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What have we learned so far?

January 17, 2012

Last Saturday, I was sitting at home. I was turbo-ing pop, eating snack foods when needed, and deeply engrossed in getting my C# program done (it was a duplication of the 1400 “numerology” assignment, with a twist that it could optionally output the result to a text file). It was at that moment I took a look at myself and realized that I was no longer “visiting” Norway, I now truly feel like I -live- here. Granted, I miss doing the tourist like stuff (visiting the center, etc) and having the time to do the same. However, I feel that this is proof that I have truly settled in to my spot here. I feel I’ll miss a lot of things people who are back at home would see if they came here right now. However, I also feel a kind of acclimated familiarity. I feel I could with at least a minimal amount of authority, say what it’s like to live here from the perspective of someone who is currently doing it.

With that it mind, it should come as no surprise that my days are probably going to be a lot more boring compared to the previous ones. “I met with my group, I came home, did grocery shopping, practiced C#, and made a blog post” is not exactly an interesting thing to write about (that was also my day today in its entirety). Since I can’t talk about the only other major interesting thing I’m doing (my project), I’ll go with the primary reason I’m here. What am I learning from my classes (either directly or indirectly).

IS-304:

First off, I learned of a classic agile programming methodology that comes highly recommended. It has the…seriously weird name “Scrum” (that sounds like either pirate jargon or a cleaning product). What it entails is daily meetings discussing progress, quick spurts toward immediate goals, and frequent meetings with the product owner to meet with any potential changes zie might have. Comes highly recommended from the teacher. The opinions of the corporate contacts are…more varied on it.

Also, some things I learned about project management as a process.
-Sometimes those above you might not really grok that you aren’t as familiar with the assigned task as they are. Ask them specific questions that force concrete answers when seeking clarification
-Concentrate on the user-design first rather then the technical stuff. Find out what user X wants to do with it before deciding the best way to get that done, no matter how cool the ideas you have to do that are.
-Even in the most blindingly abstract conditions, find the right starting point and you’ll have some idea of how to conceptualize, model, and eventually solve the problem before you.

IS-305:

The lecturer here reminds me of Azad. Of course, this is probably in part the circumstances in which I attended Computer Architecture class (which he taught). The class is 3 horus long, and there is one 15 minute break in the middle. He goes through a lot of concepts, but he goes slower then you’d think, explaining everything along the way. I’m trying my best to retain what I think is a priority of what he’s saying. Some factors make it tough, but I’m trying to write them down as best I can. Hopefully, his exam isn’t as tough as Azad’s assignments (THAT was what I disliked about his class). I don’t know the nature of the project in this class yet (we have some idea of where to proceed, but I don’t know what he wants us to DO for this project, so it’s awfully tough to proceed beyond a concept). We shall see what’s going on there. When the IS-304 project picks up and that one (and studying for the exam in Mid March)…that’s going to be mega-crunch time. Hopefully, despite how the 304 project will be on full steam, it will feel good to concentrate on one thing.

Personal learnings.

During this relative moment of downtime for home tasks, I have decided (for many reasons) to learn C# and SQL. Granted, these weren’t on the TOP of my list of languages to learn (they both were up there though). However, since I am going to be taking a databasing class when I get back (which inevitably uses SQL somehow), and I will try to take game programming as one of my electives (which uses C#); I figured it’s best to get a leg up on these early on. There are (many) other reasons for this, but those are the ones on the forefront of my mind right now.

C# learning notes (keep in mind I have prior experience in C, C++, Java, and Perl)
-Why is the input always read as a character or string? Why do I have to parse the raw input EVERY TIME? Doesn’t that make an unnecessary extra step?
-Structurally, this is a lot more like Java then any “classic C” based language I am familiar with
-csc.exe (MS’s compiler) packs everything into one windows EXE file. Makes classes less easily portable between file collections, but it does make applications more compact.
-The C-style string non-literal (char array’s without need of an API), Java style appending, perl style regexes. I gotta say, I like the way it handles strings so far (even if it is the default input data type despite variable styles).

SQL
-This is EASY
-…REAL easy
-…I’m talking learning HTML easy
-I’m sure there are a lot more complex and skillful ways to do this, but MAN. I was slightly intimidated by the ubiquitousness and power of the language only to find that it is the second easiest language (after HTML) that I have EVER bothered to pick up.

Well, I’ll leave it at that. Time to crash before my 8 AM class tomorrow (blerg).

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