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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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Learning Relational Databases – Summer Fun =^.^=

Programmer Problems

 

Ooops, I dropped a course… 

In January, I was having serious issues with a class, Relational Databases.  I felt completely lost in the class, not necessarily because of the content, but because of the learning environment.  Reading about databases just was not cutting it and although I resorted to YouTube videos for supplemental learning, my professor’s requirements were unique.  I could understand the supplemental information that I found, but I could not correlate it to my professor’s teaching style.  When I asked for additional help, the language barrier left me even more confused.  So, reluctantly I decided to drop the class.  I’m saying all of this to say… I can run but I can’t hide.

Welcome to the summer session of Relational Databases… 

The first two weeks of this class has shown me two things 1) I wasn’t going crazy in January when I took RD the first time 2) I’ll learn all about relational databases after all.  The one thing that really stood out to me was the different ways to notate data models, which can seem confusing but was actually great for I could choose the style that I felt most comfortable with.  Although I would rather be doing more summery things, I am actually enjoying learning about relational databases — does that make me a nerd?

Just in case I’m not the only one in this boat… 

I have found a few supplemental educational tools to help me with understanding Relational databases, so I will share them here!

1) A friend and fellow blogger suggested the Manga Guide to Databases.  This resource has been a great tool in understanding the concepts of databases, while enjoying a really awesome story with subtle-but-funny references to database history.  This guide has helped me to stop STRESSING over learning and enjoy a story in the process.  I’d suggest this reference to any manga lover that also has to learn about databases lol.

2) YouTube!  Yes, YouTube is a distance learner’s best friend.  Reading is great, but having a visual aid helps in learning.  There’s also the added benefit of learning through different perspectives which helps tremendously.  I’ve found one channel of a professor that has all of his lectures for his Relational Databases course available in one handy playlist.  His teaching style is really laid back, however he explains the concepts in a way that’s truly understandable.

3) I stumbled upon a site that has practice examples for the different concepts of databases such as entity relationships and normalization.  The tutorials are straightforward, but the most beneficial is the practice problems.

I’m learning, and it’s awesome… 

I never thought that learning about databases would be interesting, but once I understood all of the areas that databases impact – I realized the importance of knowing all I can about them.  I shall continue to learn!

 

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2014 in Programming

 

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Winter Break & Happiness =^.^=

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Okay, so it’s not a teacher that is assigning extra work for me to do over the winter break, it’s me.  I just found this meme pretty freaking hilarious….

An Update…

It’s been quite a while since I have been able to stop running around long enough to write an entry.  But here I am!  The last few weeks of classes were actually uneventful.  I was able to turn in all assignments without consequence, and all ended well from a grade standpoint.  My final projects revealed themselves to be extremely easy and I was super happy to complete my projects early in order to squander a few extra days for my winter break. 

By break, I mean break from school, not coding!

Yeah, that is right!  I will be using this time to learn some things that interest me, and not necessary the things that are required to deepen my understanding in my classes! FINALLY!  So, I am picking up a few projects to do on my own during this 3 week break! 

Here’s what I will attempt:

1) Teach myself JSON — I’m discovering the pure awesomeness of this tool and since practically of the different Software companies APIs support JSON, I figured this is a good place to start!

2) Develop an APP for one of my favorite games — I am playing around in one of my favorite game’s API – League of Legends.  Since their API uses JSON, I figured this is a match made in heaven!  I am considering building a website with different tools and information.  I know that there are many sites that already offer these services but my purpose is simply to see if I can do it myself!

3) Work on my porfolio — My previous two tasks will help this, but I will be using what I learn to add to my extremely sparse portfolio.  I really need to get started at some point and this is the way that I’m getting it done. 

WORK HARD PLAY HARD!!!

I know that I only have a 3 week break, I will sneak some yummy food and time with the family in there as well.  However, I am so excited to learn something that I want to learn and not something that is assigned to me from my professor.  I have also realized that I am utterly obsessed with learning how to play with League’s API.  I want to develop tools that I can use for myself and make apps for my friends that are customized to our specific needs!

My happy place…

So, I manage to stumble over an app on my phone called Happier.  OMG, this app is amazing.  They encourage you to share a happy moment.  We as humans, tend to dwell on the negative things and don’t take the time to appreciate the happy things that happen in our lives each and every day.  This app is determined to change that.  I have to admit, I can some times be grumpy and quickly develop a “woe is me” outlook on life, through channeling my inner Eeyore.  However, this app has essentially changed my thinking within a few weeks.  Case in point, I was stuck on a concept on my homework assignment.  I set out to post how happy I am for how far I had come in learning to program, and was distracted by all of the happy people posting about the holidays and family.  This made me think of how happy I was to finally be able to spend the holidays with my family… and I posted about it.  My programming issue was far out of my mind and I was able to sleep.  When I woke up, I revisited my coding and BAM, it came to me.  Focusing on the positives in life is a great way to achieve great things! 

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2013 in Self Improvement

 

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Programmer vs. Designer…

imagination, programming, education, learning, life, school, coderbug

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“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

Recently, I have been thinking about the differences between designing and programming.  I suppose this is a typical thought process considering we have just started really getting into GUI within my studies.  I have a passion for both design and programming and that puts me in a position where I am starting to contemplate how in depth I should pursue each.

Currently I have a double major in Comp Sci and Graphic Design, so my courses are aligned to put me on the proper path.  However, in my free time, I find myself being drawn to learn more Graphics and design concepts than coding.  I have a great passion for both, but it seems as though my creative side wants to take over during those times that I am learning new concepts during free time.

Should I choose just one?  I’m thinking… no!

I am in the process of thinking should I stick to one path?  Each path will give me a lot of practice and study since, in my opinion, there is no “mastering” either.  Designers get better and better, but there’s always things to learn and the same goes with being a great programmer.  With all of the different paradigms to learn, 20 years in and I there will always be something more to learn.  However, I love each so much that I don’t want to let go of one.

You may ask, what’s the big deal, just do both!  Well, simply put, I am.  But there’s an underlying fear that if I do both that I will end up mediocre in both instead of great in one.  One major point in me dropping everything to return to school was to ensure that I did make the very best of it and that I put 200% into everything I do.  There is a tangible fear that splitting my focus will dull my effectiveness in both areas of study.

And then I remembered that I have no life!

The one thing that will help me pursue each with the tenacity that I am accustomed to is the fact that I don’t really have much else to do LOL.  When I’m not doing my homework and assignments, I am reading and researching everything I can get my hands on about programming and design.  I spend my free time watching Lynda.com tutorials and read a ton of design an programming blogs.  Quite possibly, my unique situation will lend a hand to me having my cake and eating it too, with ice cream to boot!

Welcome to the dark side, we have cookies…

If forced to choose between the two at the moment, I would choose to pursue programming.  Luckily I don’t have to choose, however, knowing that if push came to shove I’d choose programming, makes my path a tad bit clearer as I look towards my future.  There is something about programming that not only intrigues me, but invokes a since of pride with each concept that I learn and begin to understand.  I think back to the first week and that first project this semester that I sat and worked over for hours and hours.  I lost so much sleep that week and I was beginning to believe that I was in way over my head.  To understand the progress that I’ve made so far really motivates me to keep pushing towards my goals.

 

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Programming

 

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Project Euler – Enhancing My Problem Solving Skills

project euler, programming, coding, education

Versatility comes at a price…

Today was the first day that I decided to try out Project Euler.  I was told about this site a while ago and I hadn’t taken the time to try it out until today.  My goal is to create a program for each problem to help me figure out problems using programs.  It took me longer than I would like to admit to complete the first problem (an hour), but my issue wasn’t in figuring out the answer, it was manipulating the code to display the correct answer.  I was on the verge of frustration knowing the answer but not quite being able to get my code to display the proper answer.  The culprit was a simple word “static”.  I will not get into details of the simple mistake that I made in Java, but maybe that dirty word can give you an idea.

This project makes me happy…

Why?  Because it forced me to ponder what I wanted to accomplish.  I didn’t feel special knowing that over 300K people had already figured it out, but I did feel great knowing that I was added to the long list of names of those who at least tried and succeeded.  For me, I can’t expect to be a pioneer… just yet.  I have to be happy to mimic those that have come before me.  Because even mimicking someone else is far greater an accomplishment than I have been able to achieve so far.

What is Project Euler?

If you have never heard of Project Euler, it’s problem solving system that people can choose a problem to figure out and submit their answers.  You get achievements based on how many problems are answered correctly.  The problems vary in difficulty and the difficulty level increases throughout the problems.  Personally, I think this is an awesome resource for people to practice problem solving and to keep practicing different programming methods.

I will be focusing on attempting a couple of these a week maybe, at least one every week.  I think it’s another way to keep my mind on programming through yet another resource.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Programming

 

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Developing an Android App – My new hobby

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Time is precious… I’m not wasting any of it… 

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I had coded my first app.  However, I did this using App Inventor and it was very simple and basic.  However, now that I have grown comfortable using git/GitHub, I have become inspired to work on my app and make it look like something that I would not mind putting my name on.  To do this, I am in the process of watching the 8 hours of Android SDK/ADT tutorial on lynda.com.  My app is pretty simple and I already have the Java coded out for it, so right now my existing App will be my guinea pig for using the Android Developer Tools.

At first glance…

Everything is super intimidating.  There are so many things to click on that my mind is swimming with all of the options to click on.  But as any other thing I do in my life, to learn/master something big I have to take it one day at a time and start at the very beginning.  Therefore, I am starting with the lynda.com tutorial.  If anything, my App may not be Play Store ready when I’m finished, but it WILL be far better than what it is now.  I’ll be happy if I simply have a useful tool for myself to use!

Ideas are swimming through my head…

I’ve spent the last few weeks in search of a Productivity App that has specific features and every one I stumble across, they have some of the features but not all of them.  In the very back of my mind, dwells an idea of a long term project that I can build upon, which will be a productivity app that fits all of my random criteria.  I am not ready to take on this task yet of course [especially considering that this app will need to be on iOS for me to personally take advantage of all of the benefits].  However, it is great to wrap my head around the fact that one day, I will be able to simply write the codes for something that I can use personally.  Before embarking on this adventure to change my future, I only daydreamed about working on some big project or game for a big corporation.  It finally clicked that one day I will be able to simply work on a project/app/software that I can use solely for my own enjoyment, customized just for me.  This prospect makes this endeavor even more rewarding… imagine that.

First git… next up, the world…

I will use my new found git powers to track my progress and keep me accountable to working on my projects every day.  My ultimate goal is to keep learning and to improve and get better.  The sky is the limit and as long as I put forth the effort, I know that I can obtain each of my goals [which seem to be changing each day that I learn something new].

Shhhhh…

I chose the picture above for this post because it is indicative of how dirty I feel coding android on my Mac lol.  I’m kidding of course, but when I saw this picture on dribble.com, I had to use it today to talk about my experiences with the Android Developer Tools.

Until next time, BE positive, BE unique, BE excellent!

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2013 in Programming

 

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git + me + octocat = <3

github, octocat, coding, learning, programming, education, life

My adventures in ‘git’…

First of all, I love doing anything command line.  It takes me back to the old versions of Windows and me as a 16 year old typing in random things just so that I could feel like a computer geek. 

Anyway, a part of my personal development plan includes me taking the initiative to learn new computery things on my own.  The first on my list was git.  I powered up my tablet and got cozy on the couch and watched 6 hours of git tutorials on my lynda.com account.  I took screen shots of things that seemed important.  I then went back through with my laptop and followed step by step. 

Let’s just say, I’m in happy land.  I even changed my ‘terminal’ to a friendlier color for my eyes and I started by practicing uploading committing my homework assignments from my Java class. 

Validation…

The fact that I sat in a coffee shop over the course of two days, learning git to the extent that I felt super confident that I didn’t need the tutorials again — made me feel validated.  I wasn’t frustrated, I enjoyed the 12+ hours I spent learning git to the extent that I could teach someone else (a beginner of course).  What makes me know that I am truly following my dreams and passions is that at the end of a long day coding/learning, I look up and realize that my day has gone by.  I find myself not being able to sleep because my thoughts are full of ideas and things that I want to check out. 

OctoCat rulez…

Well, the GitHub OctoCat makes me happy because he’s adorable.  He makes repositories worth learning lol. 

One ring shall rule them all!…

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with my Git/GitHub experience.  I am just going to reward myself with a LoTR marathon tonight =^.^=

 

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2013 in Programming

 

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