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My Life as a Wise Guy

wiseguy

So am I a know-it-all, or a member of the Mafia?  You decide…

Ok, putting the self-important title aside, my school just recently started a program called Wise Guy were students can sign up to tutor other students.  I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to give back and help others who may be struggling with understanding content.  Honestly, I can relate to trying to figure out elusive subjects and not completely understanding what was going on.  I recall hours and hours of reading text books, searing the web, and bugging my classmates and professors.  I remember signing up for the standard tutoring sessions through certified tutors, and finding that I was even more confused after the session than before I began it.  I remember opting to stop using the school-provided tutoring because it started to be a waste of time.

Now that I have this opportunity, I want to make better experiences…

We all have those ah-ha moments.  Those times when some previously fuzzy concept, now becomes crystal-clear to us.  I remember finally coming to a point of understanding and recognizing that there were approximately a zillion better different ways that a concept could have been taught. I discovered that simple (to me at least) concepts were presented in ways that were overly complicated.  So, as a tutor, I hope to explain things in a way that removes some of the fuzziness, while providing an environment that people can ask questions and understand that there are no stupid questions [especially when trying to wrap your mind around a complex subject].

At first I did this to give back, but now I see it’s also for me…

Apart from the overall awesome feeling I get when helping others, there’s also a sense of validation for me.  I never seem to give myself credit for all of the hard work I’ve put in over the past 2 years learning to program.  Through tutoring others, I am able to gauge my personal knowledge of a topic, which forces me to stop being so hard on myself. Talk about win-win situation!  Although my goal has been to tutor over the summer while not taking classes, I hope that I am able to carve out some time during the Fall to continue with this amazing opportunity.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2015 in Education

 

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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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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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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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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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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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