Fall Week 5

I have yet to have a blog post this semester get published on time.  I am endeavoring to correct this.  Perhaps this is the week I get lucky!  This week I had to make some tough decisions and figure out what was going to get cut from my schedule because I am just too busy.  Between working (research), school work, home life (some of my home life is feeling sorely neglected at the moment), traveling, and getting ready for grad applications I have zero time.  It’s getting me sick and I’m super exhausted.  So, something has to give.

I decided to drop the Game Design class, even though it is by far my favorite elective.  I am still going to attend the lectures, but I simply don’t have time for all the homework.  I was spending ten times more of my outside class time working on projects for that class than all my other classes put together.  Not a good balance.

This week started off the first round of exams.  This coming week I have GREs on Monday, Web Data Management on Tuesday, and Algorithms on Thursday.  Luckily, then I’m off to Baltimore for Grace Hopper!  I have finished downloading the conference app on both my phone and tablet.  I’m starting to figure out exactly what I need to pack.  I’m super excited!!

Since dropping the extra class, I’ve actually managed to get some things accomplished.  I’ve finished fixing up my DREU section of the website, so that I can get my last paycheck (which I could really use right now).  That was a huge weight on me.  Now I have to build a new section for my CREU work, which I’ve been putting off.  I think I will actually have enough time this weekend to get that done too.  I’ve also gotten a nice chunk of research work for CREU done as well.  I’ll hopefully get around to updating my website, so I can start sharing snippets of that.

I also attended the club orientation on campus so that our ACM-W Chapter can be official.  I got some good ideas for things I would like to do with the group, so I need to start organizing meetings for that.  I still have to work on the website, but I think some of this will have to wait until after Grace Hopper, unfortunately.  There is just not enough time in the day for everything!

Fall Week 4

This week was kind of a blur, except that the newest member of the family was born Thursday night!  I was able to go visit him in the hospital Friday afternoon.  Here’s a picture of me with Thane:

Auntie Kate and Little Thane, September 14, 2012

School has been very overwhelming.  I feel like I don’t have time to spend on the things I really want to be learning and spending time on, like my research, because everything is just sucking up all of my time.

I did do a quick run (THANKS to Kyle for driving me!!) to Seattle Thursday afternoon to attend the iSchool information session.  I had an opportunity to talk to the PhD advisor and hear a bit about the program.  The biggest thing I realized is that I really need to get on this whole writing to professors, drafting up my essays, and generally getting more serious about grad school applications!

Fall Week 2

Well, as it might be imagined, I am super swamped.  I feel like I’m being pulled every which way and I need to get a better system for organizing my life.  I’ve this giant running to do list that is a little overwhelming.  I’ve started breaking things down by day and trying to organize one 24-hour period at a time.  We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve been trying to get my DREU final report finished up and sent off.  I’m actually quite happy with the results.  I migrated my work into LaTex and am starting to feel pretty proficient in editing in it.  I’m going to post my paper in my portfolio, if you’re interested.  I am a little bummed I couldn’t participate in some of the interviews and maybe work on getting something into CHI for this year.  I guess I could still possibly submit something for the Student Posters in January.  We’ll see.

I’ve also officially bought my plane tickets to Balitmore for Grace Hopper the first week of October.  I’m excited to have won the scholarship.  I’m looking forward to seeing Baltimore again too.  I’m already planning on meeting up with my friends from UMBC that I met during the DREU program.

I think that’s all for now.  I’m hoping I can use these blogs to get myself organized too.  We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

Week 8

This week I finished up putting tags into the clothes. I also did a lot of writing this week.  I submitted two poster abstracts- one to the campus Research Festival and one to Grace Hopper.  I also started a draft of the final paper for this project I have been working on all summer.  Luckily, actually quite enjoy the writing process.  I’ll be finding out this coming week if my poster abstracts were accepted.  Next up:  making a poster!

On Thursday, I went to the ADA Celebration on campus.  We put some of our projects on display, including the clothe I have tagged.  It was really great meeting people and talking a bit about the work we have been doing.  We also heard speeches from Dr. Hrabowski and Governor O’Malley.

UMBC HCC Group at the ADA Celebration July 26, 2012
UMBC HCC Group at the ADA Celebration July 26, 2012
Me at the ADA Celebration
Me at the ADA Celebration

This coming week I’ll be working more on my paper and designing my poster.  I hope the RFID reader parts come in, so that I can build the last system for the project.  I’ll also be playing around with an NFC enabled tablet to see if I can get it to read the tags we have in the lab!


Week 7

There was a lot going on this last week, especially now as I am looking at deadlines for my poster abstracts and wrapping up for the summer.

We finally got our “smart closet” put together with shelving and all!

Smart Closet
A nice, organized closet space for our clothes that are going to be tagged.

We narrowed down our list of tagging systems that we want to prototype.  We had a fashion hackathon on Tuesday to put together the website that will be part of our prototypes.  For some of our systems, the user can look up a button shape or specific location to help remind them of what it identifies (color, how to wash, etc).  In another web based system, the user can input a number that is written in braille on a tag inside the clothes to get all the information about it.

Fashion Hackathon
Fashion Hackathon
3 Braille Tags in Puff Paint
Ribbon with Braille in Puff Paint



Star Button Tag in Shirt
This star represent certain information about this shirt.







I also built some prototypes with a more high-tech solution.  One uses the QR code iron-on to the clothes.  A second solution is the RFID tag with reader.I am still waiting on the parts for the reader before I can prototype this system.

Row of QR Codes
QR Codes ready to be printed.

On Wednesday, I went to the Summer Horizons grad school information session on campus.  The information presented was phenomenal.  They went over the timelines,  keys to admissions (GRE Scores, Letters of Recommendation, and the Statement of Purpose), and what life is like as a grad student.  There was a panel of grad students that answered questions about their own application process and what their lives are like now.  To finish everything off, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski gave a great keynote speech.  I wish I had recorded it, but I was too busy watching!

One of the things Dr. Hrabowski said was the following quote, which really stuck with me: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
– Lao Tzu

I’m glad I attended this information session, even though it wasn’t strictly a part of the internship I am doing.  It helped me to really start exploring the reasons I want to go to grad school and how to organize my thoughts so I can get my applications together.

Wednesday afternoon, summer students from the Maryland School for the Blind came to visit UMBC.  As part of their visit, the HCC department gave them some information about the research they do here on campus.  Michele and I got to informally talk with some of the students about my project that I have been working on this summer.  Some of them were really excited about the idea of just scanning clothes and getting the information about them.  One student wanted to know when they would be able to buy the system.  It’s really nice getting such positive feedback about the work I have been doing.

This coming week I will be writing abstracts for my research posters.  I will be finishing up my prototypes, which will probably take the bulk of my time.  I’m down to sewing in buttons and ribbons.  As soon as we have IRB approval, we will be able to take our clothes to users to see what they think of our prototypes!

Week 6

This week I worked with Amy and Michele to redevelop my project scope for the rest of the summer.  In addition to RFID tags and readers for clothing, I am going to help brainstorm other ways someone could tag their clothing.  I spent the first part of the week looking up how people are currently keeping track of their clothes.

I then decided on some different ways to tag clothes.  Some ideas were buttons, safety pins, QR codes inside the clothes, and RFID tags.  I then went on a shopping trip with Michele to stock our closet and get supplies for our prototype systems.  At the end of the week I started prototyping some tags.

Sample Tag

I also spent some time with Amy looking forward to see where this research is headed.  I’ve started thinking about what I will be doing after this summer is over and applying to graduate school.  This experience hasn’t gotten me excited about keeping the momentum I have here going.