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Oh where art thou summer break?

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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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A new year, a new you — Inspiration

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It has been about 4 months now since I decided to leave my cushy job of 15 years and embark on following my dreams by returning to school full time.  Prior to following through on this decision, I had a moment where I started to care about what people would think about me making such a drastic change in my life.  I had worked so hard to get to where I was and I felt as though I was throwing away such a major part of my life.  But now, when I tell people my story, I get people dazing off into space as if they are imagining their lives if they were in my shoes.  After this has happened to me several times, I realized that there are many people out there that are too afraid to truly follow their dreams.  

Baby Steps

In addition to the daydreams I have inspired in people, I have received a bunch of questions about what I did exactly.  So, I thought I would take the time to outline what I did in hopes that it helps someone else.  First things first, I really had to figure out what it was that I REALLY wanted in life.  For me, it came down to developing games.  I love to play video games, and I love designing things, and I love all things techy; and considering I built my first webpage at 12, I had a bit of natural talent there as well.  It was a no brainer for me to make this leap.  But I realized that I would have to make some specific steps to getting to that goal and I knew that it wouldn’t happen over night.  One thing that was abundantly clear was that I would need to get training.  Nowadays, computer science can be learned through many different mediums and platforms.  To make sure that I wanted to do this for life, I did some tutorials online, and started to immerse myself into all things programming.  Before I invested one red cent, I took the time to watch youTube videos, online free tutorials, etc.  Doing so only made solidified my passion for digital creation!

Clear and Defined Goals – with a sprinkle of research…

Now that I was sure that it wasn’t just an awkward phase I was going through in life, I did research on gaming companies and their expectations on their employees.  I was AMAZED to find out that there were some top ranked gaming companies right in my home town.  After my research I knew that returning to school was my only option.  So, step 1 turned into: GO BACK TO SCHOOL!

I did a bit of juggling at first… for about a year… 

My blog may make it seem as though after making up my mind to return to school, I sat down with my boss and told him to shove it.  That’s not the case at all.  Being single and having no children,  I decided to go back to school full time, while working 50-60 hours a week.  As insane as that sounds, I was mostly happy because in the back of my mind, I knew that I was FINALLY taking the steps towards my future dreams.  I did this for two semesters and almost killed myself.  For my own validation for returning to school, I had to have a 4.0, and with all of the things I was juggling in the air, sleep was the ball that fell each and every time.  I was always exhausted, I was making myself physically sick, but at my core, I was pleased and happy with my progress.  But, something had to give…

I wanted to give more to one thing and less to another… 

It came to a point where I needed to make a decision.  I was at the point in my education where I YEARNED for more knowledge.  School is not and CAN not be the only resource of learning to program.  I was spending my nights completing all types of tutorials after my homework was done, and barely surviving on 0 to 3 hours of sleep a night.  I started wanting to get through my days so that I could get home to study more and learn more.  I started to crunch numbers on what I could afford if I stepped down at work, or if I moved to a less expensive place.  I had been saving to buy a house and now those funds looked like less of a down payment and more of a nest egg to fund my aspirations and goals.  Anyway I sliced it, it would be tough and I would have a long road ahead of me.  I also realized that if I did not start taking more classes, I would end up being in school a lot longer than I wanted to be.  I started to lose sleep for a different reason… I could not get the thought of pursuing my future off of my mind.  

And then the stars aligned… 

It was as if the author of my life felt pity on me and lined the stars up perfectly.  1) My retired mom suggested that I moved back home. 2) An internship opportunity flashed in front of me.  3) Something at work occurred that, for the first time, made me question why I had been so loyal to this corporation for so long, and 4) after researching my school’s financial aid policy in regards to modifying my EFC uncovered a deadline that all but forced me to make a decision quickly.  As for moving back home, pride was keeping me from wanting to (I mean, come on, I’d been on my own for all of my adult life) but when my mom suggested it this time… it was as if the suggestion was mana from heaven.  Deep down, I knew that in order for me to get to where I wanted to be, I had to make sacrifices, changes, and had to compromise with myself.  I reminded myself that moving back home would alleviate most of the financial concerns that I had.  With the financial aid situation, I knew that I had to act soon and I did just that…

Those moments in life where you know it is your time…

I knew in my core that this was my opportunity and I didn’t want to regret not taking the leap later on.  This lead me to making the biggest transition in my life that I have ever made.  It was scary, daunting, nerve wrecking, but carefully planned and considered.  I was ready to follow my dreams.

Some serious questions that I asked myself throughout this transition:

1) Is my life what I want it to be?

2) What am I really and truly passionate about?

3) Is the current path of my life what I want it to be?

4) What can I do today to get me one step closer?

5) Is fear keeping me from making changes in my life?

6) Am I letting what others think, hinder me from living a fulfilling life?

7) I just accomplished something that a year ago I couldn’t have even dreamed of, how awesome am I?

What will your future self say about you, as you are today?

Five years from now, when you look back on your life, will you have a story to tell?  We have to be the authors of our own destinies.  Often times we live vicariously through the lives of those on television and wish that we could live their lives.  Or even if it’s not from a television star, maybe even someone in our personal lives, a boss, a doctor, a relative.  We fail to take steps towards our futures that push our passions as close to our occupations as we can possibly imagine.  My dream didn’t start off with taking a major leap, it started with searching myself to find out what would make me happy and then creating a plan to get me there.  I’m not there yet, and I’m far from where I want to be, but I am definitely on my way.  

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Self Improvement

 

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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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My Intermediate Programming Class: Makes me feel a little more like a programmer…

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No one ever uses semi colons properly anyway… 

Before I get to talking about my experiences in my new class, I thought I would share a semi funny story.  I had to do a mini research paper recently and I completely blanked on how to properly use a semi colon.  It looked out of place within my research paper and I stared blankly at my computer screen for a second before I started to giggle.  I have now turned one of the most underused symbols into something I use a million times a day now.  Talk about programming nerd problems LOL.  

I feel a lot more like a programmer… 

After completing my first Java course with an A+ I felt a tad bit victorious.  Considering I have never programmed anything prior to this class, I finished this course with a clearer understanding of programming and what it means to the world.  Programmers are essentially magicians with the capability to create any digital tool that they please.  I am not at the point that I am able to implement any of these magical things, but I have a level of confidence now that did not exist before.  After losing nights of sleep over my final project in my last course, and receiving a 100 on it, I realized that I will be successful, not because I am awesome, but because I am dedicated to learning whatever I can get my little hands on.  

Introducing Intermediate Programming… 

I just started my Intermediate Programming class and despite of the confidence that I gained after completing Introduction to Programming, I have to say I was intimidated by my professor.  He has some really high expectations, and although I am excited about his outlook, I also have a tiny voice in the back of my head that reminds me of my background and the fact that I am truly a fish out of water when it comes to programming.  My fear was recognized when I received an 80% on my first homework assignment.  In my mind, I felt the walls crashing down (right alongside my 4.0 GPA).  As usual, I slapped and reminded myself that the first homework assignment was just 3% of my final grade and that I am not out of the game yet.  The first assignment sets the standard for the professor’s expectations and I just had to dissect my feedback and move from there.  So, after dissection, I learned quite a bit about my professor and his expectations.  I say this only to report that on my second assignment, a project that was worth 15% of my final grade,  I received a 100! 

I am learning so much about myself that I did not know before.  

Primarily, this change in my life is more than just following my dreams, although that was the purpose for me doing so.  I learned that this change is huge in me readjusting what I think I am capable of doing.  I have had to push myself past preset mental boundaries in order for me to accomplish these new tasks in my life.  What happens in these moments however, is a dynamic that can not be ignored: 

The more I push myself, the more I know that I can do anything and the more I feel like a programmer and less like a spectator.  

 
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Posted by on November 4, 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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