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HabitRPG: A new attempt to stay on track!

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My desire to stay more organized…

By default, I am a very organized person.  Typically I do well with staying on track with deadlines and completing the things that I set out to do.  But usually those tasks include things that I need to do for work or school.  I schedule ample studying time, and I divide my time up by subject/task to ensure that everything gets complete.  But what often happens is that the new habits that I want to create for myself tend to fall through the cracks.  Like, I have an express desire to complete a daily kata while I drink my coffee and prepare for my day.  Well, I created an account EIGHT months ago, and I only seem to remember that I want to complete a daily kata is retrospectively after I’ve already begun my other tasks.

It’s natural to desire technology that can save the day!

My phone is full of productivity applications that I’ve tried and they have all failed, why? Well, first I forget about them after the first day or so.  Another reason is that often times the app is missing one or more element that would make it useful for me individually.  I’ve also considered coding my own productivity application just for my own personal use.  Instinctively, I feel as though an app makes sense as a tool to organize my life, since I always have my phone within reach.  But for one reason or another, each app that I’ve downloaded in the past gets cast off onto the Island of Misfit Apps.

My current attempt to be productive…

Last week, a good friend of mine linked HabitRPG to social media.  I was initially interested because I love RPGs and I also still have the continued desire to stay organized and to start new habits.  So, I thought, why the heck not?  I created my character and set up a few tasks/habits and I was on my way.  The cool thing about this system is that there are built in elements that invoke my competitive and gamer tendencies of not wanting to fail.  For instance, there are daily tasks, fondly named “dailies” that you have to complete.  If you don’t, then you lose hit points (I thought this was awesome).  Your character can even die if you do not log your dailies each day.  There’s also a habit system that you can log both good and bad habits.  You lose exp/health for bad habits and gain for good ones.  There’s a gold system that allows players to buy gear to make their character more durable (and cool looking).  You can also form a party with people with like goals and join guilds as well.  So far, I have been having fun getting acclimated to this new system of being organized.

How is this app/site different from ALL of the many other’s I’ve tried?

Well, at first I thought it was the fact that it was a task app with a RPG game skin to make it more appealing to gamers.  BUT, then I realized that it was more than that.  It’s not just simply a task tracker w/ a notification system.  This is what all other organizational apps are, they give you a place to jot down your tasks and goals, offering you the ability to be notified that so that you don’t forget something.  But Habit RPG is different than simply taking a task and reminds you of it, it has a way of holding you accountable for completing tasks and creating habits.  The accountability lies in the fate of your adorable avatar.  But, it’s also more than this, accountability also lies in the social aspects of the community through the implementation of party tasks, guilds and the overall social aspect of the app.

Current gripes/dislikes…

The mobile app (at least for iOS) is clunky, at best and is plain ugly.  Although this is true, the website is designed really well and the mobile app could be seen as a way to access the site when you’re not able to get to your computer.  I’ve also found that visiting the site directly from my phone, rather than through the app, to yield a much better experience.

It’s only been a little over a week…

Despite my enthusiasm, I’ve only been using this app for a week (still longer than other apps!).  Although it hasn’t been that long, I have to admit that this is the most confidence I’ve had in continuing staying on track, than I’ve had in a long time.  I’m looking forward to seeing how cool I can make my character and getting to high enough level to start collecting pets! YAY 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2015 in Self Improvement

 

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Would YOU have followed the white rabbit?

white rabbit

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Opportunities and my new found ability to second-guess myself.

Recently, I have found myself in a situation where I have been second guessing my talents and skills.  I’m not exactly sure why this has started.  I still am doing well in school, and I still have the unruly desire to learn any and every thing there is to know about programming.  But as I get closer and closer to finishing my studies, I have found that I have talked myself out of opportunities.  On a few occasions, I have decided not to follow the white rabbit.  This is opposite of my normal behavior and tendency to seize every opportunity and make something of them.  So, what gives?

The well-known enemies of Opportunity…

Although there could be many reasons as to why someone fails to grab hold of an opportunity, I personally believe that there are a few core reasons for this behavior:

  1. Self doubts – When an opportunity arises, we get into our heads sometimes.  The more unanswered questions we have, the more we may be likely to shy away from an opportunity.
  2. Lack of Confidence – For me, I am pursuing an entirely different career path than what I spent the majority of my adult life pursuing.  So, naturally, there is a confidence deficit that, if left unchecked, can become a bigger issue.
  3. Fear – This is an obvious one.  Fear of the unknown. What if the other people going after this opportunity are better?  What if I fail?  What if I’m not the candidate they are looking for?  Fear manifests itself an many ways and it’s important be able to identify fear when it occurs.
  4. Anxiety – very close to fear, but is really an underlying general apprehension towards situations in general, although there may not be a specific threat.  Varying levels of anxiety can keep a person from going after an opportunity.

Micro vs. Macro thinking…

Another issue that I’ve personally experienced, as well as, identified in my peers is the scope thoughts.  There is an assumption of there not being enough.  Therefore, by assuming there aren’t enough opportunities, people give up before even trying.  For me, I’ve had to reevaluate my personal views on the value that I add to a situation.  For years, I had a certain skill set that I knew that I could bring to the table.  However, after changing careers, I never reevaluated the value that I can bring to a team.  So, my self-perceived value went to 0 because my skill set (in my twisted way of thinking) was no longer applicable.  Finally, I believe that people sometimes fail to see the big picture.  Sometimes, we do not spend enough time day dreaming and thinking big.  Not enough time is spent on researching the end goal and breaking the big goal into small, digestible parts.  The big leap from now to the future that we seek can seem daunting if we don’t break it down into achievable pieces.

Ways to overcome our negative inner voices…

Ok, so Trinity tells you to follow the white rabbit… The next thing you know, there’s a knock at the door and BAM, there’s a white rabbit staring you in the eye. What do you do? Talk yourself out of the next adventure in your life?  Convince yourself that you were seeing things and no one really warned you to follow that adorable white rabbit? Or, do you grab your jacket and follow the white rabbit?  This answer isn’t as easy as making a decision, often times it takes a bit of preparation for our next big opportunity.  Some tips that I personally practice are:

  1. Surround yourself with positive people — I can not stress this enough.  Positive, like-minded people are always a great catalyst for being successful.  There’s also the benefit of possibly having someone nudge you in the right direction.  A friendly invitation to engage in a beneficial activity can go a long way.  If you don’t have someone physically around you to be that positive influence, find a digital source.  Maybe a group on social networking could be helpful, or contributing to a newsgroup, or contributing to an online project.  Regardless of the method, it’s important to get out of our comfort zones and expanding our network.
  2. Celebrate your victories! — No matter how small the victory, sometimes we are our worst critics.  We don’t take the time to congratulate ourselves on a job well done.  Sometimes with the demand of work, we finish something then rush on to the next project.  Take time to breathe, give yourself a high five for finishing a project on time, or for learning a new programming language.  It all adds up, and the more positive thoughts you can create, the more self-confidence you will generate as well.
  3. Help someone else! — I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been reenergized about a personal project after helping someone else with a project that they were working on.  There’s something about taking the time to help someone else that keeps us focused and gives us a small confidence boost.  Also, there’s the added benefit of paying it forward, you never know when you will need help in the future.
  4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes — Sometimes our negative inner voices scream our fear of making mistakes.  But guess what, we aren’t perfect.  Often times the best way to learn is to mess up first and learn from our mistakes.  Also, don’t be afraid to learn from other’s mistakes.  If you fear making mistakes, research others that have made the mistakes and learn from that!

Don’t let the next opportunity pass without tossing your name in the bucket!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Self Improvement

 

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My PS4 Journey…

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The Euphoric, and over-dramatized story of my PS4 purchase…

The day is Black Friday 2014.  There are a zillion deals online for gaming systems, with many deals specifically targeting PS4 systems and games.  My heart skips a beat when I see several games bundled with the PS4 system, for FREE.  But wait!  I can’t buy a PS4 now!  I have finals, and lots of school work, and and and… My logical mind reminds me that the deals that were out probably would not be topped until the following Black Friday season (maybe this wasn’t THAT logical).  As my fingers clicks away, adding my shipping and payment information, I can’t help but become giddy at the prospect of playing a brand new system with amazing graphics.  My mind wanders to happier times of staying up late and killing things in the privacy of my own home.  Finally, I click that bright orange “Confirm Purchase” button and I receive an email confirmation informing me that I would receive my new system in 2 days.

The wait began, but I didn’t wait idly!…

While waiting for my new system, I decided to catch up on all of the new games that were available for the PS4 and read about future game releases.  During my wait time, I also ordered a few more games and my excitement only grew as I tracked my PS4 system daily (ok hourly) until its arrival a few days later.  I became at war with myself because I had final exams to study for, but I also had a brand new shiny system waiting for me to click it, touch it, smell the new plastic smell (ok this is going too far).  But you get my point, I was torn between being the good straight A student and the video game playing cave troll that I’m just as comfortable with being.  But finally, the student won, and I tucked my PS4 away on the shelf until I finished with my final exams, for I knew that had I cracked open my new system, I would not be able to pull myself away in order to be productive.

Once final exams were over… 

Now, grades were posted, exams done, and I had 3 entire weeks to play to my heart’s content.  I started with, “The Last of Us”, with its pull on my protective nature and my fondness of dystopian settings.  I found myself loving the story and wanting to play more, but my mind kept returning to wishing I had a keyboard and mouse and not a controller.  So, I thought to myself, maybe it was just how the game was made and I moved on to the next game, Grand Theft Auto V.  Again, so much excitement and I was ready to repo the crap out of some cars and be as bad ass as I could be.  But again, my clumsy fingers kept yearning for my keyboard and mouse.  I told myself that it had just been some time since I played console games.  Over the past 5 years, my gameplay has been strictly PC and I wanted to convince myself that I just needed some time to revert back to my origins.  I started playing console games with the PSOne and wasn’t introduced to PC gaming until YEARS after I’d already fallen in love with game consoles.

I failed my fellow gamers… 

After hours of playing all of the games I’d purchased, GTAV, The Last of Us, Shadow of Mordor, Destiny, and Minecraft (don’t judge, or I’ll cry lol), I realized that my issue was the console/controller.  I found myself incredibly interested in the story and the game play itself, but not  enjoying interacting with the game via a controller.  My new-found disdain for controllers was extremely confusing to me considering the hours of time I spent playing COD, Halo, and pretty much every other FPS on my XBox360 and the metric ton of games I played on both my PSOne and PS2.  I considered that possibly I had bumped my head or was coming down with something, but no, I was in great health.  I found myself slowly gravitating back to my PC games, playing a game of D3 here, a game of LoL there.  Next thing I knew, my PS4 and the games were sitting collecting dust.  What happened?  What did I do wrong?  Do unicorns really exist?  My brain could not comprehend what was happening.

I haven’t completely given up…

I still believe deep down that I just need to keep at it.  Now that winter break is long gone and school is in session, I don’t have much time to play video games, so when I do, I go back to my old faithful games that I enjoy playing.  Although I do play some type of game every day, usually an hour or so of Diablo 3, or a match (or 2) of League of Legends, I don’t have nearly as much time as I will have during the summer break.  I will definitely spend quite a bit of time playing during the summer break.  I plan on playing around with the controller settings again and maybe tweaking my way back into the console scene that I loved so much for so many years.  Either way, I REALLY want to finish The Last of Us, and get much further into GTA V at the very least.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Gaming

 

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Video Games & Math: A Survival Guide!

math, meme,

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It has been awhile!

Yes, I have to say that it has been a few months since I have posted.  I can truly say that it’s not due to inactivity.  A few injuries in my family caused my time to be completely redirected, but now that everything seems to be getting back on track, I am attempting to get back on schedule with my blog posts.

But first, an update!

So, math? lol.  In a previous post, Math and Game Design, I talked about my fears around not getting enough Math in my curriculum in school.  I found out the deficit was due to how my major was coded and if I wanted to get more Math, I would have to change my major.  I did so without hesitation.  My major originally was a double major in Computer Science and Graphic Design.  I thought this was a good route to follow considering my desired future in making video games.  But then I learned that my school cut out a lot of the math options in order to accommodate the double major status.  Now that I have that situated, Calculus I and II, Discrete Math, Linear Algebra, and Differential Equations are all part of my near future! Well, I actually completed Calculus I already and that was a challenge, but I did well!

Somehow, Math made me a cave dwelling loner…

The last Math class I took prior to Calculus I was Trig in 2001.  Yes, I’m old.  I’ve always excelled in Math without effort.  I took AP Calculus in high school and although I placed in Calculus II on my placement test, I still decided to only take Trig because it was the minimum requirement for my major at the time (I was a tad lazy back then).  I got a B in the class, even though I only came to class for quizzes and exams.  To further demonstrate my laziness, I had a friend sign me in for attendance and turn in my home assignments.  I mean, 8am classes are just evil.  Anyway, the true point is that not only had I not taken a Math class in 14 years (damn), I also did not put much effort into the class that I did take.  To say that I was a bit intimidated to take Calculus after such a gap in time, is a monumental understatement.  I spent HOURS reading, watching YouTube, doing practice problems, pulling my hair out, and having mini heart attacks while waiting for grades to be posted.  But in the end, I feel as though it was all worth it.  I mean, who cares if I growled at people who came within 10 feet of me, or that I locked myself in my room while I solved problems that took up both sides of the paper?  The point was that I was figuring it all out…

League of Legends… My saving grace…

I found that breaking up my studies with a wholesome (lol) game of LoL was really beneficial to me.  I could virtually shoot things, yell at my monitor, giggle when I killed things and then get back to my studies.  I also played my favorite streamers in the background while I studied and often the ambient noises of game play or hearing a funny joke would make me giggle and I would relax significantly.  On too many occasions to count, when I returned to my math problems, the answers that I couldn’t figure out were so obvious to me, all I needed was to step away for a bit.  What better way to step away than video games 🙂

What’s next?

This session, I’m taking Discrete Math, Computer Graphics, and Calculus II.  Three classes that are drenched in Math and I’m actually looking forward to it.  After taking Calculus I, I rediscovered what I had loved so much about Math so long before.  The primary concept being how many applications of Mathematics there are in the world.  Math is everywhere, and the more I study and appreciate it, the more I see it in my every day life.  Although my course load this session is likely to keep me a cave-dwelling loner, I promise to leave my cave to share more of my story!

TL;DR

Math is yummy.  If you’re into programming, don’t be afraid to take those extra math classes, so far I have seen just how every single math concept I’ve learned can be applied to Computer Science!  Also, play video games.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Programming

 

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Peanut Butter, Jelly and Algorithms: A mini update!

Algorithms

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What do these three things have in common? Well, it’s what I’m having for breakfast!

It has been about a year…

As time progresses towards to the one year anniversary of me changing everything in my life in order to return to school, all that I can do is count my blessings.  I post about this subject quite a bit, mainly because life changing events tend to have that effect on most people and I am no exception.  One thing that I can say is although my life has not slowed down one bit, it is a different kind of chaos that I live in now.  One that I have complete say in and complete control over.  Which is completely different from the chaos I lived in last year.

What’s happening?…

Well, Fall Semester started almost 7 weeks ago and I am getting into the Graphic Design portion of my classes, but I also am taking an Algorithms class.  One thing that I have learned is that Algorithms have completely mesmerized me and have taken over my brain cells.  So much so, that I wonder why I am just learning Algorithms when I’ve taken quite a bit of programming classes so far.  I believe that this class would have helped me with each programming class that I’ve taken so far since I’ve returned to school.  Some of the concepts have been interesting with me attempting to wrap my mind around them, but for the most part they all make since.  Although I’m taking 3 other classes, my life has slowly began to evolve around Algorithms and getting a sound understanding of them.

PB&J and Algorithms… 

As I stated earlier, my breakfast this morning was interesting, mainly because I woke up thinking about a basic Algorithm that we learned during the first week of class.  Being pretty early in the course, we were discussing Union Finds and the difference between the different methods.  I was interested in the relationship between the different methods.  While reading the material, I remember having difficulty with simply identifying the results of certain unions.  I wasn’t able to answer the questions until I mapped them out for myself on a piece a paper and using a highlighter.  At the time, I felt silly, but thinking back, it was a visual way of helping me understand the concept.  What had me up early this morning thinking about Algorithms was the different ways to analyze situations in order to develop an algorithm to suit the situation.  Really, as simple as this concept is, it really opened my eyes to how I’ve thought in the past.  I have ALWAYS been a person that hate doing repetitive things.  I usually try to find a way to make a process easier and automated if possible.  I was the person creating spreadsheets with formulas because I could see the time saved once the work was done.

The last revelation I’ve had of this magnitude was during my Probably and Analysis class during my very first semester.  We had to write a list of everything we did each day, the more detailed the better.  For example, instead of listing “I woke up”, we listed “I took a breath, I opened my eyes, I lifted my arm”… etc.  You can see how tedious a list like this could be.  Well, this was my professor’s way of explaining the different programming paradigms and the differences between languages that are closer to machine language and the ones that are more high level.  All explanations of different languages have led me back to that visual assignment and have helped me to digest concepts better.

Since this is an update… 

I’m excited to announce that I am still on the Dean’s list and I still have a 4.0!  I was afraid that once I had gotten into more difficult topics that it would be tougher to maintain my grades.  I still have a bit to go but I am getting more comfortable and learning more and more each day.  One thing I do have to say is that I learn a lot on my own.  I read so much and practice much more than is required.  This is for my own benefit, I don’t want to get to the point that I am not constantly learning something new.  I also want to learn in tandem with what my classes are teaching me.  I still use YouTube as a great scholarly resource 🙂

I am still taking supplemental MOOC‘s to make sure that my learning is well-rounded.  These have been tremendously beneficial and the options available have also grown.

As always, I am excited about what the future will bring, and I am happy of my new addiction: Algorithms… 🙂

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2014 in Programming

 

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Math and Game Design

lovemath

 

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My epic quest to encounter more math…

Math, really?  Yes! I have come to the point in my studies that I feel the need to brush up on my math skills.  I have been reading many resources and on multiple occasions I have discovered that a pitfall some may succumb to is not taking enough math when pursuing a degree in Computer Science.  Apart from this research, many of the books I’ve been reading mention that although an extensive background in math is not necessarily a requirement, it helps.  Some of these resources even add that the better programmers have backgrounds in Mathematics as well.

Well, that’s fine and dandy but what now?

I am in the situation where I have fulfilled the Math requirement for my degree, but I took these classes over 10 years ago (oh boy I feel old).  In addition to this, my double major is already getting a bit pricey so I do not want to take any additional credits that won’t go directly to my degree requirement.  My solution? MIT Open Courseware…

What is MIT Open Courseware exactly? 

A few posts ago, I wrote about MOOCS, massive online open courses.  MIT makes a huge chunk of their courses available, and many of them have assessments, audio/video lectures, and final exams so that you can test yourself on concepts and retention.  Although you do not receive credit for taking the courses, who can put a price on gaining knowledge? For me, it is not about receiving credit, it is about brushing up on concepts and developing a mental muscle that will ultimately make me a better programmer in the long run.

What classes will you take?

Here’s the thing… lol.  I have this thing where I am a learning junky.  I am that girl that can not sleep because she has to read one more chapter of that coding book (like last night).  I am saying this because once I started researching which classes I want to take, my list grew from about 3 or 4 courses and now it’s at 23 lol.  Just to put that into perspective, the number of classes required to get a full 4 year MIT degree is about 35-36 courses.

Once I started browsing, I said to myself, “Self, why not learn a bit more while you are at it?”.  Why limit myself to just learning some Math, why not see what all of the hype is about?  What started as supplementing my learning with Math, turned into supplementing my learning in general.  The mentality behind my decisions were to choose courses that I:

1) know I will need some extra practice with.  In these situations, I am already taking the equivalent at my University, but I want to take the MIT OCW version to solidify my learning.

2) fit the requirements of MIT students.  I took a look at the Math requirements for a Software Engineering degree at MIT and found most of the equivalent classes. I also added a few courses that interest me in general and have nothing to do with any particular structure.

Yeah, but the courses?

Here are the courses that I came up with.  Remember this was catered to me specifically based on my interests, the classes that I’m taking at University, and the requirements of a MIT Software Engineering degree.

Ok here they are (in no particular order):

  • Intro to Computer Science and Programming
  • Computation Structures
  • Elements of Software Construction
  • Introduction to Algorithms
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Language Engineering
  • Probabilistic Systems Analysis
  • Mathematics for Computer Science
  • Design and Analysis of Algorithms
  • Practical Programming in C
  • Intro to C Memory Management & C++ OOP
  • Effective Programming in C and C++
  • Physics I
  • Physics II
  • Calculus I
  • Calculus II
  • Differential Equations
  • Linear Algebra
  • Computational Methods of Scientific Programming
  • Logic I
  • Modal Logic
  • Decisions, Games and Rational Choice

Um… that’s a lot…

Welp, it is, especially in addition to work, a full time school schedule, and a game dev internship.  From now until I get my masters, I have quite a few years, so I will use these resources to supplement my learning on a more structured bases.  Right now, I already use MOOCs to supplement my learning, but now I will approach it from a different angle.  Instead of looking for materials to help me with the classes I’m taking, I will use MOOCs to help me learn tangential topics that will help me in the long run.  I believe it’s a win-win in my opinion.

Mmmmm Yummy Math… 

All in all, I’m extremely excited about this new adventure.  I have always believed that knowledge is power and MIT OCW is just another tool to gain knowledge with a bit of a challenge added to it!

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2014 in Programming

 

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Women in Programming – The Great Debate

programmers

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Recently, a friend of mine in the technology field asked me a very interesting question.  She wanted to know why in the heck did I choose to go into the software development field.  She knows of my history with being a female in management and was curious as to why I decided to go into an even greater male-dominated field.  The only response I could think of was to tell her that I hit like a girl.

Huh?  You hit like a girl?

Well, recently I saw an ad by “Always” that asked adults to demonstrate how to run and throw “like a girl”.  The adults (women included) ran dramatically and flimsily, basically demeaning themselves and every female they ever met.  When they asked young girls to run and throw “like a girl”, they ran with all of their might, and threw as hard as they could.  Why? Because they ran like themselves, strong young women.  Their minds had not be hindered to think that doing anything “like a girl” was demeaning.

I have been blessed to have a strong mother as a role model, and I’ve always believed that I can do anything that my male counterparts could do.  I don’t think of this consciously, it’s engrained within me.  Actually, my thought process is if someone else can do it, then so can I — male or female.  So, when I told my friend that I hit like a girl, I meant that I made the decision based on my passions, not based on current industry standards.

But her question forced me to think harder…

I remember the feeling of always being the only female amongst my peers, and in many situations the only African American.  I come from a family where race didn’t matter, but it was hard not to notice in situations where there was a room full of white males, and then there was me.  I remember feeling excluded even if it was only because they edited their usual conversations in hope of not offending me.  There were situations where I would find out about outings where they would bond, but I was never included.  Yes, this was not the main point of running a business, but regardless, the feeling did sting.  I learned to be strong and self motivated.  I learned to do everything harder… study… sell… learn… train…

I honestly have never worked in any other environment.  I want to be a game developer because I am passionate about games and creating things.  I feel epic amounts of joy when I figure out new ways to code and push myself to learn as much as I can.  I feel amazing when I learn a new programming paradigm and language.  I understand what I’m getting myself into, but that never stopped me in the past, it will not stop me now.

Does the absence of females in programming mean that we are bad programmers?

Absolutely NOT!  From birth, we were encouraged to be domesticated.  We were given dolls when men were given fire trucks.  Marketing and advertisements have portrayed us holding babies while men are portrayed behind computers and wearing suits.  This trend is shifting as of late, but much of the change has happened in recent years — not enough time to offset the affects.  There is an epidemic around the world that still casts women in the mere shadows of men.  It will take time to change this epidemic, but in the meantime, women have to shed their fear and follow their dreams regardless of the terrain ahead.  Long story short, our absence does not make us bad programmers, we just need to open our eyes and our horizons to the possibilities.

Toxicity and the Good Ol’ Boys Club…

Both professionally and personally, I have been in contact with the painful outcomes of male-dominated environments.  Professionally this club manifested itself in me being passed up for well deserved promotions and me making far less than my peers for many years and in several different positions.  Personally, I’ve experienced the gaming community where girls were treated like inferior beings that deserved to spend their time in the kitchen.  Yet, I carved my way in both environments.  I let my work ethic speak for itself and in gaming I was accepted through playing well and being consistent.

Is what we face as women fair? 

Not even slightly, but neither is life.  I can say one thing, I am a stronger person because of my experiences.  I have so much perseverance and I believe in my capabilities.  I also know that I can push myself past my limits to achieve things that I didn’t even think were remotely possible.  The best I can do each day is try to dispel the notions that doing anything “like a girl” is a negative thing.  The best I can do is work hard to learn enough to be a valuable asset within any company that I choose to work.  Last, but certainly not least, I can bring myself to work every day.  I don’t want to be “one of the boys” — I want to be a girl, that just so happens to be a programmer.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in STEM

 

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Apple vs. Android =^.^=

android-vs-apple

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This isn’t my usual type of post, but after having this debate so many times with friends and family, I felt it necessary to lay out my thoughts about the topic.  🙂

I drink all of the Apple Juice and eat all of the Apple Sauce…

One may look at me now and think that I am completely biased when speaking on this topic.  I currently use a Macbook, I have an iPad, an iPhone 5s, and I use my iPod classic when I’m working out, I use Apple TV, connect my devices through an Apple Airport Extreme, and I locally backup my devices via my Apple Time Capsule… Even listing these outright made me shudder at the likelihood that I’ve become an Apple fangirl.  But it has not always been this way.  In fact, I had been ANTI Apple for, well a long time.  I also have to qualify that I worked at a major electronics retailer for 14 years and was exposed to all different devices (all at discounts so I got to choose what worked best for me).

So what made me jump into the Appley Goodness? 

The initial appeal to Apple actually was something more practical — the battery life on early Android devices left me wishing for the simplicity of a flip phone again.  I mean, what was the point of having a sophisticated smart phone, if it was DEAD by noon? I’m not saying that the battery life on the early iPhone was the best either, but from my own experience it was far better than my experience with my first Android device.  Once smartphones had completely taken over the market and there was representation across all platforms, I was able to make an even better comparison. Here are some things that KEPT Apple as my primary device (for most of my career I had two devices, a work and personal phone — typically one was Apple and one Android):

1) Con (Android) Slow to Update — The issue with Android is that there are HUNDREDS, if not thousands of different Android devices out there that all need to be considered before updates happen, and they all depend on both the manufacturer and carrier to get their heads together.  Essentially there are too many hands in the pots and I got tired of waking up and checking my phone for critical and awesome updates to software… only to find it either was postponed or cancelled altogether.  With Apple, the hardware and the software comes from one place and once an update is announced, I have it available to my phone within the week.

2) Con (Apple) App Restraints — Apple has gripes about paying for things in an app that’s not charged through iTunes, so a few of my favorite apps, I have to go through extra steps to pay for something, which is a pain.  Although I’ve heard that Android has been having some hiccups in this arena as well.  There were also some features on some apps that were available on Android but not on Apple, although that can be said the other way around as well.

3) Con (Apple) DMR — Apple has it’s hands wrapped tightly around copy rights and you have to essentially buy everything you listen to.  Although applications like Spotify and Pandora and even iTunes Music make this less of an issue these days.  However, I do miss assigning any song in my library as a ringtone (like you can on Android).  Android is more open platform, so I was able to download music for free through some applications.

4) Con (Android) App Exclusivity — Yes! Android HAS come to market with a ton of apps and has a robust market place now.  However, there are STILL companies that only release Apple applications and specialized devices that are only available for iDevices.  Why?  Because of the issue that I mentioned earlier.  There are HUNDREDS of different devices for Android, different hardware, software versions, different specs, different screen aspect ratios.  From a programmer’s point of view, even though Apple sends developers through more hoops and circles to develop an app for them, in the long run it’s more simple because of the standardization of their iOS.  The same entity makes the devices and makes the software… So, even though more times than not Apple and Android versions of apps are released simultaneously, there are considerable times when they aren’t (at least in my experience and for apps that benefit me).

My iPhone 3Gs was my Apple Gateway Drug…

After taking a zillion pictures with my iPhone 3gs and having far better battery life, and syncing it happily with my iTunes account (on my then windows laptop), I was happy and content.  There wasn’t anything spectacular about my phone.  But that was just it. There were no gripes, no “I wish this, I wish that”.  It worked for my purposes and I was happily content with it.  I didn’t go and buy everything Apple I could find at this point, but gradually over the years once something died (like my router), I started to consider buying an Apple device as a replacement.

Apple isn’t for everyone… 

I’ve said all of this in order to address my preferences, but one thing I learned while interacting with customers day in and day out, is that everyone is different.  There are people that will be Android forever and people that will be Apple forever.  Even now, I still have some Android devices that truly amaze me such as the Samsung Note Tablet — awesomeness personified.  Some of the things that are cons to me may be pros to other people.  Therefore I have not fixed the debate but happily perpetuated it 🙂

The important thing is that everyone should choose for themselves what works for them.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2014 in Programming

 

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Oh where art thou summer break?

summer

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First things first, an update…

This semester has been challenging.  Mostly due to my Modern Poetry and Art History classes.  When I’m in front of a computer coding out a program, I can sit there for days and feel energized and excited.  Sit me in front of my Modern Poet Anthology textbook and I go brain dead within seconds.  I’m thinking my problem stems from me being too analytical for my own good.  I start to pick apart each and every word of a poem until I turn myself upside down and sideways.  So, this semester has led to me being awake at 4am reading poetry while pulling my hair out effectively.  As for Art History, I was originally completely baffled by interpreting art and the meaning behind it.  But now, after studying and reading about the different art terms, I’ve gotten a bit better with my assignments.

“Summer Break” will be here soon… 

I have so many plans for this summer break.  Mainly, messing around with app design and development.  My goal by the end of the summer is to come up with an app/game.  I’m completely excited about having time to learn some things that I want to learn.  I will also have more time to develop a game with some friends, a project that I haven’t had much time to contribute to this semester.  I do have one class that I have to take this summer, which I just registered for due to a grant that I was awarded for summer only.  Couldn’t pass on that opportunity!

My Blog, this summer… 

Last but not least, I look forward to having more time to write.  I enjoy documenting my adventures in turning my life upside down.  My goal is to completely re-work my blog and spend some much needed time on a design.

The Countdown Begins!

I’m not sure if it’s premature to start my countdown for summer break lol, but I have!  Four weeks to my first summer break without having a full time job – since, well, ever?  I believe this is reason enough to celebrate as well as a reason to start counting down early.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Self Improvement

 

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How I Raise My Spirits =^.^=

coderbug, umbrella, school, dreams, programming, education, life, vegan, lift your spirits, self motivation, college

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The past few weeks have been interesting.  A few things have happened, first, I got a part-time job.  One that I can do mostly from home and one that’s helping a family member as well.  I’ll be using the $$ I get from this job to fund a nice vacation for myself, considering I did not factor a vacation into my dubious plans to return to school.  I can not say that I have been in a rut lately because that is not quite the word.  I am still overly excited to be actively pursuing my dreams, and I am still on track to make my dreams come true.  The only word that comes to mind is “underwhelmed”.

Pursuing your dreams isn’t always as SEXY as it seems…

That just goes to show you that the movie montages of people finally making changes in their lives, make dream following seem a lot more exciting than it really is.  Case in point, have you ever seen “The Mirror has Two Faces”?  I’ll call SPOILER ALERT, only for courtesy, but really come on, it came out like 7 million years ago.  Anyway, Barbara Streisand’s character goes through this life changing period while her husband is away on business.  She starts to work out, eat healthily, and moreover, she starts to care about her appearance.  A period of 3 or so months are sped up to fill about a 4 minute time frame where she is getting her life in order.  Funky and somewhat motivating music plays in the background as she transforms.

Well, I do not have theme music following me around… but maybe I should…

After the first few weeks of feeling adventurous, I came to the realization that things just feel like business as usual.  Even when I consider that my life today is completely upside down from what it was a year ago.  It is odd how we can grow so comfortable, so quickly.  Although I am not glum, I’ve grown somewhat complacent in my current status and that thought scares me slightly.  I don’t want to be comfortable, I want to be on edge, ramped up and full of enthusiasm to push my life to a better tier.  To be better than I was yesterday and the day before.

I realized, this change is not just about my career, it’s about my life…

So, to raise my spirits, I did a few things.  First, I decided to be a vegan.  Yep… a vegan.  Why?  Because after doing a 3 week cleanse, I discovered that I had felt the best that I had in my entire existence on this earth.  I had a ton of energy and I just felt great about the wonderful vegetables, whole grains, and fruits that I was feeding my body.  I take vitamin supplements now and I make sure that I get protein and calcium from other sources, but boy, do I feel wonderful.  There’s also the added bonus of finding new and exciting recipes that really spark a fire under my creative side.  This change has been major for me.  Although I love and care about animals, I did this change originally as a cleanse and now I’m on this journey for the awesome change being a vegan has been.

How I settle my anxiety about my unknown future…

I tend to obsess over the details in most situations.  So, last night I sat down and mapped out the rest of my classes, down to the semester.  I even looked up pre-reqs and adjusted my courses as follows.  I now have a guide registration that will allow me to ensure that I will graduate by the time I want to.  For some reason, this has raised my spirits and I’m not as worried about school as I was before doing this.

Graduate School….

Finally, I decided that I’m going straight to grad school.  Two more years of being a full-time student is worth the investment, in my opinion.  Some options that I weighed were the understanding that grad school will most likely get pushed to the side if I returned to the workforce and picked up grad school in a few years or so.  Also, by going immediately, I will have the time to spend in the studio day and night if I please.  The idea of this really gets me excited to finish my studies.

Surrounding myself with like-minded individuals…

My mom always spoke to the effects of the company we keep.  I have been steering clear of those who are unproductive and spending much more time with people who understand my goals and push me towards them.  I have also been asked to help a friend 🙂 on a project that I’m extremely excited about.  This gives me exposure to my future field without the pressure associated with it.  I can also poke around safely (thanks to git lol) and see how a bigger project works.  I’m hoping this will push me to tinker on other things myself as well.

What do you do to lift your spirits?

Everyone needs those things that make us feel better overall and keeps us motivated.  I’ve spent a bit of time discovering those things that both motivate me but also keep me on track for my goals.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Self Improvement

 

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