Bruising the Ego

I’ve learned quite about managing your ego when it comes to development. Every programmer has an ego, don’t listen to what they might tell you otherwise. We all consider ourselves the poets of the computing world, thinking up beautifully elegant solutions to impossible problems.

I have a huge ego, I freely admit this. I don’t handle criticism well and I’m a sore loser. I constantly aim to blow peoples minds with my genius and when that doesn’t happen I fall into pits of self loathing and depression. It’s a constant struggle for me.

Two of my apps have received bad reviews recently. I’ve got another app that I’d written for a client that seems to have given up on me all together, bought my app and immediately reporting a bug and requesting all sorts of changes. I fixed the bug right away and then spent a month re-writing the app. Now they won’t respond to my emails, nor have they updated the app. My natural pessimism tells me that they’ve written me off all together, but I just don’t know.

Being that two people have chosen to be vocal about their dislike of my apps, demographically I know that there are a percentage of others out there that feel the same way and have just chosen not to speak up. I spent a lot of time and energy on those apps and I’m very proud of them and their success so far. These were my ideas, my creations, my products and I want everyone to love them.

Now in my defence neither of these two users appear to have read the description of the apps before purchasing, which is their mistake. And the things they’re complaining about are actually restrictions put in place by Apple, nothing to do with me. But these are still my app reviews. There is also information within the apps and on the app store that would allow a displeased customer to get in touch with me of there’s a problem. But they haven’t tried to reach me. I take some solace in knowing, from experience, that there are customers out there that just want to complain about anything that they can. You can’t please everyone right, so why don’t all those that like my apps post good reviews and make me feel better about it. I’m sat here looking at dissatisfied customers and poor reviews and I’m powerless to do anything about it.

I suppose that I could look at it as there’s being an opposing percentage of those that are very happy with my app. There is one good review as well, so that’s something.

On Studying

I’ve been asked a number of times recently on studying. How do you go about studying for an exam, or studying in general? So I figured I’d write a post on it.

1. Time-Keeping

Pace yourself. Students are in the habit of cramming before exams, which is fine as long as it works for you. But even when cramming it’s important to keep a steady pace. I’m not a crammer, the thought of leaving studying till the last minute freaks me out and as I have a hard enough time absorbing information it just seems like academic suicide. So I use all the time I have available to review in short bits with a break in between.

Let’s say I had 2 weeks to review for a math exam. Each day would schedule 2 lots of 1 hour for a subject, so day 1 I would look at one subject and only one, such as Vectors. After those 2 hours I’d stop regardless of where I was at. Day 2 I would pick another subject and do the same. Each day I pick a new subject and don’t repeat the same subject two days in a row. If I wanted to go over vectors again that’s fine, just make sure to put something between it, otherwise you end up spending half of the time on one subject.

2. Choose your subjects wisely.
As far as choosing the subject order I start with the things that I’m best at. Ideally you want to cover the course subject matter in its entirety but there’s not always time. Because I’m best that them they’ll take the least amount of time to review and most importantly, I find the harder things are easier to understand when you have a firm grasp of the easy stuff. And if you get to exam time and you’ve spent all your time trying to understand only a couple of the very difficult subjects, how prepared are you? Especially if those subjects don’t appear on the exam. This can be applied over any time scale, but I suggest that you stick to hour long blocks of study time. I.e. shorten the breaks, not the study.

3. Crowd-sourcing.
I’m against crowd sourcing generally for two reasons; 1. A crowd sourced opinion is no opinion at all. 2. there’s a lot of crap out there and some of it is… less correct than it should be. That being said, hit the internet and look at how other people interpret and express the subject. Especially in regards to math and programming I found it really helps.

4. Conversation.
Find someone who understands the subject at about the same level, or another people who is reviewing for the same exam maybe. And converse with them about it. I don’t read well, so library books and other literature is largely wasted on me, so I converse, with tutors, with students and some time with my 6 year old son. Any one who will listen and respond to me so that I can assimilate the information spoken out loud.
After explaining this technique to a fellow-student he responded with “So that’s why you’re always quizzing all us before exams?”

So that’s it. That’s my studying technique and it’s served me pretty well

The Starting Line.

I’m dyslexic. The official ‘diagnosis’ is literary dyslexia which put simply means that I can’t read or write… My actual situation is quite a bit more complicated than that but that’s not really why I’m writing this.
I’ve suspected that I’m dyslexic for some time now but it was only upon looking seriously at attending University that I really thought about getting assistance for it. I heard that support was offered and I figured ‘what did I have to lose?’.

I have never really found the condition to be particularly debilitating, but then my school record it far from exemplary. I dare say that much of the trouble that I have now is possibly the result of my being aware of it. You hear people say stuff like ‘Well at least I have a name for it now’, well it’s kinda like that but in the opposite direction to the context in which that phrase is normally used.  All the little things that I do that drive the people around me crazy are now put down to my being dyslexic rather than something like just not thinking or listening. At the same time, now that all of my teachers have been given my assessment I have found that I’m treated somewhat differently to how I was before. None of my teachers were told until about 7 weeks into the course so their change in behavior with regards to me was sudden and obvious. It’s like some of them put on a pair of gloves before speaking to me now. Dyslexia has long been a polite word for idiot, as understanding of the condition has grown, it seems that it’s only grown more polite.

Yesterday I had my needs assessment. This is effectively a long conversation with a specialist so that he/she can make recommendations as to equipment or techniques will help me with my studies. They have my initial assessment report in front of them and we discuss it, me, life, etc etc. The whole thing was very interesting to me, not only because the assessor was intriguingly humorless, but because of what she, as an expert, knew of the condition. The idea behind the whole program is to try to ensure that everyone starts at the same starting line, they give us access to things that other students wouldn’t necessarily ‘need’ so that we don’t fall behind. In my case I’m simply trying to disarm my tenancy to look for excuses.

A classmate of mine who is also dyslexic had his needs assessment last week and he found it really discouraging. He didn’t realize just how much help he needed, despite his continuous efforts to counter the condition, he genuinely works really hard at continually practicing the things that dyslexics tend to struggle with. He came away with a needs list as long as his arm and couldn’t help but feel… well stupid.

These are some of the things that can be recommended.
Dictation Software.
Text to Speech Software.
Colored Layovers.
Tinted Glasses.
Specialist Tutors.
Printing Budget.
Colored Paper Budget.
Books Budget.
Extra Time for Exams.
Extra Time for Assignments.
Spelling Errors Allowance.
Grammar Errors Allowance.
A computer.
Access to Lecture notes and other such material before the class.

My classmate got the whole list, plus a few more that I can’t recall just now, recommended for him. I can understand why he would feel discouraged. It’s a bit eye opening when someone spells out exactly how much you struggle in such exacting detail.

I got everything on that list recommended, I turned down the readers and writers, having to tell someone what to write for me or likewise having someone reading to me is likely to end with some form of face punching. I can’t say that I feel disheartened by this, as far as I’m concerned, the fact that I’ve done alright this far speaks for itself, the additional help can only be… helpful… It’s not as disability in the sense that I can’t do certain things, it just takes me longer. These recommendations are just to make sure I can keep up and while I’m doing alright now, it’s been made pretty clear that’s not likely to be the case for long.

One thing that surprised me somewhat but really shouldn’t have, was the assessor pretty much scolding me for taking notes at lectures. Apparently this is the worst thing a dyslexic can do because it shuts down all the wrong areas of our brains. I’m now, upon pain of death, only to listen and record… With the dictaphone that I’ve not been given yet… I guess we’ll see how that goes.

A dyslexic man walks into a bra.