Get your attention? If so awesome. No, there is no story about Charlie Brown here. (sorry) I used that title to stand out. For I want to be the green in a room full of white. Let me try to explain:

You just received a ‘Build your own mini roller-coaster’. The instructions are clear and it’s an easy set up! But now you now have the same mini roller-coaster everyone else has ever bought and built. I mean there is nothing wrong with that. Lets just say Apple® and Samsung® would not have the success they have today if they just followed the same instructions. They went outside the build and added personal touches. Of which made them stand out of all the basic builds out there. These things made them original.

You may’ve noticed that there are many half-clones out there. By this I mean; ever bought something or seen something just to find an exact copy made by a different company? Businesses will do things like take a plastic phone case design and make it with more durable material. Of which consumers will buy. It will not always work! Think of something like Playstation. You may be able to create something super unique but it might now not be compatible with everyone else and cause major problems of which its best to just have an original copy. I would suggest that you only do something like so if you absolutely know you can do it better.

Keep in mind that trying to stand out can be hard in certain situations and might even change your whole mindset on the idea. You will attempt one thing for it either not to work or not liked by yourself or others. Perhaps you make something unique that everyone would love but it never became the thing. Always keep in mind what you are making and if it will even be used by the time you’re done. All of this turning you away from making that amazing Idea you have? Don’t be scared. By going through this you will learn what not to use/do and have a better goal for next time. Use all of this to your advantage.

So please let your imagination flow free with creativeness! We would not have everything in the world today if we all just stuck to the same ol’ same ol’. With this I tell you! Be yourself! Be original.

If any of the people teaching us have any doubt about the program (which I doubt they do) let me reassure you. In just about the first week of classes we have covered almost a whole semesters worth of HTML and CSS lessons. I never got to be in the web design classes when I was at Dal, but I did sit in on them now (also I knew quite a few people who were in them) and the end of semester project was a plain html website with a few pictures, a few different pages and a handful of CSS. The scripting classes got pretty fancy with neat colour changes and things, but none of the classes in first year involved bootstrap or reactive design which we got into pretty fast.

The templates we use still give you the room to learn, but you end up with a site that looks much better then you started from scratch. Also knowing how the templates work is helping me work on other random websites that I’m messing around with in my free time. Also because some of the templates use JavaScript, event though we aren’t learning it, I’m getting chances to see how it works and mess with values.

The small forays into the scripting are also making me excited, I can’t wait to start learning how to add all sorts of neat things to websites. A bunch of the guys I used to go to school with had all sorts of neat apps build on their websites and I’d like to be able to build things that I previously didn’t have the ability to make. (One of the guys had a website that simulated generations of plant growth including different genetic traits etc, I’ve built cool things too, but the website and scripting things made it a lot nicer).

So without even learning how to do the scripting I’m getting all sorts of excited ideas for things I want to build. I want to make a website with my Calligraphy stuff (just for fun).

Also I have an old app I built for playing Civ 5, that I would love to make on a website. It was used to pick random Civilizations for each player. The reason we built it originally was because a lot of us played at a close to professional level and in Civ 5 there are some really overpowered civilizations (like Babylon and Poland) and there are really terrible civilizations (like Denmark). So we wanted to pick random, but if we let the game pick them for us it could give the really over-powered and under-powered civilizations. Also the game is more interesting if there are no duplicates nations. So I wrote a thing that took names and a ban list and made sure everyone got random nations to play as. I think that that small app would make a good website with a checklist and things for the ban list and number of players, etc.

Overall the first full week of classes was exciting, I learned a lot, and I can’t wait for more.

 

 

 

PvP Gamers Dungeon is a gaming centre in Sydney where anyone can come in and pay by the hour to play the newest video games on whatever console or computer they want in the lounge. It’s a gamer’s dream social hangout place, and I work there. So I decided to write a blog about how I got there and what I learned during my on-going experience there.

To start, when I just entered grade 12 I picked a co-op course which provided 25 hours of classroom work that taught workplace safety, job interview tips, and resume building. The other half of the course was 100 hours of unpaid co-op placement at any workplace of my choice. Basically, I thought of it as free experience and a head start when entering the working world. For about 2 months I was wondering about what to choose for my placement. I knew I didn’t really care what I did as long as I wasn’t doing anything extreme (Anything involving heavy lifting). I got a call from my co-op teacher who found out that a place called PvP Gamers Dungeon was making it’s grand opening that week. The second I heard “video games” I said yes. After that I met with the owner, Todd Chant, and the manager, Jonathon Wells, where we scheduled my work placement and signed a few forms. This is the time where I discovered that since I was labeled as an “employee”, I was given free gaming hours to play the newest games on high end PC’s at PvP for FREE!

Skip ahead a few days pvpand I’m working my first shift at PvP Gamers Dungeon. I was just as excited as I was nervous. The fact that I’d be working at a place involving video games is a dream come true, but also that for the first time I’d be working as cashier type worker and handling money, which was stressful for me. I was working along side the manager as he taught me: how to use the software handling the sales and computer logins, how to help out the customers in common problems, to always make sure the snacks and drinks are stocked, and to clean the controllers after every use. I started working there quite regularly every weekend. In the mornings of Saturday and Sunday, PvP hosts birthday parties where you can purchase 2 hours of gaming time where the entire place is closed for the public. The party allows children to play games freely without making an account and also roam around to console to console trying any game they want. Since I worked weekends, I would always help out during the parties.

After a month or 2 of working there I thought it was pretty much the best job I could be doing that’s not only close to home, but I’m very comfortable with and has wonderful perks. The job at PvP made me comfortable handling customer’s money, made me more comfortable with talking to customers, and helped me realize that when either the place is absolutely packed because of tournament, or just loud and crazy when 20 kids are having the time of their lives hitting each other in Minecraft, I am pretty good at handling stressful workplace situations. Eventually, when I was working my last few unpaid co-op shifts they told me they decided to hire me as a part-time employee. That made me, well you can imagine, really happy. Now while pvpgdsmallI only work the occasional birthday party, it’s still a pay check for a student every week.

I can’t express how grateful, lucky, and happy I am to have a job at PvP Gamers Dungeon. And since I still don’t know how to close my blog, I’ll just say if you haven’t been there before, you should go. Even if you aren’t a gamer, bring a friend and pick anything that looks interesting and it’ll be fun!

In our second week at UIT, we were given the task of making a responsive website using a Bootstrap theme. I already had some HTML and CSS knowledge before this program, so overall this wasn’t too difficult, other than getting a couple stubborn classes to work the way they were supposed to. I used a template called Treviso. It was pretty well made as far as the CSS went, but I had to cut a fair amount of HTML stuff that just didn’t make sense for a portfolio.

The hardest thing to fix I came across was probably getting my name to sit beside the menu button when the website was in a smaller viewport, and that took probably an hour or so to fix. I don’t have a gravatar yet, so I’ll have to shoot something for that this next week or something. For now I just left a smiley face 🙂 . I also left some lorem ipsum in my about section and didn’t bother putting placeholder images in my little modal boxes, which didn’t go over too well in my presentation, but I fixed that later that night. As for the business portion of the class, we mostly watched and discussed lectures from smart people.

I also went to the monthly UIT mixer on Tuesday, which was pretty cool. There was a couple of us there (contrary to the amount of people said they were going), but it was mostly people we haven’t met yet. I wanted to go to DemoCamp on Thursday too, but I had work that night so I couldn’t attend. I would’ve gone to Lumière on Saturday but I have work that night too. I hope your app works out Eric, good luck!

Blog posts are hard to write. I hope I get better at it.

 

Can’t believe we are already finished the 2nd week here at U.I.T, it’s been a crazy week for me. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m extremely  excited to see what the year brings.

My biggest hurtle for the time being is getting over windows and start remembering  I’m using linux >.>. Coming into this course i was like mac pfffft, I taught my grandparents how to use it. I’ll have no prob. Well here I’m two weeks in and I’m still trying to ctrl-c everything haha. I enjoy the challenge and I know I’m getting better but, I still rather Windows and Android any day.
We learned how to create our own portfolio using bootstrap themes, and I’m absolutely stoked about how things turned out. My goal this week for my portfolio was to make sure it didn’t look like a 13 year old girls picso account, and not to brag but mission accomplished. I had a lot of direction and perspective from Rob and Eric so huge S/O to them for all the help!
We also got into some git hub, was fun to learn the commands. To tie off the week we did the presentation of portfolio  and had a great great morning with the business over breakfast, and a great class with matt in the morning. All in all a great week, and I can’t wait to fire up again on Monday!

I’ve done a ton of programming over this last week. I worked on my portfolio page, and did some work on my own personal projects as well. Sometimes with programming, I feel like I learned something I could do differently to make things easier for me for the next time. Other times, something unpredictable happens that is completely baffling, and it can be pretty frustrating. This week, I experienced both feelings. I’ll tell you the good things first.

Working on my portfolio went well. One thing I learned is that it may have gone a bit better if I hadn’t have used a template. Don’t get me wrong, templates are awesome. They allow you to get your page off the ground much faster than writing it from scratch, and they give you a great place for you to start putting your thoughts and ideas onto the screen. However, I feel like because I was using a template, it actually slowed me down from coming up with my own ideas. Instead, I would end up just changing how one small part of the page would function or appear. If I had of just written the page from scratch, or used a very simple template, I feel like I would have had an easier time coming up with new ideas. They would have started popping up into my head as I was creating the different elements of the page.

Another thing about using a complex template is that it makes it such a huge task to change anything on the page. Rather than just building the different parts of the site as the way you imagine, you have to sift through hundreds of lines of someone else’s code before you can find the part that does what you think it does. I think that next time, I will either write the page from scratch, or use a much more basic template. Maybe something with just a navigation bar and a footer. It would probably inspire more creativity, as elements of the page would mostly be my own creations, rather than just being recycled from the template. Who knows though, we’ll find out! That’s what working on these types of projects is all about. I could end up being completely wrong, and that’s okay because I’ll have learned for the next time.

As for my personal programming projects, I’ve been toying with my programming language, trying out some new ways of increasing efficiency. While I was testing some things like loops, I found an anomaly that is beyond my scope as a software programmer. Apparently it is faster for my compiler to transform the source code into a bytecode file, and then run the resulting file – Than it is to just run the previously compiled bytecode file. It is not just a small time difference either, the second scenario was taking around 30 seconds whereas the first would take around 15.

computer-wizard

A wizard, doing his wizardly things with a computer.

After testing this many times, I found that it isn’t just a coincidence. It’s some sort of wizardry.  At first I thought that the first scenario was faster because the file was fresh in memory. However, after numerous tests, I still could not beat the time of the first case. I tried many things such as loading the old file into memory, copying it into another file and then executing the resulting file, but no dice. This problem has me completely perplexed, as theoretically the second scenario should be the faster one. All this tells me is that there is probably some greater being out there that has it out for me, and does not want me to work on this project.

Friday was the first time in a very long time I stood in front of a classroom and presented as a student.  It was unfamiliar territory given the length of my hiatus from CBU.  I don’t think my presentation was the best, nor do I think it was the worst.  I believe my presentation satisfied the requirements of the assignment.   In the course of the discussion on the class presentations we were reminded that “Done is better than Perfect”. 
sandberg

Done is better than perfect?  Lets break that down a bit.

Done means all deliverables delivered, expectations met, work complete.

Perfect is an unattainable state of nirvana that is completely subjective in the mind of the person seeking perfection <see also; exercising futility>

So in other words finishing what was expected is better than wasting time trying to achieve something that doesn’t matter to the person who asked for ‘Done’.  Unless of course ‘Perfect’ is listed as a deliverable for ‘Done’, at which point you should walk away and find somewhere else to work.

Prophetic words for an aspiring developer or anyone actually tasked with delivering a product or service.  As an IT consultant who has written countless proposals and delivered many projects, the word “Done“ has a definite meaning.  In theory “Done” means satisfying the list of deliverables that you are contractually obligated to provide within the time and budget allocated. (I love theory, it is a lovely place.)    However ‘Stuff’ happens that you don’t expect, that is change, change can be managed, and I will touch on the management of change another entry of this blog.

Regardless of project or assignment, ‘Done’ should and is often well defined.  A list of specific features, functionality, documentation, a specification, etc.., are the guide to what is expected.  In a classroom setting, the return on a project is the assessment, feedback, or mark provided by the instructor(s).  In the business world the response tends to be far more binary,

100% complete = DONE  = Customer Happy = Pay Cheque

0-99% complete = NOT DONE = Customer Unhappy = Keep Working or Get Out.

Which brings me to one of my guiding principles in life, “Check, Double Check, Re-Check, Pay Cheque”.  Whether it is a school project, a paid contract, or a task assigned by a manager at work, always check the work you are doing against the expected deliverables.  Double check to make sure the deliverables haven’t changed.  Re-check everything again before you submit your work. Do this and you shouldn’t have to worry too much about a Pay Cheque.