125 weeks and 6 days.

That’s how long it has been since my last update. Some might say that’s been a bit lazy. I might agree, however, I have been pretty busy. Busy in an interesting way too.

So, what have I done since then? Amsterdam was good (as per the last post) the first time with Andrea, but it was also just as good the second time around with my mates last year. Absolutely beautiful place, either in the freezing snowy cold weather or when it was blisteringly hot. I can safely say I’ll keep visiting every so often.

The last time I posted about University I was in my second year. The way my course worked was first year, second year, placement year and final year. Second year went really well, got some good marks both in coursework and exams. I managed to secure a placement with a company called Measuresoft in Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Measuresoft specialize in real time data acquisition applicable to all fields using their flagship program which is capable of taking detailed readings from oil rigs, ships, windmills, breweries (realistically anything you wanted) which require precise and reliable real time data. The plan for me on my placement year with Measuresoft was to re-create the company website, which I have done. I created three or four designs in Photoshop and made working prototypes of each to present as potential replacements, however it was clear we were going to need a CMS to allow other employees (i.e. marketing) to login and control SEO and all that good stuff. In comes WordPress which I hadn’t really delved into too much aside from this (poorly updated) blog. We searched for a base theme to expand on to create an image that suited the company and that also looked really nice and clean but still informative. Long story short, I took the base theme and added quite a few elements to it which were requested by the boss man and other important employees. It’s not easy trying to find one tiny PHP/CSS/JS/HTML file in a theme folder of hundreds of different files each doing their own job, but I managed it. And it was quite fun as far as WordPress editing goes.

What else was on the cards after the website was in developement? I wanted to do more than edit a base theme for a year. When the website was being developed, it also came to light that my supervisor was leaving to go to another job. So that kinda sucked, big time. Before he left we had to create an initial prototype of the company flagship desktop program as a web application. The desktop program was taking real time data from a server and displaying it to the user in a variety of different ways (labels, graphs, LED style signs, switches, buttons among many many more). Whilst adding all of those bells and whistles wasn’t the initial concern, creating a web app prototype was. Searching for the perfect framework to use was crucial, and after quite a bit of searching we came across SignalR like a ray of light from the Gods. This was perfect, we could create or server in C#, our client connects to the server through Javascript/jQuery and we design the pages in HTML/ASP.NET. Perfect. Now the problem was creating the server and client. My supervisor gave me the job of the server and he would do the client. After a day or two we had a working prototype, we could connect to the server from the client and we had some dummy data going. Fantastic. This was just before he left, so when he left I checked our prototypes network footprint to see how much traffic we were sending, it was huge. Honestly I don’t remember the actual size, but it was huge (between 8 – 10MB IIRC). So I started again, from scratch on my own. I wanted a small foot print which was somewhat reminiscent to the original desktop program. After days of programming the server and optimizing different functions, adding different arrays, sorting and sifting through them I managed to create a server and client infrastructure which was sending an extremely low (in the KBs size) footprint. I have both figures detailed in one of my documents I created on placement, I’ll try to dig it out. But I did it, I was so please that I could do it. I was really chuffed as was everyone in the office, this was the first proof of concept for the company’s new venture to create a web application to work similarly to the desktop program. Big thumbs up. Unfortunately I created the server and client shortly just before my time was up, however it was good for everyone else as they now had a solid working proof of concept which had a tiny network footprint and was streaming real time data from a server, displaying the values from 10 concurrent data streams in text boxes along with a real time graph. Placement ended and I was sad to go, but I was excited about final year and what I was planning on doing for a project and seeing my friends again.

Final year was.. interesting. I’ll leave it at that. I did enjoy doing the work and I learned some great stuff in my Project Management module. We had to choose or final project and I went with creating a game in a modern game engine, i.e. Unity3D. Why Unity3d, I had zero (and I mean zero) experience with Unity and had never even seen the IDE of it. My initial idea was an augmented reality trading card game using physical cards (with unique QR codes) being read by a webcam to play against another player. After talking it over with my lecturer I decided to scrap the AR trading card game idea and go for a top down pixel art (yes, I’m still a programmer and I use programmer art. Deal with it) style game which took inspiration from League of Legends, any standard survival game for gameplay ideas and some The Legend of Zelda ideas for map design. I will upload this project to my Github (accessed via the link in the menu bar at the top) whenever I get back to my PC. I have to say, the game is really fun and I got great feedback from anyone who tested it. I found myself enjoying testing it, weird huh? It’s not perfect, but it is very fun and could be expanded on.

So final year came and went, I sat exams in May and lost sleep from the 20th May to the 11th June when my results came online. I got myself a 2:1! I was, and still am, delighted with it.

So what’s next? I’m actively applying for front end developer jobs in England and hope to hear something back soon. Until then, I’m working in a local Specsavers and honestly it is really good. There is so much more to learn that what I would have expected and the challenge each day keeps me on my toes. I’ll stay here as long as I can until I find a developer role somewhere.

Over one thousand words, this was a big update. I’m not sure if I missed anything, but my tea is now cold from writing this and I need a refill.

I’ll be uploading a few projects here in the future, I have some ideas I just need to get the time to start them.


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