Mimir:Spring 2014 Eric Hutchins Log

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Week Ending February 4th, 2014

Notes


Comments


Week Ending February 11, 2014

Notes

Have not yet made any changes or additions to the website. Waiting on responses from the other teammates to see if they liked the general design Sergiu Mihu sent out to us over Gmail.

Comments

This will be a difficult project for a specific technical reason. Not that it shouldn't be done and not that it isn't possible, but it will be much harder than a typical project. The reason is that we don't have the information to formulate into the book until the week of class has gone by. This means we have to wait to make a change, and then the week after may make us change everything we have already done. We have a rough sketch of what it might look like by the class outline but overall it is quite difficult to really know where it will be going until it gets there. The worst part is that it is done when we are done the class, meaning we don't have additional time to work on it ourselves. Despite that, it should be an interesting experiment and if it continues forward through other classes I'm curious as to how it will shape after we leave it.

Week Ending February 18, 2014

Notes

For future reference I will be using the notes section to talk about what I'm doing with the website and the textbook and leave the comments section for thoughts on how this process is going and how it can be improved.

So far I have set up a first draft of a template for the way the chapters could be laid out. It is a rough draft to be sure, but it contains what I believe are the main points of interest. The chapter header, quote area, image, sections, and sub-sections. It should be easy enough to copy and paste the information in the editor area to create new chapter outlines. This should minimize some work for us later. I have also written down that I would like the others to criticize and alter what I have put down if they think something is necessary or should be changed. I have never written a book but I have read many, and honestly the way the chapters and sections are laid out can be completely different from one to the next. There is no universal way to do it and it is generally left up to the discretion of the writer, or probably more appropriately to the editors.

As a side note I have also put up the minutes for the week ending on the 18th. I haven't taken minutes in a meeting in quite some time, but I think I got the hang of it about mid-way through. Those should be saved properly at this point and it should help us remember anything should we need to look back.

Comments

I have concerns about the way Professor Jonas is asking for this textbook to be created. He states that he is looking for a first draft of a textbook but it seems like he is pushing more towards a finished product to be ready by the end of the semester. Research on something of this magnitude can take quite some time and a lot of effort, typically by someone proficient in the field and with a professional editor or two to help make sense of it. We are students that are by no means experts in describing programming languages, and although I do feel confident I will understand more as I go along I'm not so sure it's the best idea to write a book on something you don't fully understand. At least, it seems that there is much more being asked for than is reasonable given our lack of knowledge. The timing issues with when we learn new material is still a major aspect of these doubts. Were this a continuation class or a 'part 2' of programming languages I think the creation of the textbook could actually be made into an entire class with how much work and research needs to be done.

Week Ending February 25, 2014

Notes

When I began trying to add things into the textbook itself I realized that it just did not look quite right. I believe the issue with it is that it would look better, and be easier to edit, if we had individual pages for each chapter and a table of contents at the top of each page for easy navigation. I’m not too family with the website but it looks like that would be fairly easy to implement and I remember Professor Jonas saying that if we wanted this to happen we just needed to tell him and he would arrange it. Seeing as we are all working individually on chapters anyway, it would probably be best to separate it out. Next meeting I’m going to bring this up and see if the others agree.

I’m also editing the notes for the lack of meeting last week. Due to the class homework and Professor Jonas taking a graduate away to do something and someone else leaving, it seemed best that we just skip meeting that week. I asked around to confirm this and no one had anything overly important to discuss so I felt it was best to just skip it and focus on the homework and helping others. By the time of this writing it will either be changed or about to be changed, then be ready for next week’s notes assuming we meet properly.


Comments

It’s concerning that no one seems to be putting anything into the textbook as of yet, and the outlines for those of us who have had capture notes done are still not yet finished. Logs are very scarce as well, with only Casey and myself having done anything. It’s hard to see how people are feeling about the issues and what actions we can take if any to make the situation better. Personally I’m still waiting until my capture date to start working on my chapter. This might not work for the second capture due to time constraints, but it makes no sense to learn something before I’m taught, especially considering each of these topics can be quite wide reaching. Honestly I’d prefer to have this class and then have an elective class after that would be all about creating the book and maybe some other things thrown in there too, but the main focus being the book. Still, that sounds more like an English class than a IT class at that point.

Week Ending March 4, 2014

Notes

This week I was not able to put too much time into the textbook itself. I copied over the template for chapter 6 and made minor changes to give just a rough outline of what will go where. Much more will happen next week after I capture the lecture for this chapter and for the programming language Scratch.

Comments

As a team we've come together better this week than we have prior weeks. I won't go into too many details as the log notes state the majority of what we discussed at the last meeting, but we are finally making some headway with the textbook. We had agreed to all put at least something into our respective first chapters so we have something down on paper. For those of us who haven't captured a lecture yet such as myself we would simply do the best we could to guess at what it might be like. Personally I have no idea what we will focus on so I kept it particularly vague.

I am concerned with Professor Jonas giving us unexpected work such as assigning us to do some sort of poster via a tweet without going into detail with what he was talking about. Nowhere in our notes or any other discussions had he mentioned it, so I feel that he probably just came up with it on the fly after looking at the posters created for the other classes. Some of us will be meeting before class to figure out what we need to do, but most likely it will come down to a discussion with Professor Jonas at the end of the night to see what he is looking for.


Feedback

Week Ending March 18, 2014

Notes

This past week or so, more than one due to spring break, several things were accomplished. The most significant for me and my team of undergraduates would be that we were the ones to capture lecture. I have created an outline that was approved and tweaked by Professor Jonas for the Scratch/Visual Languages portion of the textbook. Currently I am waiting for them to put at least some information down before I start filling in the actual textbook. Even though I do understand that we will need more than simply what is captured in class, I do feel that the main meat of it will come from the lectures themselves. I captured the notes along with the undergrads in as much detail as I could, so if they did miss anything I should be able to fill in the gaps in the end and expand upon things where I think they need expanding. I think this process in and of itself will help fill in the book as well.

Comments

The year is moving faster than you would expect it to as usual. I am very busy in my personal life which is why I haven't been too on top of getting information into my specific sections, but I think it will turn out well in the end. I do feel bad for those who are capturing the last few lectures as they have less time to get their undergrads to do their portions then finish up their sections of the book. We will see what we can do to work with Professor Jonas in that regard.

Feedback

Week Ending March 25, 2014

Notes

Most of the work I did this week was with my undergraduates offline, helping direct them as to what needs to get done for our capture. Most likely I will spend the next week going over what they did and actually implementing the information into the textbook. Simply too busy this past week to do more than that.

Comments

Week Ending April 1, 2014

Notes

Major progress was made on my end this week, and on the part of the undergraduates. They finished up most of the capture notes which allowed me to get a better feel for what was necessary to put into the chapter. That said I did manage to get most of the information about Scratch and what I want in that area into the chapter. The only aspect left is to do research on the Visual Programming part, which is the first section at the moment, as there was not much mentioned in the lesson that would pertain to the textbook.

As a general note we also met as a group last week and assigned chapters in a more concrete way, though there is still some sorting to do as several of us are being given more chapters than the others due to way our capture lessons are overlapping. We will most likely figure that out either this week or next week in another meeting.

Comments

For personal notes I feel that as long as people begin to enter information into the chapters that have been covered so far we will be in good shape for the end. Even if not everything is done perfectly, as Professor Jonas has said, we should still be able to fill in most of the blanks. I think that rough information is more important than a perfectly polished end product anyway as it is supposed to be a first draft.

Week Ending April 8, 2014

Notes

This week I haven't made any changes to the textbook, instead I have been working with the undergraduates to get everything working properly on their end. One undergrad has been absent half the class which is making this more difficult than it should be. Fortunately the other is up to taking up the slack. Still, it means that the outline notes are taking longer to be finished and we already have a second outline due for the Interpreter and Parser. The reason I mention this is that I don't want to put too much down into the textbook until I can see the outline for what Professor Jonas is expecting along with the information we can gather for the outline portions. It was much easier to see where I was going with the outline for the Scratch outline.

Speaking of the scratch outline, the Visual Languages section still needs to be filled out. Obviously there is a bare minimum in there curently with the Scratch section itself, but I also think it is fairly well done. Once the undergraduates revise the outline again I will take another look, make corrections, and see what else might be necessary to be put into the textbook. There may not be any changes that need to be made content-wise, but I still feel it would be a good idea to double check once it is completed.

The Visual section will be worked on when I have more time as currently I do not have much of it. The end of class is getting close fast and there are other things, the homeworks for this class included, that are taking precedence.


Comments

Week Ending April 15, 2014

Notes

The majority of this week has been focusing on a new internship I am starting, so there is not much here as far as progress on my part. As a team we have been working together to create a poster that was requested of us, one to give a brief summary of what a flipped textbook is and how it relates to our class. Otherwise the undergraduates are still working away on the outline and should be finishing up soon assuming everything goes according to plan.

We will also need to have a meeting this week, and me putting this here is something of a reminder to myself. We need to see where we are, look over what everyone has contributed, and see what we can do to move things forward. As of this writing we only have about three classes left to finish the textbook. It feels like we had more time than that, but apparently not. If we don't get going soon and really put work in we may not have it completed to our satisfaction. However I do believe we will be fine as long as we all know how little time left there is.

Comments

Week Ending April 22, 2014

Notes

This week I focused on two things, trying to communicate with my under-graduates and setting up the basics for Chapter 9. For Chapter 9 I essentially took the framework and copied it from the Scratch chapter, removing information, re-labeling, and then entering new information. I will need to figure out if Chapters 9 and 10 should be separated. Jonas seems to think they should, but there is not a lot of information to talk about unless you enter in basically all of the lecture outline notes. It seems like it would be much better paired together, but I can't make that call just yet. I need more time, and as noted in the comments below, I simply haven't had that lately.

Communications with the undergraduates has been sparse for some reason. They haven't yet finished Chapter 10 and despite email attempts I haven't been able to get word back from them yet. I will address this next class since as of this writing we only have three classes remaining. Time is not in great supply for the textbook or the lecture outlines.


Comments

My focus is completely distracted by issues with another class along with my first weeks at my new internship. I plan on spending a weekend near the end to get the chapters as good as I can with the resources and time available, but at least for this past week I simply didn't have the time. I still can't think of a way to make this process easier on the graduate students as far as time management goes. Procrastination tends to take over when you have such a far off due date when it comes to class work. Perhaps by forcing the graduates to at least have some basic framework three weeks out from their lecture (if one applies directly) might alleviate this problem. Or it could cause more issues between the graduate and undergraduates if the undergraduates are not being as quick as they should be. It is a toss up and would depend on the people I think.

Week Ending April 29, 2014

Notes

There have been significant changes made over this past week as I was hoping there would be. After speaking with the group last week we had made changes to the order of the chapters. The first thing I did was move the contents of each chapter into the appropriate area. Next I began to work on my own content for Chapters 10 and 11, tokenization and parsing respectively. I added a lot of content from the notes available and added introduction paragraphs leading into the chapters. There is still plenty of information that needs to be entered into it, but significant progress has been made.

My current plan over the next week is to finish filling in as much as I can, meet with the group to see where we stand and what we need to do, and push everything else aside if need be to get it done. Unfortunately I'm not able to use time at work any longer as things are picking up and I'm getting into the busy portion of my internship. I will see what I can do however.


Comments

I am a little worried about some of the chapters that still have not been filled in. Especially those that were many weeks ago, I'm not sure exactly where the information is at this time. I definitely understand if undergraduates are taking their time with the outlines, but at a certain point you do have to push forward and enter in the information yourself. Hopefully we can sort everything out at this next meeting, which may or may not be our last depending on when the textbook is due exactly.

Week Ending May 6, 2014 - May 19th, 2014

Notes

As of this writing the textbook first draft is finally complete! Everyone stepped up and got everything done just in time, and the structure has been synchronized throughout the chapters. Professor Jonas did mention that he cared a lot more about the structure than the content, but each chapter has a decent amount of content as well. It may not be book length as of yet, but I'm confident the next year's graduates will be able to get closer to that goal.


Comments

Overall I think we did a pretty good job with this assignment. There were ups and downs as far as getting everyone motivated but at least everyone came through in the end. It is definitely tough managing a project like this with this many people. Honestly only two or three people could have done it if the information was all ready to be used in the beginning and it wasn't prolonged over such a long period of time, but since we did have to wait for each lecture to get the information we didn't have much of a choice. At least with 6 people it was distributed enough to let people take a break and focus on other work instead of having to work on it every single week.

My final thoughts on the project are that I'm interested in seeing where it can go, and if Professor Jonas will actually ever proclaim that it is finished or if it will simply be a continuous and ever growing project.