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Technology in Sports

Outside of the computer science realm, one of my interests/hobbies is sports. In particular I have a bit of an obsession with football (soccer) and hockey. Over the past few years most sports have seen an increase in the way technology is used both during and outside of game situations. This increase hasn’t been without controversy though.

A prime example of new technology being used in a game situation – football now uses “goal-line technology.” The rule has always been the entirety of the ball must cross the entirety of the line for it to be a goal. This had always been at the ref’s discretion and at some point certain leagues even had refs standing by the goal whose sole responsibility was watching to see whether or not a ball crossed the line entirely! There was still human error. Now there are two main forms of goal-line technology being used: cameras following the ball and a ball with a microchip and a series of cables creating a magnetic field. Technology like this might’ve changed the outcomes of extremely significant games in history. Many make the argument that interventions like this make the game lose its “magic.”

Wherever you stand on the topic, it is extremely fascinating to see what this could lead to next. The offside call is one that is often found to be incorrect so now they use Video Assistant Referee (VAR) who sit in a room with multiple monitors watching replays and advise the main referee live. I don’t think we’re far away from different technology such as sensors or chips inside of jerseys to determine whether a player is offside or not. Outside of the game there is now so much data analysis going on that recruitment and signing of players is nothing like what it used to be. For those of you sport fans do you think all of these technological advancements create a more “fair” game or is it causing sports to lose their magic?

The wonderful world of Mobile Applications

For those of you who have not taken Oregon State University’s Mobile Development course (or developed your own mobile application in the past) I highly recommend it. Depending on what year you were born in, I think mobile applications tend to excite the most for developers and consumers alike. The power to do things whenever you want wherever you want that used to require (for example):

1. Booting up your desktop computer
2. Logging in
3. Connecting to the internet
4. Accessing whatever application or website you need
5. “Doing stuff”

is incredible!

In all of the courses at Oregon State University we learn the building blocks and foundation of development, but we rarely get into mobile applications. When the time finally came I wondered how different or difficult it was going to be – to be honest I was a bit nervous. Then, we were introduced to Flutter. If you haven’t used Flutter it’s an extremely intuitive and fun software development kit that makes creating mobile applications a breeze! Coupled with debugging tools and an emulator you can have a simple mobile application template up and running in a matter of moments. It even has a “hot reload” functionality that allows you to save your progress and the app updates without needing to be completely restarted!

I’m very pleased that I get to build on that course by creating another mobile application in this course. I’m excited to test what I’ve learned while having the flexibility to make the application more my own (and my group’s) as opposed to meeting strict requirement set in the Mobile Development assignments. I would strongly recommend anyone go out and try it for yourself!

What’s (maybe) next?

In my introduction I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger. Well, truth is, I’m sort of left on a cliffhanger myself. What I can tell you is some vague, abstract, idealized, fragment of an idea of what might be next. This could also be completely off-base so future readers I make no guarantees as to the accuracy of these statements.

Product Management. If you’ve started out a software company or have never worked in the software industry this term might not mean a whole lot to you. It definitely mean much to me when I first started in a software company. We have Product Engineering, Software Development, and Product Management – so what’s the difference? I’m not too sure. What I can tell you is that Product Management, to me, marries the business and legal side of the house with the creative value-add of the development work. You set the general tone of the product suite, you figure out how best to position your product in the market, you figure out how to sell and license, you figure out how to protect revenue, and all other sorts of things besides just programming. To summarize, albeit probably inaccurate, it’s a bit of software development with an emphasis on high-level strategy. The big picture, if you will.

Why the interest in Product Management you ask? As someone who currently works in the Contracts & Legal Services Department my entire role is protecting the company’s interests while enabling business development. Product Management would allow me to flex my technical skills while utilizing 5+ years of experience with contracts and licensing. I’d say this could give me a fairly unique skillset in the industry. Stay tuned to find out.

An Introduction

My journey into the Computer Science world started shortly after graduating from the University of California, Riverside (with a degree in Economics). I started working at a software company called Esri in the Contracts & Legal Services Department while figuring out whether I wanted to invest in going to law school or not.

SPOILER: I did not choose to attend law school. 

After working for a few years I decided three things:

  1. I enjoyed working and having money
  2. I did not want to go back to school full time (and accrue a ton of student debt in the process)
  3. I want to create more value in my career

I also felt frustrated at my lack of technical understanding of software. Working in software licensing it’s okay to not be an expert in the field of software engineering, but I didn’t appreciate feeling out of my depth in certain conversations especially when talking with our customers. That is the story of how I ultimately decided to pursue this degree in Computer Science. Where do I go from here?

Who knows…