Puzzle solved!

There…really is nothing quite like the point where you see the logic in a program failing and make a couple little changes, and POOF! it works. (Except, maybe, solving a Rubix Cube?)

I can improve on two of the things I had to code. When I see the instructor do it, now, I can see it making sense. The problem is that I’ve …*cough* messed up my code with such divergent thinking that it may be simpler to, instead of editing it, either start from scratch or go back to an earlier version.

I still have to turn in a couple of things that I haven’t started yet, as well, but those are not coding exercises, they’re intellectual ones.

As a goal, I have been trying to get all of this done by tomorrow night. I’m not quite there yet, but it’s looking better and somewhat closer to possible.

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I’m almost too tired to say anything, at this point: but I wanted to make a note to my future self. Future Self, don’t be scared of getting out of bed. Do rewatch and reread as all the videos and lectures you need to, as many times as you need to, for the Programming class. It shouldn’t take more than four hours.

Love,
Me

Still bothered by coding.

So…it’s been a few several days since I wrote that post talking about how I don’t think I want to be a Web Programmer. Since then, I’ve completed one Exercise (it works correctly, but it doesn’t meet the requirements) and am well on my way through the third assignment. Problem is, that was due on Tuesday.

Go, me.

In any case…I spent most of today avoiding going back to my code. I just didn’t feel ready. But I didn’t want to play around, either. I ended up resting and trying to plan out a strategy.

By the time I did feel ready, it was about 7 PM. I had decided to run some of my downloads through an online utility, to see if they had been tampered with. I got three hits (out of hundreds)…though at this point, I’m thinking they were false positives.

Of course, that’s after using a bunch of utilities to try and clean one program, and finding nothing.

And, of course, trying to rectify false positives, ate up a lot of my time and energy.

I may be relatively good with technology, but the drawback is that it seems things routinely break with no warning or explanation. I know there has to be a reason…it’s just that the reason may be so arcane that it’s not understandable to anyone except people with advanced Computer Science training. And in a networked environment, it’s possible that the error isn’t even on my end.

It’s tiring.

I have some stuff to mention on the topic of writing, but I’ll put it in a separate entry.

Frustrated and tired.

My code is almost working correctly, on the assignment I was too afraid to tackle earlier in the week.

At least it’s looking like it mostly-works. One thing is more rather than less certain, though: I’m more of a writer than a programmer! It is great to hit on solutions, because it’s basically like (“like?”) being given puzzles every week. (It is being given puzzles every week.) At the same time, for me it’s a bit discouraging/frustrating/tiring when the code isn’t doing what is intended, and it’s not clear exactly why, and you’ve been hacking at it all afternoon. (It is nice to see it incrementally getting better, though.)

Of course I would discover this, one semester away from graduation. I didn’t make Web Programming the exclusive focus of my studies, which I’m glad of, now. In this case, it may be a good thing that I did veer back toward traditional Library services in my recent classes.

I took Reference & Information Services rather than Project Management, last semester: broadening rather than focusing my skill sets onto something I didn’t know I wanted, may have been good. At the very least, it helped me meet some graduation requirements. (Project Management was recommended if one wanted to become a Metadata Librarian, which is still a possibility. Even though Cataloging is difficult for almost everyone, including me.)

Reference & Information Services is another type of problem-solving, but having to do with research and interpersonal skills more than engineering (I’m using the term “engineering” loosely, to mean someone who builds things, whether those things are information-based or not).

The section of classwork I’m working on now (custom and nested functions), is said to be a good predictor of whether one would like to take a full-scale programming class. (I kind of wish the Prof hadn’t said that; it would have helped me get to work on it earlier.) I’m not sure if it is because we are now into territory that I haven’t studied on my own before…

No, actually, it probably is because we’re into territory that I haven’t studied on my own before. This section is requiring some cognitive leaps, and I don’t feel prepared for it.

I actually feel like I may have to review the entire first part of the class to get the hints to know what to do on this assignment, as the code we’re using doesn’t exist outside of the training ground. So it’s not like I could refer to JavaScript or PHP manuals to understand what we’re doing, more, except in an abstract sense — and then translate that back over to the training area.

Though actually, given enough time and study, I could do this. Whether I would want to (and whether I do want to), is a different question. There are a lot of people I’ve admired who are into Tech, but the stuff I’ve been into over the past year (HTML/CSS, SQL, Relational Database Design & Implementation, Web Programming) is kind of next-generation.

And although I am a person who likes to have control over things, from concept, through design, development, and launch…in the real world, I am likely to be working with others, and not having to deal with it all, myself. So I have some choices over what areas I can specialize in — if I don’t close those doors.

I feel like I would actually be better at Web Design, at this point, than Web Programming. Information Architecture is also something I’ve had to deal with (I took two classes on UX)…it’s just that people are so unpredictable. I kept running into times when they would click on something I never expected anyone to click on, in my paper prototype trials…but that was actually easier than this. Even if a lot more messy and scary (because, well, people).

Aaanyhow.

My life has basically been made of trying to get this assignment done, today. I’m not sure if there’s something else due before midnight, but I think you can see where my head is at. I’m just…frustrated. I do only have one more week to go, though.

Then, it’s just me, my job, and my portfolio. And anything else I can find to distract myself with. 🙂

The day is gone. I did turn in something.

At the risk of letting people know I’m up at 1:40 AM after having completed a major assignment, and am not immediately going back to studying (or sleeping)…

I will mention that I got up today, tried to read in my Database textbook, and wasn’t feeling it. Really wasn’t feeling it. And like I said, I had a major assignment due (300 points!). So I shifted away from the Database work and started working on my Instructional Design stuff…which…made me feel more confident…? Useful?…

I did turn it in 35 minutes late, but I think that the process of editing my drafts down to something cohesive and coherent…showed me where things could be different and where maybe it would be better if they were. But the whole Instructional Design process is iterative, so there isn’t any point to beating myself up about not being perfect, about something that isn’t permanent in the first place!

But I did learn how to screencast, and by that I realized that if I wanted to teach, I really could do that online. And if I taught online, I would be able to teach what I wanted to teach to anyone who wanted to hear it. The possibility is really interesting.

Tomorrow I may or may not be doing anything other than trying not to totally bomb my personal Database Management assignment.

And I’m getting a little woozy (lightheaded). It’s been coming on since I reviewed my posted assignment to make sure it worked. I’m also getting a bit of heart arrhythmia (even though my tea was herbal, earlier). Maybe I should get off the computer.

What if (things had gone differently)? Math and Design:

I know I was told to stop blogging late at night, but it’s hard when you feel like you didn’t wake up too long ago. I did finally accomplish that shower, though, and I have taken medication already; so I should have a limited amount of time between now and the point where I can’t think in words, anymore.

Right now, I’m wondering how my proficiencies might have been different if I had continued within the Graphic Arts program, as versus the (Fine) Arts program, in community college. I am aware that the Master’s program I’m in now features various Design possibilities, but this is high-level stuff, and not all of it is related to Graphic Design.

For example: Instructional Design, Database Design, Web Design, Interface Design, Interaction Design, Design Thinking…

That’s much broader than I think they would have taught me at the place where I first started looking into Graphic Arts. There were three things that discouraged me from following through with it:

  • A comment from a teacher stating she thought I, “could do more,” than being a Graphic Designer. (I believe she meant Fine Arts or something along that line; by the time I was in her class, I already had a BA in Creative Writing.)
  • My then-dislike of dealing with people; I was told that what people ask you to do is generally not what they actually want done, and it would be my job to find out what they actually needed (much like the premise of a Reference Interview, but I wouldn’t know that until later).
  • The fact that I was told I would either need an apprenticeship or a graduate degree in order to be successful as a Graphic Designer.

And then, there was this bit:

  • Being harangued off of a (supposed) Graphic Design email list for not using my legal name.

At the time, I was not thinking about graduate degrees at all. My prior undergraduate experience (in Creative Writing) had been so stressful — mostly due to the fact that I had a disability that I was only beginning to realize the scope of, and treat — that I didn’t want to deal with the stress of assignments, grades, and tests, again.

Of course, though, work was a scarier prospect, especially as I knew I was starting out from a (theoretically) compromised position. (I have a bunch of intersecting minority statuses that together, well, they work out in the form of my being underemployed, now. Statistically, it’s not surprising.)

I did end up going back to school, but that was to community college. Initially it was to a bunch of art and computer-related classes. Then I got into a Vocational program because I wanted to be employed. I started the Master’s program in Library and Information Science, got culture-shocked, and withdrew for three years (it’s also likely that my symptoms flared because of the stress, now that I think about it).

During that time, I completed an Art degree from the aforementioned community college district, and made decent headway into a General Business certificate (which I decided to pull out of, after Microeconomics and Intro to Marketing caused me to wonder if my business model was actually viable, and what I was actually selling, if I was selling jewelry. At the time, I hadn’t done the introspection on the latter, and as for whether the jeweling angle was viable…it might have been, for someone who didn’t need health insurance, and was working in metal).

With support and about ten years down the line, I did go back to the Master’s program. I’m hoping to graduate this December. This is expressly for my own financial independence, leading to my physical independence. But I am finding that I like the, “Information Science,” portion of this, more than I expected. At this point, I’m wondering whether I will want or need further skills, and if so, in what?

Web Design? Information Science? Computer Science?

When I was younger, I did well in Math until doing well in Math contributed to making me a target of harassment and group exclusion. Because my experience was so horrible (it was: I would literally dissociate staring at my homework), I really didn’t want to take Math again in undergrad work (this is why I didn’t major in a Hard Science). I have dealt with Math four times since high school:

  • In Statistics (completed)
  • In Accounting (dropped)
  • In Calculus (dropped)
  • In Database Design and Implementation (in process)

…And I’m wondering whether to go back, in order to further work with computers.

As I’ve mentioned before, I only dropped Accounting because I got seriously ill during the class (I’m pretty sure it was the flu, and that I was not only sick but contagious) and did not feel I could catch up. I dropped Calculus because I had no idea if I was doing things right (and was too shy to engage the instructor for help during Office Hours).

It doesn’t help that I’ve been used to having so much Math homework that it was impossible to complete and check it all, within a night’s timeframe; so for a number of years when I was in Math, I just didn’t check my calculations. I’m also not certain I remember how to, anymore. (In addition, the utility of what we were being taught was never divulged; and I learned to play before working because the work would never end, otherwise. Not a great program.)

At this point I can see the usefulness of taking a gamble with one’s GPA in order to actually learn new things. But it feels easier to play it safe than to risk a poor grade. Of course, though, risking a poor grade also means that I might surprise myself with a spectacular performance, and I’d learn something I didn’t think I could.

I do suppose it depends on what I really want to do (or who I really want to be or become). Or what blocks I want or need to burst through.

I did just remember that there are a couple of places online where I can brush up on my Math skills. Plus, I work in the Library field: we have resources. If I want to enter a program on Information Science alone, I can see that I would need to work on this before taking a graduate entry exam. But what would I do with those skills? I can see being a Full-Stack Developer or something, but…

Hmm. I haven’t thought about it…

Assessing where I am, and looking forward:

Okay,

I have made it through Wednesday and today! (I didn’t expect that.) It was especially difficult to get myself out of bed, today, because I knew I had to update an Entity-Relation diagram and had no idea how I would do it. (E-R diagrams are used to plan database architecture.)

I ended up resting for a bit (even though I felt guilty as I did so) and then evolving a plan for how to tackle this…and, unexpectedly, it worked out!

I’m not sure if I should write down how I did it here, or if that will be too arcane for everyone else who reads this blog…(I can write it down in my notes, before I forget). But for one thing: giant paper helps. Color-coding also helps, and 3″x5″ cards help! I also think that because the diagram forces one to think abstractly, it’s likely a good thing that I’m the one doing it.

There’s also the point that I’m not entirely certain how my brain works. I mean, apparently, it knew how to go through the process. I just needed to be open to it.

Back to essentials, though: I seriously need to wash my hair, and I seriously need to exercise. I also seriously need to clean up my office! There is so much paper trash in here. And my bedroom…needs to be dusted, so I can get back to using my desk.

Luckily, I don’t have to go back to work for two more weeks, unless I choose to, so I have some extra time that I can use to either study or take care of myself (including cleaning up weeks of entropy). I’m hoping to get ahead in my schoolwork, but I’m not betting on it.

A few days ago, I did see my prescribing doctor. I’m thinking that I’ll stay on the same medication I’ve been on. My doctor suggested bupropion (Wellbutrin) to lower my appetite, but every time I start a new medication, I have to adjust to my mind working differently.

I’m already on one medication to counteract the side effects of another medication (drowsiness); the bupropion would be to counteract another side effect, which is the tendency to eat constantly.

As far as I’m aware, I could go on treating side effects of medications that treat side effects forever and end up on way more drugs than are necessary. It’s possible that all I need to do is drink water first, when I find myself hovering around the refrigerator.

Anyhow. I know that the next three days will be a bit tight where it comes to academics, or at least, I’ll have things to do. It would be great to get some exercise in, in the early morning. Today, it was basically storming (which has been rare, this season), so I didn’t go out. Not to mention that what I had to work on, was a group project, and so I couldn’t let it slide.

And I also did finally see that most of my professors have their email addresses on their “Home” pages, not under “Contact”. I’m not sure if that does mean I’m supposed to contact them about accommodations? Hmm.

Well, that train of thought just died.

I suppose that I could also get back to reading. I have one class (Instructional Design) which I may have to do a lot of research for, depending on whether my proposal goes through or not. The way the project is set up, I have to have an Information Literacy basis…and I’m not too familiar with that (which might be surprising, as I’m in a Library & Information Science program).

Also…I’m not sure whether I really want to do MySQL this Summer, or hold off on that and use Web tutorials to learn MySQL, while taking Cybersecurity and Intro to Programming. My fear is that 5 units in Summer Session is going to be way too much, like I could barely handle 10 units this semester, while I had them (my 1-unit class ended yesterday).

Last night I was thinking of just doing Programming and Cybersecurity, and doing MySQL on my own…which still sounds like the balanced route. If I can commit to it.

The weird thing, though, is that I’m not too bad at database design; and I didn’t expect that to be the case. Though my professor did say that Entity-Relation diagramming was something of an “art”…

(sounds like me)

…I did end up using my art supplies to mark out rough drafts of my diagram. It would have been tougher without the materials.

Man, there are so many books I want to read…(I’m looking at my bookshelf, now)…particularly the Japanese language and Graphic Design ones. It’s funny that right now when I look at pages of my Japanese language writing in my photos, I can’t really distinguish them from my English language writing, unless I’m writing vertically. (It all merges into “text.”)

But it is such a big power-boost to be able to write in kanji.

Yes, it would be nice to clean up in here so I have the space to do whatever I want. (I briefly pondered practicing my sewing, today, but just didn’t do it.)

I could also get back on assembling my e-Portfolio, which has had to take a back seat for the past few weeks. The major issue there, is where to host it, and where will it be secure?

But that could be a fun project (especially if I code the pages myself)!

Hmm. I’d just have to keep them securely backed up…that actually does sound fun. And productive. I wonder if I should have a cloud backup, too, just in case…