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My Attempt to Redefine Productivity =^.^=

My Attempt to Redefine Productivity =^.^=

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I’m not in Kansas anymore…

As time goes on within my studies, I’m realizing that my typical way of learning is getting me frustrated. In the past, I’ve been able to learn new things quickly and get to the point where I can teach others. In my management days, I’ve been in situations where I was thrown in the deep end to see if I would sink or swim. I’ve always worked best under pressure and in uncomfortable environments.

Recently, learning in the way that I’m accustomed to learning has led me to rabbit holes of possibly useful but mostly irrelevant learning. I know that I want to learn above and beyond my school’s curriculum but often times my learning translates to a wasted afternoon of vision-less research. I’ll start my day out with a plan on what I’ll learn and practice, but then there’s some topic I didn’t consider. Sometimes there’s a bug with the OS I’m using. Or there’s a concept that will help make the topic I’m learning much more clear.

Is that time really wasted?…

Probably not. But sometimes it does feel as though I’m spinning my wheels. Ultimately I know much more than I did last year. I also understand that I learn more every single day. Most days however, I think I need to play catch up because I think I’m so far behind. Behind what? Who? I’m not sure entirely. Here’s where my learning style can be problematic lol. There’s SO much information. I turn into a kid in a candy store. Utterly fascinated by the smallest bits of information and shamelessly celebrating “Ah Ha” (or “Duh”) moments. I can spend an entire day practicing writing code. Or I can spend it reading about different programming paradigms. I can get lost for hours digging through open source code or daydreaming of a program I’d like to write just for my personal use.

What’s bothering me is my inability to quantify the time I’m spending. Days can go by and I don’t have a tangible idea of what I’ve learned. I’m also not 100% sure that I want to measure my time spent. But I do want to have something to show for my endless hours of pondering.

An unexpected kick in the teeth…

A completely unrelated situation lead to a revelation of how my thought process works.  Someone offended me pretty badly recently and I realized that I let it get to me. I’m convinced that the person was mostly clueless that their words had an effect on me. Because of this fact, I had no where to direct my anger. Do I think they are a bad person? No. The result of this conversation led to me second guessing myself. So much so that I began to question my every move and my time spent.

I know that there will always be people in life to challenge our resolve. It’s how life is. What I am taking away from this situation is that other people’s opinion of me cannot add nor subtract from my value.  If they are too closed minded to recognize my value, then that is their loss and of no concern of mine.  All I can do in life is be authentic and strive to be the best me, each and every day.

A conclusion?  I think so…

Each of these experiences have all concentrated into one single point of understanding that “Excellence is a habit”.  Who cares if I spend random hours of pondering different topics if while at the same time I’m maintaining the 4.0 that I sought after?  Who cares what some small minded person thinks about me when I am the one who knows exactly what she wants in life and is not afraid to pursue it?  Excellence is relative to our current situations, are we being the best that we can be?  Excellent!

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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Programming, Uncategorized

 

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Learning to Speak to a Computer Part 1.

programming, coding, nerd problems, life, google translate, coderbug83

The epic language barrier…

This week has been super hectic.  I have been moving, studying, working (finishing up the last weeks) and pushing myself far beyond my usual boundaries.  When I finally took the time to slow down and work on some real coding, I felt like I was almost getting the concepts but they became slippery in my mind and I could not grasp hold of the concepts completely.  This week, we are working on the very important topics of objects, classes and instances.  Yes… with Java being an object oriented language, this is something that I have to grasp.  As I read through my chapters and completed my examples, I got this feeling of being almost there, but not quite there.  I felt pretty defeated last night, it was as if my computer speaks Mandarin and I speak English.  HUGE language barrier. 

Not even a hug could help me…

I tried to coerce my Macbook into giving me the answers, but no luck, she just kept throwing compile errors and computery (not a word) speak at me.  Taunting me, saying that I will never be a great coder.  Okay, maybe she did not say that, however that is how I began to feel while turning in my project at 11:58pm, with 1 minute to spare and an epic migraine to boot.  After a hard night of coding some stuff to somewhat resemble the stuff that my professor requested from me, I felt confident that I would get an okay grade, but I did NOT feel as though this project was a winner.  Only time, will tell…

This is only a battle, not the end of the war…

I understand that this concept is extremely important.  I know that I will have to take the time to learn it completely, because object oriented programming is the thing of now and it makes sense.  Object oriented programming is nimble, flexible, easier to debug and it simply makes sense.  I have watched every video online and I have read several beginner books in order to get a perspective on this subject and I believe my understanding is a lot clearer today than it was yesterday and much clearer than it was the day before that.  I feel like a foreign exchange student with a beginner’s knowledge of a foreign language but not an in-depth understanding of each nuance, each inflection.  It will take time to gain an intimate relationship with Java.  One day it will all click together. 

Let’s just pray that the clicking happens a tad more rapidly (before my final project)…

The epic amounts of time that I spend reading this and studying that, should be a testament to how badly I want to be a good programmer.  I am accustomed to being an expert in my field,  I feel a bit vulnerable being a complete n00b on a subject.  I had 14 years of expertise in my previous field and I was the “go to” person for all things financial.  Now, I feel as though I could not coach someone out of a coded paper bag even if my life depended on it.  Starting from the very bottom will take some getting use to.  I will have to embrace my new n00bness and be happy that I have the opportunity and the means to completely immerse myself into a new career.

The programmer within wants to be the dude coding something sitting right next to me…

To make me feel even more like a n00b, there is a guy that is sitting right next to me and he is coding something.  I believe he is a professional software engineer with a flexible work schedule because I often see him in Panera with his feet up coding something.  His codes look complex and his nose is not deep within a text book so I am assuming he is not a student.  Also, the lack of the “wth” look that I always have on my face gives him away as being knowledgeable.  Anyway, my inner programming junky wants to be like him.  Confident in the magical codes I am drumming up and free to click away wherever my hands (and laptop) may take me.  One day grasshopper, one day.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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This week’s learnings: Arrays!

programming nerd problems; programming; coding; life; changes; arrays

Feeling like a super hero…

I do not know what it is about coding, but when I successfully code a program, I feel like a super hero.  I show this fact by fist pumping in public places, and when I am home, I fall into an uncontrollable giggling fit.  I created something.  I had a task that was given from my professor, I came up with an idea to demonstrate what I learned, and finally I clicked “run” and it worked.  The dang thing worked.  Super hero, definitely. 

Arrays…

Last week we ventured into the world of arrays.  Arrays are basically ways to save vast amounts of data sets without having to create 9 million variables to represent each data set.  The biggest challenge for me at the beginning of the week was recognizing that the variables in the array represented a location in memory and not the value that is shown.  Once my thick skull figured that out, I was unstoppable.  I created a basic family tree program that gathered basic information about the user’s family and then displayed the information in a table.  It was pretty basic, but the thrill of completing something that could have so much later use, really made me feel awesome. 

Paying it Forward…

My textbook is only one resource that I’ve been using to understand the different things I am learning.  Going forward, I will take note of what other resources I am using and will post those links here.  There is some amazing work being done by people who are taking the time to simplify some coding concepts, and I would like to share the resources that are helping me!

All About Java Arrays

YouTube – Java Arrays

Two Dimensional Arrays

How to program with Java – Java Arrays

Update…

In an earlier post, I wrote about receiving an 89 on a project.  Well, I received 100% on my second project! This was a great feat considering this professor is brutal and it was the first 100% that I have received this semester.  This professor seems to like to give out 95% and he is always pointing out a small area that I could have done better.  Well, 100% guys.  His comments were “great coding”.  Me… great… YES!  I lost sleep coding out this assignment and well, it paid off!  [Commence Happy Dance]. 

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Joys of learning something new!

infinite loops seem to be fond of me. feeling != mutual;

As I turn in my last few assignments from this week, I have to say that I have learned quite a bit.  My topics this week in class were XML DTDs and modular programming.  The XML assignments were pretty easy, I taught myself HTML at the age of 12, so XML is a lot like HTML but you can create your own tags.  I completed my XML homework relatively easily.  However, I made the mistake of putting off some of my reading in my Java class so that I can pack and prepare for the big move next weekend.

Not a smart move…

I spent my entire Saturday in Starbucks reading chapters, doing practice problems, and taking copious notes regarding methods and loops.  Although I first learned the concepts of loops last semester in my Intro to programming class, we used more pseudo code than actual code and now, with my second major project due, I was left in the dark around how to actually get my program to do what my professor required. 

I wanted to figure it out on my own…

Each week, my professor builds upon what he has already taught us and each program that we have to write gets more complex.  Which is great, however, I could not seem to figure out how to write this particular program.  Correction… I could get it done, but with random codes that would have given the output desired, however, we receive MAJOR point reductions if our code is cumbersome and redundant [and my professor is right in deducting points]. 

Ahhh you tricky ++…

Loops are important… programmers know and understand this… However, silly me, I like to make infinite loops.  Whether I get so excited not to see any errors in the IDE that I click test without including a increment increase for my loop, or I forget to create a way to exit the loop.  This week, I have learned to add that tricky statement to end my code right away so that I do not forget it.  After this week, adding loop exits and increments comes as naturally as documenting each line of code, which I am personally happy about. 

= does not equal ==…

Oh, and I’m getting better with remembering my double equals on my Boolean expressions.  I almost got caught by this yesterday, however, before I even had to check what the error message said, I took a quick glance and noticed the error of my ways immediately.  Not too shabby for the 1st half of my 1st REAL programming class.  Actually, most of the errors that had me scratching my head for hours during week one, I am able to correct immediately these days.  I am learning, and there is no greater feeling than this…

Oh… and you may have noticed the picture “Programming Nerd Problems”… I am going to be making those each week with the biggest problem that I faced each week.  I need to laugh at myself when I make these mistakes, there are A LOT more coming my way, and if I can not have a light heart about these things now, it will be an even tougher journey. 

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Information Overload – Knowledge vs. Useless Information

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One thing that I have noticed now that I have a bit more time on my hands is that, as a society, we are overloaded with STUFF.  We have gone from the Pony Express to Instagram, which gives people WAY too much time to do everything but be creative and THINK!  We have so much information thrown at us through different forms of media that sometimes it can become overwhelming.

Social Media Dark Ages…

Until recently, I did not tweet, I was not a fan of Facebook, even though I had a page, and when someone would mention Instagram, I would look at them as if they grew an additional face.  However, as I immerse myself into this world that I want to become more apart of, I am quickly discovering both the benefits and the pitfalls of having information just a click away.  I crave information and knowledge, and learning is one of my favorite things to do.  As I move into the different realms of where I receive information, I am learning quickly that all information is not created equal, and I have found myself caught for hours following one link into another link into another link that leads me to watching YouTube for a few hours.  When I snap out of it, I have no choice but to ask myself, what the heck just happened?

Knowledge vs. Useless Information…

I know and understand that information is a very important part of the world that we live in.  I am a firm believer in people equipping themselves with knowledge to make better life decisions and to have a better perspective on life in general.  However, what happens today is that there is an abundance of information and one can easily fall into a situation where the information that they are gathering does absolutely nothing to enrich their lives.

I have a point, I promise…

And here it is… we need time to think.  We take in a world of information but we don’t find time to do anything with it.  We always are talking on the phone, updating our Facebook pages, Tweeting, Instagramming (is that what it is called lol?), or whatever we do to occupy ourselves.  It is as if we do not enjoy our alone time anymore.  To recognize and fulfill a dream, I truly believe that we must revisit our dreams often.  I believe that we have to just sit and daydream once in a while.  Think big and expansive and see what we are capable of drumming up.  Could you imagine if Grandma Moses had been bogged down with social media, email, and catching up on episodes of Keepin up with the Kardashians?

This brings me to “The Great ‘Dumb’ Down”…

I am not an expert on this, I am only commenting on my personal observations that I have seen in my 30 years on this planet.  I see people getting dumber and dumber.  I use this word purposefully.  As I go through life, I see my peers focus on things that bring absolutely zero value to their lives.  Some sit in front of the television watching reality shows, while true performing artists struggle to make lives for themselves because people are more infatuated with the train wreck of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”.  In an age where information and knowledge is at our fingertips, many young people are choosing to spend their time taking “selfies” and spending their days posting and commenting on how lovely each other looks.  We all need to express ourselves, however the issue becomes how much time do we budget in our lives for such self expression?

I fear that as we make so many advances in technology and begin to bring information directly to more and more people instantaneously, there is no real way to filter what information becomes readily available.  The Kardashians and the Honey Boo Boos will be distributed as frequently if not more frequently as a wonderful article on emerging technologies and how such technologies can enrich our lives.  It becomes up to us, the “absorbers” to decide what is important enough to grab our focus.  What food will we choose to feed and fuel our souls?

It is a Gift and a Curse…

I am choosing to make a decision on what I absorb.  I am truly excited for these changes in my life and I have to remember that the sacrifice I made of quitting my job to follow my dreams, is not a free pass to become lazy and unfocused.  I have to make a deliberate decision on what information I want to learn each day.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking time for some R&R and watching some episodes of Doctor Who [I’m a sci-fi fan, who would have thunk?], however, this time must be budgeted so that I can have time to propel my life forward.  How much further could someone go if they replaced just one piece of useless information intake with something meaningful that would push them towards their dreams?  I do not know the answer for that, but something tells me that such a simple change in time invested can potentially yield the next big idea.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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System.out.println( “WTF, an 89?” );

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Ugh… I know that I can’t expect to be perfect…

My professor gave me a big fat 89 on my first project.  My spirits were deflated and I immediately started to second guess myself and question my ability to code.  LOL, right?  After I calmed down and kicked myself for being so hard on myself, I convinced myself that an 89 isn’t so bad [I currently have a 4.0 and grades lower than 95 freak me out].  I then took the time to read through my professor’s responses and then I became truly outraged.  The concept that he wanted us to learn I couldn’t find it anywhere, not in the text book, not online, not even good old YouTube. 

So I did what any self-respecting college student would do…

I emailed my professor and asked him for clarification.  He gave me a detailed description of what I SHOULD have done, then he proceeded to explain to me that the concept that he was teaching wouldn’t be found online, wouldn’t be found in our textbook and was a style from his 30 years of personal experience.  Once I understood the concept behind the code he wanted us to learn, I discovered how brilliantly simple it was and how it made the code much cleaner and it made more sense. 

My red hot outrage quickly turned into humble admiration and respect…

I’m here to learn… I’ve changed my life around for my dream.  I have to learn to calm down, slow down [15 years in corporate America can make you sprint so fast even if it’s towards a brick wall], and I must learn to appreciate all failures especially the small ones.  I have to go back to my nerd girl roots and remember that failure is always an option.

89, a failure, really?

This is more than the 89.  It’s about my reaction to it.  I have to learn to strive for perfection but also be happy with learning and any progress I make along the way. 

On a brighter note…

I just submitted my second project.  Wish me luck…

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Video

What Most Schools Don’t Teach…

This video sums up why everyone should learn to code regardless of what you do each day. Not knowing how to read and write code one day may be the same as not being able to read and write, period. Take second to look at this video if you haven’t seen it. You won’t be disappointed.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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