At IBM Hursley

Week 4 : Two thirds to go

by Abbie Oliver

Hursley has become very friendly maze. Everyone is very willing to help and offer assistance, in the case that an IBMer is not in the best position to offer the advice, we get quickly diverted to the person that is. Navigation through the Hursley site has remained to be a combination of finding our office and the nearest coffee bar and navigating to and from those areas. Sam (RD&V) and Josh (Rasberry FishPi) have assumed the roles of nannies. As they both have worked in IBM Hursley for the year previous, they escort the rest of us (me anyway) to where we need to be safely and on time J.

We have now given 2 presentations to the Hursley lab. At first these presentations were daunting, but with a lot of preparation and the positive feedback from the first presentations we are all now quite confident. We use these presentations as an opportunity to invite interested IBMers along for feedback and ideas. Between the four groups, our mentors and managers we have pulled a fairly big crowd each week, and it will be really great if that continues. Although daunting it will all add up to preparation for the expo, week 12, which could be an entirely different ball game. The weekly presentations act as a breeding ground for discussions and suggestions. In the days following, IBMers from all over Hursley pop down to our office to talk through ideas and offer help.

This week has been very exciting in particular for Chatty Web. It has been one of the first weeks that the technicians have had time to develop interesting features in response to the meetings that we have had in and around the site with visually impaired users. One of the main challenges has been to not get carried away with all of the really neat features that we could add, and stay focused on those that really add value to the user. We are documenting all of the cool ideas that we have so that they can be implemented at a later stage if our focus groups respond positively to them.

On Extreme Blue you can take 6 days off. The first of which Chris and I took this Friday: Chris has a considerably better reason than myself! In Bolton at the weekend Chris is competing to become Iron Man! A race that cover over 100 miles Miles swimming, running and cycling. We are all backing him! And if / WHEN he becomes Iron Man he will dress all week in red and lightning lycra, watch this space for photos. I on the other hand will be achieving little more than eating home cooked food and visiting my family in Essex. Monique’s family has also been in Winchester visiting, so Monique had the afternoon off for a leisurely lunch. Nitin on the other hand, refused to take the day/ afternoon off and held the fort for team chatty web in the dungeon that is the Extreme Blue office.

With 8 weeks to go, team Chatty Web has a very busy schedule, at the end of week 5 we are hoping for our first release. All features and deadlines have been met so far to make this a possibility and our first release deadline will be met (everything crossed). With that first release we are hoping to demo it to visually impaired people on site and use the IBM Human Factors lab (will be explained later = SUPER COOL).  We will then have a few days to rectify any problems that we find with the demo. After development time the Chatty Web team will then travel to #RLSB in London to have a day testing out different software and demos, holding focus groups and deciding the direction for the remaining weeks.

All 4 Extreme Blue projects are developing at a rapid rate! If you are in Hursley please come along to our weekly update presentations (which will be held in the auditorium – email me for full details) If you are outside of Hursley all activity will be posted here, any ideas or suggestions please feel free to comment/email.

IBM: First Impressions

By Monique Henson

We’ve been at IBM Hursley for about two weeks now, but it’s taking some getting used to.  This is partly due to the sheer size of the place, but also due to the atmosphere. The site is huge, and somehow includes a pub/clubhouse (which is technically offsite, but you wouldn’t realize), tennis courts and a massive country house. I’ve just about figured out how to get to the canteen, but that’s about it. I’m dreading the day when I get invited to a meeting in a mystery room and can’t find my way there! Yet I think I find the atmosphere the hardest thing to get used to – not because it’s bad in any way, in fact it’s quite the opposite. I’ve never been in (let alone worked in) such a relaxed working environment.

It’s quite refreshing to find a workplace where people are genuinely enthusiastic about their work and they put in the hard work because they enjoy what they’re doing.

I’ll leave explaining what we’ve been working on so far for another blog post (and maybe another person). Instead, I’ll try to give an insight into what it’s like to take part in Extreme Blue. The first thing to realize is that all 16 interns (4 teams, each with 4 people) live together. In this way the internship feels slightly like a reality tv show, and you almost find yourself looking for the hidden cameras. We also all work in the same room (photos to follow), and pretty much do everything together. This sounds like it could be a potential nightmare, but so far it’s been really fun. We’re all getting on pretty well, aided by numerous (after work) pub visits, and we even all clubbed in together to surprise one intern on their 21st birthday. His team lured him away from the Extreme Blue office and on arriving back to the room he found us all in party hats, yelling surprise and blowing on party blowouts. It hasn’t all been birthday parties though – we even found time to make a fort! I can’t take any credit for it, but it is pretty impressive. If you want to find out about more, follow us on Twitter (@ExtremeBlueUK), as all four teams will be tweeting regularly.

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