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College: When things get tough – Complain

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This kitten is totally unrelated to this post, it just cheers me up… who doesn’t like an adorable kitten?

I’m going to say in advance that I am a tad frustrated while writing this post.  One of my professors just sent out an email to the class acknowledging that some students went to the Computer Science Administration for our school and complained about his assignments.  This professor actually gave us his own crafted assignments that were both challenging and took effort to complete.

It took some substantial planning, on my part, to complete the assignment and I was thrilled to receive 100% — because I truly put in effort.  I say assignment (singular), because the aforementioned students went to the administration only one week into the class.  I enjoyed being able to use the techniques I’ve learned throughout my other classes — I even “whiteboarded” the assignment with sticky notes representing the different elements of my program.  From planning to implementation, I enjoyed the process greatly.  Why?  Because it forced me to think, and to analyze.  I had to come up with ways to implement the requirements of the program while still considering all of the different programming elements I’ve learned so far since beginning this Computer Science degree.

Each of the complicated assignments that I looked forward to, were removed and replaced with the approved curriculum.  So, instead of creating an iterative mock banking system as assignment number one, these students will now be able to: Write a program that inputs 5 numbers and output the average of the 5 numbers and their product.  I almost gave labor to a unicorn when I saw what the original program was replaced with.  Part of me feels as though these complainers robbed me of a challenging experience with this class and I feel really irritated by the fact the school didn’t stand behind the professor.

For me, I asked my professor for copies of his original assignment so that I can work on them in my leisure.  I’m going to secretly judge my classmates for the rest of the semester.

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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in STEM

 

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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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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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MOOCs – What’s the hype all about?!?

MOOCs, info, coderbug, education, college

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What is a MOOC? 

Simple, it’s a massive open online course, where major universities make lectures and learning materials available to the public.  Ivy league universities such as Harvard and Yale have offered their courses to the public.  There are programs such as Coursera and Udacity that facilitate courses, allowing the general public to take college level courses, for free in most cases.

What is the MOOC environment like?

Well, I signed up for a course with Coursera at the beginning of this semester.  I was in a “class” with 120k students.  Yes, you read properly, 120k students.  We were learning about programming an Android application.  The structure was similar to any other online course.  There were weekly lectures, reading materials, assessments and projects.  The professor was extremely personable and often posted helpful tidbits that I found personally valuable.  There was a forum for students to discuss different concepts amongst one another.  The response times were almost instant, mostly due to the number of students in the class, as well as the different time zones.  The professor informed us that there were students represented from many different countries and at different levels of experience.  Because of this, the student forum area was extremely helpful because there appeared to be experts that signed up for the class solely to help out others — this concept alone was both amazing and helpful.

MOOOORE on MOOOOCs

There’s buzz around the water cooler that MOOCs are the future of education.  I read an interesting article about MOOCs, which speaks to how MOOCs will change the future because they will allow people who did not have access to education to now have access. The author of the article, Thomas Friedman’s assumption is that people do not go to college because of financial reasons.  He also believes that MOOCs will push educational decision makers to make changes in the archaic educational standards.   He’s been known to speak to the mentality shift in major organizations from hiring people with degrees, to hiring people with a specific skill set.  Companies such as Google and Microsoft have been known to state that many educational institutions aren’t teaching students the skill sets that they need to operate their businesses.  MOOCs can help fill the gap.  Friedman believes that the challenge will be figuring out a system to award credit and/or certification to students that have successfully completed a MOOC.  I agree.

What do I think?

Well, there are both pros and cons to MOOCs, I’ll list what I’ve discovered from my personal experiences with them:

Pros

Free: Let’s face it, we all love to save money, and a free education seems almost too good to be true.

Supplemental Education: Going back to school has led to me scratching my head a few times around concepts that I just simply could not grasp. However, MOOCs have been a great way to supplement my education.  For instance, Yale University’s Modern Poetry MOOC has been instrumental to my learning process this semester.  Coupling what my professor teaches, with the lectures from the Yale University professors has been wildly beneficial.

Working at your own pace: Some MOOCs simply provide the materials for online students to learn at their own pace.  There’s no real follow up, the information is just available for us to consume when we need it. This is very useful for people that aren’t seeking a structured learning experience. Even better for people that are updating a skill set, or using the information for a work project, or even just for the knowledge alone.

Ala Carte Education: Want to learn how to build an app?  Or how to design a website?  Great!  Instead of there being classes that only teach a certain paradigm, there’s complete courses with a “how to” feel.  See it as being “How to setup Quickbooks for your business” as opposed to “Accounting 101”.

Cons

No Credit: When completing a MOOC, students do not receive college credit, so it’s still difficult to use what you’ve learned to gain employment.  Some MOOC programs offer certificates (for a fee) to validate that a course has been complete.  However, with MOOCs being relatively new, not many organizations will recognize the validity in these certifications.  However, the cost of the certificates are very minimal compared to the cost of a full out education, so having these certifications on a resume can only help, not hurt.

Student-to-Teacher Ratio:  For students that enjoy the classroom-like environment, a MOOC can be a difficult transition.  It is impossible for teachers to give individual feedback in a MOOC environment.  A student can quickly feel lost if and when he/she doesn’t fully understand a concept.  Personally, I feel as though this is the cause for the less than 10% success rates that MOOCs have thus far.

Time Management/Self-Motivation:  Just as any online class, the student has to be self motivated or success becomes difficult.  However, this is escalated within the MOOC environment because there’s even less structure than what’s provided in a traditional learning environment.  Simply put, for people to succeed, they need to be already technically savvy and be more than willing to put in the personal time in order to be successful.

“Information is NOT knowledge”: I believe that some MOOC programs (not all), struggle between teaching and simply providing information.  Information help people obtain knowledge, but it’s not knowledge.  Simply making information available cannot replace the teaching process and what teachers bring to the table.  Information is just facts, teachers infuse these facts with experience and give students access to their minds.  Some MOOCs have found the balance between teaching and manufacturing information, some haven’t.

The bare bones… 

Bottom line, MOOCs are a powerful tool that give a glimpse into the future of education.  My school has already started to incorporate MOOCs into the curriculum and I am grateful for my school’s leaders understanding the benefits to these programs.  However, I don’t believe that MOOCs are developed enough to withstand as an only means of education.  MOOCs are great for people who want to hone and develop their skill set.  They are great for students who need another means of learning what they are learning in school.  They are great for a person that want to learn one concept on their own. Finally, I believe they are a great gap closer between what companies need students to learn in order to have the skill set the companies need and what schools have been teaching.

 

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Programming, Self Improvement

 

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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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Following your dreams – Part 2 (Sorta)

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Behold, a New Me…

I have been fortunate enough to take some time from working and to return to school full time.  As I have discussed in previous posts, the act of me following my dreams has lead to me having some interesting, yet sometimes awkward conversations with my family and friends.  I have even had a family member say that they were joking when they called me a “deadbeat” now that I’m spending my time with my nose in a book and not working.  All of these interactions have led me to understand that I will never make everyone else happy, so why do I even continue to try? 

The Art of Not Giving a Fuck…

Recently, a friend of mine posted a link to an article called, “The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck“.  As anti-following-your-dreams as that title may sound, it is actual a great article about not letting what people think keep you from doing what you want in life.  I have spent so much of my time on this Earth concerned about what others think about me.  Looking back, I realize how I basically imprisoned myself through limiting myself due solely to the expectations of others.  While reading this article, I found myself nodding my head.  There were a few points that made me think a little deeper and a little harder, but I found myself agreeing once I really did a tad more self reflection. 

So, is this where I sign up for the “Follow my Dreams” train?

If given the opportunity, would you follow your dreams?  I’m curious because I have had friends who have had the opportunity to do more with their lives, but simply didn’t because they didn’t seize an opportunity.  I suppose a more important question would be, are you following your dreams today?  Right now?  If not, what is keeping you from doing so?  Sometimes I feel as though saying that I’m “following my dreams” seems airy and fluffy and leaves others no choice but to roll their eyes at me.  But it is what I am doing.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in Self Improvement

 

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