Congrats everyone!  Liftoff 2016 concluded on Tuesday and you have escape velocity out of SoC and are well on your way to starting your summer project! It’s helpful to have a recap of everything that happened, especially for those of you who are overseas.  Here’s where we sum it up in a single post so you can decide where to go from here.

Remember, for most teams’ Liftoff is a whirlwind tour of acronyms, and development.  It is a “throw you into the deep end” type of workshop where we pepper you with lots of technical material.  However, for many it will take a few weeks to start to get entirely oriented with what to do next.  Look to your advisors (and mentors) for help on Slack, call them out!  As explained at the beginning Liftoff is more a teaser for what you can do than a full fledged coding bootcamp costing K of dollars and with a much more substantial time commitment.  Do read the original post because it contains all of the links that may not show up on a feed.

There’s a YouTube playlist for all of the videos that we broadcasted (see original post for the URL), but where possible we’ve put up individual links below.  Do consult these for materials to revise, especially if the sessions went too fast — rewatch those we were able to capture to pick up where you fell of the track in the session!

Day 1

Introduction [ Link to Video and Slides ]

After showing a Code.org video, Min went over the three resources for Orbital: Slack, the Orbital website, and Skylab.  We went over the Orbital timeline — the three milestones, the optional Mission Control sessions and the mentorship program for PG / A11 students.  We then closed by reviewing the schedules and polling for the technical sessions that we were executing for Orbital.

went over the schedule for Orbital Liftoff this year.  We went over the three

Design Thinking – Fight Haze [ Link to Video and Slides ]

For the first long session, we are going over the design thinking workshop.

Go through the slides that Wee Sun has posted at http://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~leews/LiftOff.zip, and then after reviewing the materials, watch and do with your partner the entire Design Thinking Workshop Video from Wee Sun, which is modelled after the original material from Stanford.

Project Levels and Achievements [ Link to Video and Slides ]

We review the types of projects that you can do in Orbital (pretty much anything) and how to assess your level of achievement, and we review the two most FAQs: Is my project worth <X>? and Is it feasible to do Y for my project?  We also hosted the NOC group who made the stunning announcement that all Orbitees who complete their self-proclaimed mission are good to pass Round 1 interviews for their hallmark NUS program.  Min also went over 5 project ideas proposed by mentors which would be suitable for teams not clear about their project ideas.

As we pointed out too, you can have your Orbital experience overlap and align with programming contests locally and worldwide.

Consider this (non-exhaustive) list (now merged and enhanced from Shubham Goyal’s list too)

  • Google’s Cloud Developer Challenge
  • Using data.gov.sg to do merge two different data sets for interesting results!
  • code::Extreme::Apps (http://www.itsc.org.sg/code-xtremeapps-competition)
  • Hackathons organised by Newton circus mainly as part of its UP Singapore series http://www.upsingapore.com/events/. All hackathons are weekend-long and usually have some new datasets for the participants to play with.
  • angelhack (http://www.angelhack.com/; there’s one coming up AngelHack Singapore 2016  on 14-15 May this weekend!)
  • Developer Weekend (organised by NUS Student Chapter of the ACM, all SoC students receive an e-mail blast about it)
  • Hack&Roll (http://hacknroll.nushackers.org/) organized by NUS Hackers, the student organization that Jia Yee, David and Advay (all students in Orbital 2016 too) are a part of!
  • Startup Weekend (http://singapore.startupweekend.org/) – This is not strictly a hackathon though, but no one prevents you from treating it like one 😛
  • Facebook Singapore Hackathon .  This event has happened in 2014, and 2015, but not yet for 2016.  We don’t know if Facebook will organize it every year though.

Agile Practices [ Link to Video and Slides ]

Winston of Jolly Good Code has kindly made his presentation available to us.  You’ll probably want to have a re-look at the Agile software engineering methodology he presented to you once you get down to the nitty-gritty of actually starting on your project.

Basic HTML / CSS [ Link to Slides ]

Jia Yee went from NUS Hackers went over the basics of HTML and CSS: the heart of the structure and the style of all things web.  There’s quite a lot of things that can be done purely with good knowledge of HTML and CSS, including making an impressive web-based resume or website.  You can peer at the heart of any website you can find in any browser and study how their HTML looks like (but don’t worry if you can’t understand some of the syntax, most of the HTML out there in the wild is written by machine or frameworks, and their HTML is usually pretty messy.  Study these fundamentals well.

Min’s addendum:
– I taught this session using Codecademy’s exercises in previous years.  You can try that too, and/or follow the webcast from then.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRldW_Wc8c0
– You will probably use your fav search engine to find more information about HTML tags and CSS directives, but usually a search for “<tag name> html” will work.  The technical descriptions from w3schools.com is usually fairly good.  They have HTML and CSS tutorials there too.
– We’ll be going over an extension of this tutorial in Mission Control #1 on Bootstrap (a specific CSS extension for clean responsive web design) as well as JQuery (used extensively in making website feel more dynamic), which will be next week at 17 May here at the Hangar by Min.
– Geeky stuff: Tim Berners Lee started the web in 1991.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_World_Wide Web

Basic Droid Dev [ Link to Video and Slides ]

Min gave a quick overview of Droid describing different API levels of Droid, the difference between responsive Web applications and native apps (you may not need to build a Droid app to create a good project).  We then covered the building of a basic Hello World app using a basic activity, and then went to build the Create part of an application that can do the basic CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete) functionality.  We didn’t cover the Read part of the tutorial and the tips at the end, but we suggest that you complete the tutorial to get a working application.  The tutorial is adapted from another tutorial on CRUD for Student Databases for the Fight Haze application, available at https://www.codeofaninja.com/2013/02/android-sqlite-tutorial.html.  We’d suggest you work through that version for the full CRUD work.

There’s also Jun Wen’s previous talk on Droid Dev, from which the current session was modeled after: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emm07i1nWHI

Mentor Matching [ Link to Mentor profiles and Mentor projects ]

We finished the day with Mentor Matching back at I3 Auditorium.  Team interested in mentorship need to tell us by the end of today whom they would like for their mentor.  Read the pinned post on Midnight Mentor Madness -‘Morrow’s Mentor Matching Meetup pinned to the #general channel in Slack to get more details on the benefits of mentorship.  Do note that as in past years, some mentors are more popular than others, so be open-minded about whom you might want to work with if you are interested in getting a mentor. 

Day 2

How we hire by Charlotte Park of Google

Charlotte brought Jamie and Doug to help answer your questions about hiring at Google.  They took questions both in the session and outside the auditorium and referred us to some hints about how to prepare for the technical interview.  Charlotte mentioned the Work Rules book by Lazlo Bock https://www.workrules.net/  and mentioned the tech interview for more seasoned engineering (but still useful for all of you, that was just held last week): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyFxMpKn7yk

Python [ Link to Video and Slides ]

David from NUS Hackers went over this material.  Big up for David on his presentation over at The Hangar!  So at this point, you should have some gist of what python programming is like.  Practice makes things better and guess what — there’s no Bell Curve God for this module.  So take your time and get things done until you’re comfortable coding.  You can also ask your advisors for some tips — they will be really happy to share, trust me!

Alternative learning platforms for any language (Python of course, but others too!):

  • GrokLearning
  • LearnPython.org – Min uses this when he teaches this section.
  • Codecademy.com – Min uses this when he teaches this section, especially the lessons Advanced Topics in Python and The Devil’s in the Details
  • Udemy – A list of courses (w/ star-rated reviews; fee and non-fee)
  • Lynda – for fee, monthly subscription-based
  • Pythonfiddle.com
  • 20 minutes: AfterHoursProgramming Python Quiz http://www.afterhoursprogramming.com/tutorial/Python/Python-Quiz/
  • Laurence also recommends Learn Python the Hard Way (http://learnpythonthehardway.org/book/), part of the general Learn <X> the Hard Way series.
  • Here are the slides for the original version of the tutorial: python_tutorial.pdf . Note you can also find the videos of both parts of the Python tutorial online.  Google has a few versions of a Python tutorial that is much better than mine, I think but it may still be worth it to work through your understanding of Python.

There are lots of additional tricks in Python that you can try, so do try to figure them out.  Also important is to try to adopt the Python coding style, in the form of the PEP 8 “standard” or others: https://www.google.com.sg/search?q=python+style+guide For PG and A11 students: if you whizzed through our Py tutorial you can try watching some pretty advanced tips to get yourself more aligned to the Pythonic style:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OSGv2VnC0go#!  Even seasoned (salted or pickled) Pythonistas benefit from watching this from time to time.

Project Gemini / Apollo 11: Teams aiming for a bit more than the standard project can try to do a mobile app or other project — it’s up to you. If you’re interested in still doing a web application, don’t necessarily corner yourself into using Py/GAE.  There are many frameworks you can try.  You could try Ruby on Rails (my personal favorite web framework, and experience that Winston was sharing is highly sought for in SG).  A few of our mentors are also Rails specialists, but Python / GAE is also a good combo, and many of the advisors will be able to help you with that.  Explore what’s right for you.

Google App Engine [ Link to Slides ]

Please note that you need the materials to follow along http://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~leews/LiftOff.zip . Unfortunately, the recording did not go through, so you can check the related tutorial on Google App Engine (GAE) from Wee Sun’s recording from last year.

Ruby on Rails [ Link to Slides ]

In addition to Jia Yee’s intro, for RoR, Min highly recommends following some of the online tutorials.  Min used Pragmatic’s Agile Web Development with Rails 4 as his method for learning Rails and once taught a full day workshop to his research group from this book.  https://pragprog.com/book/rails4/agile-web-development-with-rails-4 .

Presentation Skills [ Link to Video and Slides ]

Presented by Min, with assistance from slides originally from Darshini Santhanam, of Google SG.  We watched two videos on Steve Jobs presenting the MacBook Air and a video by Michael Hyatt from Platform University about making a useful elevator pitch complete with the key problem statement.  In the original presentation in 2014, Darshini also showed the before and after of Eric Schmidt, now chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

YouTube videos referenced:  1) Eric Schmidt [before] Public Speaking Class http://youtu.be/bA1I6MUOKkU . 2) Macworld San Francisco 2008-The MacBook Air Intro (Pt. 1) 3) http://youtu.be/OIV6peKMj9M 3) Elevator Pitch Winner – Katie Sunday https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqIEE-g_-Uc 4) Eric Schmidt [after] – Zeitgeist Americas 2013 http://youtu.be/hUPnhKf_Cnw

Web Requests and Server Frameworks [ Link to Slides ]

Xinyu, one of our Orbital advisors this year, also gave a fun-filled talk on the acronym and alphabet soup of learning development, and unpeeling the many layers of doing development.  Dive in and get dirty, is what we’d do — you’re never going to get the perfect set up before trying things out. 😀 😀

Min also gave a related lecture on similar topics here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0Bu223_NmY .

Zhi An from NUS Hackers also covered the basic structure of the web in his session last year, available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpbK78yt8RE#t=108.  Slides and everything else for the presentation are at http://ngzhian.github.io/orbital/#/

Git Basics [ Link to Slides ]

Advay of NUS Hackers came to give the final technical session on using Git.  He went over many of the core commands on git that you will need to be familiar with throughout your life as a developer.
You may also find that Laurence’s session in last year’s Orbital specifically on git use and management would be helpful for those who have gotten git to install but don’t know what to do with it.  Please find the session here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2-hJivIXZU (Slides are here: http://geeksphere.net/Orbital-Git-Workshop/)

Ignition

Find yourself onstage for teams present in either the i3 Auditorium or in the Hangar for teams, as associated with particular advisors’ evaluation groups.  All teams need to have completed their mandatory, 1 minute pitch or recording if they are taking Orbital.
  • i3 Auditorium [ Video and Slides ]
  • The Hangar [ Video and Slides ]
  • Extras [ Video and Slides ]

Orbital workflow and Skylab [ Link to Skylab and Video ]

Min gave the final sessions late after Ignition to cover how to go through Skylab to file your Milestones and to evaluate other teams.  Please watch this or revise this video again when it comes close to the first Milestone timing.

Related videos from previous Orbitals

Min also posted this video to YouTube to help some students come to grips with all the new shiny code that they learned in the Google App Engine session.  You may find this lo-fi video helpful to fill in some gaps in your understanding of what all the parts of the web work.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC6hacD5Dcs

Students from previous years also found self-studying from the Udacity web application course also very useful for general awareness of “How the web works”. Some of the sessions may be on YouTube for free:  http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=cs253+udacity

This source of information is probably very useful for those of us whom learn best by watching.  The Udacity course is pretty long but much more principled in its way of introducing materials to you in a “lecture” format, instead of dumping you all in the thick of GAE like we have done.

Other useful links (aka Lobang) by you, advisors, mentors and tutors:

  • Trello (http://trello.com/), recommended by Juliana.  This service is pretty good for developing user stories and tracking feature requests, a la Agile.
  • General Assembly’s *free* workshop on “So you want to be a developer”, feat. mentor Laurence and Google folks, David Zhu.  Need to register, please do so soon!
  • Github Student Developer Pack (https://education.github.com/), recommended by Xinyu and Nicolas
  • Microsoft DreamSpark for NUS students.  Sign in to download Windows Products, inclusive of Server level products.  (http://bit.ly/orbital16-msdreamspark)
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) Educate for Student (https://aws.amazon.com/education/awseducate/)

Got others?  Do a mention of them on #general in Slack.

Good luck and see you on Slack and around in Mission Control!

saturn-v-separation1

 

550For those of you that have signed up for Orbital and do not yet have partners, no worries!

We have this event specially scheduled for you, to help you find a prospective teammate.

Wednesday (20 April) 16:3017:30 at the newest, coolest NUS Enterprise space: The Hangar (I3 Building; Level 1; 21 Heng Mui Keng Terrace, opposite Sheares and Kent Ridge Halls)

During this event, we’ll be having some catered light snacks and we will be provisioning you with the list of other invited students (very soon) that have similar interests to you.

Be sure to let us know whether you’re coming or not (for catering counts!) by replying to this email or by shouting out to everyone on our #findacopilot Slack channel (didn’t you add yourself already to our class’ Slack?)

Update: The event is over !  Thanks to all of you who’ve stopped by and had a cookie or a sub or a drink or all three!  Those who are still seeking partners, fret not.  There is still time to find a partner (via Slack’s #findacopilot, and during Liftoff itself).

Awesome Possum!Slack for iOS Upload

 

 

 

 

Pics from the Hangar.  Thanks NUS Enterprise for the space!

Courtesy: vandycft @ Flickr

The mentorship programme, where student teams also get advisement from other industry professional and senior students, has been recently revamped.  We hope more teams will opt to take on mentorship as a means of getting additional support and encouragement on their projects (or even getting project ideas from their mentors).  The mentorship programme allows both Project Gemini and Apollo 11 teams to get support, in exchange for the commitment to work towards completing Orbital and keeping their mentors informed of their project.

Take a look at the mentorship page for more comprehensive details for both prospective mentors and mentee teams.

Min made a new trailer video for 2016, with key modifications to the dates for Liftoff 2016.  Check it out (it’s in the sticky post at the very top when you visit the Orbital website as well).

Registration for Orbital is not yet open, but if you’ve heard the intro in your classes, or just learned about Orbital, stay tuned for information about the Orbital information briefing and how to register here on this website, or via Facebook or in your respective classes’ IVLE forums.

Do start planning to reserve at least the Monday and Tuesday after exams are open to be able to attend the mandatory Liftoff workshop.

If you have specific queries, please contact Min <kanmy@comp.nus.edu.sg>.  We will be setting up an FAQ to handle questions about timeline, eligibility, levels of achievement and other details.

 

Photo credits from: Zig Ziglar @ Flickr

Congratulations to all of the 137 Orbitee teams for completing the programme!  You’re the big winners in forming your own projects and navigating through all the summer hazards to finish your projects.  No doubt that you had wanted to call it quits at some point and wanted to have someone to help guide you a bit more closely.  But you persevered, insisted that you would stay the course, and won the battle against yourself.  You realised the only barrier to your progress was yourself and the fuel was your self-ignited passion.  You return from your summer journey changed, more confident of your own abilities and clear about how you can find your path forward in any technical scenario.

Splashdown featured a number of ways that you can take your work in Orbital forward, which both SoC (through our Entrepreneurship division) and the University (NUS Enterprise, especially NUS Overseas Colleges) have paved for you.  Do weigh these opportunities and assess whether they are appropriate for you.

And now for the formal awards:

  • Congratulations to Flying Banana’s Juliana Seng and Renfred Choo for receiving the public’s Best Vostok Project Award, which comes with a trip to the insides of Google SG HQ and an exclusive Google insiders programme to be revealed later!
  • Congratulations to Threemoji’s Yong Yoong Jie John and Sebastian Quekfor receiving the public’s Best Project Gemini Award (duking it out with 68 other teams), which comes with a trip to the insides of Google SG HQ and an exclusive Google insiders programme to be revealed later!

And finally …

  • Congratulations to Rocky Chicks’ Lim Ta Eu and Tay Jie Hao for receiving the public’s Best Apollo 11 Award, which comes with a trip to the insides of Google SG HQ and an exclusive Google insiders programme to be revealed later! They’ll be a force to be reckoned with!

Although you are the stars of Orbital (yes, you are!), there’s a whole host of SoC staff, alumni and senior students and groups that make this happen.  This programme does not happen anywhere else in the whole currently, so be proud that you are here in NUS SoC.  Go SoC!

This is our last post from 2015 by the Orbital-Bot so we’ll be seeing you around the school.  Signing off!

– Orbital Staff.

P.S. > If you find yourself wondering how you can contribute back to Orbital, you’ll have a way soon!  We’ll be calling for interviews for 2016 advisors and tutors at the beginning of Sem II, so reserve some time for it in your 2016 summer.  It’s ok if you are overseas and we draw students from all levels of Orbital, so just apply already! 

Artwork courtesy Shindelrock.com

As we come to the end of the summer and the beginning of Sem 1, many of you may be feeling the pressure to complete Orbital.  Especially those of you participating in summer camps, O Week or other semester-start activities, please do plan your schedule with your partner well, as the last milestone is notorious for causing teams to drop who do not plan ahead.

Well, we’re here to help too.  To help keep the milestones well-spaced, we’re extending the deadline for Milestone 3 back one additional week.  For those who don’t need it, no worries — get it done as planned.  But for those who are feeling the heat of re-entry as we head towards Splashdown, you now have a bit more time before the goalpost.  So to summarise:

Evaluation Milestone 3 is now due on 3 Aug 23:59 SGT.
Peer feedback on Milestone 3 is now due on 10 Aug 23:59 SGT.

(The deadlines on the Orbital calendar on Google Calendar have already been updated, please take note)

Introducing Swift

Swift is a new general-purpose compiled programming language developed by Apple. Described as “Objective-C without the C”, it aims to do away with some of the legacy drawbacks of using C as a basis for a modern programming language.

We invite Orbitees and the general public to learn about this new programming language’s basic differences, through experimenting in the Swift 2 playgrounds. An introductory level of knowledge of various programming languages will be assumed. To fully benefit from the hands-on part of this workshop, you will need to have an Apple Developer account and have Xcode (beta) installed on your computer.

Note that this presentation will be a pre-recorded video due to the presenter’s overseas travel. Presented by Min, NUS Orbital Staff.

Untitled[Hope you had a great time with our Mission Control sessions so far!  Support your Orbital alumni and learn and network with them!]

Join us for our first mission control session at Blk 71 (the startup haven next to NUS across the AYE) next Tuesday evening.  We hope to host many of your who are local to SG this summer at this nice venue outside of SoC.

Savin (Orbital alumn and tutor) will be giving this beginning level tutorial / workshop, and like the other MC session will feature approximate one hour of tutorial and hands-on, followed by time on your own to work with your partners on your Orbital project.

jQuery is a concise and fast JavaScript library that can be used to simplify event handling, HTML document traversing, Ajax interactions and animation for speedy website development. jQuery simplifies the HTML’s client-side scripting, thus simplifying Web 2.0 applications development.

This introduction is open to the public and will feature a hands-on exercise using jQuery.

Presenter: Savin Varshney, NUS
Date: Wednesday, 3 Jun 2015
Time: 18.00 – 21.00

venue

sponsors

Photo Credits: FreeFotoUK @ Flickr

Whoa! We have a record-breaking 300+ students who are of part of Orbital this coming summer!
Due to the overwhelming demand we are closing registration for Orbital to non-SoC students and students not recommended by NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) to join.  Fret not if you are already “in” (read: in the Slack team) and from another faculty or from NUS High, you’re already part of our big big family!

See you all soon!

You may already be in the know, but our School also hosts a real big bash at the end of the semester (happening tonight, Wednesday night from 6-10pm).  It’s called the SoC Term Project Showcase (STePS) and it’s a larger version of Orbital’s Splashdown showcase.

Tonight is the 6th STePS, and it will be bringing together your seniors in the 2xxx, 3xxx and 4xxx (and even some of the exciting postgraduate modules) who have done term projects in their respective modules.  They’ll also be doing their project presentations just like you will at the end of Orbital.  Drop by for a visit to learn about

Formal registration (with food) is closed already, but you can always drop by this evening.  Expect it to be *very* crowded but full of excitement!  Check out the details on the STePS website for more: http://steps.comp.nus.edu.sg/.

Yeah! — Go SOC!