Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Personal Blog 2

A week before I was going to move to Manchester for the training, I’d started shopping for general household items. Even though I was told that I’d be provided with all these items, I thought it’d be good to bring my own spare items just in case. So I’d finished all the shopping by Sunday, the day before I was going to move to Manchester. I can honestly say that I wasn’t nervous in the slightest; I was extremely excited to move to a new city after spending my whole life in one place.

On the Monday, I set out pretty early so that I could make it to my apartment in good time, making sure there was plenty of time for any breaks I’d need. When I finally arrived outside my apartment building, I was really impressed with the surrounding area. It really looked like a major city, compared to where I was from anyway. I received my key to my apartment and went in to organise all my stuff. Once 12:30pm came, I made my way down to the QA office for the first time since my assessment day. Once I’d arrived, we were given a small presentation about what we’d be doing and then we went straight into learning a bit of Java.

At first, I found the Java to be relatively straight forward, but as it got more complicated, I started to struggle a bit. Even though we’d only be learning Java in a week, I felt like I was falling behind already. However, towards the end of the week, I started to understand the language a lot better. I wasn’t an expert in Java by any means by the end, but I definitely learnt a lot. Even though it was a pretty intense week of learning Java, I definitely enjoyed it.

Week two came about and it was time to learn about Continuous integration and DevOps. Again, I was struggling with the topic a bit. However, this time I noticed that it wasn’t a small minority as it was with Java. It seemed that most other people in my group were relatively new to the topic and were so we were all in the same boat. In the course, I learnt how to use a command terminal more efficiently, learnt how to setup a virtual machine which I used to learn how to use CentOS and Ubuntu, and how to manually install programs. Again, I enjoyed the week a lot and loved to learn about the topic.

For week three, we weren’t going to be at the QA office because a new group had just joined and there wasn’t enough space for everyone. Since my group was now moving on to Enterprise Architecture, we didn’t need to use computers as much as everyone else, so we were moved to The Lowry Theatre. I wasn’t going to complain because this took 10 minutes off my commute, however it was right next to The Lowry Outlet so the temptation to not make lunch and just go to the food court everyday was very high. I gave in to the temptation and stopped making lunch for myself. In my next blog, I will write about Enterprise Architecture and the two weeks that followed.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Technical Blog 1

I have decided to do my technical blog on the effects of space travel on the human body and how the is used to minimise these effects. It is well known that an astronaut is very vulnerable and putting themselves at risk when they go into space. Being in space can have many negative effects on a person. This can range from physiological problems, such as the loss of bone mass, to psychological problems, such as loneliness and depression. Bones and muscles lose a significant portion of their mass while a person is in space, Blood flow and fluids in the body are disturbed and must adapt to the change in gravity. Other issues that astronauts face are those like loneliness and depression. Being alone with the same few people for months at a time can have a huge psychological impact on people. These blogs will discuss the issues and dangers that astronauts face before, during and after spaceflight, and how technology is used to minimise them.

Before someone even considers going into space there are a number of areas that they need to be trained in and that they need to learn to adapt to. A couple of things that they learn about are medical procedures and survival training. A great deal of training that astronauts undergo involves simulating an environment similar to space to help them learn to adapt to those environments and to test them to see if they would be physically and mentally fit enough for an expedition into space[1].

As well as before spaceflight, there are many precautions that need to be taken by astronauts while they’re in space. One major health risk that astronauts face during their space expeditions is loss of muscle mass. Prolonged exposure to microgravity and the feeling of “almost weightlessness” means that muscles don’t work anywhere near as hard as they would on Earth. Hence, they lose a lot of mass very quickly. To minimise this, space shuttles are equipped with various specially designed exercise machines which astronauts must consistently use.

After spaceflight, an astronaut has to must go through rehabilitation. Due to the sudden change from microgravity to Earth gravity, astronauts’ bodies become incredibly weak. Because of this they are usually carried out of the shuttle by a rescue team after landing. Although there are slight differences, the technology used in post flight recovery is very similar to that used while in space.
While a lot of the technology used through the process of space travel is to minimise health problems, there are also measures taken to minimise hazards and to increase practicality. For example, food is freeze-dried and dehydrated. This allows two things. It allows the ability to take more food in to space and it also allows the food to last longer before it expires.

In my next blogs, I will discuss the use of technology before and during space flight in further detail as well as discussing how spacecrafts are built so that they can safely journey into space and return with minimal negative consequences.

[1] Astronauts in Training, Shelley Canright, April 9 2009.
[2] Schneider SM, Amonette WE, Blazine K, Bentley J, Lee SM, Loehr JA, Moore AD Jr, Rapley M, Mulder ER, Smith SM. (November 2003). "Training with the International Space Station interim resistive exercise device.". Medical Science Sports Exercise 35 (11): 1935–45

Friday, 16 September 2016

Personal Blog 1

My interest in technology did not take off until I was in my third year at University. Until I had started my A levels, I didn’t have the slightest clue about the career path I wanted to take, or even what course I wanted to study at university. I had picked Maths, Physics, Biology, and Chemistry as my subjects for A levels mainly because I was quite proficient with maths and enjoyed it and because science was my second best subject at GCSE. It was at this point that I had sparked an interest in Physics. The concepts of how the entire Universe worked really fascinated me; especially when events caused by the largest stars can produce very similar results to that of the tiniest particles. My interest in physics as well as my proficiency in maths made it seem like the perfect subject to study for me.

Although I enjoyed physics, there was another subject that I wasn’t familiar with, but had always wanted to learn more about. I loved technology and computers. Through my years at University, I was taught the fundamentals of programming through the languages R and C. My interest in computers and programming increased in my second year when I attempted to program a robot dog to complete various tasks using the language Arduino. My supervisor suggested that I switch to using Python. Although the project wasn’t a complete success I enjoyed it a lot and started to consider learning more about computers and getting a career in IT. In my third year my dissertation project was based on using R to analyse data produced as a result of a Tidal Disruption Event. The event happens when a black hole starts to slowly swallow a passing star. Although the concept of a tidal disruption event fascinated me, using R wasn’t something I enjoyed. I found that even though I was better at using R than at using Python, I enjoyed using Python more.

After I’d finished University, my passion for technology really spiked. I enjoy playing video games and it’s a well-known fact that PCs are a lot more powerful than consoles and can run games a lot better. For me, this resulted in a lot of time spent researching about computer hardware and the best combinations of hardware to use. I just fell in love with computers. It was around this point that I really wanted to get into the technology industry and started to try and learn how to program. I used Codecademy to learn how to program using Java. Although I got through the exercises on the website, the content seemed to be slightly limited. In any case, I enjoyed it.

Fast forward a couple of months and I received a phone call from QA Consulting. I had a phone interview, after which I was invited to go to Manchester for an assessment day. I seemed to have nerves of steel about the day. Until the actual day when the nerves kicked in. Fortunately though, the assessment day was a lot more relaxed and the people were very friendly. I feel this was a good tactic to get people relaxed and to be themselves. Even though I felt that I had done terribly, I received a call and was offered a traineeship. To say I was excited would be an understatement.