Peter Aiken as our guest speaker at the CCI Showcase

The CCI Showcase was able to bring in Peter Aiken as our guest speaker who is widely acclaimed as one of the top ten data management authorities in the world. Mr. Aiken spoke about Big Data and the necessity to focus on big data techniques and technology. His presentation had a graph dealing with jobs dealing with technology and he showed us to look ahead and see what the future is going to request so we students could get on the ball having an edge. Throughout his presentation there was a video that had everyone thinking dealing with Stephen Colbert speaking on how Target knows us more than most of us will ever know. I thoroughly enjoy when I leave a presentation and am still thinking on the topics which were spoken upon. – Mike Class of 2015

Advertisements

Visual Rewards: Defending WiFi Users from Overzealous Patents, Part 2

patentThis semester in INF 496 with professor Luis Ibanez, we learned about what patents are and how they work. For a project we had to do research on software patents and then come up with a defensive publication to prevent software patents from be granted. Let me first say a patent is an exclusive right granted to a person for coming up with a new invention. A defensive publication is a technical document that describes idea, methods, and inventions and is a form of explicit prior art. Defensive publications are published by Open Invention Network in a database. These will help protect your freedom to operate. This project made me see just how greedy people are applying for patents that are so broad and are used by people in their everyday life. You would be shocked at what people patented and would think it was impossible to patent something like that. So for my defensive publication I wanted to prevent people from patenting a pop up notification that will tell a user when they are in or out of range of a possible wireless connection. Since it seems mostly everyone uses laptops, computers, tablets or cellphones they shouldn’t have to worry about connecting to a WIFI connection without breaking a patent. This project was not only fun, but also extremely interesting to me because it turns out that our defensive publication are actually going to be sent in to the Open Invention Network to be reviewed.

Visual Rewards: Finding Fulfillment in Web Design, Part 1

Having an internship is nothing like what I expected and I am so appreciative that I have one. I am a student intern for SUNY System Administration and have been working here since February 2012 and am continuing until May 2014 when I graduate. Working here has completely opened my eyes as to what kind of career I plan to get into. The learning experience I am getting here is nothing like what I learn in a classroom; it also helps that my fellow employees are more then willing to teach me and help me grow.

I do a lot of web programming here; I mostly do everything in ColdFusion. I hadn’t had much experience before this internship and I actually very much enjoy the work I am doing. I found programming to be like a puzzle. You have to figure out the way to put the program together to make it operate the right way. Doing this can challenge you which keeps me on my toes.  I also work with databases from time to time. When I am working on applications just for SUNY users that is when I work with PLSQL. My main priority at the time is SharePoint. My team and I have been working on creating it for a couple months now and plan to have all SUNY System Administration employees use it and hopefully have it expand to SUNY campuses in the future. It is rewarding to go on the SharePoint Website and see that you helped create this. One other main thing I do daily is keep an eye on the Web Request folder. This is a folder where all SUNY System Administration employees send their request for changing something on the main SUNY page or are asking for permission to use a certain application. I have to do those changes or create access for them to the application.

I can say that I like coming to work everyday. I get along with the person I work with very well which makes it that much easier and enjoy the work I am doing. I hope that this turns into a full time job for me once I graduate, but if it doesn’t I am extremely glad I worked there and got the experience I did from them.

Shown below is the SUNY SharePoint website I helped create.

SUNY BLUE

–Alaina Montello

A Graduate Perspective: Employed in an Informatics Field, Part 2

My previous write-up was a history of my prior employment before attaining my job at Capital Region BOCES.  What I am going to focus on for this is what it is I exactly do there.  To begin, I am going to go over a very basic structure of Capital Region BOCES.

Those of you that are reading may have attending school in the state of New York.  During that time you may have heard of this elusive entity known as BOCES.  The acronym stands for the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, and as that suggests, there are more than one of them.  The Capital Region BOCES tends to the needs of districts within all the counties from Greene County to the Canadian border.  A great number of districts, but despite the large geographic area the number of students is not the greatest handled by a BOCES.

Now, whenever BOCES is mentioned, most people think that their sole purpose in the realm of education is managing students that attend VOTEC or providing services for Special Education students.  Though that is a part of what BOCES provide to school districts, they also provide support by means of providing substitute teachers, financial management software, student management software, technical support, data storage, and so on.  Given some of the technical aspects of the services offered, some BOCES have what they call RICs, or Regional Information Centers.  Capital Region BOCES, in particular, have NERIC, the Northeastern Region Information Center, which handles all of the technical needs of the districts that are serviced.  It is at NERIC where I work. NERIC Logo

To put everything that I do at NERIC in one blog post does not seem very possible, that is, if I were to give detail about every aspect of my position.  Instead, I will go into some of the more interesting aspects of the job that I felt were beneficial to know.

I started in the Systems and Programming division of NERIC.  The team there has responsibilities in many parts of NERIC since they both maintain and develop new software for districts, give support for products already available, and managing student data that comes in from the districts.  I worked with one other person in the data side of things, which fits in perfectly with informatics.  Much of the work I was responsible for took place using familiar tools like Microsoft Excel and Access.

However, one thing that I did have to become proficient in was creating and using batch files.  There were processes in place in the servers that housed the data that would create a number of CSV files, hundreds at times, and the best way to manage them would be writing batch files.  Renaming them in mass, moving them in mass, whatever needed to be done to get data from one part of the network to the other was largely done by batch files.  Thankfully, I had enough programming experience to be able to look up some batch file commands and learn the syntax without wasting too much time.

One thing that I was able to bring to the team was my knowledge of VBA, which was a wanting thing for the Systems Programming.  Quite unexpected given the programming prowess of all of the members of the team.  For the longest time it seemed that the team would request a VBA guru from another RIC to provide them with code with use with Excel in order to format some data from the server to be used for a monthly report.  At one point the point person at the other RIC was on vacation and some fields and data types in the report changed.  I volunteered to take a look at it, and though I had to research some additional code I was able to modify the code so that it fit our new needs.  From that point on I became the team’s VBA go-to person, modifying past code and creating new modules to improve the workflow.vba-logo

Essentially, what those two experiences taught me was that to work in a technical field one has to be willing to go outside of their comfort zone in order to accommodate for the needs of the team.  For me that was learning how to use batch files.  I was nervous going into that realm, but I soon realized that I was able to piece things together due to my previous experience in other programming languages.  The other thing I learned was that if you can find a unique niche for yourself in a team, take it and use it to the fullest extent, such as myself with VBA.  The modules I created were not extravagant, but they did help the team with their data processing needs and it made me an essential part of the team.

If you keep an open mind and keep yourself from being shy in an area where you can shine, I believe that anyone would do well in any work environment.  Yet, when it comes to a tech driven field, I believe that success for someone is guaranteed.

Image 1 via K12 Learning Network, link to {http://moodle.k12ln.org/} Image 2 via James Free on his blog, Spatially Adjusted; link to {http://www.spatiallyadjusted.com/2009/09/28/in-defense-of-vba/}

Thoughts from an International Student, Part 2

Studying overseas is a great opportunity to receive new knowledge and an important experience that will be extremely useful in my further life. I hope I will be able to have such an experience in my life. These years of study will certainly help me to see my potential and understand what I want. Besides, I believe that communication with other students, teachers, and getting acquainted with new people in a foreign country, will help me improve my social skills and learn more about people with different cultures and traditions. Interaction with different people with different origins is essential nowadays and it gives each person precious experience. It is quite necessary to have an opportunity to be able to study, to communicate and to learn certain things from people with absolutely various backgrounds. I certainly understand that there may be moments when I can feel completely exhausted and the courses can turn out to be very demanding, but I believe that working hard will help me succeed. Working hard helps to develop a strong will and I am sure this will give me certain benefits in my future career.

different culturesImage via Sweet Trade Photography, link to {https://www.google.com/search?as_st=y&tbm=isch&hl=en&as_q=different+cultures&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&cr=&as_sitesearch=&safe=images&tbs=sur:f#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=unTQWaE3VlCcSM%3A%3BQ8AK0yYg_FKSYM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Ffarm1.staticflickr.com%252F110%252F286423882_83c0f97b46_o.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.flickr.com%252Fphotos%252Fsweettradephotography%252F286423882%252F%3B450%3B644}

A Graduate Perspective: Employed In an Informatics Field, Part 1

Before making this write-up I took some time to read through some of the prior posts that have been made in regards to employment in a tech driven field.  Most of these focused upon internships, which undoubtedly provide much needed experience to students, but I was unable to find many posts from those that are employed in a tech field.  Or, in a field that dealt primarily with data.  I felt that I could give the blog a bit more material in this area since I am a full time employee that deals with data and technology every day at Capital Region BOCES.  Since this is the first part of three, I suppose I will start with the most pressing question on a student’s mind…

“How do I get a job?”

(At least, that was the thought in my head when I was looking around.)

                It is not a very glamorous tale, to say the least.  A brief history of me before working at Capital Region BOCES would be include the following…

·         Graduated high school somewhere in the middle GPA wise.

·         Attended a community college, essentially 13th and 14th grade, graduated with an Associate of Science degree in Computer Science.

o   There was much rejoicing.diploma

·         Attended U-Albany.

o   Discovered that math was hard.

o   Switched majors to History.

o   Finished a semester late with a Bachelor of Art degree in History.

§  European Concentration.

§  Usefulness in the job market?

·         Marginal.

·         2008 financial crash happens.

o   History degree usefulness in the job market?

§  None.

So started a rather difficult time of myself living at home while pouring over what work was available, which unemploymentwere slim pickings at best.  To make a long story short I worked as a Field Modification Specialist (Landscaper) and then as a Data Entry person for Manpower and the Band of America.  To put it bluntly, I was not too pleased with my employment situation, so I turned to my county’s civil service exams, and that essentially opened the door to many opportunities.

Most entry level positions in civil service only require a high school diploma, and those that require higher education obviously pay higher.  I submitted my application to civil service, waited for a test to come along, took it, got an interview some time later and landed my first ‘real’ job…  Which, is not the job I have now.  Bullet time job history!

·         Greene County Clerks’ Office

o   Responsibilities?

§  Here I helped update the logs of land ownership by copying them into Excel

§  Modified the Clerks’ website

§  Maintained an Access database that housed a log of records that were taken from the records building.

o   Thoughts?

§  For an entry level position, that it quite a lot of work, and quite varied.  But, since it was part time I took the first opportunity I could.  Which led me to…

·         Catskill Middle School

o   Responsibilities?

§  Basic office secretary things.

§  The only tech part of this was using their web based software to manage students.

o   Thoughts?

§  This was by no means my dream job, but I stayed here for the better part of a year and decided that I needed more tech experience, so I left for…

·         Staples

o   Responsibilities?

§  Much more tech oriented, since I fixed desktops and laptops as they came into the store.  Troubleshot problems over the phone, etc.

o   Thoughts?

§  Many way have wondered why I quit my job at Catskill for something like this.  Essentially, it was definitely a risk, and I knew it, but this position helped my resume a bit since my actual tech experience was lacking.

It was during my time at Staples that I took more tests, using my experience that I have been gaining to find something more ideal.  A test came up for a position known as a Programming Technology Specialist, which accepted Associate level education with some outside experience on the side.  I applied for it, took the test, and received a call from the Northeastern Regional Information center (NERIC) which is a part of Capital Region BOCES.boces

This was an exciting time for me since this position could be made into a career, and to prepare for the interview I made sure to purchase some new clothes so that I would look as professional as possible.  That, however, did not keep me from being ten minutes late to the interview (not recommended).  The interview itself was actually not very technical in nature, but here are some of the questions that stuck in my head.  One of the first was the following:

“Do you know what BOCES is?”  Despite the time I spent on the BOCES website, I was still unclear about what exactly BOCES did.  I told my interviewer that, because it is better to at least try to find out information about your employer before going to an interview instead of not doing anything at all.  From that point I elaborated on my personal knowledge of BOCES, which was limited at best.  But, anything I could mention, I did.  The next question I remember was:

“How much Sequel experience do you have?”  To which I responded, “I am not sure what Sequel is.”  Of course, anybody worth their salt when it comes to databases knows that ‘Sequel’ refers to SQL.  At the time I really did not have any idea that it was phonetically called that.  However, despite that drawback, other questions focused more upon my ability to rationalize problems and how to prioritize workload, and I believe that I was able to gain ground again.  This was further helped with my professional and personal experience in computer maintenance.  Though, another question that I remember came around like this,

“It looks like you have been all over the place in your job history.  Almost like you do not know what you want and you’re looking for something.  What are you looking for?”  A rather important question, and here I went for the jugular.  The pay as advertised was what I was looking for, health benefits available and retirement to boot.  My response, paraphrased, was myself telling them that I have been looking for a technical work environment to commit myself to, and my previous employers were not ideal for me, which was the truth.  I mentioned that I was looking for a career that I could put my knowledge to work, and to also expand my knowledge with.

Despite being a part of a group of ten that they were interviewing for the position, I received a call after a second interview offering me the job, which I took, and where I still work today.  The next part in this will deal with the routine I go through at where I am employed.

David Auger – INF 423
Graduated in 2009 – Bachelor of History
Currently taking classes and planning to graduate Spring 2014

Image 1 via Becky Lang on the Tangenital {link to http://thetangential.com/2011/04/27/the-10-most-useless-things-about-college/}

Image 2 via Stuff Unemployed People Like {link to https://www.facebook.com/StuffUnemployedPeopleLike/notes}

Image 3 via BOCES of NYS {link to http://www.boces.org/wps/portal/BOCESofNYS}

Thoughts from an International Student

My feeling of being an international student in America —

“There’s some things you should wish for…and some things you shouldn’t” (Sheridan). The opening line pronounced by a little Irish girl Kristie is applicable to the situation of all immigrants that come to the USA in search of the better life. The American dream is a wide-spread concept that lures people from all over the globe promising to fulfill all their sacred dreams in a short period of time.

international students

Time Flies. Haven’t go back to my home country for four years long, and this is my last year in America. Just something, something is staying deep in my heart. America is the best, do not give up and study hard, work hard and play hard.

Works Cited

Sheridan, Jim. In America Script. 2003. Web. 21 Nov 201

Image via Wikipedia, link to {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_student}