Working lifeSince I've finished University and been fortunate enough to start a full time job immediately I've been really enjoying the difference. University, although rather intensive at some points, was never really much of a routine. The lectures seemed to be increasingly sparse as the course went on. Some days a lecture would start at 9AM, others the first lecture would be in the afternoon. This is with the intention of self-study during the spare time equating to about ten times that of lecture time on that particular module. This is somewhat of a misnomer. I don't think I know anyone on my course who realistically put this amount of time and effort into their modules; though it may be that those who did felt ashamed to admit it for some reason. This is about ten hours per credit, meaning 1200 hours per year of study. Some modules came close to hitting this ideal for me, particularly my final year project.Working a full time job was refreshing. The structure that it added to the day was a welcome change from the sporadic nature of University life. I'm really glad to have such great house-mates after such a stressful time trying to find a place to live, with not everything working out as I'd expected. The last thing I thought I would have a problem with was somewhere to live, I'd had thoughts that I'd be stuck looking for a job for quite some time after University given the current state of the economy - despite the computer industry remaining relatively strong. The number of applicants to graduate roles is reportedly higher than before. I'm very glad to have found such a great place to work at Conjure. Jumping in at the deep end with Android development. My final year project had scarcely prepared me for the intensity that it proved to be. But after a while I found learning by doing to be about the best thing for me.
The approach to work was completely different from what I was used to at University. University required a lot of write up to prove that things worked. Whereas I could just press something and show what it was doing on the device. I felt I was able to explore the platform as a whole more easily too. I could use any technique to get something done, without being told that's not correct, or what they were after, provided it actually worked. There's always a little time to optimise things a bit later.
After University where work always seemed to loom over me it's nice to have the evenings and weekends to myself. Yes, I might stay a bit later than normal to finish up on something, or work through lunch if I'm in the flow of things, but the evenings and weekends are mine. But weekends still aren't quite long enough!
Looking for a JobI'm on the look out for a job. If you know of any opportunities I'd appreciate any heads up. Alternatively, if you'd like to have a chat to see if I'd fit with you, or your team feel free to let me know - Twitter (@IanField90) is a gateway call - will be happy to hand out my email via DM.
For more information about me feel free to visit my LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ianfield
Update 16/12/2012: I now work as a Software Developer at http://www.conjure.co.uk/.
Shifting experiencesRecently I bought the new iPad (or iPad 3). Partially as a treat to myself for getting things done ahead of time at Uni this year, and partly because I've wanted one for ages.
First off, the screen is awesome. Vibrant colours and a super high pixel count make apps and videos pop. The camera is great, although I don't really know what circumstances I'll actually use it for. Video calls have been good, audio is clear and the experience is great. However as Chris pointed out (http://www.chris-alexander.co.uk/5494) there are some things with it that are illogical. Though, as you can see in my comment there, it's adequate for me.
Throughout University I've been using a laptop as a means of working, social networking, reading, keeping up to date with news, and watching on demand TV. Despite it being a laptop however, I find it a little restrictive in its mobility. It's hassle for me to unplug it (even with magsafe) and take it downstairs to watch something on the sofa. It also gets a bit repetitive using the same machine for almost everything I do involving a screen (other than Xbox). The iPad has changed how I use the internet.
Social NetworksI'm a big fan of social networking. I use it quite regularly, perhaps too much. For me it's a great means of catching up with how people are and organising things with them like going to the pub. The apps available on the iPad are honestly some of the best apps I've used. Now that my two main apps have been updated to the 'Retina' display the images are far sharper and the experience is made better through this. I've used a variety of different devices with notification systems; Windows Phone 7 with Live tiles, BlackBerry with it's BlackBerry style stuff, and now iOS.The notification customisation on iOS is great. It reminds me of the BlackBerry in that respect. They're quick to happen, quite often beating a browser Facebook chat for notifications - impressive. Being able to see a large majority of updates in one place is great. But there are a few issues that may be changeable in the future. I mostly think of my chats on Facebook to be private. Much like my text messages. However, the Facebook application seems to publicly display these notifications on the lock screen. Though thanks to the lock no-one but me can respond, the messages can still be read. But that's barely an annoyance, because generally where I use it most (the house) I'm around people that I trust. The internet doesn't sleep, and almost sadly it's expectant of prompt responses, unlike past times where it would be through email life seems to have changed to instant - more on that for another post.By flicking through Facebook or Twitter the experience changes. On my Lumia it's great. The People hub on Windows Phone is one of my favourite things. Being able to see a summary of everything up to date in one place is great and saves me a lot of procrastination time. On a computer it's a little more laborious but almost a richer experience than that on a mobile phone. But it's almost less interactive. Keyboard and mouse interaction seems to be old hat, though I'm still a fan of the Mac's touchpad and multi-touch gestures. The iPad, or I guess any slate/tablet device is a mid-way device. Not quite a phone, not quite a laptop, but still as useable and convenient as both, for me. There's something about flicking across to pull up a menu that just isn't quite repeated on Windows Phone or on a computer.
BrowsingI spend a lot of time browsing the web. Looking at news, articles, pictures, and videos as well as to chat to people I know. A trackpad and Apple's 'Natural Scroll' are a normal means of navigating. But through the use of a touch screen device in your hand, like a mobile phone or tablet the experience changes. Tapping a picture to zoom, and using swiping gestures to navigate around a page is great. Especially with the modern web development techniques out there designed to take advantage of these capabilities. Being able to zoom in to focus on the article text rather than seeing the whole site really means you can narrow down and read what interests you. By far the most satisfying aspect of this is being able to do this in the palm of your hand, meaning it could be on a bus, train, or sofa. Meaning I can relax with a story online, or watch a video and get involved in discussions without sitting at a desk. I can do some research on papers and areas of interest too with a refreshed experience.
MultimediaI never really saw a clear difference in viewing multimedia on these devices. Normally I'll sit down and watch TV or a film. But that'll be restricted to where the TV or computer is. It's effort to unplug and move a TV, and even a laptop at times - especially if I have a mouse, network cable and other things plugged in. But with a phone or tablet it's easy to unplug it if it's charging, or just pick it up and take it to where you want to be. Having it in your lap makes it effortless to pause, change volume and watch. As well as being convenient to have wherever you want it. It can add a social element to watching programmes too. Just chatting to a friend watching the same thing, or engaging with the masses following a trend. In addition well as being a great sharp screen.
It's certainly changing how I use and view things on the web. What about you? Do you have a tablet device? Want one, or against getting one? Feel free to sound off.
Reflection on technology useRecently I was asked by @PatParslow to participate in a research survey on Digital Literacy at University. The overall task of which I believe is to assess how students use various technologies in various scenarios, and how that has shaped the way I work, and socialise. For example; the tools I use, how I go about using them, and the situations I use them for.
University work vs Personal useWhat I'm doing influences how I use technology. For example, an email relating to university work is generally more formal and brief. It's often that the person on the other end is busy. So I try to adjust the wording to be polite and concise. This is in the hope that it makes it easier for the receiver to read and process without distracting them entirely. Hopefully this is more memorable and can lead to a prompt reply if needed.
The idea of email being marked urgent for quick response in my mind is silly. If it's something important enough, and you don't phone them why not? You're far more likely to have a reply quicker than my infrequent email times, which I normally save for the evenings, or times that I'm being unproductive. It's also very difficult to forget to reply to someone on the phone.
I find that I almost rely on technology too much for entertainment and communications. So when I'm on holiday I cut this down and avoid using it for anything similar to work. This is where the iPad comes in handy. I'm much more likely to socialise or read articles for pleasure as opposed to something academic whilst on holiday. However, when the time comes to focus on work again the switch is instantaneous. It's an especially useful device when it comes to researching and browsing through the web. By syncing to iCloud it allows me to save articles to read later, as well as through dropbox to save documents.
Public ImageThe more content that you create through identifiable means, the more someone can learn about you. Be it that they're a friend, stranger, or potential employer, they can see anything that's public. If you've intentionally put content out there and linked yourself to other mediums across the internet it is possible for them to see any public content on that too. Considering this I find myself censoring what I say. Would I want it to be quoted as a reflection of my character or not? If the answer to this is no, then I consider why I want to publish it, often finding it to be completely pointless, which I believe also helps with some self-reflection.With the increasing popularity of social media as a means of communication many people now have Facebook or Twitter. But not all consider the effect this has on employability. Given the subject area that I study it is highly likely that things that I say and do online are at some point going to be looked at by a potential employer. By increasing this sense of being watched I find that I think a little more before I tweet. But not too much. I want at least some of my personality to be reflected through what I say. I feel that if I restrict what I say too much there is little point in remaining public on Twitter, which I have done through choice.
What about you? Do you think before you tweet? Are you concerned at the permanent nature of things you say and how they can effect your portrayal in the future?