Genius Day Recap

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

Ahh, so Genius Day has come and gone; the presentations were Monday morning where everyone showed off their great ideas. I’m going to do a quick run-down of everyone’s project as succinctly and accurately as I can, some of them were quite technical and went completely over my head, so I’ll do my best. Everyone had to present for at least 2 minutes but no more than 5 minutes, which was followed by a Q&A session. Now, if you concentrate you can hear it, it’s Oprah saying “Geeeeeeeeeeniusssssss”… and so we begin.

First on the docket was Shaun.

Shaun: Form Validation Made Easy

This is exactly the kind of presentation that went over my head. Luckily I was able to track Shaun down after his presentation and find out what he was talking about. Shaun worked with HTML web forms to solve two recurring problems, duplicated code and some inconsistency in the way error messages are presented. Shaun was unfortunately unable to finish because when his five minutes were up, his presentation was shut-down…in mid-sentence.

Pete: Passing XML in C# –> SQL Table Value Parameter

Okay, I talked to Pete after his presentation as well, and this is what we have: Pete found a way to pass XML in C# to SQL Tables much faster, reducing the speed that it takes from about 20 seconds to instantly, I think.  It was pretty obvious from the title onwards that I wasn’t really going to understand this one.

Allan, a relaxed manAllan:  Installing System Centre Essentials

Allan can correct me if I’m wrong here, but I’m pretty sure his project was to install some software that’s going to make his job a little bit easier. It’s a Network Management Tool, and his genius day project was…learning how to use it? Allan might have to explain this one to me again.

Alistair:  Product Enhancement

Finding a way to enable customers to input extra information (such as the dimensions of a tent) and owner management in Acumen that when owner’s reserve their own properties.  Owners now can change their mind and cancel their own booking without calling the head office. These enhancements are forum led.

Fahim:  Wireless Internet

Fahim decided to look into the idea of wireless internet and wireless electricity (and also video SEO). If internet can be wireless, why not electricity too. Personally, I thought wireless electricity = batteries but I might be wrong there (apparently it’s a very trendy emerging topic for researchers). He explored the idea of speech recognition and how to upload a video (for example, onto YouTube) and instead of physically implanting metadata, let the content be trawled for words spoken instead of keywords. This might also be done through time-based metatags. It was also my personal favourite presentation, well done Fahim.

Ashley:  Google Maps in Mercury

Ashely used the version 2 map API and looked into the feasibility of putting GoogleMaps into Mercury. Craig quickly pointed out that perhaps this might have been time better served with Bing, (sorry MS) but hey, moving on. Ashley documented 5 major steps in the map creation: Initial Screen, Loading Properties, Centre on Property, Zooming and Viewing Regions.

Jami Dodger: Making your journey sweeterInfinity (AKA Cheryl, Andrew and Louise):  Taking the Biscuit

This group came up with an ingenious project for our special day, an iPhone application called Jami Dodger with the tagline: Making your journey sweeter. This was the winning idea of the day, and I have been told to keep my little typing fingers to myself when it comes to describing this project, so all I’ll say is that it’s a traffic app. There. Done. Please don’t shoot.

Jeff:  Pat Testing Implementation (PATTI)

A Pat test ensures electric appliances are safe for use. Currently the date/outcome of these PAT tests is recorded manually on a sheet of paper…with a pen and paper. Well, this is a tech office – no one should ever have to use a pen and paper unless it is to label your food in the fridge. What Jeff has come up with is a web-based application that allows users to record their testing, separate logins will keep track of who did the testing and when, and it will be coded using MVC2 with SQL database.

Anthony:  Client-Side Table Sorting

Anthony created a wrapper for Tr@veller data tables.  What will the wrapper do, you ask?  The wrapper will eliminate the need to hit the server every time we want to sort the data contained within it.  It is an extension of the TableSorter plugin for jQuery.  Some of the benefits include improved page-load time, increased security and less time spent during development.

Saeed:  Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Reports in Report Builder 3.0

Saeed’s presentation on Genius Day was a very in-depth guide to getting the most out of Report Builder 3.0. He explained how to create simple reports, sub-reports, how to set-up visibility controls, databases and basically discussed everything you need to know about creating a report. The step-by-step process was clear and informative for anyone just starting to use report builder or for someone who wants to expand their usage.

John P:  Denva – Display Typeface, Work in ProgressA QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG = the legible version

Well, the first thing John is going to tell anyone who asks about his typeface is that the name of the typeface as it is now (Denva) will change. That aside let’s look at what he did. John came up with his own font. He found a company logo, was struck by the image of it, and then styled an entire alphabet around it through a rather gruelling creative process.  The alphabet is only in uppercase for a couple reasons, one is that it is not a font for mass consumption (it’s hard to read all together) but would work in single letter/word blocks, and the other is that letters like the I and J already incorporate the dots. 

Claire:  No One Likes Conflict

It took me a while to figure out this title, but I understand now, Claire’s project was on resolving conflicts between Issues in the release process. She wrote a Babel release process checker which can be used for UAT or Live Releases.

Shui:  Getting Blood From A Stone

Basically, Shui detailed the process for answering the phone on weekends when there are fewer people available to help with queries. He lists the appropriate questions to ask, the basics of issue investigation and finally when, how and to whom calls should be escalated.

Steve M:  PHP Babel Helper

Steve looked into a way to standardise Babel for Web developers. Apparently PHP web developers sometimes need a little help interfacing to .NET Web Services and the majority of people prefer clients like PHP/MySQL websites. Steve attempted to provide a standard class with an example method with mirrors the Babel message set. This isn’t a completed project but Steve was able to lay the foundation and hopes to find the time to finish it.

Steve didn't win first place, even though he's doing the Hussain BoltSteve E:  MEF

MEF as in Manage d Extensibility Framework…not the recently banned substance. Okay, I’m going to admit, I definitely cheated on this summary, I have Steve’s slides, and I may plagiarise a bit here – sorry. So, what is MEF? MEF is a Microsoft library for .NET and provides a standard method for host applications to consume external extensions (plugins). So far, Steve has found that importing External Session providers works and it can scan a sub folder of the Host Application’s bin folder for dll’s, scans those for exported. Well, now you know as much as I do, and if you understood that, significantly more. Steve also joined Shaun’s club when he was cut-off mid-sentence due to timing.

Darren:  Time Tracker

Darren wrote a program that was a stop watch. He added the options from Issue Tracker so you could use a drop-down menu and choose the type of work you are doing, and then start the timer. The clock has the extra capabilities of being able to manage more than one issue at a time, so if you stop working on something you can stop one timer, start a new timer, and pick the first back up later.

Chris H:  SVN Commits Logger using jQuery/AJAX

Right, I have no slides to help me on this one, Chris wanted to create a program that auto-formatted files in different codes. Using AJAX he wanted to make it so issues were updated automatically when someone works on them. Chris also wanted to add breadcrumbs (the navigational tool at the top of pages, showing the progression from your original page to the one you’re on) for issue tracker. Apparently some of this stuff has already been accomplished somewhere, but Chris got points for independently deciding they were good ideas.

Noy:  Picture Browsing Web Service

Noy created an application that harnesses the power of a web service to allow rapid image browsing (you know how long it takes to flip through pictures on Facebook…it fixes that). He used ASP.NET and Ajax to set up the slideshow. This application lets you flip through pictures without having to reload the page. It was built with a simple architecture using file system objects and http requests and is highly customisable.

Kris of Kris and KerryKris and Kerry:  Three Topics

Kris and Kerry had three pieces to their project, a User Interface for the Babel Log, Updating Testing Document and some Panel Comics. Kris wanted to make the testing criterion for Reporting Services more formal than it is now. Kerry and Kris also wanted to make the Babel Log simpler to use for those less technically minded (a blow across the bow to Project Managers, grumbling in the audience ensued). They also added different ways of searching the log. Kris finally wanted to add some small comics into the Web Applications RSS feed, which I think is a great idea. It’s no secret I have love for those web comics.

John S: MVC and jQuery Photo Blog

John wanted to create a place to view photos that looks better/more professional than Flickr. The intention of this photo blog is what it sounds like, photos connected to a blog, that way the photographer can write a summary for the photograph, explaining inspiration or why a particular picture was important. John really wanted to use jQuery to make everything look pretty.

Rashid:  SQL Reports Deployment (Programmatically)

At the moment there are only two ways to deploy a report on a server, meaning choices are limited. Rashid came up with a new way to get a bunch of files on the server very quickly through a new deployment method. The participants include: SSRS Web Service, test reports, an application to exploit the web service, report server.

So, at the end of the day, some prizes were awarded. First though, honourable mentions included John P, Claire, Steve M. and Rashid.  Now, for the winners:

1st Place:  Cheryl, Andrew and Louise

2nd Place:  Kris/Kerry

3rd Place:  Steve E

UPDATE——–

I forgot that Chris H. received an honourable mention as well.  I apologise to Chris for any distress caused by this omission.  Please forgive me.