Exams. Results. Careers.

Had my last exam of the year a week ago today.  Results are supposed to be with us before tomorrow but as yet no-one has received anything.  Unlike people taking other subjects or going to University elsewhere I do need to stick around to the official end of term date as there are a series of events I need to, or may need to, attend.

Yesterday for example there were presentations of the third year module options, today there were committee elections and tomorrow exam script viewing.  On Friday I am going to the GradJobs fair at the NEC.  I went last year and couldn’t see myself working for the vast majority of companies there.  I applied for a couple of industrial placements at the most promising looking businesses but they didn’t go very far, I got further with ones that advertised on campus and online.  Better luck this year I hope although to be honest I don’t really expect to find anything to suit my fancy there as most of the companies that will attend are large and boring.

Also booked myself a careers appointment for tomorrow having realised that in about a year I will have finished my final year and will need to get a job.

It’s scary.

Game Maker Affiliation Re-write

I haven’t updated GMB for a three days on the trot now which must be approaching something of a record (there were 212 posts last year).  Will also have less time for this over the next couple of weeks as I am approaching the end of term/semester at university.  Wasn’t particularly helped by the fact that instead of getting further ahead with my work I (unusually) didn’t touch any of my assignments over the weekend and instead focused on a much needed re-write of the Game Maker Affiliation Service (or Game Maker Affiliates as everyone seems to call it, maybe I should rename it?).

GMA has been online since very early days in the life of GMB and has remained pretty much the same since.  The program was initially written by a contact I made a few years ago whilst occupying a forum pertaining to a totally unrelated topic.  I did occasionally add features to it but these were pretty minor and I had long known that it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up if I were to make any major improvements.

I was pleasantly surprised by my progress.  By the end of Saturday I had a functioning service complete with registration, login, code generation, banner displays and statistics more in depth than are available in the present site version.  Everything went relatively smoothly on what is (as far as I can recall) the first project I will have programmed from scratch which will quickly be used by a large user-base.  Here are a couple of the features I am particuarly proud of:

  • Automatic animated banner detection.  One of the main features of the website is enabling members to upload small banners which will be used to promote their Game Maker related website across the network.  One of my maligned additions to Hardi’s original scripts was the addition of a query which could be appended to the end of a URL to ban animated banners being displayed on your site.  It worked but I had to manually flag banners as being animated and to be honest never kept up to date with doing it for new submissions.  In GMA version 4 uploaded animated .GIFs will automatically be detected as such and a flag will be applied to them – fully automated animated banner blocking!
  • Twitter oAuth integration. I was surprised by how many people were willing giving me their passwords when they signed up to GMA.  They were stored in plain text.  (Hardi!).  Whilst most were pretty good a scary number were one word passwords.  Allowing people to login using via their Twitter account not only means I don’t get to see their password (they are now md5 encrypted anyway) but also means they don’t have to fill in the laborious (3 field!) registration process.  I hope this will increase the credibility of the site and the level of user registrations. I really am quite fond of this and plan at some stage to allow existing GMA members to link up their Twitter accounts so they can login in this way in future.

The new GMA is more customisable and I think this is key in getting more people to use it.  At the moment there are relatively few URL suffixes which effect how the banners are displayed on a member’s website but I hope to add more.

I plan to keep this implementation of GMA (when it goes live) much more up-to-date and hope to be able to continually develop it and add new features particularly in regards to the quality of reporting data I am able to return to users about where their banners were shown and who is clicking them.

I currently intend to migrate from the current version of GMA next weekend.

Applying for a Job (sort of)

One of the modules I am compelled to study this semester has the rather grand name “Communication Skills and Professional Issues“.  With a title like that I dreaded that it would be some god-awful social interaction test or something totally unrelated to the course – well something along the lines of A Level General Studies anyway…

I was pleasantly surprised.  The first half of the module is taken up with guest lectures from IT professionals.  So far we have had speakers from IBM and Fujitsu and some smaller companies as well as a very interesting talk on computer forensics from a former police officer turned forensic investigator.  A couple of talks were also given by someone from the careers department of the University about writing a CV and giving presentations.

The assessment part of the module comes 50% from an essay examining an area of computing – the title of mine is “Is the Internet good for Democracy?” and 40% from a 40 minute team presentation and 30 page report.  Our chosen subject is “How has the Internet changed social interaction”.  The remaining 10% is given for submitting a CV and covering letter applying for a job along with a job ad of your choice.  This got me searching for jobs adverts and there are a lot out there.  Think I will choose something like this at BestBuy or this at an unspecified eCommerce firm.  Online content/promotion without being too code based.

I am able to make the CV from a one I wrote about a year ago when I figured it would be useful to have one and from my LinkedIn page (really makes creating a CV simple!).  Hard to work out what stuff to include that isn’t official paid work though  – for example the websites I have created/run.  They certainly are experience but I need to decide which are relevant.  Perhaps more of a covering letter thing.

Looked over a covering letter belonging to a friend earlier today so that should give me some ideas of what to include.  There are plenty of resources available online to find out about what is expected in a CV/covering letter so fingers crossed it will not take too long to get the best part of 10% of the module done.

A return to daily blogging?  Probably not.