I Got a Job

For a while, it seemed like I would take care of the kids and work on my own projects at home for eternity. It was a terrifying thought but also quite nice.

Creative freedom is important to me, for better or worse, but I continue to not finish projects, so maybe it’s a good thing to pass off that freedom for a while.

My brain has been pretty worn out, because I’m not used to doing this new thing called a job for eight hours a day.

Soon! Soon, I will be back to working on my own projects. It’ll just have to be an hour or two a day after work.

 

Number 30

Whelp, that’s 30 days of blogging. The point of this little experiment was to improve how I see the world. Did it work?

Like anything in life, there were ups and downs.

The Good

I kept to one post a day. One of my biggest weaknesses is quitting things before I see them through. That didn’t happen this month.

Also, I forced myself to find notable things in my daily life. Usually, I just coast through the day obsessing over whatever work needs done, I don’t stop to see how things are connected.

It was a minor change, but it’s kinda nice.

The Bad

I’m ashamed of how little I wrote.

I had hoped there would be at least a few big thoughts to get down during the month, but each post was a bit too shallow for my liking.

The Ugly

To be perfectly honest, I would sit down at the computer to write, and relive my day in my head in order to pick out something interesting to write about.

Every morning felt like a scramble to write something, anything.

Instead of helping me see the world better in real-time, I think it made me look back more frequently. Not the result I had hoped for.


I’m glad I wrote for a month. The writing was crap, but that’s to be expected for new writers.

Getting good at writing is on my bucket list, so I intend to take this momentum and keep things moving. This time, on a less frequent basis.

I want to come up with ideas of what to write before I sit down to write them. I want to have something to write about.

When there is something to say, I’ll say it here.

 

Being Bad Sucks

You have to be bad before you can be good. Well, that sucks.

For programming, this means that most of what you’re writing now will be useless in a few years unless you make an effort to refactor your code regularly.

If you went to school for computer science, this will drive you mad because you were taught how important it is to write code that is generic.

So, we go through years of trying to write generic code, following all the guidelines OOP and software engineering, but we suck at it. It’s frustrating. I hope that most of you aren’t struggling with these kinds of things, but I have a hunch that it’s a widespread problem.

Instead of focusing on making things generic, let’s strive to solve the problem we’re actually working on. Don’t worry about hardening your code against future use. Most of what we write today will be garbage tomorrow.

Just write code that gets work done. Get good at getting things done.

 

Motivation or Distraction

There are some kinds of distractions that skirt the line between motivation and distraction. For me, the big one is Discord (I miss you, IRC).

Being part of a community is a big deal. You can get a lot from finding a group of like-minded friends to talk with. The people in that community can also provide plenty of motivation and expertise if you happen to be stuck on a problem. It’s a fine line though.

You can easily get sucked into drama, waste hours chatting about nothing, or even worse: get into an argument (I’m looking at you, Reddit).

When used wisely, online communities are fantastic. Be careful.

 

Forget About Good Habits

Have you ever noticed that the habits you want to break are easy to forget. Usually, you don’t even notice you’re repeating those habits until after the fact. It’s like they’re part of your autopilot.

Similarly, when you want to form a new habit, you can’t stop thinking about it. We try so hard to remind ourselves to do the thing over and over, but then we start to dread it.

I’ve noticed that the habits I stick with are the ones that I’m barely aware of doing. Can you remember the last five times you brushed your teeth? I’m willing to bet your mind checks out, and you just get it done. That’s the trick.

The faster we can “check out” while performing our habit, the faster it gets committed to autopilot.

How about the bad habits that I mentioned above? Well, just pay attention to them.

Being more aware of what you do and what you think about during the day can give you some control over when you switch to autopilot. What would you do if you noticed that you’re starting a loop of a bad habit that you’d like to kick? You’d probably break the loop, and direct your attention elsewhere.

The more you notice falling into bad habits, the faster you can break the cycle and redirect.

 

Gotta Do It

You gotta do what you gotta do.

The saying isn’t “You gotta do what you should do.” That last gotta is the important part.

If you gave up on something, it’s because you didn’t have to do it.

Stop telling yourself that you should do something, and convince yourself that you must do.

 

Pong

It’s a simple game. You move a paddle vertically in order to return a ball the the other side, and it’s played against an opponent.

We’ve all heard of Pong, and have probably seen video of it being played, although I’m curious how many people have actually played it. I haven’t.

It seems like a game you could build in a couple hours (depending on the tools you use to make games), but there is more to it than I realized.

Take a few minutes to think about how you would write the code for Pong: How will you implement the math behind returning the ball? What about the speed of the paddles? What size is the ball in comparison to the paddles? What aspect ratio will you use for the screen? How will you determine which segment of the paddle was struck, and how will that affect the trajectory of the ball? How will the speed of the ball change over time? And on and on…

Now, what happens when we decide to take a clone of Pong, and make it unique? Oh boy, the possibilities are endless. When you take a moment to consider the details, a simple game becomes more than you realized. And, imagine how different it must have been on the machines of the Pong era.

I’m writing a clone of Pong, and it has been eye-opening. I now have a lot of respect for what it takes to clone an old game for educational purposes. Adding my own twist is going to be even more interesting.