Whither 2021?

6 minute read


Whither 2021?

December 27th COVID extrapolation plots

At the beginning of 2019, I started writing about what I thought I would get up to in 2019, and I did the same at the start of 2020. This post is an attempt to do the same for 2021.

Whence: 2020

Let’s look at what I thought I was going to do in 2020, and how much of that actually happened. Funnily enough, I didn’t foresee the pandemic… so it’s not as pretty as it should have been.

The plot at the top of this post is the current (as at 2020/12/27) deaths from COVID-19 in the USA, along with braindead forecasts as to when we might be relatively free of the virus (April 3rd, 2021 or March 4th, 20201).

Blog more ✅

One thing I did try to do was to blog more. I decided that I would write up a retrospective of the week for each of the classes I took. This started off pretty well, but the pandemic and movement of everything online added extra work that reduced the frequency of these.

While these posts were not public, they were available to most students in my classes at both CCSU and Fairfield University.

Turn Take-A-Number into an app 🤷‍♂️

Being somewhat pig-headed, I decided to try to write the app using the Test-Driven Development or TDD approach. Unfortunately, the stack I used was Xamarin in C#. That’s usually not a problem, but I found that getting test cases to work in both Android and iOS was a complete disaster making many of the tests very brittle.

I’m going to make one more attempt to get it up and running… and them I might give up on it.

Research & publish more 🤷‍♂️

The research happened, but not in as concerted a way as I need and so no publishing happened. I need to revising this, and look for conspirators to achieve this.

One attempt at publication with David Broderick was to look at CCSU’s CET program with a view to getting CET students to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam on their way to certification as a practising engineer. Unfortunately, the ASEE conference we submitted that to didn’t like it, and I was introduced to the world of qualitative research in education… which just feels wrong. None of the classes I teach are large enough to meet any rigorous notion of “sample size” for statistical analysis.

The diagram below is an attempt to render the prerequisite path through CCSU’s CET program.

Attempt at mapping CET program courses.

Write more apps 🤷‍♂️

While I didn’t write my own apps, I taught two classes at Fairfield that generated a total of twelve apps of different sorts. Helping the students get their apps to a stage of development, including one that made the Fairfield Startup Showcase finalist, called Priority Route (number 4 in the list).

This semester, two of my Software Engineering Methods / Junior Clinic I teams have made it into the 2021 Showcase, so I am hopeful that they’ll do well there. All the Showcase teams are listed here. The two from my class are EarnSpace and Friendship Kindler.

Score for 2020: 1 out of 4

So, with that, my score for 2020 is only 1 out of 4, somewhat worse than 2019’s 2 out of 5.

Roll on to 2021

So, what do I hope to achieve in 2021?

Blog more strategically

While I did blog in 2020, I feel the need to expand beyond just information about the courses I teach. Rather than blog about the technical details, I will focus it more on the why we are doing the work, the motivation.

Research more

For me to get work to a publishable stage, I believe I need to focus more on research first. There are two strands to this: educational research (figuring out how to teach well and improve my own and others’ teaching) and signal processing research (still TBD, but probably statistical signal processing around big data or analytics).

Write more of my own apps

Despite my failure to get TakeANumber into the app store this year, I’ve decided to simplify my ideas for apps and try getting some of them together. As I said in last year’s post, I have set up a company called Teeny Tiny Apps LLC with a view to moving some of these to the app and play stores. The idea is to find small apps that can be written easily and can help people by doing their simple things efficiently.

Guitar Tuning App

Since Eilis started taking up guitar, we occasionally need to tune her guitar. So it might be nice to see how to do that with an app, even though there seem to be several existing apps out there.

Pomodoro App

I like the idea of the “pomodoro”: allocating 25 minutes of your time exclusively for one task before taking a 5 minute break from that task. Rinse and repeat. Again, there exist some apps out there that do this, but none with the simplicity that I’d like to see.

Color Recognizing App

I was out hiking in the Connceticut woods recently, and saw that there were lots of different colored trail markers. They worked fine for me, but I wondered how well people with different sorts of color blindness would cope. So I thought about writing an app that allows different colors to be recognized easily.

Self-Loyalty App

There are several loyalty apps out there, including in-house ones like Starbucks, as well as white lable ones like LoylAp.

My idea turns this around: here, the consumer is in complete control of tabulating what they buy.

The first part is just an app that collates information about what the consumer buys and where they buy it from. The second part is then a “veil” that allows the consumer to reveal specific types or ranges of transactions to stores that are interested in their purchasing habits. The third part is to allow stores to collate this information and either verify that the consumer made the purchase or verify that the consumer has already claimed “loyalty credit” for the purchase with them.

The key idea is that the consumer controls their privacy as much as they want, not the stores.

Good riddance 2020, roll on 2021!

The year 2019 was much better than 2018. 2020 was way worse. The only way from here to 2021 is up!

Happy, Healthy, & Prosperous New Year, everyone!