Get a Hobby!

Not much has happened with our project since my last post, so I want to talk about a somewhat unrelated topic this week.

Running was my only hobby for a long time, and not too long ago I was going out almost every morning getting some fresh air, sun, and exercise.  I was doing a good 20-30 miles a week, but the last couple months I’ve slowly started to lose my running habit.  Especially in the last four or five weeks since classes started up again, I’ve just been staying inside staring at a screen all day without any form of exercise.  I usually get stressed pretty easily when it comes to homework and other things, but I know for a fact this has made me even more unproductive and anxious about school work and this project, and we’re not even halfway through the term.

I think getting back into running as a form of exercise will definitely help, but I also think I need some variety and more than one constructive hobbies to get me outside and moving… so I’ve started foraging for mushrooms! 

It’s kind of random; I had never had an interest in the subject until I started reading about it a couple weeks ago, but it’s extremely interesting and super fun to learn about.  Also, I didn’t know how common mushrooms are if you just take the time to look; in just the two or three little walks/hikes in the woods near my apartment I’ve done I’ve already scored some awesome finds.  

The best part is I’ve found a topic that I’m interested in and can learn about outside of academics, so I feel like I’m still doing something constructive while keeping some balance in my life.  I’m confident this will improve my focus and attitude when I need to work by helping me relax and have fun when I need to take a break. Plus, a hobby that results in free delicious food is pretty awesome! (By the way, don’t eat any mushroom unless you’re 100% sure it’s edible!)

A Lion’s Mane mushroom I found and made into mushroom nuggets
Red chanterelles were my first find, and they were delicious!
Some honey mushrooms that I didn’t know were edible at the time and were gone when I went back 🙁
A Hedgehog mushroom I will be eating tonight!

The Importance of Planning the Plan

So far, it’s been really exciting being at the beginning phase of our project.  We’ve spent time brainstorming and gathering ideas on what we can include in our project portal update.  We have also been in touch with our project partners, which happens to be our own instructor and the other capstone instructors at OSU. So far it seems like they are all going to be a blast to work with and are going to be very helpful in the whole process.  Altogether, being in this stage has been just so fun because we are really starting to dive in and explore the potential for this project.

One very valuable thing I’ve learned in the short time we’ve had so far though is the importance of planning.  I’m not talking about planning the actual technical details of the project, but the planning for the planning.  Our project didn’t come with a set list of requirements, so when we first got in contact with all the instructors I sent out a simple email asking for any ideas they had for the site, any requirements they had in mind, and any other useful information they had to offer.  This resulted in a jumble of emails or documents with different lists of requirements each in different formats and multiple suggestions on what we should do.  All of it is good information, but altogether it’s unorganized and a little overwhelming having to piece together a list of requirements from it all.  In addition to this, we are trying to survey our fellow students who also used the site to sign up for projects, so that adds another layer to the challenge of making sure we’re getting information in a way that is useful.

It would have been a good idea to ask instructors for a list of specific questions, or a top ten must-have-requirements from each rather than such an open-ended request for any information they have.  Going forward, I think we will find an organized way to survey the instructors and our fellow students in a thought out manner that is more likely to yield tangible requirements for us.  

While dealing with this is kind of frustrating now, I think it is already a good learning moment for me. I now know the importance of thoroughly thinking through each and every action (and email) in a project to save time and effort and make it run smoothly from the beginning to end.

And So it Begins…

Last week we looked through all the available projects for this course and picked the top ten we would like to work on.  Even though there were multiple that I really liked and I would have been equally happy to work on, I started getting pretty stressed in the ranking process; this is something I will be working on for the next nine months after all. I wanted to make sure my ranking was just right so I wouldn’t end up with something I didn’t actually want to work on for nearly a year.  Finally, after waiting anxiously for a whopping FOUR days, I found out yesterday that I will be working on a team to update the very project portal that we all used to look at the projects!

Now, this project was not my first pick, and I admit I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get one of my higher ranked, much more interesting sounding projects, but after thinking about it I’m actually really excited I got this project. 

One of the main reasons is that it deals with fixing a problem I experienced first hand.  The first time I went to the portal page I noticed it was not as good as it could be.  Even before I saw that this was an available project, I remember thinking, “man, they really need to update this portal.”  The fact that I had that exact thought and now I get to fix that problem makes this project feel more like a real world scenario of identifying a problem and designing and implementing a solution.

Another reason I am so happy with updating the portal is that my group and I have the opportunity to leave something better for future students that will be in the same place we are next year.  While making a game or similar “for fun” topic for this project would be cool, I think I’m more excited to be doing something that will be useful for the school and will be used by so many students and instructors alike.

Lastly, I’m mostly excited because I meet the most important qualification…

Hello world!

I want to use this first blog post as an opportunity to introduce myself, share some of my interests, and describe my journey in Computer Science so far. 

My name is Virginia (Ginny) Williams and I am going into my final year at Oregon State University.  I grew up and lived in the same area of Oregon my entire life until this year when I moved across the country to Virginia with my husband (fun fact: our one year anniversary is this Sunday!).  I like to crochet, cook, watch movies, read, and run.  Also, we have two of the cutest cats in the world: Weaver and Gravy. 

Growing up and throughout high school I had no experience with Computer Science or really any interest in it at all.  I started my college journey with my major in Mathematics at Western Oregon University, but wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it.  I thought about continuing into higher level education, but honestly I was never really passionate about it and didn’t really know what I was going to do.

During my sophomore year I took a random intro to Python class at WOU purely out of curiosity.  Taking that course sparked an interest in Computer Science that caused me to do some more digging into the topic.  After reading into the subject and seeing how intriguing and extensive it is, I decided software development was something I would actually look forward to doing in my life and was something I really wanted to pursue.  So, I decided to not only switch my major to Computer Science, but also to transfer to OSU for its better EECS program.  

Studying at OSU has been a great experience so far.  While I’ve had my struggles, I’ve learned so much more than I ever would have thought. I’m excited to finally be in my final year and so close to using my new skills out into the “real world”.  I am mainly interested in both front and back end web development, but all software development interests me so I’m excited to see what the future holds.