11. Signing Off

This blog is whizzing over the internet to my website from 30,000 feet in the air. Don’t you just love the 21st century? Somehow I feel this is the best chance I have to really think over my internship experience at Envision Solar, San Diego. Likely because this truly marks the end of my time in the USA this summer - you could say I’m reminiscent - but also because it’s currently 9pm and I won’t arrive home until 8pm tomorrow - I’m not exactly lacking in free time.

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10. Technical - Testing is Crucial

Earlier in these blogs, I was talking about the Python scripts I needed to write so that data from Envision Solar’s systems could be posted to a database. I had left the scripts relatively untouched since I wrote them in the first or second week of the internship. Data I am using for my Android and iOS apps is pulled in from the charger companies using these scripts. This data, for the most part, is a dictionary, or is converted to a dictionary by some code I wrote. Dictionaries are useful because they provide key-value pairs, much like a database does - i.e. Age: 25, Sex: Male, Location: San Diego (MSN reference there for anyone over the age of 20).

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9. Woah, We're Halfway There!

It’s the seventh week here at Envision Solar. By now I’d like to have finished the first prototype of the Android app and already moving on to the iOS app. Whilst android has almost been completed, with just a few things like visuals and animations to implement, iOS hasn’t even begun. The database structure is changing all the time due to the functionality of the app changing. Adding in historical data is the real challenge. Selecting a date to view data and pulling all EV ARC documents from that date counts as one read per document, not per call. This isn’t an issue if I’m pulling totals up to the current date because I can order the DB docs and pull the last X amount only. If a user wants a split time frame, i.e. “Get me all of December 2017”, then my DB structure can’t handle that. It would require reading all the documents from December until the current date, and then filtering for the ones we want. That’s a lot of reads.

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8. My Internship Goals

When I first began the Saltire application process back in October, I was also looking for internships elsewhere. I knew that gaining an internship would be great for career advancement after university, but that was all I saw it as - a grab for recognition from potential employers. Whilst it is true that a good internship will stand out, I came to realise that this shouldn’t be the sole reason for the internship search. Internships benefit you in many more ways than just a paragraph on your resume.

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7. Technical - Week Two

Hi, all. These blogs are going to become less organised and more rambling as the weeks here go by. I blame the heat. The rigid structure of writing one blog per week seems forced. Sometimes I do nothing; sometimes I do lots of things. From here on out consider these posts without a timeframe. Just know that they are still at least sequential.

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6. First Week

It’s the end of my first week here in sunny California. Work has been rewarding and I hope everything I’m doing will come together nicely at the end for Envision Solar. I’m happy that the project I’m completing will actually be used for the customers. I am responsible entirely for how customers get their EV ARC data and that’s something to be proud of… and scared of. I may need Envision to sign an agreement to the effect that I am not liable. Anyone know any lawyers?

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5. Technical - Week One

Week one so far has been all I could have hoped for and more. The other interns and I have taken the opportunity most evenings to do some exploring of the San Diego coastline, the project I’ve been assigned has been challenging but steady, and I’ve come to feel quite at home with the work/play lifestyle out here. I’ll talk about the work I’m doing as detailed as I can without violating any sort of Intellectual Property rules and without boring any reader to death. This one will be purely technical so feel free to jump to another if this isn’t your thing.

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4. Touchdown in San Diego

Hey, everyone. These next few blogs may be split into separate categories of technology used on the job, such as programming practices and lessons learned, and personal experiences both in and outwith work. For this first one, however, I’ll go ahead and write it as a bit of both.

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3. Cover letters, CVs, and Final Interviews

Welcome to the final blog on the application process to become part of the Saltire Foundation. If you have read the two previous enthralling posts, I’m baffled as to why, but thank you. This one is going to be about the Candidate Pool cover letters, CVs, and final interviews. This is where many of the applicants were whittled away, so congratulations on making it this far. This year, 1,500 students applied with 170 going on internships that summer. If you’re at this stage, I estimate that you now have a whopping 20-30% chance of getting a scholarship!

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2. Speed Interviews

This second blog in the Saltire series will be talking about my experiences during the application process and what to look out for if you are an applicant. If you’re not a Saltire applicant, most of this won’t be for you, but you may find some of the tips helpful for future interviews.

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1. Why I applied to Saltire

I was sat in a lecture theatre, expecting a colourless lecture on business sustainability, which all prospective engineers had to enrol in, when the careers advisor for Heriot-Watt walked in and introduced himself to the class. The introduction was brief, and he swiftly shifted our attention to the five or six students stood at the foot of the room. “These young men and women have been Saltire Scholars,” he said.  “You might be interested in what they have to say. They’ve completed internships around the world, had opportunities to engage with leaders in their future industries, and enjoyed a plethora of cultural experiences - all in one summer.”

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Integrated Development Environments Are Making Us Lazy

Computer programmers are some of the laziest human beings alive. Fact. I know because I am. You know because, if you’re reading this tech blog, you likely are too. But, before you tut, gasp, roll your eyes, or perform whatever exaggerated go-to-reaction you have become accustomed to when someone mentions indolent software developers, you should understand one thing: it’s not your fault.

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Magic Leap - The Future of Augmented Reality

The future of augmented reality really is here, and it’s brought to you not by tech giants Google, Microsoft, or Apple, nor by any well-established company with a firm grounding in the field, but instead by a small startup called Magic Leap. (You should really check out that link after the article - even the homepage makes you giddy).

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Artificial Intelligence - A Revolution in Warfare

Due to it’s incredible potential for life changing technology, Artificial Intelligence has been one of the fastest growing areas for research and development. The central goal behind AI is to create machines capable of human behavior, with the long-term goals being social intelligence, creativity, and general intelligence. It’s large interdisciplinary scope means that many professions are able to contribute to it’s evolution. Computer scientists, mathematicians and engineers play just as much a part as linguists, psychologists and philosophers in the creation of AI tools. Significant progress has been made within all areas of study, but there are concerns that these new advancements in technology are being misused.

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Reddit - The Community Has Spoken

Over the past 24 hours, it has been made clear that popular online community, Reddit, has continued it’s mission to self-destruct. The news of the recent dismissal of the highly regarded key employee, Victoria Taylor, has shaken Reddit’s foundations. Taylor, famous for her smooth coordination of popular subreddit, Ask Me Anything (IAMA), recently replied to a thread on /r/pics moments after she was given her notice stating she was ‘dazed’ by the news. Current speculation is that Reddit Management insisted Taylor was to ‘do a bunch of highly commercial things’, and that she was to integrate video interviews alongside her usual text-based medium. This didn’t sit well with Taylor as she felt it wouldn’t be beneficial to the Reddit community, and so management made their decision there and then: she had to be let go.

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Google I/O 15 - Project Soli

As Google I/O drew closer in the year, it was hard for techies not to get excited about what could be unveiled. Every year there is usually something that spurs us into a frenzy. Last year was the hugely appreciated reformed Android operating system, Lollipop (L, for short), which forced app developers to rethink the design of their existing apps. This year Google has unveiled Android M, L’s successor. This OS is still in the developer preview state, and as such has not been released to the general public. Google has decided to keep to themselves what the ‘M’ stands for, at least for the time being. I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps it’s another way to spark discussion about the new OS by having bloggers and video producers ask their viewers the question. Free advertising. Well played, Google. Android M doesn’t quite have the oomph that Android L did. There’s no new “big feature”; just some added existing technology that other companies have had for a while, such as fingerprint scanning and a pay service. There’s no major UI changes, apart from the App Drawer; which, by the way, has been hated on by most. Overall, nothing special. Nothing to be overly thrilled with. Let’s leave Android OS aside and focus on what else Google I/O 15 had to offer.

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