always so much documentation and other paperwork to attend to. On occasion my manager may suggest that I should fix the some of the bugs that I have found since the programmers are booked solid. Those are the only time I get to get my hands dirty. Which is why I like working on my thesis even more.

April 10: Today I met with my company’s lawyer. We discussed an agreement by which they would lend me the source code of certain projects for research purposes. He was a pretty nice guy and I had fun explaining what I had in mind. Even though he was from the legal world he followed along with the all computer jargon I threw at him. Which was refreshing to see.

April 1: Today’s April Fools day and guess who the fool is? No not that guy…Me! I went down to the laptop shop to get my computer upgraded. Turns out that they don’t carry parts for my six-year-old Toshiba Satellite 3005. That really sucks! But I won’t let that get me down, I just won’t. So I am using another PC that has enough oomph in it.

March 27: I downloaded the IDE needed for implementing the tool. I might have mentioned I am going to be developing in Java. That’s because I am sick and tired of working in visual studio. Plus Java has excellent GUI support, which makes sense for my project.

Right so the IDE that I downloaded and installed is none other than NetBeans designed and developed by Sun Microsystems themselves. So I know that I am getting a quality product, which makes me happy. However my trusty laptop wasn’t as happy running NetBeans. It took waaaaaaaaaay to long opening the start page and loading source files. I couldn’t stand it anymore and decided there and then that I would have to install more memory. Luckily I already have the logistics figured out I know where to go and how much they’ll charge me. Now it’s just a matter of finding time for the procedure. In the meantime amuse yourselves with this shiny badge:

Created with NetBeans!

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