Business as Usual?

So much for posting every day, but I suppose that while missing the mark on that lofty goal, I am still posting at least once or twice a week, which is an improvement over previous years of blogging. I have plenty of excuses, or reasons, or whatever you’d like to call them, for my cut-back on posting.

I am enrolled in two classes this summer, which will end in a few more weeks. Taking 6 credit hours while working full time has proven to be somewhat more challenging than anticipated. I’ve been taking Computer Programming and Web Authoring 2 this time around. The class period is slightly shorter than a regular semester. While the classes are both online (no real class time!) that doesn’t make them easier. I have to figure out how to do this stuff by reading, watching some videos, and from time to time e-mailing professors with questions and hoping to hear back in time to fix whatever I’m doing wrong!

Computer Programming, how I love to hate you! I have now completed five out of six projects for that class, and pretty much every one of the projects has the same over-riding theme: Plan to start the assignment early, knowing that computer coding can be frustrating and I will need to give it time. Start reading the chapter from the book, but get sidetracked with other stuff, so that I’m finishing the reading and watching of videos about 2-3 days before the assignment is due, and wondering how the hell I’m going to get it all done by Wednesday night, knowing I will have to work Tuesday day shift and Wednesday evening shift.

Read, fall asleep because it’s kind of dry reading, try to work through some of the Q & A in the book, watch the videos, download what they’ve worked on in the physical class and see if I can make sense of it, then PANIC when I sit down to write the code on Monday morning for the assignment due Wednesday night. OR – worse still, like this week, work on the coding during down time at work by using Notepad ++ and hoping that what I am writing makes sense when I take it home and load it into the Microsoft Visual program and start building. Eek. 35 errors? HELP! No. I don’t want to email the professor and admit that I didn’t start the project I’ve known about for TWO WEEKS until two days before it is due. I WILL figure this thing out!

I was up until 3 am on Monday night/Tuesday morning, and when I went to bed, I only had a few errors left, but I still had SO far to go.

Let me explain the program I had to write in C++. For “real” programmers, it’s child’s play. Create a program that pulls five scores from a .txt file, drops the lowest of the five grades, and averages the other three. Include comments along the way, make sure the output not only works, but that it tells the user what to do.

The catch: This week’s assignment had us breaking down the program into several functions. How this works, for those of you who don’t know anything about programming:

Consider writing a training manual in which you know a great deal of the information will constantly evolve. You don’t want to rewrite the manual every month to reflect major changes, so you come up with the idea of writing a very basic manual, then adding in Appendixes to include at the end, which will be called upon by the training manual. This allows you to update just one section when something changes. Like the list of Emergency contacts that changes every two months. Refer the worker to “Appendix A: Emergency Contact List” and then you only have to update that appendix. Good, right?

So, modular programming using functions does just that. You write a fairly simple program that refers your user to various functions to complete the action. So that when the class changes to include more assignments, rather than rewriting the main program, you rewrite the “calcAverage” function to take however many assignments there are, drop the lowest grade and average the rest. (Yes, that was part of the program.)

It wasn’t the most clever program, but I had to design a program with a main function, a function for extracting the file, a function for averaging the numbers included in the file, and within the calcAverage function, a function that analyzed the numbers and returned the lowest score to be eliminated.

That all sounds relatively simple, and for someone who does this on a regular basis, it no doubt is pretty simple. But not for a newbie who has to break down each step and learn a whole new process and way of thinking.

Adam has had to learn that when I go into the other  room to work on programming it’s because he really doesn’t need to have to deal with me and my frustration and anxiety. We each have our own set of his-and-hers anxiety issues, and they don’t always play well together. I wasn’t very nice Tuesday night.

Wednesday when I woke up around 10:00, I took a nice calming hot bath before starting up again with the programming. Because sometimes you really need to step away from this stuff to get into a more patient frame of mind.

And I did it. It took a little over an hour with the fresher mindset. I wound up rewriting the whole entire thing in a little over an hour, making sure that each thing I built in worked before I added in more. I even deliberately designed the last function as a void function just to get it working before changing it to an integer function after watching the tutorial for the umpteenth time to figure out what the hell I was doing.

I had the whole thing turned in long before I had to head off to work, and I spent some time just “popping bubbles.” Not really – I was switching crops and candy. I play Farm Heroes Saga and Candy Crush Saga to unwind.

The rest of my day was mindless. I worked – I even worked on reviewing/editing the training manual (guess what I suggested to my supervisor? Yup. Appendixes.) for a while, but I did absolutely no school work.

Then I went out after work and after eating a late night supper, and did some Uber driving. I hit the 20 ride mark last night, earning the bonuses. Woo hoo!

My Web Authoring project is due Sunday night. Have I started it yet? Hell no. I never learn. And I’m going out to drive again for a while tonight to see if I can make even more money, because funds are still tight. I hate being broke.

A couple of interesting, unrelated things to add:

1. I keep seeing a deer running across 8th Avenue by my house late at night. I believe someone is feeding it. This isn’t a super woodsy area, but there are parks nearby. My friend Rose saw it the second time – it ran across the street, and when I said, “Oh look, the deer!” It STOPPED and looked at us. It stood there as we walked up the sidewalk across the street from where it stood, watching us. It remained while I tried to take a photo, which didn’t work because it was too dark.

When I finally said, “I give up, it’s too dark,” the thing made a huffing sound, turned around, and ran away.

Invisible deer in the dark
Not a very good photo of the deer. You’ll have to trust me – it was there!

2. My sister has started a fun photo challenge, and I’ll post as I’m able – Disney Day Thursday. Missing the theme parks, she started a challenge to incorporate a theme each week to be incorporated into what you are wearing, your hairstyle, or make up, or whatever. The theme will be based on a ride, attraction, movie, character, etc. from Disney. This week  was the Haunted Mansion:

Inspiration: Madame Leota, Haunted Mansion (not my photo)
Self-portrait: black dress, white shroudy looking jacket
My attempt at the Haunted Mansion Challenge

I took the photo in “Film Grain” mode to make it creepier.

Funny story: the first time we visited the Magic Kingdom was when I was about four or five years old. I don’t remember being particularly afraid at the Haunted Mansion until the very end, when we passed under the figure on the right, who was calling “Hurry Back” and some other stuff I couldn’t understand at the time. I thought she was calling “Mary Beth,” which was my older sister’s name. That got me more than anything else on that ride. How did the ghost woman know my sister’s name? Maybe it was real.

Edited to add: I scored a 100 on that last project. [[SMILES]]


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