What do I say?

It’s been a good while since I made a post. Lots has happened, mostly good things. I found a job and as a result, my “extracurricular” activities have taken more of a back seat.

I find myself wanting to come back to publicly writing things down. For what reason, I don’t know. I don’t write code quite as much outside of work, but that’s normal. However, I have been drawing recently and dropping the occasional masterpiece on my pixel art page.

So like the title suggests, what do I say?

I think for now, I’ll say things about my art path and anything else that comes to mind. Well, I’ll try to. I think it’s good to document things you do. It slows time down a little. In a good way. I enjoy looking back at the things I’ve done and it’d be a shame to lose out on that going forward.

As a start, I recently completed the 250 box challenge on Drawabox. What an absolute project that was! I started on the next lesson from there and I can already tell that 250 boxes is in fact just skimming the surface. The texture exercise in particular has reminded me that getting what you see onto paper is incredibly difficult.

Anyway that’s about it. Here’s to hoping I can say some more stuff later!

Yes to all

radio room

They say one of the best things you can do is say yes to all kinds of plans. I’ve been doing that for the past month recently and my results say… yes you should. For the most part. But definitely not all the time.

To give some context, I spent the past week and change visiting family and doing the things that comes with visiting family. In that time frame, I had two interviews, a Python code jam to work on (with a video I made for the team’s presentation), and my personal projects.

It was absolutely one of the most productive and fun weeks I’ve had in a good while. That being said, it came at the cost of saying no to a few things in the process because I was just so incredibly busy, whether with code or with enjoying family time. That’s when began to I understand the limits of saying yes to everything, and these limits are not necessarily bad.

The way I see it, you’re going to be saying no to plans regardless of the approach you take. If you’re someone who typically says no to new things, you are denying yourself life experience. If you say yes to everything till you’re full, then saying no to things feels bad, but it’s because you’ve been saying yes to everything else. And that’s good.

That all being said, it’s easy to take the approach of saying yes to everything and then realizing it isn’t physically possible to follow up on all the things because of poor planning. Yeah, try not to be That Guy. I was pretty good at not being That Guy but sometimes certain things slipped through, whether through poor planning or other reasons. That’s part of the learning process though. How much can you handle at once? It’s hard to say ’till you try.

One thing that’s hugely important too, is to occasionally take a break from saying yes to everything. Reflect on it. What yeses did you enjoy? Which ones weren’t worth it? That’s where I am now, and that’s also why I have the time now to write this post.

So in return for a late (by my standards) post, you get some wisdom in addition to the reason for the lateness! We call that a win I think.

That’s about it anyhow. Thanks for reading!

Intermission

Alrighty, so a bit late this post was by my standards, but life throws things at you. You know how that goes. That said, I wanted to at least talk about some of the things I have been working on!

The Python Discord Code Jam

Recently, the Python Discord released a qualifier for their latest code jam! I have never taken part in a code jam, so I felt it was the perfect time to amend that. I successfully submitted my qualifier and while I regret to inform that it was not hyper-optimized, it definitely did the job.

I’m excited to see what sorts of ideas my team and I can come up with for the code jam. It’d be neat to place really well in the contest, but since it is my first one I’m really looking for the learning experience.

A super secret Rust project

Yep, that is indeed a thing I am working on. It may or may not involve Bevy and an additional developer. Stay tuned ?

The media posting app

I still intend to try and Dockerize the Django application I have been working on within the past month and change. I only have some experience using Docker, so it’s gonna take a bit longer there. Once I have it in place though, I may have an easier time incorporating it into a Gitlab CI pipeline that I mentioned in my last post.

And that’s about it

Taking up multiple projects has certainly been an interesting experience for me, as I am still also trying to improve myself in other ways that aren’t just coding. There are even more coding-related plans that I have, but I’ll keep those under wraps because it’s harder to start them if I start talking about them.

Short post but we take those. Stay cool friends ?

The Hard Part

We all get there at some point; it is an inevitability that precedes your next victory in some cases, or perhaps it precedes The Hard Part II in others. Regardless of the the context, it’s coming for you. For me, it’s here!

The Hard Part involves brick walls. It involves trepidation. It involves self-doubt. I’ve spent a lot of time improving myself now and I’m already aware of the signs. I’ve come to learn a few things and have started to employ methods of working through The Hard Part.

Old me would have said forget this. I’m tired of this. Thankfully, new me is tired of being tired of stuff. Instead, I’m going to type out what’s making things The Hard Part and what I’m doing to work through it.

So what’s makes now the hard part?

Okay, so I’m still dealing with the real-life issues that sparked my post from a few weeks ago. After rereading the post again, I’m glad I wrote it and I feel better after rereading it. That said, I think my personal issues currently reside within the Annoying Chore category, rather than the Hard Part. That’s not to say personal issues are an afterthought. I just think my progress in that regard is not something to be worried about. I know I’ll get there.

That effectively just leaves the things I’ve been working on. The main thing I’m working on is my Python Django web application. For the interested, I posted about it here and here.

Since the last post, I recently made some unit tests. I also set up some Raspberry Pis on my local network to do some things. One of the Pis hosts an instance of Gitlab and the other Pi is hosting a runner that works with the Gitlab instance.

The problem I am currently running into is the dumb little box in the bottom left area called “Gitlab Runner.” I’m trying to run the gitlab-runner service in the background of the OS instead of running it manually in a shell in the foreground. It has proven annoyingly difficult. I tried to use crontab, nohup, and shell scripts to get it to run in the background. All of the approaches did not work and this consumed a lot of trial and error to no success.

Now I’ve spent all this time digging into the technicalities of building a working pipeline, and there’s still tests to be written. There’s still product features that that I set out to do. There’s still a million things to learn just to get this clunker-of-a-learning-experience software in a state that I think is acceptable.

One realization I’m coming to is there’s a reason why software companies hire multiple people. Yes, it’s obvious on the surface. Seeing it in front of you is life experience. It turns out that..

  • Making the project
  • Making the tests for the project
  • Setting up an infrastructure where pipelines can be run against the project
  • Setting up the code environment such that the project can be worked on and tested locally while still being compatible with a pipeline
  • The deployment process and integration into the pipeline
  • Using Docker in general in the process
  • Doing other stuff I definitely forgot about

… all at the same time, is in fact a herculean effort.

I’ve always been someone who’s been indecisive. It annoys people. Ask anyone I know. I have to write posts like this to understand what’s going on. I sometimes wonder how “10x” developers do what they do without going mad. As a result of the challenges I’m facing, my mind is going a mile a minute without any sort of productivity as a result.

In these dilemmas, what do you do? I’ll tell you what.

How to deal with The Hard Part

Deep Breath

“Okay.”

Take a step back. What’s the goal I’m trying to achieve in doing this project? Nobody has expectations of me right now. This is huge. Sometimes, it’s easy to get lost in the details and then throw my hands up in frustration when something doesn’t work. That’s fine. Here, look at this:

“What is that?” you may ask. I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not the big picture. Stare at it too long and you start to conjure things in your head of its meaning and its purpose. “Why is it like that? This doesn’t tell me enough. The colors are cool I guess but they don’t mean anything.” Thoughts about it are inconsistent and erratic at best, based on conjecture and frustration.

This is where you have to step back and look at the big picture.

Big picture time.

What am I trying to do with this project?

What I want to do with my Python Django project is understand the process of going from idea to production. Anything more than that is fluff. Yes, I have some features/tests planned out for the project and that’s great, but I will say that the majority of the remaining features/tests fall more into Annoying Chore territory rather than The Hard Part territory. If I let myself, I could keep adding features/tests to the project ad nauseam and never be done, while The Hard Part is lurking, waiting for me to revisit it.

Instead of dreading the Annoying Chores and The Hard Parts at the same time, I’m going to focus on The Hard Parts only. Yes this means some features won’t get done and test cases will not be finished. However, completing those things 100% will not be conducive to a learning experience. Diminishing returns.

Disclaimer: this approach does not work outside the context of learning. The real world unfortunately has its own plans in times like these that are best covered in another post.

I want to learn how to Dockerize my project, run tests against it using a pipeline (even if they are bare bones tests), and deploy it to some local server. Those are the things that matter. I don’t need to think about anything else in the meantime. I have a project and the means to test it. Now it’s time to deal with the operations that work on those means.

Yes, this will involve banging my head on the wall with the previous issue I mentioned. Yes, there will be other challenges to face alongside it. But now that I’ve looked at the big picture again, it can at least be underscored with a sense of purpose.

And anyone who has gained a sense of purpose, however fleeting, will know how powerful that is.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Stay safe friends.

Tired, but free

Alrighty, so it’s been quite some time since my last post. For what it’s worth, it’s not entirely because I was lazy. There’s slightly more to it. Some good, some bad.

It’s frighteningly easy to go on autopilot sometimes and to think that life is one big routine that never changes. To some degree, it’s definitely true. But, once in a while, you’ll smack right into a brick wall to shift the balance. We tend to forget how tenuous the conditions of maintaining our equilibrium are, then when things are shaken up, we can get shaken up too. We begin to question reality and quickly recall that the universe is actually uncaring.

It’s easy to see that as a bad thing. And a lot of times it is.

In my case, let’s just say I have a lot more freedom now at the cost of stability. Thankfully, knowing the universe, I prepared for a time like this. I’ve been focusing a great amount of energy to figuring myself out and understanding the potential that I have. Guess what? It turns out I learned stuff about myself and the rich possibilities life has to offer.

Programming is still pretty neat

Firstly, I still like software and writing stuff for it. I like the process that goes into the problem solving for it. I like having a sick playlist in the background as I’m slamming out some code to bring an idea of mine to life. Yes, it’s hard some days. But everything worth being paid for is hard some days.

Being lost is fine and in fact encouraged

That’s basically it. I think being lost is the next step to being slightly less lost. From there it’s slowly chipping away at the ground you want to explore next, while mapping the ground you’ve covered.

Results-oriented retrospection is a slippery slope

With any decision you make, there’s almost definitely a better one. Probably. But nobody’s psychic and can come up with that optimal path. What matters is PICKING ONE. Seriously. You’d need all of the world’s information as well as the ability to process it in order to make the most optimal decision. Yes, maybe you’ll regret the decision, but it’s better than doing nothing.

In my case, I started learning the Django library in Python. At the time of writing, it is an absolute work in progress. I didn’t think too much about it when deciding to learn it. I just saw Django a decent amount in job descriptions and I kinda like Python. Plus, I’ve messed around with Flask in the past. Is the choice to learn Django the most optimal? No. Is it a waste of time? Absolutely not. In any case of doing software engineering, there’s something to learn from. What matters is I just pick something and roll with it because otherwise I’ll just sit and overthink things instead.

Maybe I won’t like Django. Maybe I will. Who knows? If I don’t, I definitely learned stuff. If I do, then I win. I’ve done enough overthinking.

It’s not about not failing, but rather increasing chances of success

I previously took the approach of getting by. It’s not sustainable. Yes, you can do it while technically growing, but there’s a lot of potential learning left on the table when you don’t try things that you know you’ll fail at the first time.

Some things, you basically just have to constantly fail over and over. As your failure counter rises up, throw the stupid failure counter in the garbage because who cares? If you learned from previous failures and applied them to future attempts, then you can sleep just fine.

Sometimes, you can do everything perfectly and still not succeed. Refer back to when I mentioned the universe and its relationship with people. All you can do is say, well, I am trying to just increase my chances of success with each new iteration. Sometimes the odds are stacked against you or literally at 0 and you’d just never know.

/ramble

That’s about it honestly. I will be making attempts to post on here weekly to have as part of my routine. I have had a lot of opportunity in the past month to grow as a person and reflect on what I like and what I do. Maybe this can help someone else do the same.

Stay safe; make good choices!

Low times

It’s been a bit of a tough period since my last post. I had been dealing with some work stuff and thankfully that’s over, but it’s been really difficult to create on my free time.

I started on a small Rust program recently to learn a bit more about how Cargo works. In addition, the tool was supposed to help me with some of my other hobbies. After some days of spending time on it, I noticed that it was increasingly harder to press my fingers on the keyboard and make the code do stuff. I did learn more about Cargo, but I just couldn’t be bothered. I think it’s temporary, but we’ll see. I’m thinking of greatly down-scaling the project to make things easier. I may have also recently ran out of coffee but surely that can’t be related.

Pixel art has been more of a consistent interest for me at least. Even though I am still having a hard time producing stuff there too, it’s at least because it’s novel and I don’t have it figured out yet, and not because I’m just like ugh. It’s hard to explain, but it may be because I regularly code at my normal day job. It’s much more difficult to work on code stuff on my free time when I’m also spending 5 days a week programming at my job.

I don’t really have much of a point to the post. I think sometimes it’s good to reflect on accomplishments when you’re down. I’ve done a lot of stuff the past couple months! That’s neat. We take those. It’s easy to beat yourself up when you want to push yourself at low times, but honestly it’s not worth it. People who do that to themselves end up pushing themselves away from their interests.

I think what helps too is that I don’t plan to make money with what I do or make on my free time. There doesn’t need to be good enough writing, good enough art, good enough whatever. I finish and submit whatever I think is presentable. The void I’m filling with all this stuff I am doing is a creative one. I’ve kinda deprived myself of a creative outlet for long enough, so the fact that I have many of them now is worth its own celebration.

For anyone reading, thanks and stay cool ?