Summer bloggin’, happened so fast

Philip has suggested I return to blogging as I continue my research this summer, and I agree that it would be a good idea. At the end of the Spring semester, I was thinking I would develop my proposal over the summer and defend before the Fall semester started. However, after discussion with Philip and Dave Nixon, it became clear that there was no way we could be ready to start the experiment in the fall, so rushing to complete the proposal this summer was probably not the best plan.

The area I’m planning to explore is how to use computers to facilitate collaboration between people in close physical proximity (such as people on the same floor of a building) as they try to reduce their electricity usage. In order to figure out what kind of computer support would be useful, we need the power data from the electrical meters in a format that allows rapid analysis and visualization. To that end, I’m developing a repository for power data that will support the Google Visualization data source API so that I can display the data using their nice gadgets. I’ll also be developing a client that reads the power data from the meters and inputs it into the repository. This repository system is called WattDepot, and has a Google Code project of that name.

The major tasks I’m working on this summer are:

  • Develop WattDepot to the point that it can slurp up data from the Obvius power meters and display it using the Google Visualization API gadgets (in particular, the annotated time line gadget).
  • Write up user scenarios for how people would actually use the system to collaborate on reducing power usage. What do they need to see to be motivated to conserve? In a typical office, what are the viable options for reducing power usage that are open to the occupant?
  • Brainstorm the research questions and specific hypotheses that I want to test in the experiment.
  • Mock up the user interface required to support the user scenarios.

Going into the fall semester, I will be developing the collaboration web app, designing the experiment in detail, and writing up my proposal for defense before the end of the semester. This should ensure that everything is ready to begin the experiment in the spring 2010 semester.

In other news, I’m applying for a research assistantship from the REIS project for the fall semester. This forced me to write a CV, which is a first for me (previously I’ve only had resum├ęs). I used LaTeX for this task, naturally. The blessing and curse of LaTeX is that there are umpteen zillion CV packages out there, and many people seem to roll their own too. I ended up using the moderncv class, and can’t say I’m 100% satisfied with it. However, a comprehensive comparison of the many CV classes would have taken too much time. Maybe I’ll switch packages the next time I need to revise the CV.

Other accomplishments from last week:

  • Wrote cover letter for RA application
  • Wrote up CV for RA application
  • Compiled Hackystat from source using new Ivy-enabled version
  • Mostly got up to speed on Hackystat/CSDL development environment

Pointers to work products:

Plans for this week:

  • Finish getting WattDepot build environment working
  • Get WattDepot responding to ping API (ala Hackystat sensorbase)
  • Read through sensorbase REST API
  • Read Google Visualization data source API and libraries
  • Start work on WattDepot REST API
  • Write down initial thoughts on research questions
  • Start porting over Derby code from sensorbase to WattDepot

Cool links:

  • TheBus (Oahu’s mass transit system) has a beta website where you can track upcoming bus arrivals for a particular bus stop. I’ve been wanting this forever, so hopefully it is accurate (haven’t had a chance to use it in practice yet). Here are the arrivals for the Sinclair Circle bus stop. Also, the site is very mobile friendly, which makes perfect sense.

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