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The Whole Nine Yards for Two Square Blocks

December 7, 2012

This course has been singular even among all the other unique courses at this university. The fact that we had project proposals/presentations by institutions for almost 2 months and minimal technical instruction struck me that only those people who wanted to be here were here. All the projects including the one I myself have been involved in have been steered to safe shores by the able instructors. Rest assured, this course has been made by the undercurrent of the poignant moments.

I think the schism that exists between the technical audience (i.e., GT’s technical CS students) and the real world could be summed up in one statement – “one less geocoding request”. Xize and I were discussing our options to minimize the geolocation calls made to Google maps. We hit upon the idea that this could be achieved by offloading the geolocation to the server. This would solve the problem we had at hand. That was when I said loudly, “One less geocoding request”. Xize was content, and then I looked at Aarti Sharma (one of our collaborators) with triumph. She repeated the same statement I made, but it was like me trying to recite the opera. It was abundantly clear at that moment, even for me as an HCI student that we need to speak English – more importantly, common sense if we were to make any decent real world impact.

Probably the moment that iconized the cause we were involved in occurred when we were observing proceedings in court involving a juvenile offender. The father of the juvenile was asked what sort of correction plan he had in mind for his son. The father said that he would keep his son at home and let him play games on his XBox. Needless to say this wasn’t much of a plan but I think this was the moment which made a believer out of me. Until then, I did not think too much about the tagline “a child’s world is about two square blocks”. But when the father’s world is an XBox, one tends to more often than not to come to terms with this reality. The project kicked off that day and the rest has been rather smooth sailing.

When the presentations have been done and dusted is when the covers come off and it is time to go to work. And go to work we will, so that the 10 year old Dave may still play with Nancy and Elijah after school.

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