And that was the tale of CS3216

Looking back at my my first blog post for CS3216, I find it rather surprising that I could fulfill most of the objectives I wrote! I learnt a lot about working in teams and marketing, met quite a number of brilliant people, had a (in my opinion) quite successful final project, and blogged surpisingly quite alright.

I actually had another reason for taking this module that I did not write (or rather, did not state it blatantly): I had trouble piecing up my major and my... err... passion? is that the correct word? in developing software. It's the feeling of having developed solid "foundation" but not being able to conceive or plan the "house", if you get what I mean. I was hoping that some of the brilliant minds here would help me with answering this question, but unfortunately that did not work out very well. (Fun note: in novels and mangas, this is the part where the hero will come to a realization that this is what he and only he must do himself, and resolve to do this while saving the world at the same time.)

I did not really expect to learn a lot in the technical part, but I picked up some very useful bits here and there like having experience with AWS, using Mercurial better (and handling people who are not very good at it... haha), in-depth exploration of HTML5 and related features, added quite significant flight hours on Javascript, and discovered some cool libraries / frameworks along the way.

But hard skills like these are easy to obtain. I think it is quite natural for programmers that once you reach a certain level (which I think the programmers in CS3216 have certainly achieved), you can pretty much learn about all these hard skills by locking yourself in your room with your shining laptop plus internet connection (of course you also need money, time, and life support but that's beyond our discussion here).

The difficult part that no asceticism in your room can possibly offer is the softies. Communicating with people. Seeking people that complement your skillsets. Getting feedback (positive and negative) from people. Balancing emotional state among team members (cheem!). Realizing that you're not as smart as you think. Stepping out of your comfort zone.

To sum this up I would like to risk being cheesy by quoting this former big shot from the US:

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know.

-- Donald Rumsfeld

I would say that this module has successfully expanded our universe of known knowns (the hard and soft skills), our known unknowns (the sporadic 10km bird view lectures and "look at what the other groups did!"), as well as prepared us for future unknown unknowns. After all, teaching one how to fish is only useful while fish exist.


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