Sander van den Oever

Sander van den Oever
Computer Science student

Track: Software Technology
Interests: Software (Web) Engineering
Occupation: PHP Developer

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Posted in July 2017

Summertime

Hi all! As the holidays are here there are no more lectures for me to follow until Q1 starts. That leaves me a lot of time to do stuff I really enjoy. One of those things is developing software. That’s why I will be working at bunq during the summer. This also helps me to prepare for my thesis in the end, which I will be completing at the same company. So, maybe you don’t really know what “bunq” is; it’s a ‘fintech’ company. Officially speaking it’s a bank (with a license and all) but bunq rather sees itself as a tech-company that happens to have a banking license. So what I really like there is that they’ve build everything from scratch, with a few simple design principles in mind. The codebase however is quite big, and it is always challenging to understand the structure of such a project.

Working at the company where I will be doing my thesis also allows me to orientate for possible thesis topics. As my supervisor is focusing his research on software testing and software evolution it seems obvious to go that way. At this point I’m really intrigued by the onboarding process for a software project; I think a lot of time can be saved here so I’ll be looking into possible studies there. I still have a lot of time left anyway to decide.

Apart from working I also try to enjoy some of my spare time; I went to Nijmegen to support my girlfriend at the Vierdaagse (Four Days Marches). The weather was really awesome and the atmosphere was also great. I rather not walk 4 times 40km / day but I have a lot of respect for those who participated. Furthermore I went for some shopping in the Hague, dropped some of my friends off at Schiphol Airport and planned meetings. We’re still talking to multiple parties for the enrolment analysis tool. I’ve managed to get a Single-Sign On setup working, so now we can authenticate users with the official NetID system used here at the university.

Vierdaagse @ Nijmegen

Vierdaagse @ Nijmegen

Vierdaagse @ Nijmegen with friends / family.

DHENIM Congress and wrapping up the quarter

Hi everyone!

A few hours ago I handed in the very last assignment of this year, finally the holidays are here!

So let me give an overview of what kept me occupied this quarter.

Web Data Management

This was a new course for me that was taught in Q4. Within this course we learned how to deal with distributed database systems and others; how to have an always available system, how to ensure consistency of your data across all nodes, how to divide data over your nodes? The course came with either a teaching or a development assignment where we could pick the one we liked most. In groups of 3 to 4 students you could give a 45 minute lecture to the other students, or you could implement a movie information system. I chose the development assignment. We had to implement the tool for PostgreSQL (dataset was given) and then transform it to have a Document-based database and a Graph-based database as a data store. We chose to use CouchDB and Neo4J from the list of allowed DBMS’es. By implementing all of these different backends we really got to know about the differences and advantages of the various systems. We wanted to be able to compare the different backends easily in terms of performance, so we created a very simple HTML interface where results would be shown after the requests had ran in parallel. It turned out that configuring the servers on our Amazon servers was the hardest part for us, but it was extremely useful to learn this stuff! Did you know that you can apply for free Amazon Web Services stuff?

Battle of the DB's

Battle of the DB’s – Overview of the tool

Intelligent User Experience Engineering

This is the course where we had to program the Nao robots and see whether they can support children that are being treated for cancer. To test our design we had to perform an experiment with actual children. Testing with actual cancer patients would be a bit too much, so we could test with a class of children from a local primary school. We programmed the robot to explain the flu to the children and tested different approaches of explaining to see which one worked best. We learned a lot here, especially about doing research that involves children. Children tend to give completely unexpected or unreliable answers (ceiling effect; they answer what they think is the right answer). It was a really fun experience to do this experiment and program the Nao’s.

What’s left?

So what’s left? At this point I’ve managed to collect 71 ECTS (as planned). Next year I’ve to collect the remaining 50 ECTS; 45 ECTS for my thesis and 5 ECTS for the last course I picked (Security & Cryptography). So that means that my Q1 shouldn’t be too difficult to manage. I will assist first-year students with an Object-Oriented Programming course (entry level) probably and work some hours at bunq to prepare for my thesis.

DHENIM Congress

In Q2 I (together with my team) developed a tool for the analysis of the international master enrolment data. We actually continued the development after the course had finished. The marketing department of the university was really interested in the tool. So, they paid us to expand it. A few weeks back they invited us to talk at the congress called DHENIM (Dutch Higher Education Network for International Marketing). We got 45 minutes to present the tool to various marketeers from all over the world. We even got some questions on where to get it and whether we could build a similar tool for different universities and institutes as well. Really fun to see how a course-project can grow into a bigger project.

DHENIM - Presentation

DHENIM – Presentation about the tool

First day/event at bunq

So, as I mentioned before, I will be doing my thesis at bunq. In order to prepare a bit and gain more experience I’ll start working there part-time during the summer and Q1. Normally, you’d have a first day where you would be at the office, setup everything, get to know the important people, get familiar with the tools used, etc. Nothing like that for me. I was invited to join the team on one of the frequently organised team events. This time we went on a boat through Amsterdam. It was a really informal way to get to know the first of my colleagues while enjoying some music and drinks (and of course, some rain, because yeah, it’s still The Netherlands) ;-).

On the 'IJ' in Amsterdam

On the ‘IJ’ in Amsterdam

Docked under a bridge because of the rain

Docked under a bridge because of the rain

So, that was the year for now! I’ll be continuing to work on the tool for the Marketing department, start at bunq, and relax a bit as well. Enjoy your summer!

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