This summer, ThinkUp is mentoring students in Google’s Summer of Code program for the third time. As they progress in their work of becoming contributors to ThinkUp, we’ve asked our two students this year to document their experiences.
My name is Gareth and I am spending the summer working on creating new Insights for ThinkUp through the Google Summer of Code program.
I am currently studying Computer Science in Dublin and have an interest in web development so GSoC has been a great experience for me so far as it has allowed me to spend my time using the skills I have learnt throughout my studies in an area I enjoy.
When I first heard of ThinkUp I thought it was a cool idea, we all know social networks can gather a lot of data about us from our usage so having personalized insights seemed like a fun way to use it. There are plenty of reasons I decided to contribute to ThinkUp and liking the idea of the project is one of the main ones another reason is I love the freedom ThinkUp gives me to create insights that are related to my other interests. For example I love using fitness applications, having all the information in the palm of my hand has been a great motivation for me to continue exercise. However I do find plain statistics a little dull, ThinkUp has allowed me to create an insight that compares my distance traveled while exercising to landmarks around the world, it’s not new information but it’s given to me in an interesting way and I hope users will enjoy it as much as I have.
Working on ThinkUp has been a lot of fun but also extremely difficult at the same time. As a result I have learned a lot about programming and working on real world projects. Before this summer I worked mainly on academic problems and projects which is great for learning theory but not for preparing me for working in industry. Below is a short list of lessons I’ve learned:
It’s better to assume what you are working on is difficult rather than easy.
Problems are inevitable.
A detailed plan before any code is written makes life a lot easier.
When it comes to debugging, var_dump is amazing.
As I said before working on ThinkUp has been a great experience. I am learning a lot and creating something I really like at the same time. I look forward to creating more insights over the summer and I hope everyone enjoys them.