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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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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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My Final Project – My attempt at speaking “computer”

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Down to the wire… this is how I roll…

I completed at the absolute last moment that I could… okay, I actually had 4 hours to spare and felt pretty darn good about that.  It was not until early that morning however, that I finally figured out a specific code for a major portion of my Final Project.  This alone made Saturday night a very sleepless night for me, for I spent the entire night worrying about the status of my Final Project, which is 25% of my grade.  I even had a nightmare that I forgot to submit it and work up in a panic Sunday morning, with the realization that it wasn’t even due until that night >.<. 

The great divide… between me and my classmates…

After I submitted my project, I couldn’t help but compare myself to my classmates.  I had thoughts of them having extra bells and whistles to their program.  In essence, they coded the next Facebook, while I “played” a simple instrument LOL.  I am not completely sure why I do this to myself… correction, I know EXACTLY why I do this to myself.  I come from a VERY competitive environment, if you are not first, then you are last… dead last.  I find myself comparing myself to my classmates and feeling god awful afterwards. I forced myself to stop comparing myself long enough to take an Ibuprofen for the massive migraine I had and I allowed myself to sleep soundly for the first time since the professor posted the requirements for my Final Project.   

That’s when the emails started…

OUTRAGE, is what some of my peers displayed.  Apparently, one classmate sent out an email to the entire class chastising my professor saying that he was an awful teacher and that she did not pay $900 to take a class where she had to teach herself.  Then immediately after there were a string of “reply all” emails of students saying that they STILL had no clue of what the professor was asking for in the Final Project.  Some even stated that they submitted their projects with compile/syntax errors and a world of squiggly lines (that’s what I like to call them).  I was shocked.  Here I am thinking I am comparing my project to the next Facebook when many of my peer’s programs did not even run.  As for me, my project was running seamlessly and I felt pride swell in my chest.  Maybe I should have felt bad for my classmates, complaining to each other far too late to do anything about it.  But instead, I felt great about myself.  Because, yes, the project was bear, but I approached it as I approach every problem in my life, by asking myself… “How do you eat an elephant?”… one toe at a time!

Victory is Sweet — but ice-cream is sweeter…

After I wiped the silly smile off of my face, I went for ice-cream.  My highly basic, n00b-tastic coding was far from what any normal programmer would consider as being worth celebrating.  But hey, my project is MY highly basic, n00b-tastic coding and I am super proud of it.  For one, I did NOT give up, I read, researched, GOOGLE’d, pestered my professor, and did all that I could in order to wrap my mind around what it was that I was supposed to accomplish.  100% of my extra time was devoted to this project and I’m extremely happy with the outcome.  The smile returned with the ice-cream cone [it was chocolate if you must know].  Thus a new tradition has began.  I will close out every successful class with a celebratory ice-cream cone. 

I would be lying if I said I could care less about the grade I get…

Honestly, deep down, I don’t care.  I accomplished so much more this session.  I completed the first REAL class towards my new career.  I know a TON more than I knew just 8 weeks ago. 

[Commence Victory Dance]

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in Programming

 

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