Week 1This week, I spent most of my time learning about my project and getting settled down. Since my mentor will not be in town for the first three weeks that I am here, I met with Lan Li, the other student who is in the DREU program with me at Indiana University, on Monday morning so she could show me around the Infomatics building where I will be working this summer. I also met with Timothy Kelley, a graduate student at Indiana University, whom I will be working with on the project. As my mentor is out of town, Tim introduced me to my project and what we will be working on this summer. During our meeting, I found out that since Lan and I are both grouped together with a different program on campus called the STEM Summer Scholars Institute, we have to present a powerpoint on Thursday afternoon, telling other REU students about our research projects. So I spent most of the week working on putting together the powerpoint. On Friday, Tim and I went to Professor Tom Busey's lab over at the Psychology department so that Brandi Emerick, a graduate student working with Tom, can show us how to use the eyetracking equipment and software. Because everything was so new to me and Brandi was going over the eyetracking process so quickly, I'm feeling quite overwhelmed!
Week 2After the presentations from last week were over, Tim told me about how I have to take the IRB (Institutional Review Board) tests in order to run the experiments. Since we will be running our eyetracking tests on human subjects, we need to get approval from the IRB before we can begin our experiment. So this week, I spent most of my time taking the IRB tests and meeting with Brandi to go over the eyetracking stuff in more detail. This week though, I actually got to practice using the application (ExpertEyes) in the lab with Brandi there to help if I ran into any problems. It's becoming less overwhelming now that I actually got to do it myself. And it's even fun, too! While I'm not doing either of these things, I'm working on getting through the stack of papers Tim gave me to read last week.
Week 3I continued to read more papers and meet Brandi to go over more of the eyetracking stuff this week. I tried to run ExpertEyes on the Linux machine that was set up for me to use during my time at at Indiana University (IU), but ran into many problems because the application is only created to run on either a Mac or Windows computer. I was having problems getting an executable file (.exe) to run. I tried to install Wine so that it will run executable files in Linux, but I couldn't install it because the flex version of the computer was out of date. When I tried to install a new flex version, I ran into a dead end because I'm not quite sure what a flex is even after Googling it. After several frustrating hours of trying to get ExpertEyes to work, I asked Lan for help. When she couldn't help me either, I emailed Tim. We both came to the conclusion that it was better to put in a request for a Windows computer instead. In the meantime, I tried to run ExpertEyes on my own laptop computer. After running the eye fit modeling on my own computer and not being able to do anything else on my computer when it ran for 30 hours, I realized I was definitely going to have to get another computer to run the eyetracking data analysis; the eyetracking had to be put on hold until I can get another computer to run ExpertEyes. Tim also mentioned that we should create a website that randomizes the order of all the tasks we will ask participants in our experiment to perform, so I also worked on that this week. I really like to program, but none of the eyetracking requires it, so I was really excited to be able to work on it.
Week 4Since I'll be going to the CIC SROP conference at the end of next week and presenting a poster, I started to work on putting my poster together. I did some more reading on material related to my project and started to look at resources that told me what kind of content a poster should have. During the second half of the week, I got the layout for my poster done and started doing the writing for it on Friday. I didn't think it would take a long time to get the poster done, but it turns out it'll take me a lot longer than I thought! As I'm writing the stuff on the poster, I keep adding comments on every little thing that could be fixed. I'm glad I started working on it this week since I'll still have about a week to finish it.
Week 5I continued to work on my poster all throughout the week. While I'm working on it, I'm asking Lan and other people at the office to take a look at it to offer feedback. On Thursday, I had the opportunity to practice presenting my poster to other students in the STEM program as well as get more feedback on my poster. Despite working on the poster all week, after our mock presentations on Thursday, I had to rush to fix a few things on my poster and get it printed before I left for the conference Friday morning. I also found out Thursday morning that I had to write up a one page handout for the roundtables we'll be doing on Saturday. I only found out because another graduate student mentoring one of the STEM scholars mentioned a one page summary. When I looked back into my emails I got from the coordinators of the CIC SROP conference, I noticed the one page handout was mentioned in the email attachment but not the email itself. So I had to rush to get the one page handout done on Thursday as well.
During the weekend, the day we got back from the conference, I went to see the final Harry Potter movie with Lan and her graduate student mentor, Roman. Since the buses didn't run on Sundays (at least during the summer), we had to walk to the movie theaters which took about 1-1.5 hours.
Week 6Beginning this week, I finally have access to the computer lab to continue practicing how to use ExpertEyes, which was what I spent the majority of my week doing. I used the data Tim and I collected of ourselves doing the tasks our participants will do. I worked on the eye fit model, calibration, and corners, but ran into many problems getting the data to come out nicely (the corners were not where they were supposed to be and the calibration points were scattered, not condensed in one area like Brandi showed us it should look like). When I met with Tim to discuss the problems I was having with ExpertEyes, he told me to try running the undistort scripts since it may help to improve the results. But I also ran into problems doing that since I wasn't sure what to input for the low/high crop values when the program asked for it. So I had to email Brandi and wait for a response before I could move on. By the end of the week, we realized the data from our intial recordings was pretty bad since we were looking all over the place, not just at the monitor, which made finding the coners difficult. So Tim and I decided to record new videos to practice using ExpertEyes.
Week 7This week, we finally heard back from the IRB that we have approval to run our experiments! So we'll be able to run our experiments as soon as we are ready to. After the weekend, I finally heard back from Brandi and eventually got the undistort scripts to run without problems. However, it did not make much of a difference since the quality of the original videos was already bad. In preparation for our re-recordings on Thursday, I also updated our experiment website to include instructions of the tasks instead of just links.
The STEM scholars program is ending this week, so all the STEM scholars will be leaving. Because of this, Lan and I found out Thursday evening that we have to move out of our apartments by Friday evening because graduate students will be moving into our current apartments this weekend. So I spent most of Thursday night packing. Friday morning, we went up to Indianapolis for a closing luncheon and a final poster presentation this time, we had a more academic audience. It was much more challenging than the CIC SROP conference because people were asking more difficult questions to answer! After saying good-bye to all the STEM students, Lan and I headed back to Bloomington in order to finish moving. I spent the majority of the weekend unpacking and cleaning my new apartment.
Week 8After settling in over the weekend, I began the week with running ExpertEyes on the new data Tim and I collected last week. The data this time was much better, but one corner of the monitor was still cut off from the camera frame. Also, getting the eye fit model to be as accurate as possible was very hard! Because ExpertEyes uses the cornea reflection to estimate the location of the pupil, there were times when the cornea reflection was not present in the frame; this often led to inaccurate estimations of the pupil locations. So I still struggled with getting a good eye fit model and calibration. Since the DREU program is nearing the end, I started working to work on my final paper. I also updated our website more, separating the tasks into two categories: Facebook and Twitter/OpenID.
After meeting with Professor Camp on Wednesday, we decided to set a date to run our experiments on experts. Since Professor Camp will be out of town next week, the only available day she has to run our eyetracking experiments is on August 18th. Since I'm leaving on the 22nd, I won't have time to run the experiments on novices at the Farmer's Market, but hopefully I'll have enough results to use for my paper!
This week was also my birthday, so I went out and celebrated with a few of my friends and colleagues from the office; they treated me to a delicious sushi dinner! Since this weekend will be Lan's last weekend in Indiana, we decided to go on a road trip to Chicago with Roman (who became a very good friend of ours) over the weekend. We saw the Cloud Gate at Millenium Park, saw fireworks from Hancock Tower, went to an art museum, and ate a lot of pizza!
Week 9I spent the majority of this week working on my paper and running ExpertEyes. When I'm not doing that, I've been sending out emails to a few of our expert participants who have signed up for the same time slot. Because we are unsure about how much of our equipment we'll have functioning on our data collection day, we may not be able to accommodate running the experiment on two people at once. So I had to work out a schedule that would work out best for all of us. After running through the data analysis for the sample data Tim and I collected a few weeks ago, we decided we wanted to collect one more sample using a chin rest to improve the quality of our videos.
This week was Lan's birthday, so we celebrated it with a big home-cooked feast, a cookie cake from Baked!, and a board game.