IBM Extreme Blue Internship Experience
with Tags: extremeblue X
Not unlike Madonna and Justin Timberlake, each team has only got four minutes to save the world (a.k.a. pitch our projects to the IBM execs) so we have to make every second count.
Another field which takes advantage of extremely tight time limits is advertising. What helps marketers cram the essence of their product into 30 seconds?
If you ask me, it's the logos.
Pictures communicate messages very efficiently, but some are more effective than others. What makes logos unique among pictures is that their message is condensed into the pure, abstract visual ideas. One important consideration is to exclude any detail from the image which does not reinforce the idea that you want to invoke. Another important concept is the balancing of positive and negative space. Finally, making colors as bold as possible (in our case strictly two-tone) means that we can display the images rapid-fire without the viewers getting lost.
Besides, presenting ideas with representative images has the side effect of being very entertaining.
Is the rampant use of imagery in sideshow presentations unprofessional? Not necessarily. Certainly culling your images from lots of different sources results in a messy, inconsistent message. Instead, we've created many of our own illustrations (usually with some sort of tracing) which gave us a lot of control over making the images as consistent as possible.
(warning: this post is going to be image-intensive)
As we progress halfway through our fourth week in Raleigh, the shock and awe of "omg we're internz at IBM!!11one" has all but been eclipsed - the orientations are done, our development environments are well-established, our product presentations are a few iterations into newfound maturity, and the VPs and other IBM executives have already started making their rounds through the lab.
It's nose->grindstone time!
Firstly, it's been a grueling pair of weeks regarding our product presentations. We're not even halfway through the summer, and already the presentations look completely unlike our first attempts three weeks ago. It's truly a marvel of metamorphosis, thanks in a large part to the kind, self-esteem-building, everyone-is-special feedback from our supervisors Bill and Ross.
(truthfully, they are the greatest supervisors I could ask for)
Here we have a couple of iPhone enthusiasts checking out our Quickr application:
And here we have the latest iteration of our project logo:
Progress on all fronts!
Secondly, those of you who for COMPLETELY INNOCUOUS REASONS may be sick and tired of the word "maverick", you may want to cover your eyes: this week featured the first of four Maverick presentations, this one focusing on "Value and Purpose". In order to demonstrate these concepts, we were split into four teams with the overarching objective of safely dropping a raw egg from 1 story. Two teams were required to use as few resources (paper + napkins) as possible, and the other two teams were set loose to use whatever materials in whatever quantity they saw fit.
Once each team had completed their contraption, we gathered in the RTP stairwell to perform live tests.
Without any sort of collaboration, the four teams managed to create similar contraptions between the two pairs. For the teams conserving resources, the focus was placed on creating some sort of "egg transport" to safely carry the egg. Unfortunately, neither attempt was successful.
The second pair of teams, without the resource quantity restriction, focused on building "egg recepticles" to safely catch the eggs, provided they were aimed properly from the floor above. Also unlike the previous two teams, these trials were successful - no additional coatings of egg innards were added to the neighboring walls, floors, and stone architecture (excluding the instances where the egg that was dropped missed the recepticle entirely...particularly when we decided to move to the third floor).
The next Mavericks session in later this month. I wonder if we'll design catapults and transmogrifiers.
In the meantime, we're busy polishing up our projects for our next official iterations, in addition to putting the finishing touches on our presentations - the next go-round is tomorrow afternoon, in the company of IBM Distinguished Engineer Dave Ogle.
By the way, folks here are wicked good at Wii Tennis. It's kind of crazy.
As we are nearing the conclusion of our second iteration, our group has been organizing and participating in several informal demos of our project. The demos have mostly been live for our mentors, but just yesterday a significant amount of time was invested in creating a video demo that could be viewed by dozens of other people across the world at any time, as well as an audio commentary to accompany it. The application is starting to look pretty spiffy, if I do say so m'self.
To share our growing excitement with everyone else, I thought I'd post a screenshot of the latest demo of our Quickr project. Enjoy!
Greetings, one and all, and welcome to the 2009 edition of IBM ExtremeBlue! :)
I am torn between giving a painfully brief overview that would not do justice to the events that have already unfolded in the first week and a half since our endeavors began, and jumping headfirst into the technical nitty-gritty of the goings-on here in Raleigh (of course with special emphasis on my own project, Quickr :P ) and most likely sending you, dear reader, on to your next website or simply to sleep.
Over the next few months, I'll do my best to take the best from both worlds: brief, yet informative. I can't guarantee I'll be successful, though ;) Hopefully a few of my esteemed colleagues will be assisting with keeping this blog up to date! *hint hint wink wink nudge nudge*
Raleigh's four projects are already in full swing: AlphaCloud (rapid deployment of web services into the Cloud), Rainmaker (manage upload/download of OVF images to CloudBurst Platform), SocialMetrics (collection, processing, and visualization of metrics from social networking applications within IBM), and QuickrAnyplace (extending Files availability to mobile devices). And through all the meetings, all the planning, and all the coding that has already taken place in 7 short workdays, the nerf guns that have made so many prominent appearances in previous entries here have already reared their ugly barrels in the ExtremeBlue lab.
One can only speculate how much nerfing the lab can handle before the foosball figurines make a stand.
More updates inexorably to follow; stay tuned!
What's this, you say? Two posts from two different bloggers in the same lab, before we even hear a peep from any of the others? If it wasn't obvious already, the Extreme Blue Lab in Research Triangle Park is undoubtedly the most awesome. There's just no other explanation.
The end of the second week marks the midpoint of the first sprint for the teams, which means that we all have one week left to accomplish our iteration goals, and it's beginning to set in: "Holy crap," everyone seems to be thinking. "This is the real thing." Well, at least that's what they're thinking when they're not focused on more important things, like "When am I gonna get some coffee?" In either case, it's on.
Thursday each team presented their first version of their 4-minute project pitches. Everyone made a solid effort, and the Extreme Blue Staff will work with the interns over the course of the summer to transform the presentations from what might begin as a hodgepodge of bullet points and haphazardly animated clip art into a veritable work of art.
The interns also commemorated two Extreme Blue Birthdays today by ordering an appropriately Extreme amount of pizza. We hit up Randy's Pizza ("Where we think 14" is small") then congregated in the "caf" and had a lot of fun...and even more carbs. After that, we spent the afternoon turning those carbs into innovation, synergy, and a few cathartic rounds of Wii Tennis.
Apologies for the lengthy delay since the last update. Things in Raleigh (and, likely, in every ExtremeBlue lab across the globe) have been grueling of late. We are rapidly approaching Expo-in-Armonk time, and as such we have many loose ends to tie up.
Since the last update, we have had numerous productive meetings,
played kickball against our supervisors and mentors (given another inning, we would have handily defeated them),
and a few of our teams have even completed their Level 1 objectives, earning them this hallowed distinction:
Yes ladies and gentlemen, we are getting down to the wire. Take the Quickr team: today is our final day of large-scale development. At the conclusion of the work day, our codebase will be frozen, open only to minor tweaks and bug fixes in preparation for a private demo with numerous IBM executives and our own project owner on Thursday. Beyond that, local demos and expos abound next week, so once again only minor tweaks and superficial fixes will be permitted. Once the local expos have completed, we will be on our way to Armonk, and the development cycle for the summer will be finished.
Hard to believe. It's already been 8 solid weeks of work, and though we have (if I do say so m'self) a very impressive product to show for it, we still have quite a bit to finish.
Come to the local Raleigh Expo next Wednesday, August 5, at noon! Or see us in Armonk August 10-11.