With regards Zero-to-Sixty

Not that anyone seems to be following this little project of mine, but I thought it best to post about its current status if only to ease my own conscience. At the moment, it is on hold. I’m still learning programming in my spare time, but not in the manner in which I originally set out to do. With school coming up in about four months now, I have a lot of other things to get done in preparation so that’s been consuming most of my time. Oh, and by the way, I think I’ll stop capitalizing it: Zero-to-Sixty. There, that’s better.

To anyone who’s been following along, thank you. There will be more in the future when things have settled down, so keep a watchful eye.

Stay peppy.

-TS

A Deduction of Etymological Nature

I have long since endeavored to complete the volume, or one might say, tome, entitled the Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume I. It has sat upon my shelf, keeping the company of other famous works and gathering dust, a most unfortunate predicament for any literary work.

My interest in the fictional detective was apparent long before he was realized in film and television by the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and, most recently, Benedict Cumberbatch. The book, sadly, I have had little occasion to delve into. However, it was indeed the BBC’s magnificent portrayal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories which implored to me to return to paper and learn of their origins. Sherlock Holmes’ deductive process has fascinated me to no end, and I have taken it upon myself to discover what of his methods are so blatantly eschewed by those of lesser observational skill.

The inspiration behind this post lies behind a short paragraph from A Scandal in Bohemia, which I will quote:

I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained his process of deduction. ‘When I hear you give your reasons,’ I remarked, ‘the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.’
    ‘Quite so,’ he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. ‘ You see, but you do not observe. The   distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.’
    ‘Frequently.’
    ‘How often?’
    ‘Well, some hundreds of times.’
   ‘Then how many are there?’
    ‘How many? I don’t know.’
    ‘Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point.[...]‘”

It was this simple wisdom of Holmes’ that prompted me to explore the meanings behind the words ‘see’ and ‘observe’. From this short exchange, it can easily be noted that what Holmes implies by observation is an active pursuit, which, lacking such activity, would produce only the results of having ‘seen’ something; i.e., an impression of a place or a thing but little in the way of valuable information.

The definitions I am using are from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

‘See: To notice or become aware of by using your eyes. Origin: Middle English seen, from Old English seon; akin to Old High German sehan to see and perhaps to Latin sequi to follow.’

‘Observe: To watch and sometimes also listen to (someone or something) carefully. Origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French observer, from Latin observare to guard, watch, observe, from ob- in the way, toward + servare to keep.’

Upon viewing these definitions and their derivations, it immediately became apparent to me the stark difference between the two, ‘see’ being to notice, become aware of, follow, whilst ‘observe’ is to watch carefully, guard, keep; to give an analogy, it is essentially the difference between offering a fellow traveler a friendly nod of acknowledgment and entering into a lengthy discussion with them.

I think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had an extraordinary point to make when he gave his famous detective such prowess of intellect. We may not all aspire to such keen ability but we certainly have nothing but to gain from this perspective. Seek to observe rather than see, and you will garner more knowledge of the world around you than any dusty tome could provide. 

ZERO-TO-SIXTY: Code Ninja, Week Four Recap

This is going to be a fairly short post as I barely got anything done this week.

I know, I know. “I’m half-way through and I’ve already given up!” No, I haven’t. I wound up being busier than anticipated, and the one day I had entirely free to code, I had to deal with a moderate bout of depression so needless to say, progress was hampered.

I did however complete Codeacademy‘s unit 7 of Python, aaaaand I completed the Web Fundamentals track. The last thing it covered was positioning which was rather spiffy.

I also got through Stage 2 on Treehouse. Now, Treehouse is really phenomenal. I can’t believe I didn’t join sooner. It hasn’t delved into Ruby just yet, but it has so far been an extremely interactive experience which I am enjoying immensely. I’ll be doing a separate post altogether on that as I think it deserves its own mention.

This week’s goals are as follows:

 

 

ZERO-TO-SIXTY: Code Ninja, Week Three Recap

Ahhh! Week Three is over already. Noooooooooooo!

In these past few weeks, I’ve been trucking along on this project with the mind of a serious dilettante. That all has changed. I have stayed up till the wee hours of the night working on my code, and I can say with fair certainty that I am obsessed. If the interpreter gives me an error, I will sit in front of my screen for however long is necessary to debug the damn thing. It’s fantastic. Here’s a brief outline of what I covered.

On Lesson 3 of Udacity, I practiced working with while and for loops, if/elif/else statements and lists, and eventually finished building a web crawler. I’ll admit I’m still a little perplexed as to how that all worked, but I’ll go through the lesson again at the end of the course with the knowledge of the later lessons and I’m sure it will make much more sense. One thing I did when I was having trouble was went to Codeacademy and started a track on Python, which is the language I’m using on Udacity. Going through those exercises put everything into perspective, and I started to notice the beauty of code. Here is a before and after example of my code.

Before:


pyg = ‘ay’

original = raw_input(‘Enter a word:’)

word = original.lower()

first = word[0]

if len(original) > 0 and original.isalpha():
       if first == “a” or first == “e” or first == “i” or first == “o” or first == “u”:
                print “vowel”
        else:
                print “consonant”
else:
        print ‘empty’

After:


pyg = ‘ay’
original = raw_input(“Enter a word:”)

def check_word(original):
        word = original.lower()
        if len(word) > 0 and word.isalpha():
                first = word[0]
                if first == ‘a’ or first == ‘e’ or first == ‘i’ or first == ‘o’ or first == ‘u’:
                        new_word = word + pyg
                        print new_word
                else:
                        new_word = word[1:] + word[0] + pyg
                        print new_word
        elif len(word) > 0 and not word.isalpha():
                print “Not a word”
        else:
                print “Empty”

print check_word(original)

(This is a Pig Latin translator, in case you couldn’t tell.)

For HTML, I completed lesson 10 on Codeacademy, as I said I would. I worked more on divs, classes and IDs. The entire track is 79% complete, and once I finish I will hop over to Jon Duckett’s HTML & CSS for a review of everything and to build my own site! Pretty stoked for that.

Yet again I failed to do anything with Treehouse (sorry, guys), and I only got one lecture out of CS50 which was a live demonstration of Scratch. So, goals for this week are as follows:

Geronimo!!!

On My Discontentment With Living In LA

I’ve been struggling with something for most of my life. It wasn’t something I’ve ever clearly identified until now. Sort of like a thing you keep seeing out of the corner of your eye but can’t fully discern, and every time you turn your head to catch it, it disappears as though it never existed. Then finally, one day, your reflexes happen to have been +1upped by some stroke of fate, and this time, when you turn around- AHA! – you spot what’s been following you around all this time. That nagging feeling you couldn’t shake, now identified as what is seemingly an actual living, breathing entity, blinking and never taking his eyes of you. We’ll call him Bill.

Now, it has finally come to my attention that Bill has been stalking me for a long, long time. Perhaps longer than I even remember. He says things to me when I go out for social events, like “You don’t fit in your here. You’re not like the rest of them,” and “Don’t bother voicing your opinions; they’re too abstract and besides, no one will listen over the slurping of their caramel machiatto.”

Often, he will follow me places like Newport Beach, where I sometimes go to escape the hectic city. Even then, when the peaceful waves crashing against the shoreline aren’t enough to quell my desires, he whispers, “See? You don’t belong here.”

I’ve wanted for a long time for it not to be true. I’ve wanted to get along with my city. I could never say I loved LA, but I’d at least like to be on good terms with it. A meet-up-for-drinks-once-a-week kind of relationship. But no. No, LA and I were born together as siblings; constantly at war with each other but indelibly interlinked. LA is all the things I dislike (ostentatious, loud, dirty) and I am the things it dislikes (anti-consumerist, innately reclusive, quietly contemplative). We have tried, but no more can we reconcile our differences than can the moon cease rising in a post-sunlit sky.

Bill has made as many attempts to remedy my discontent as I myself have.

“Portland?” He asks.
“Too hipster,” is my reply.
“Then, Seattle?”
“Too small.”
“How about Boston, or New York?”
“Too east coast.”
“Agreed. How about someplace completely unexpected, like Bali?”
“Sure, someday. But not right now.”
“Okay, what about London?”

Our conversations continue like this for some time, rarely establishing anything but only confirming a fact that can no longer be disputed: LA is not mine. It is not my city, it is not my companion, it is not my home. To me, the streets of Hollywood are just a proverbial jail cell, and no distance you walk within it will ever unveil the key.

It’s not just the overall landscape; there are some nice things to see here. It’s also the people. The closer you get to the heart of the city, the less human connection you feel. Or so I notice. You’ll be sitting on a bench, minding your business when you happen to look up at a passerby. He or she will catch your eye, just briefly, then resume staring at the ground, as though to say, “Dude. I’ve got my own problems to deal with.”

Sure, the place is filled with artists and actors, musicians and magicians, choreographers and cartoonists. It’s the entertainment capitol of the world. These people naturally band together, being gregarious creatures, and strive toward success as a single unit rather than one individual. However, it is an elite circle and those too lowly and too incapable of taking a seat in it get sucked under the wheels. I myself am no longer interested in this caravan.

While I am fundamentally unhappy with the city I reside in, am I simultaneously uplifted by the thought of returning to Bill for yet another long discussion over tea about whether I would look better in parkas in Moscow, sandals in Australia or kimonos in Tokyo.


Image credit: semyaivera.ru


Image credit: netvibes.com


Image credit: globeattractions.com

ZERO-TO-SIXTY: Code Ninja, Week Two Recap

Holy smokes, Batman. I can’t believe it’s only been two weeks. It feels like I’ve been at this much longer.

I spent most of the time on HTML and CSS, probably because I’m so close to finishing the track on Codeacademy. I finished the unit on multiple, class, ID  and pseudo selectors. The final project I made for that unit was a “Vote for Pedro” page.
I may not know that much CSS, but I’m already beginning to the see things more from a designer’s perspective. So, web design may or may not be in my future.

As for my other courses, well, I barely got anything done on Udacity. I did nothing on Treehouse. And I probably only watched two out of the seven CS50 lectures I had planned to watch.

So, plan for this week:

Lesson 3 on Udacity.
Unit 10 on Codeacademy.
Stage 1 on Treehouse.
3 lectures on CS50.

So, allons-y!

An Honest View of Honesty

I don’t usually take New Year’s resolutions seriously, mostly because I feel it adds an unneeded pressure of achievement to an already highly expectant year, as well as the hidden connotation that in absence of said achievement by year’s end, you will have failed. And that’s just not a great way to end a year, much less ring in the next.

That said, there was one thing- just one- which I decided was important enough to include in my roster of general goals for this year.

That thing was to be more honest.

I began living by this rule a couple years ago, and I will say I have experienced enough of it to understand what should and should not qualify as legitimate honesty, by my own personal standards. Following is a list of examples.

I slept with my roommate, that’s why he/she moved out.” This is not something anyone who isn’t particularly close to you needs to know. While it does qualify as being “honest,” it only serves to make you look uncouth. Maybe you had a good reason for sleeping with your roommate, maybe not. You will be judged by the prior experience and/or beliefs of the person receiving this particular tidbit.  Keep remarks like this one to yourself unless ousted by a round of Truth or Dare.

I can’t really see where this is going.” Not everyone is comfortable voicing their doubts, whether it be about a relationship, a job, business venture, activity or group membership. I feel that any doubt should be voiced regardless of the situation to which it applies, as left to itself, it will continue to swirl around your head until it consumes you.

“I don’t have anything to do all week.” Okay, maybe you don’t have any appointments this week, but seriously? You can’t possibly have nothing to do. People are going to be less inclined to spend time with someone who has absolutely no clue what to do with themselves for a whole seven days. This can be better worded, in my opinion. Try using “flexible” and “schedule” in the same sentence. Because seriously, everyone has something to do.

I’ll try to make it if I can, but don’t count on me being there.” This was a tough one for me, as I always felt the need to please everyone. I would agree to this and that for the sake of making others happy, only to disappoint once I realized I was acting out of someone else’s interests and not my own. It’s a heartbreaking realization to come to and one that should not be taken lightly so I say, commit only if you are one hundred percent certain, or don’t commit at all. It’s better to not commit and surprise than it is to agree and disappoint.

“I literally have ten cents in my bank account right now.” I am horribly, horribly guilty of this one. Not only is having ten cents to your name not something to be proud of (I was convinced it was), it is also not something to advertise. I used to broadcast this like it meant it was some kind of miracle I was still alive. All this statement does is elicit pity from the sympathetic, or makes you look lazy and unproductive to those less empathic. You can be broke without saying you’re broke.

“I don’t appreciate it when you say/do those things.” This is legitimate honesty which is often, sadly, misinterpreted as cruelty. There is being tolerant to the point of becoming a human doormat, and there is being so intolerant as to silently alienate people without even the slightest notice. Either of these is more akin to cruelty than simply stating that you will not put up with anymore of their bullsh*t. End of story. I’ve had it said to me, I will say it to others. It’s better to be aware of it than making an ass out of yourself at every turn.

So go forth, be more honest. Take what you can, give nothing back.