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CSSA  September 2009

CSSA September 2009

Subject:

CatTrack Updates - Positive Polly

From:

Michael Evan Karpeles <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Computer Science Student Association <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 5 Sep 2009 02:25:55 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (94 lines)

First off, excuse my spelling, in advance. It's kind of late. There  
are a few sections to this email. First part is for Chris (and all  
others interested in reading). Second part is updates -- what we've  
done on the project so far. Third part are FAQs (questions and answers  
from Andrew and Chris's emails). The last part is for everyone on how  
we should proceed.

*Chris*
You definitely have valid points. There are a few reasons why I think  
live tracking would still be a good idea (but know I am very open to  
persuasion and we should continue to discuss this). My arguments are  
as follows...

Even if the buses stay pretty close to the schedule, it would be nice  
to be able to go online and check the buses location instead of  
waiting outside during the winter. I know of a lot of people who get  
out of classes and wait for more than 10 minutes for the bus to come.

Secondly, the project can definitely reach a wide audience, would be  
fun to do, and wouldn't be overly difficult (or too expensive). In  
addition, I am sure people would benefit from the live bus tracking  
for the buses that take the off campus route during weekends  
(considering they only make cycles every half hour or so).

I really don't think people would want to spend the time to check an  
estimation of the bus's current location, online. The point is having  
the convenience of being able to plan. Imagine just missing a bus (and  
not knowing it) and waiting 20 minutes in the cold because you thought  
it was just running a few minutes late. It would be much nicer to  
continue hacking in the lab and then run down to the bus stop 1  
minutes before it was due for arrival.

The project also has a cool factor which has the potential to attract  
new students, lead to future research and funding opportunities, and  
get the CSSA some publicity. This has been the first project that  
people have really been excited about and it would be nice to (in some  
shape or form) get a project of this magnitude and significance  
completed. That said, I'd be just as happy to put my time in another  
project (instead) that has the potential to reach a large number of  
UVM students, will be a challenge, and will get CSSA-ers excited.

*Updates*
Friday night we did get some work done that would be useful for us to  
reach our goals no matter which implementation of this project we  
choose (totally simulated or live tracking). Leif and I managed to get  
a mercurial repository set up and discussed plans for designing a  
testing interface. The repository can be found on Deadowl @  
/home/css/projects/CatTrack. So far, I haven't done too much with the  
website interface -- just worked on creating a basic framework. I did  
manage to hack together a really crappy threadable client script in  
python which emulates several cell phones concurrently submitting  
realistically generated data at set time intervals. So far the  
multi-threading has not been completed. It just emulates a single  
phone session. The actual thread spawning shouldn't take more than 20  
minutes to get up an running based on the existing framework.

Leif was working on creating a parent application which could send the  
generated pseudo cell phone data as a text message to the cssa@cems  
email account (via python twisted pop3). He also got a great start on  
a database schema.

I tried to make very verbose messaged for commit logs (in hg) and keep  
documentation of my thought process but it would still be really nice  
to get a wiki page up. I'll look into Redmine and see what I can do.

*FAQs*
- We could hook the phones up to a permanent power source or find a  
way to hack them into a low power usage mode (sleeping with wake-up  
broadcasts)
- We could find a way to "hibernate" them either via cron job or  
remotely (by software hacking cheap phones.
- Students can send a text with a number representing a bus stop and  
get a message back with a time (ETA).
- Could test it with just one or two phones and see if anyone uses it.
- We can hide the phones on the bus or create an enclosure to prevent  
tampering or have it be near the bus driver(s).

*ALL*
I'm open to anything. Let's do some testing to see how accurate the  
pre-determined schedule is before continuing. If the buses are as  
accurate as we suspect, no reason to go overboard. Everyone agree? If  
nothing more, we at least have a good place to start.

Cheers and congratulations if you made it this far!

Sincerely,
- Michael E. Karpeles

-- 
UVM ACM Chapter
CSSA Vice President
CSSA Secretary
www.uvm.edu/~mkarpele

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