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Lego, Lean six sigma, and Eprints – Week 4

This week got off to a fantastic start, with a team lego morning. Having been invited to talk about Robogals (a student society I’m currently the president of) on Monday lunchtime, Pat decided we should all go play with the lego robots together that morning. It was a great morning, it gave my team the chance to see a little bit of what I do outside of work, and it gave me a chance to prepare a couple of robots to showcase at the lunchtime event.

On Tuesday morning, I showed my web application to the team in our weekly meeting. This somewhat marked the end of the bulk of the work on that project for now, and this week took me in a new direction, away from making my proof of concept web application and on towards unit testing for eprints. The preparation before reaching that point was a much longer journey than I anticipated. Firstly, I attempted to install eprints onto an Ubuntu 16.04 virtual machine. This didn’t work, as eprints doesn’t have a Release file, so is completely incompatible with modern Ubuntu systems. Next I installed a Fedora virtual machine. The installation of standard eprints worked on this machine, but trying to use the Southampton University specific system brought up a handful of errors, mostly dependency issues. I counted, and noted down, at least 7 individual packages that were dependencies of the system that weren’t installed already. After installing each of these one by one, the installation eventually worked.

Seeing as I was to going to be writing unit tests for Perl code, it made sense to get a little bit of practice with the language. I hadn’t seen much of Perl before, and had never coded in it at all. My first experience with it was writing a script to check for the missing packages that had made installing eprints such a difficult process for me. This script, once added in before installing the rest of the packages, checks for the necessary packages, prints a message about any that are missing, and will abort the process if there are unmet dependencies.

The team also had a trip up to Boldrewood Wesnesday afternoon for our Lean Six Sigma white belt training. This is the first level of training in the course, and is all about improving efficiency in processes and reducing the number of defects per opportunity. I like the overall approach, especially the idea of blaming processes not people for the majority of problems, and the idea of getting management on board with changing processes to make them better for everyone involved. It is quite strongly driven by the idea of value for money, something that doesn’t quite resonate within iSolutions as we don’t have customers in the same respect, and aren’t being paid per product. I think this should be quite easy to get over though, instead of using money as a metric to measure against, using a feedback score or other performance metric to determine what a product or service is worth – striving to improve the day to day lives of students and academics rather than striving to turn a profit. It will be interesting to see how much of this will be implemented during the remainder of my time here on the internship, and if it works possibly the effect it has on the rest of my time at the university.

Posted in Perl, Programming, Training.

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