3rd sigh of relief

The last few months have been draining to say the least. Today I did a presentation that marks the last if the work I have to do this academic year. I’m reasonably confident that I’ve passed all my modules with good marks. With any luck I’ll be coming away with a first.

This year has been hard work. My award was planned in a way such that I took all the hard modules in semester one and their perquisites in two. It was a pretty steep of a learning curve. But while the modules I had this semester were definitely easier than those of the previous, it seems they were almost twice as time consuming, certainly toward the end.

I’ve come away this year with a good understanding of software engineering and OO principals. I’m actually starting to feel like a competent programmer, or at least that I could be someday. I’ve written two graphics engines, a physics engine, a game engine, an ant farm simulation, a concurrent run-way control system simulation, a banking system and project managed an FPS prototype, and I’ve produced all the reports and subsequent paperwork that goes with. Now that I’m totalling it all up its no wonder that I’ve been having such a hard time finding time for any other activities, like iOS apps. Between family life, school work and trying to find a placement I’ve just not had enough time to do much of anything else.
I’m quite proud if myself this year for managing to stay on top of the workload throughout. Doing so means I’ve spent hundreds of hours hidden away in some corner of the university trying to get through it all. At one point I got RSI so badly in one hand that I could hardly bare to move it, and it came at a hideously inconvenient time though so I had to just grit my teeth a bare it for a couple days until I could give it some proper rehabilitation. When the teachers asked me how I was getting in I proudly and smugly replied, “I’m doing just fine, everything is right on schedule.”
Despite my successful self management, I’m glad the year is over.
Unlike my fellow students I’ve not been much looking forward to the summer break. Summer for me had come to mean a time of boredom. Each year I’ve become better at managing my time with little projects but without the pressure of academic evaluation it’s somehow a little hollow. If I don’t get the work done, then I simply don’t get it done, there’s no real pressure. I setting the bar higher this summer with much more ambitious projects so I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes. It will be nice to get back to the more creative elements of software development. I am going to take a few days off though, I think I’ve earned it.
As this year comes to a close, I’m feeling hopeful for the future. I can see the end in sight and while I don’t want to ever leave university I am looking forward to reaping the rewards of all this work. It’s been difficult and frustrating and great.
What did I learn this year?
Don’t get rid of your work, any work. I handed in an assignment in which I’d removed several functions. These were functions that I’ve written up for testing or some other purpose and didn’t really belong in the final artefact. But I came to find out that they would have got me some extra marks.
If you have a some sort of special help you can get for an exam, in my case it was the use of a computer, use it. I had the use of a computer for my last exam because there was a lot of writing involved and I can type much faster and coherently than I can write by hand. Being able to use a computer means the not only did I finish the exam quite early and thus give myself plenty of time to review my answers, but my answers were legible and well written.
Find a way to keep on top of your work load. It just made everything so much easier and less stressful. When things went wrong I had plenty of time to fix them and when I discovered that I’d missed out and entire element of an assignment, I had plenty of time to handle it. Sure I was busy, but I turned in good, quality work that I can be proud of.
Beware RSI, take preventative measures wherever possible.
If you have glasses for close up work, wear them. You’ll find your eyes stop hurting.
 I’m looking forward to a bit if a rest.