Friday, February 15, 2013

Planning for Google Summer of Code

Now that Google has announced GSoC 2013, we will soon hear the rules and schedule. It's never too early to plan for your participation, whether as a student, a mentor, or KDE administration team member.

I recently read an interesting book about time and how we perceive it, based on recent neuroscience: Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception, by Claudia Hammond. The section on planning projects seemed applicable for both mentors and students. Of course, for students, this is the time to get involved with the KDE community, figure out what projects look interesting, and start the learning the development process.

The crucial resource is the Handbook, written by participants. There is a Mentor's Guide and Student's Guide, also available in ebook format.

In addition to the Handbook, Time Warped offers some valuable insight into the Planning Fallacy which is the tendency to believe that the job will take less time than eventually does. The admins and mentors work with students to create a realistic and detailed timeline, which is one of the important ways to outwit this human tendency. Hammond suggests that you consider your plan and then compare the parts to projects you have done in the past, to fine-tune your time frame to completion. Hammond warns against the common belief that we will have more time in the future than we have now. This caution is very important for mentors too. And it is one reason KDE always tries to have at least one back-up mentor for each accepted project, as well as the teams for general help.

Finally, Hammond suggests that since other people make more accurate judgements about our time, describe the task to a friend and ask them to guess how long it will take you. Those who have mentored before can help new mentors with this, and students can ask those who have seen their previous programming work to help judge the prospective plan.

I look forward to seeing KDE folks, experienced and brand-new, getting to know one another, and digging into the code.