Cogence Media Log

Note: A requirement I had to complete to finalize my Master’s degree from Bloomsburg University was maintaining a work log from my first 30 days at my first job. I had completed my course of study in August of 1996 and got a full-time job with a company called Weston Interactive outside of Philadelphia, PA. We eventually spun out of Weston and became Cogence Media. I worked there for over two years, leaving after the company was to AIG and closed. Below is the original (and terribly written) account of those first 30 days. This post has been backdated to my first day on the job and listed in the “PreBlog” category reserved for things I wrote before this blog existed.

Day 1 9-16-96

Today I drove from Bloomsburg down to Weston. I decided that commuting to work was not going to happen. I got here by 9:00 am and was immediately introduced to the other members of the Weston team. Everyone seems very friendly and driven to succeed. This seems like an excellent environment to begin working.

I was shown where I will be working. I was very pleased to see that a brand new Pentium based Dell system was sitting on my desk. The machine is great; fast, big monitor, and plenty of Ram. This system is going to be perfect for the amount of authoring and other tasks I will be performing.

I spent a couple of hours talking with Matt Meyer and Jay Kellett (Lead Programmer) about Weston and where I fit in. I liked what they had to say. Jay showed me how we integrate our design document into the actual programming through the use of a custom-built program that Jay designed. It is unbelievable! We then looked at some design docs and went over the specifics of their system. I’m sure I will become very familiar with this stuff, but right now I feel overwhelmed. I really don’t think that getting up to speed should take too long.

I got an opportunity to review one of the courses that has been developed. Very nice graphics, interface, and design. The programs are very clean and efficient. Cool Stuff!

Finally, I learned how to burn CD-ROMS. I burned two today and I have a feeling that I will be doing more of that in the coming days. No problem though. I like all of the people here and look forward to working with them. I think that this is going to be a very positive experience for me.

Day 2 9-17-96

I got here at 8:20. I thought I would be the last one here, but quickly found out that most of the people here work their day later in the day. Jay left the paper-based version of a design document on my desk for me to look at and become familiar with. That document explains how the computer-based program works. There is a lot of information in there, but I think I can get through it.

Today is the day I really ended up getting to work. I met with Matt and Jay to talk about a revision to our first volume of courseware. I had to go through the Authoreware code and replace a string so we could update the software to play properly on new equipment. Basically, it is like taking software from version 1.0 to version 1.1. I then documented exactly what files contained MPEG video and if I had updated the code. I built that using Word.

Its only the second day I’ve been here, and I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of things. When I started up at the Bloomsburg University IIT lab I hated it. The first day was terrible, but after about a week or two, things started to fall into place for me. Today, I felt like I was getting to that same point. I am becoming more sure of my decision to come to work here. I just hope I can keep learning and improving my skills.

Day 3 9-18-96

What a morning! I got pulled over for speeding. What a joke. Well, I have to just shake that off and get to work. Anyway, I still like the area and I am looking forward to exploring it more. Apparently today I am going to be doing more in-depth stuff. I really enjoyed getting to do some real work yesterday, I couldn’t stand another day of busy work. Even with the ticket I still got here by 8:30, I think once I get moved down here, I’ll start coming in between 8:30-9:00, so I can leave at a decent hour. But, for now, I might as well be here.

Today, I got a lot of real work done. I did the code for the Mastery Test for one of our courses. It was nice getting back into Authoreware again and doing some cool stuff. I think I’m going to start working more on my own with it so I can get better at it. That’s all I did today.

Day 4 9-19-96

I’m starting to settle into a schedule that I can live with. I’m actually enjoying getting up kind of early in the morning. The work is starting to get a bit more difficult, but I am getting a little better at it too. The Authorware stuff is really starting to make sense. I’m very happy that is our authoring system.

Today I put together another Test section. With the new database that Jay has designed, I am able to get this done in about 1-2 hours instead of the week it used to take. It is amazing how advanced the code is . . . I love it. Next week I’m going to be working on some more in-depth stuff.

Day 5 9-20-96

I filled out my time sheet today, its weird seeing 40 hours and my name attached to it. I’m moving down here this weekend, so I’m getting out of here a bit earlier today. I can’t wait to be done with that! Well, it will be over soon.

I burned a few more demo discs today and worked with Director for a while. I guess Jay and I will be using Director more after the crunch time (now until the end of December). We are going to be doing some neat stuff with that and Authorware. I’ll have to call Dr. Trudenak and let her know that I’m doing well with both of them. Anyway, I still have a few bugs to work out with the tests I’ve done. They aren’t scoring correctly, but I know what’s wrong with them. They link the questions to the objectives and score the user based on how they have mastered each objective. Very neat.

Day 6 9-23-96

Today was new employee orientation day here at Weston. In the morning we went over to one of the main buildings and watched videos, looked at slides, listened to HR people, and filled out a ton of paperwork. Stacy and I went together and split early to get back to work. We missed the tour of Roy Weston’s mansion, but figured our time would be better spent back here at work.

I got back and worked on the glossary section of our courseware. I put all new graphics in and explored the code. Very straight forward stuff. Later in the day I installed a new MPEG video board in my computer so we can test how our software works with it. The MPEG works, but the video out stinks.

Day 7 9-24-96

This morning started out very slow, but I got going by working with my new video board. I just ran it through a bunch of tests to see if I could get it to work better. I just can’t figure out why it has such poor output. Well, I guess its just a cheap board. I’m just going to use it to test our CD-ROMs and then replace it with my old video card. I won’t have MPEG, but I can’t take this much longer.

I tested our CD-ROMs with the board and it didn’t even work for that. So, I took the board out and decided that if we have to test that board we’ll deal with it when the time comes. I’m getting good at taking these machines apart and putting them back together again.

We decided to digitize our scratch audio instead of having someone else do it for this course. We just want to see how it works out. So, I spent three hours doing that. My Mac skills helped so much; I knew how to do everything. Its nice actually knowing how to do an entire task. In the morning I’m going to put all of the clips into an Authorware Library. That’s it.

Day 8 9-25-96

I got here this morning and got right to work on building the Authorware library. That didn’t take more than an hour and a half. Next, I built the glossary for the section we are working on now. That didn’t go as smoothly, because there was a screw up in the design phase. I’m learning that everything I try and accomplish is heavily reliant upon the completeness and accuracy of the design peoples’ work.

The afternoon was spent recording scratch audio for the next course. When I’m done with that, I guess I’ll go ahead and build a library for that also. That will allow us to see exactly how our audio is going sync up with the graphics and information on screen. I’m finally starting to get to work on some real stuff! That makes things move so much faster.

On a personal note, I bought a Sixers season package today. I am definitely going to take advantage of the area I’m living in. I’m actually going to get to see Jordan play this season! I can’t wait. Kristin and I are going to start exploring the area in general a little more. I’m feeling comfortable with getting around and so is she. Well, that’s about it.

Day 9 9-26-96

Again, this morning I spent a couple of hours working on building a library for another course in Authorware. This kind of stuff is becoming much easier and straight forward to me. I can’t believe that I’ve been here almost two weeks already. The only problem is that I don’t get paid for another week. Oh man, that reminds me, I have to pay that speeding ticket, or plead not-guilty. I think I’ll plead not-guilty. I better get that done before they put a warrant out for my arrest. That would make my first couple of weeks just perfect.

Anyway, I’ve been doing more stuff on my own. It feels so much better than constantly asking Jay what I can do. Another thing that is surprising me is how much I enjoy working on this PC.

I had a meeting this morning with Jay and Matt to go over the production schedule. I found out that I am going to be lead programmer for three of the courses. All of which have to be completed in December. Well, I guess its time I really get to work. I’m psyched! The nice thing is that there are shells built for all of the standard screens, but I am going to have to develop the structures for the special interactions that are going to be taking place in certain courses. I’ll be working primarily in Authorware, but for the special interactions, I might be designing some stuff in Director. Sounds good to me.

I spent the rest of the afternoon exporting code from our FileMaker design doc and formatting it properly so it can be placed in Authorware. I’d really like to do a good job on this first course so I can start to feel like I belong in programming. I think I’ll start taking some of the special interactions home at night and working on them there. That way I can get a lot more done without having to stay at the office until 11:00 every night. Well, that’s it for today.

Day 10 9-27-96

I spent the morning working with Sue, who is an Instructional Designer, at the Paoli Hospital on a video shoot. I wasn’t giving any of the directions; I was the one taking them. That’s right, I was the actor. It was very interesting to check out the other side of production. I liked it, but I think I’ll stick with authoring.

I spent the rest of the day building the shell for the Hearing course that we are doing. I am lead developer on three of our 8 courses that we are producing in house. We are doing 12 total, with four of them being outsourced. That seems to work well. I didn’t really have any problems with Authorware, they have brought me along slowly enough that I have a good grasp of it again. I’m looking forward to getting it completed!

I finished the shell in one day, instead of the two it was scheduled for. I also integrated all of the scratch audio that we developed earlier in the week. I placed all of the text and I am now waiting on some graphics before I get into the special interactions. Well, I’m off for Bloomsburg this weekend. I can’t wait until next weekend when I can just really relax here at my new house.

Day 11 9-30-96

Oh, do I love Mondays! Actually, its kind of nice being back at work. I guess that’s a sign that I like it here. Today is really the first day that I can control my own work. I finally have a production schedule and I know what I have to get done. It is nice knowing that I can get it done.

I spent the entire day working on designing a special interaction. The concept of what we are doing is not that difficult, but the way the graphics have been designed make it very difficult. I’m starting to think that we trying to do something with Authorware that it just might not be able to do. Anyway, I’m getting back to being able to think in those terms. I lost that for a while.

I guess I’ll take some work home with me and see if I can figure it out there. I’m not used to working on something like this, I need to be able to talk to myself and pace around the room. Anyway, I’m outta here.

Day 12 10-1-96

I got the interaction to work last night, but with only one small problem. I’m going to have to talk to Jay about it. Well, I talked to Jay about it and we fixed it in about thirty seconds. It sure is nice to have someone around that knows the authoring system inside and out. The best part is that every time Jay helps me, I’m learning new stuff.

I got all the text in my first course positioned and put in graphics and bullets. I worked on a couple of special interactions, but figured out how to do those a lot quicker than I thought. I’m starting to really get the hang of Authorware again. I still need to work on my skills a bit. I think I’m going to go to the mall and buy the Authorware book I saw there.

Anyway, the day was very busy, but I feel like I got a lot done. The next course was handed off from design today. That means that I will get it a week from today. I’d like to try and get this course wrapped up before that one lands on my desk.

Day 13 10-2-96

This morning I worked on getting the rest of the bullets in for the last two sections of this course. I got that finished and spent the remaining time working on some revisions. I met with Matt and Todd Harris, he’s our head graphic person, about the next special interaction I’m going to build. It doesn’t look too hard, but I want to make it really look slick. I also met with Jay on how to notify the other members of the team about any revisions that are needed and ones that I have to make on the fly. It is fairly simple, but it is a bit time consuming. But, I can see how it keeps everyone else up to date and revisions won’t get made twice.

I think I’m on schedule, maybe even a little ahead at this point. The plan is to get as far ahead of schedule as possible. That way I won’t be slammed in a month trying to catch up. Its not like there is anything else to do to pass the time. Anyway, back to work.

Matt has decided to give me another course to run. So, instead of having until next week to work solely on this course I have until Friday. Its great to see that they have enough confidence in me, but it is going to be a lot of extra work. But, that will be good. It will keep the days busy and that makes them move a bit faster. Anyway, that’s about it.

Day 14 10-3-96

I had an interaction just about finished at the end of the day yesterday, but the graphics weren’t exactly right so I’ll be doing that this morning. We had first envisioned the interaction to contain a Director sequence, but it just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to, so we are going back to the drawing board. I’m going to just take five or six still images and build it that way. I think I can achieve the desired effect that way. I’ll definitely have a lot more control over how the sequence looks and runs.

Also, I’m going to be moving all the source code off one machine and onto another. The reason for doing this is to allow us to burn a couple CD-ROMs with our latest version. I really don’t like doing stuff like that, it is not nearly as much fun as working with Authorware.

I spent the balance of the afternoon working on the shell for the next course. I got half of it done. I guess I’ll just finish it up in the morning. It was nice being able to get started and do a task without a lot of hand-holding help. I’m starting to really catch on to what is going on here. This course has some pretty nuts Special Interactions that I am going to have to author. Its not going to be easy, but I think it should be kind of fun.

Day 15 10-4-96

Payday! I can’t believe I’m going to finally get paid. Thank God, I was seriously running out of funds. Anyway, I took some work home with me last night so I can get out of here a little early today. I recorded almost all of the scratch audio for the next course last night. Man, it took forever, nearly three hours. I guess I really can’t leave three hours ahead of time. Maybe an hour or so. I’dd like to get some things done before 5:00.

In the morning, I finished up the course shell for SDS. It was a pain, so many special interactions. I just leave those for now and come back and put them together later. I’m still waiting on graphics for the first course. It makes getting things really done very difficult. But, I understand, graphics take considerably longer than does some aspects of authoring. Anyway, I’d just like to get at least one of these courses finished up.

The rest of the day was slow. I just worked on my Authorware files and tried to get as much of the course done as I could. I hope I can get some more of my graphics in to this thing by the end of next week. I’d really like to have something finished by then.

Day 16 10-7-96

Well, I didn’t get my paycheck. I can’t believe it, I’ve worked for three weeks and nothing! I’m starting to get a little antsy because it didn’t come on Saturday either. I sure hope it comes today. I’m really starting to worry about my finances. At least I’ve already paid my rent for this month. I do have bills to pay though.

Anyway, I am going to be spending my morning working on my courses and trying to get them whipped into shape. I guess I’ll attack a special interaction if I can get some graphics to work on. If I can get a couple of those knocked out I’ll feel a whole lot better. I just need to get a few images so I can set up some buttons and hot-spots. I don’t think I want to make a whole bunch of dummy buttons now and have to change everything in a few days.

No graphics for me means no interactions completed. Well, there is always tomorrow to work on that. I spent the entire afternoon recording the scratch audio for my next course. It isn’t hard, just time consuming. I then burned a couple of CD-ROMs and just put together as much of my course as I could. Tomorrow I’m going to get all of the audio in a library and I hope to get another course shell finished.

Day 17 10-8-96

No paycheck again yesterday, I’m starting to go a little crazy. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude, but working for free for three and a half weeks begins to wear thin on you after a while. Oh well, there is nothing I can do about it.

The morning was spent putting all the audio files I digitized yesterday into a library. The beauty of Authorware is that I can put all of this scratch audio into the program shell and then, when we get our professional audio back from the vendor, I can quickly and easily swap out the library and update the links. What a great idea.

For the balance of the day, I worked on putting together the shell for the ISO course. The interactions in this course look a little daunting. . . I think I might need some help with these – I will just have to wait and see. There is a lot of things going on in a couple of them, but I’ve already put together a few that are similar, so I can just re-use some the code. I sure hope I get my paycheck today!

Day 18 10-9-96

I still can’t believe I haven’t gotten my check yet. I sure hope this doesn’t happen any more.

Today was spent doing nothing other than authoring. I built a couple of interactions and I’m really enjoying getting to come up with my own way of doing stuff. The coding doesn’t really bother me anymore, it just gets better. Anyway, other than that I just sat around and did some Authorware research on the Web. It is a great place to go to get up-to-the-minute resources. Almost everybody seems to use it for one thing or another.

I’m still grinding my teeth waiting for media assets. I just wish I could get them all in to the program so I could start testing. Oh well, you have to wait for the first coat of paint to dry before you can put on the second. I just have to let the system work itself out.

Day 19 10-10-96

I finally got my paycheck! I had to go up to HR and have them print me a new one, I sure hope it isn’t this way all the time. I did several small tasks today, such as burning CD-ROMS, recorded some scratch audio, and developed some code for a special interaction. Everyday can’t be super exciting. All this stuff is a great learning experience though!

I built the Mastery test for two courses. This is starting to get easy, but I know there is some heavy-duty authoring coming soon. . . I think I’m ready.

Day 20 10-11-96

I’m going to be leaving early today, so I want to get as much done this morning as I can. I’m going to be recording some scratch audio for the Glossary sections of two of my courses using SoundEdit Pro. This isn’t any big deal because I’ve used it so many times already. Other than that, I have a special interaction Ive been working on.

I spent almost the entire day working on that interaction. It works very nicely. The only big problem is that my computer is all screwed up and won’t display any QuickTime videos. Anytime they are playing, my machine locks up and crashes. The interaction plays fine on all the other machines, so I should author here and then go to another computer to view it.

Day 21 10-14-96

Kristin and I were in an accident going home on Friday. When we arrived at my parents’ house that evening, both our parents were there hanging out together. This is the first time since well before our wedding that they were together. Getting through that was more stressful than the accident. The accident happened in Reading and what a pain. The lady behind us eating and not paying attention, I kept saying to Kristin that she was going to hit us and she did. I’ve been dealing with insurance companies and getting another car lined up; it drives me crazy that I have to go through this crap. Oh well.

I recorded two more course worth of Glossary scratch audio and built those sections. The Glossary is neat. I like the way the thing works, it is very slick. Now that I’ve finished up the sections for those courses I’ve inherited another course. That makes five total out of the eight we do in-house. That seems like a lot, but as long as I can get the work done I’m in good shape. I’m hoping that maybe by just doing the work as best I can, Matt will have more time to take care of other stuff.

This is my last entry for my required work log for my internship period at BU. What a great month and journey.

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