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So, due to my new­ly-found free time, I have been par­tic­i­pat­ing in a “Gov­ern­ment Chal­lenge” to keep my skills sharp. Okay, that’s not entire­ly true, I also hope to devel­op and extend my skill set beyond where it is cur­rent­ly. So far, that has been a suc­cess.

My only prob­lem is that the doc­u­men­ta­tion for some of the APIs I am using is, shall we say, miss­ing pieces. Thank­ful­ly, I’ve been able to think imag­i­na­tive­ly and either find a workaround or uti­lize undoc­u­ment­ed calls in the API. This has been use­ful, if not frus­trat­ing.

Imag­ine try­ing to build a house from parts you got from the hard­ware store, sim­ple enough. How­ev­er, you didn’t pick out the parts and some­one else loaded them into your truck. So you have no idea where they put the wood, mor­tar, or half of the nails. So you have to do your best guess­work to find them, or move on with­out them and find anoth­er route to fin­ish your house. This has been my expe­ri­ence with this chal­lenge.

How­ev­er, while I may be miss­ing some things, I have had to think my way around those hur­dles. So far, I have accom­plished my goals, but I still have a long way to go on this project. I’m not rush­ing myself to fin­ish it though, as I would rather do a job cor­rect­ly the first time than get it done quick­ly and have to rebuild it mul­ti­ple times to cor­rect fur­ther issues.

I plan to sub­mit my entry to this chal­lenge, but I don’t expect to win as I am only one per­son and they allow orga­ni­za­tions to com­pete as well. I have thought ahead, though, and even if I don’t win I believe this site can still be of use to the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion. At least to those in the Unit­ed States, at the very least. So all is not lost and I am not wast­ing my time.

All in all, I am using this as a hob­by and a learn­ing expe­ri­ence. I have to tack­le prob­lems I have nev­er encoun­tered, think my way out of said prob­lems, and if I fall flat I have only myself to blame. So this has been a very use­ful learn­ing exer­cise, if noth­ing else should come of it.

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