CSUSM Students Could Have Made Instagram?

Could CSUSM students have made Instagram? Maybe so, because a CSUSM alumni did something similar. His name is Sean Callahan.

Sean started a company called Plixi back in 2009 which is a real-time photo sharing platform that has over 30 million monthly unique visitors. Plixi was later acquired by Lockerz for $10 million in 2011. If you don’t know Lockerz, for the sake of this insider tidbit, it’s one of the many photo hosting sites you can use to share photos on Twitter. And if you don’t know Twitter, then um…google it?

Anyways, Sean was once a student at CSUSM and graduated with a degree in High Tech Management and High Tech Management eventually lead to the option of Management Information Systems which I believe was started around 2008.

So last semester, during the time Instagram was bought by Facebook for $1 billion, my database instructor explained to the class that Instagram is something any one of us could easily create because of its simplicity and amount of employees involved(around 13). Sean is proof of this. One could try to counter my professor’s statement by saying “but I don’t even know how to program, how could I have made Instagram?” And the answer is this: you don’t need to know how. In fact, Sean doesn’t even know a whole lot about programming. He actually just started learning python(a good beginner programming language) about two months ago. What really mattered for Sean and what matters more for MIS students is that we understand business.

So if you’re like me and question how far you will go with an MIS degree from CSUSM, don’t forget what Sean Callahan has done and that MIS students now are probably learning things he wish he could’ve learned back when he went to CSUSM.

Experience Matters

So being MIS Insider, I should probably post some inside information. Now this won’t be crazy information but just stuff from conversations I have taken part of and what I hear going around. And it may be common knowledge but you never know so I might as well share.

Anyways, I had a good conversation earlier today with the MIS Department Chair and it seems being an MIS major at CSUSM gives you a pretty promising future. From the MIS alumnus we discussed, almost all of them found good jobs in the MIS field. But as you just read, I didn’t say all, I said almost all. So I did a little digging around and asked someone about an alumni they knew who couldn’t find a job and according to my source, that source believes the reason the person they know is having a hard time is due to lack of job experience.

So this brings up an important point: having a degree is good but don’t forget that you need experience too and not just any experience, but relevant experience. For whatever career you hope to have, there are always entry level positions or versions of that job. Don’t flip burgers if you want a career working with computers. But if you are flipping burgers then at least try to become a manager or shift-lead or whatever so at least you can have leadership experience.

So where can you get this relevant experience? What some people don’t know and actually took me awhile to find out is that working at a help-desk is one of the best ways to receive relevant experience for a future career in MIS. In fact, CSUSM hires many students for their help-desk and you don’t need previous experience as they can train you. Even at the last conference I went to, I met a guy who happened to have an intern position open at the help-desk of a health company he worked as a project manager for. Computers are everywhere and people will always have computer issues that need solving thus creating the need for help-desk positions.

So as you go through school, first, make sure your GPA stays high as low GPA is a quick way for your resume to end up in the trash(more on this later in another post), and then hopefully if you can manage your time well enough, go get an internship or work a job that gives you job experience related to your field. Don’t waste an opportunity to set yourself apart from all the other people applying for jobs in MIS.

InterKnowlogy Open House 9/20/2012

Last week, I was fortunate to know about and attend an open house event held at InterKnowlogy, a software development company that creates innovative custom touchscreen business apps.

After entering and picking up my name badge, I was given this card so that I could check out all the devices they had to demo.

One of the first things I looked at was originally called the “Surface 2″ but one of the “InterKnowlogists” told me that Microsoft wanted to use the Surface designation for its tablets so now this is called “PixelSense.”  I was also told that this particular device is capable of sensing 52 touches and has the ability to sense what direction your finger is pointing at unlike most all of touchscreen devices out now which cannot.  The application you see here showcases the use of a virtual heart and lets you rotate it, draw stents and take notes on procedures.

On the wall in the same room they displayed the Kinect for Windows.  They had three demos to mess with.  There wasn’t anything really new to me here as I’ve already seen many interesting uses for Kinect such as gaming on the Xbox and also its use controlling robots.

In the commons room down the hall, they displayed the Surface 1.  Unlike the Surface 2, this device uses projectors for the images instead of LCD.  This device is huge and takes up space all the way to the floor instead of being just a tabletop screen like the Surface 2.  The app shown here is a custom T-shirt design app created for Hot Topic which I believe is already being used in stores.

Virtual heart app, this time on the Surface 1.

This app is basically a virtual warehouse inventory app.  You can scan through the isles without having to leave the table.

Back in one of the conference rooms was this FlatFrog Touchscreen.  I didn’t really notice anything note-worthy about this device other than being a smooth running touchscreen.  The application shown was created for political conventions.  It  gives interactive history about past elections.

When the employees at InterKnowlogy need to take a break and want to doodle on something, they have a whiteboard in the commons room to let out some creativity.  Not much seems to get erased.  I did ask someone if they are involved with the interactive whiteboard technology that I have heard about lately but I was told that those whiteboards use a different technology that has more to do with infrared sensing or something of that sort so as of yet they don’t work with those devices.

They had a couple of Windows 8 tablets on display.

This is one third of the shelves in the commons room.  As you can see there are lots of programming books.  I asked a couple of developers about what programing languages they deal with the most and I was generally told C# and XNA.

The view off the balcony.  I thought it was pretty neat having a nice windy road next to it and not tons of traffic and street noises from having to be located in a downtown city area.  InterKnowlogy is located in Carlsbad on Faraday Ave.

For an event that I felt I was “crashing” due to not being a business partner, family, or friend, I was really glad that I made the attempt to go.  Oddly enough, there were several people from CSUSM.  I ran into an alumni whom I knew and several faculty members.  I even met Sharon Lightner, the new Dean of CoBA not realizing who she was until I saw her name tag(I have never seen her before).

I really enjoyed this event as there were plenty of things to do.  I was able to learn about the new technology being used today and the environment of the people who work behind the scenes.  I hope to find and attend more of these events in the future and, of course, share with you guys my experiences.

MIS Insider Begins

You ever have an idea but you think so much about it that you never end up doing it?  Well this has been one of my ideas.  Since the beginning of summer vacation, I’ve thought about creating a blog or website so that I can “create a place for myself in the MIS field.”  I wanted to try to become somewhat of an expert through all the activities associated with my website.

So as I’m making this all happen, there’s going to be tons of changes along the way and I’m not going to have the most professional content but I’ve never done something like this before and I hope I get better along the way.  There is just so much that I want to experiment with MIS-wise and so much more stuff about MIS that I want to figure out.  I want this to be a means to figuring that stuff out.

So if you are reading this, thank you for coming this far.  I hope you continue to join me on this experiment and I hope that I actually keep this thing running.