Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My end of month assessment

This is probably going to be a long post, this is a warning.

I decided to write this because Mike has to submit an evaluation of me on the 30th June, but I do not have to submit an evaluation of him until 5th September and I thought he might like to know more about how I've been doing. This is my evaluation of my first month as a Summer of Code student.

Exactly 4 weeks ago today I was informed by Google that I had been accepted to the Summer of Code Program. I was pretty excited upon hearing the news. I had spent about 2 weeks meticulously preparing my proposal and chatting with the Camino developers on their IRC channel to hone my proposal to something that either Mike or Mark would be interested in. I was in the middle of my junior honours exam diet at the time which put even more pressure on writing a good proposal.

After celebrating with a few beers and a few friends I started on my proposed schedule. I almost immediately consulted the community to see if they could suggest anything additional to my proposal. There were probably about 100 comments between the mailing-list and the MozillaZine forum - some of them posed interesting questions, some of them were not quite as interesting...

One of the most important things for me to do during this project was to be as transparent as possible with the community. When Aaron and Hakan came to the WWW Conference in Edinburgh and we met up for a beer I remeber Aaron saying to me "If you think you want to do something that will benefit the community, then go for it!" I'm not sure if that was before or after a few beers :)

During this time I purchased a copy of Cocoa Programming for OS X (an essential text-book for people who want to learn Cocoa, as recommended by Hakan), a copy of the Objective-C Pocket Reference, Cocoa in a Nutshell, and The C Programming Language. I religiously read and work through 2 chapters of Cocoa Programming for OS X every weekday. I also take time to make notes and build daft applications to help me experiment.

At the end of the community consultation the Camino developers, and some assorted lurkers joined in our IRC conversation to discuss everything that people had suggested. We chatted for about 90 minutes and to be honest we cut out most of the suggestions as OFFTOPIC, or WONTFIX. A wiki page was created as as result and I now use that as a central location to keep focused, on topic information about my project available.

Mike and I begun to meet every Friday to discuss my progress, my concerns, his thoughts, his concerns. This was one of the first things that we agreed should happen so that we don't get to the end of the summer and I've done nothing.

I have grown to hate XCode with a passion - it drains life from me. It breaks all the time and sometimes it doesn't pay any attention to anything I try to tell it to do. I had the same experience with Eclipse. Give me vim and some command line tools any day of the week!

I had a bit of a rocky time during my first implementation week due to my exam results trickling out day by day and causing me some severe stress and lack of sleep. Thankfully Mike didn't roar at me for this but took the time to let me know that if I didn't let him know about these things then there wasn't much he could do to help me.

This week has been much more productive, I posted some images earlier on showing my progress and I am planning to have something in BugZilla by Thursday night, Friday night at the latest.

As I wrote this post I recieved an e-mail from LH at Google informing all SoC students:

... if your mentor does not feel you've made
sufficient progress on your project, you will be dropped from the
program and no further payments will be issued to you.
I'm hoping that this is not going to be a problem, but I will be working double-time to make sure that I get my patches submitted to BugZilla before 26th June. I'm not going to ask Mike directly about what he is going to write because as it says on the Student FAQ:
Mentors evaluations of students will be reviewed by Google's program administrators, but won't be released to students unless requested by the mentoring organization's administrator(s). Students reviews of mentors will be shared with Google's program administrators and with the mentoring organization's administrator(s), but not with the student's mentor unless requested by the student. In the case where the mentoring organization's administrator and the mentor are one and the same, the student evaluation will be shared with the mentor. In some cases, Google's program administrators may need to share the results of the evaluations with the student and/or the mentor to arbitrate when payment should not be made; should this need arise, all parties will be notified in advance.
Mike has never said to me that I need to work harder, so I reckon that as long as I reach my first milestone I stand a good chance of being kept on.

As a result of this e-mail from LH, the importance of me getting my patches submitted to BugZilla by the weekend have just increased ten-fold.

I suppose I should talk about the Google side of things now. I have still not received my first $500 pay cheque. It looked like we would be getting O'Reilly Safari Bookshelf accounts but nothing has come of that. Oh, I got a free leather notebook from Google...

Things that I need to do ASAP:
  1. Submit my proof of enrollment to Google
  2. Submit my academic transcript to Google
  3. Fill in the abstract for my project
  4. Get my patches into BugZilla by Friday
  5. Buy some new trainers

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