Sen Hirano, M.S., Ph.D. Student, Department of Informatics, University of California, Irvine
Sen Hirano has been on the Estrellita research team since the beginning of the project. He spent the fall semester at the University of Toronto and is now back at UC, Irvine.
Not being in the same location as my team was certainly a new experience. While in Toronto, I expected to work on my own part of the Estrellita project with less of a focus on general project elements as I studied with a professor who specializes more in laboratory studies and building things.
Before I left, I tried to make sure that all features were finished so that I would not have to worry about that part of the study anymore. There was, however, one big issue. We had to migrate to a new server that was able to take more connections than the one we had been using. The server, out of some bad luck, did not fully arrive until after I left, leaving Karen Tang, who had not touched the server side yet, to set it all up. Except for the pain of installing all the security certificates we needed, and making them work correctly, the setup was relatively easy. Since I already did that for some other machines, I volunteered to finish that part. And because we were splitting the work, coordinating the use of the new machine was tricky. Like all virtual workstations, no one actually sits in front of it. In fact, like a normal server, it only has a power cord and an Ethernet cable plugged into it. So, as we took turns working on it, we tried to inform each other before our infrequent uses. Even so, my connection was interrupted once, so I just had Karen finish up for me (which, I am now realizing, is a great aspect of our team). After just a couple of days, the server setup was finished, and I was free to do my own work.
I didn’t hear too much from my team while I was away, so occasionally I would get nostalgic and do some routine testing to make sure things were performing well. Karen Tang did her best to filter and address the problems that arose, but ultimately there were things with which I was more familiar. In those instances, she would send me all the details she had gathered in her investigation of the problem and then we would have an instant message conversation about it and try to theorize what was wrong. At this point, I would often remember some relevant part of the code and spend just a few minutes fixing the problem. Then I would save the fix, sync the code, and have both of us test to make sure the fix worked. I occasionally had to proxy through her and have her ask questions or look into something else for me. Even though problems did come up, I’m really glad that none of them was a user interface problem, because those would have been much harder to explain or show long distance.