Apps are all the range. Some people say Apple's App Store values quantity over quality too much. What is needed to create a quality app? I don't know the answer, although I'd like to learn. Indeed, I constantly feel my web-naivety slipping away. I'm slowly learning that a quality app is not built in a day, by a single developer, on a single system. Most importantly, I now appreciate that a good app needs maintenance. This point taps into the life-long learning ethos of programming. Systems change, new ideas arise, fierce collaboration occurs. Loving learning sets you in good stead.
31.01.17What do you like to learn about? How often do you learn it? Are there days you focus on it more? Why or why not? Curiosity may have killed the cat but I'm sure that learning in a safe and non-intrusive manner is always okay. Reading books or quietly tapping away on a laptop are harmless ways to learn. When might learning become unsafe? Curiosity may also engender gossip, or "unnecessary investigation or experimentation" as stated on Wikipedia. Gossip seems a natural human trait that fits with our penchant for learning. Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.
01.02.17Why do people work the way we do? We are a social species. Many of us search for what makes us different. I believe the greatest harmony arises by focusing on similarities. Isn't it a wonderful thought? To be able to say that some traits are shared amongst us all. 'Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs' is nice to think about. He lists physiological wellbeing, safety, love, belonging, and self-esteem as traits we all share, or at least long for. There may be others, too. Knowing what unites us fosters respect, understanding, and tolerance for any type of person we may meet.
02.02.17How much does psychology really permeate different aspects of our lives? Why, if certain fundamental psychological principles exist, do people not consider these and act more kindly towards each other? Do negative feelings including jealousy and anger tend to override more positive ones, and, if so, why? Why is human nature so, that there is even a word to describe the pleasure we get when we see others fail? Schadenfreude. Is it the case that people expend effort to take the moral high ground but allow progress to evaporate at the whim of an emotion? Endless queries into human nature.
03.02.17Human nature can be depressing at times. So much anger, hatred, irritation, annoyance, passive-aggression, jealousy, name-calling, shame, guilt, etc. The list goes on. In a world that is becoming more connected, we may expect negativity to diminish, but it seems these primarily virtual connections don't always encourage positive emotions. Add in the mounting pressure felt by a constantly stretched world, and its ever-stretched population, and there leaves even less room for positivity. It is the responsibility of each individual to advocate positivity in their own lives. A little positivity spreads to the next person, then the next. Positivity can snowball.
04.02.17Speaking of snow, not only of course that it's magical and fantastic, but in the context of positivity - a bus driver told me animatedly this morning that he loves snow. I was surprised by this in several ways. Firstly, not many people like it, especially those who drive for a living. Secondly (and most shockingly), he was like a fountain of positivity. Each syllable he uttered trilled past his lips as if he was an elated schoolboy trapped inside a tiny elderly man's body. I am exaggerating but I'm actually not. His impact on me was just that large.
05.02.17What does it take to insert positivity into your lifestyle and be able to keep it alive and kicking? Perhaps if we visualise ourselves as robots with some SD card slots. Picture inserting the positivity card, installing the programme, and keeping it quietly running in the background. Things like social or cultural updates might periodically become available to help keep algorithms running smoothly in pace with real world events. Would such a robot seem inhuman? Of course. Nobody is endlessly positive, are they? As people we can't be expected to be, but we can do our best to promote positivity.
06.02.17I watch a vlog on blogging that mentioned Tumblr. I check out my old Tumblr account that I am certain is around eight years old by now. I love the first picture on my homepage, no surprise there. The picture belongs to a portraits blog. I scroll through the images and am captivated. The beautiful way people are captured in the pictures breathes emotion and clarity. They are gorgeously sculpted yet fragile and delicate depictions of the physical attributes common to us all. Lips, eyes, ears, noses, hair, clothes, jewellery, scars, etc. We can relate to these pictures. See http://pursuitofportraitsblog.tumblr.com/
07.02.17Pictures are something very close to my heart. My first camera was a £20 lump of gold plastic from Argos. I don't remember being excited about pictures then. My interest sprung up in high school. A best friend with similar interests may have been a catalyst. We loved design, photos and art. She is now a successful wedding photographer. I pursued what I deemed a much more academic path. Eight years of psychology sounds a lot but I cherish the memories I've made along the way. I kept photography as a hobby and it has continued to feed my soul.
08.02.17Yesterday, a developer at Codebar Brighton helped me implement a responsive navigation bar for my site. Due to my HTML and CSS being messy, the navbar did not work. I was advised to clean up my code to see if it helped. I'd been planning to do this anyway. Today, I created new files and copied over all non-obsolete code into them. I implemented the navbar code once more, and, voila! It worked. I achieved something today. A small victory but enough to get me publishing on Github once again. There's so much still to do, and not enough time!
09.02.17I went to my first user experience session today. It was run by a couple in their pleasant house situated in Upper Rock Gardens. There were two web developers, seven other testers, and plenty of nice cheese and wine. The hosts were extroverts, the web developers introverts, and interestingly many testers identified as introverts as well. It made me wonder whether I am introverted, extroverted, or otherwise. I'm reminded of a term for those between both extremes: ambiverts. Those comfortable doing both extroverted and introverted things. It'd certainly fit well with my name. Is it good or bad to label?
10.02.17Today I feel overwhelmed. I remained calm. The only way I can achieve something is to keep on working and learning. Managing my emotions is just a small part of life, really. Emotions are the things that drive most of what we do, which can lead us to naturally place large precedence on them. These primal, lizard-brained, atomic influxes of feeling can feel domineering and controlling. We need to show emotions that we are boss. We can still respect them, consider their opinions. After all, they exist to guide us. However, our rational side can be the leader. Just persevere.
11.02.17Many of my posts have been based on emotion, thinking, and introspection. Are they too many? Should I try to strike a balance between psychology, design and simple, light-hearted words? I will definitely try. I enjoyed my musings on lighter topics when I first started this writing challenge. I think I need to take more time to write during the day, in moments when I am inspired by something, or feel a lot of joy. Writing at the end of the day when I am inevitably tired doesn't always yield as large a variety of topics as I would like.
12.02.17Blogging. A mystical, magical, sparkly way to reach umpteen gazillion viewers from the confines of dark, musty room. A skilful foray into clicking your mouse button whilst sitting in one spot can ensure connections and networks are formed, agreements made, content published and big bucks brought in. I just ordered a book on blogging, looking forward to reading it. I have some small experience vlogging about learning German. I gained Youtube subscribers. Time and priorities zapped the energy I needed for the project. Now I regret I didn't keep it up. People want content, let's find how to provide it.
13.02.17Nick DeWilde of breakingintostartups.com said "Be a rocket ship. Don't worry much about your title but worry about what you're learning and what you do every day. Skills are important but having the right attitude is just as important". This is a lovely piece of advice for people worried about where learning to code might lead. It strikes me afresh each time I read or hear advice from a person in the industry. Each person I meet seems to delight in sharing their knowledge. Where else will you find that? I'm actually not sure, but I'm happy I found it.
14.02.17It seems to be easy to connect emotionally to the physical aspects of others. It is interesting that we can struggle to connect emotionally to the non-physical aspects. I wonder if it is that we are afraid of what we can't see. It could be that we fear having to deal with the emotional baggage of others, and that it may influence our own feelings in a negative way. I am reminded of the iceberg analogy where what we see is just ten percent of the real picture. Ninety percent of a person is below the surface. Invisible but there.
15.02.17People see a pretty site. They might spend a few seconds there. Perhaps longer if the site visually pleases them. Do they know what's going on under the site's surface? Not too likely. Can they appreciate the many hours and people needed to make the finished site? Also unlikely. As people, we look for tiny snippets of overt, physical clues in our environments. Like blackbirds collecting worms whilst remaining vigilant for cats. This is a part of human nature. We have no time to look deeper. Our survival depends on piecing together multiple bits of information as fast as possible.
17.02.17Coding is exciting. There is so much to do. Endless topics to learn, re-learn, discuss. Boundless enthusiasm from people working within. People from strikingly different backgrounds. The power to benefit people and empower society. Opportunities growing as the reach of technology increases. Niches to find and fit into. Mentors willing to help you get there. Open source as a well of openness providing free opportunities to practice and network. The work is not easy, but the rewards are there, and they are worth the effort. I like feeling my mind light up when I go to pursue each new goal.
18.02.17There are plenty of moments where life seems ordinary. Occasionally, quite a different moment may permeate our consciousness. Unique to each person, a sudden feeling that life is wonderful and contains boundless opportunities. We feel we can change the world and want to seek ways to do it. The difference between the ordinary and wonderful moments are quite striking. I'd like to experience more of the latter. Although it's hard to write a solid list of ways to do this, I believe feeling happy and fulfilled in life is at the heart of everything. Like the drummer in a band.
19.02.17When someone feels wonderful and inspired, do they become tired any more quickly? Can anyone realistically feel this way 100% of the time? I'd love to conduct a large survey on what makes people feel inspired, creative and empowered. Perhaps I could do this as a mini side-project. I can envision a poster campaign that uses happy, smiling portraits of people, speech bubbles containing their wisdom, and a bright colour palette. It might not change the world but it can get people to think, which is a good initial driver for change. It's amazing how design can inspire social good.
20.02.17One of the things I love most in the world of design, amongst many, is architecture. Zipping along the railway towards London I am privy to fleeting but detailed views of people's houses. In a split-second, I get to observe a dwelling where the occupants have spent countless hours. I feel almost as if I've been invited in for tea. My favourite part, though, is the opportunity to appreciate each house's collective history. The location, proximity to other houses, condition, windows, bricks, roof, garden. Wondering why it was built, when and by whom. What different story could each house tell?
21.02.17I want to work hard. My motives are many. I want to create. Not just in one medium either. I long to release the fiery passion I've had inside me for decades. Turns out I was always a wannabe designer. From doodles in class, to Neopet page HTML, to animated boy band GIFS, to PaintShop Pro, to Photoshop, to photography, to drawing portraits, to blogging, to vlogging, to stop-motion animation. I want to use my skills to make a positive change in the world. I feel that responsibility. I don't think talent should ever go to waste. Release the flames.
22.02.17Keeping a creative flame burning requires more than fuel, say in the form of food. As people we also have advanced CPUs to run (our brains), and for this we need plenty of sleep. A need is quite a particular thing. User experience designers can explain the difference between user's needs and wants. What people want may not always be in line with what they need. On one hand, carefully researching and listening to users through a series of planned questions can help distinguish the two. On another, merely observing how people interact with their environment can say a lot.
23.02.17We probably think and make decisions based on emotions. Advertising and businesses rely on this. There may be very few people in control of all their emotions, even if we'd like to be. What about being 'in the moment' with an emotion? Say we're angry. A negative feeling. Can we embrace this feeling as our own, unique experience, appreciate it even? A negative feeling isn't forever. It's more like a brief snapshot in the story of you. Let the feeling flow through you, relish what it means to be human. Not only are we physically capable, but mentally as well.
There are capabilities available to us that escape the vast majority of life. The ability to ponder decisions, actions and situations and arrive at one of an infinite number of conclusions. Recently, a friend engaged me in conversation around such things. He explained how amazing it is that we're blessed with our cognitions. I believe life is something wonderful and precious. It should be enjoyed and relished. Hard work is important, but play is as well. A developer speaking on a podcast I heard today reiterated this. We can't realise our full potential unless we are happy in all aspects.
When I take care of myself, give myself that respect, I find everything else much easier. I can accomplish my goals faster and retain lots more information. People take care of themselves in different ways. What might work for one may not work for another. This isn't to say that gathering different perspectives from others isn't useful. I actually believe this is one of the most important things we can do. Other perspectives can refresh our own, sometimes stale, perspectives. It could be that true happiness occurs when we connect with people, learn their stories, and are in turn open.
Travelling is something I do that brings me what nothing else can. It is impossible for me to say what could be more life-giving. However, it may increase my awareness of the world that I know too much. Residing permanently and happily in one country must be a soothing bubble. I haven't done so for eleven years, and never in my adult life. I still believe life is too short to be happy remaining in one place. Life and wonderful experiences await those who are hungry to jump into the unknown. There are billions of people, let's meet them all.
The people I've met so far in the tech world have inspired, encouraged and amazed me. Knowing there are so many more I have yet to meet makes me really happy. They are part of a group who are always learning and excited to push boundaries. Brian Chesky of Airbnb said "Never assume you can’t do something. Push yourself to redefine the boundaries." Mark Hurrell of GOV.UK explains how designers and developers will often be challenged, be uncertain, and not know the answer to things. Ambiguity seems to be something to grab by the horns, rather than being afraid of.
Is ambiguity ever something to be afraid of? Would most people like to live the same every day, with no changes or challenges along the way? There might be something desirable about a comfort bubble. Though, in my experience, I've never learned much while being in one. Pushing boundaries at home, not just in work, might be important. I jumped out of my comfort bubble by travelling and living in different countries, meeting as many people as I could. I learned and grew so much doing it. On top of this, I can enjoy having a worldwide family for life.
I got back from Berlin today. As the clock struck midnight I climbed into my own bed. Today in Berlin it was cold, windy and rainy. I rented a bike again but gave it back soon after because cycling was no fun. The city leaves me feeling many things. I can't quite work out where the feelings come from. I have a lot of history in this country, and especially in this city. 9 months, two jobs, four different flats, many friends and a relationship. The city makes me feel happy and yet engulfed and lonely at the same time.
I have lived in Brighton almost 9 months now. The longest I have lived anywhere since I studied in the Netherlands in 2014. The longer I live here, the more at home I feel. Leaving for holidays and coming back requires some adjusting though. I am getting closer to being able to complete my career shift. Leaving Brighton for a few days throws me off this focused course slightly. After the wobble, I slowly but surely gather momentum and can really put my foot on the gas peddle. Although, I will of course drive carefully and watch out for hazards.
I'd be interested to know what books mean to different people. Personally, I like collecting books that can teach me something about the world, and tend to do this faster than I can read them. I find value in fiction but don't have time to enjoy it. A friend told me the non-fiction he's encountered has always seemed to be a bit on the dry side. I gently disagreed, countering that those who write non-fiction usually do so because they are immersed in a topic they are highly passionate about. I revel in feeling the passion bouncing off each word.
I want to write a post on words. Words, to me, are magical. To me, they breathe culture, history, emotions and knowledge. Everyone, everyday, uses words. Words bind the world together in so many ways. Their fascinating nuances and rich histories hail back to when our species first gained the ability to use them. Countless thousands of languages, some now lost forever, developed over thousands of years. In no one language does one express themselves the same way. "To have another language is to possess a second soul" - Charlemagne. Learning a new language brings you outside yourself, an exhilarating process.
I have recently thought about re-starting my YouTube channel 'MyGermanLearningJourney'
. The last video I posted there was from late 2014. I stopped due to lack of time and stress. I've wanted to continue improving my German ever since. Now I'm settled in a great place and feel warmth and inspiration from countless people around me, I once again feel like helping others improve as well. I even have ideas already. I had struggled to think of any before. I feel many vloggers publish on a schedule, say Monday mornings. I want to do this too. There's planning to be done.
There is planning to be done but how do I fit it in? I keep asking myself this question. There is so much I want to learn. I really want to learn all that I can about the world of web and software development. In an attempt to organise my learning I write myself goals but these pile up and are hard to follow. I have begun writing down the things I do every day. The lists are long. Information comes at me from all angles. I love it but it's exhausting. I just need more hours in the day.
Tonight was SheSaysBrighton. There were five women speakers. They spoke about the future of women. Of successful women. Women with a voice. Women not afraid to pursue success and have their voice heard. One speaker, a woman named as one of Elles's thirty women under thirty changing the world, called the stage 'my stage'. My first impression is that she was being cocky, but it soon dawned on me she was asserting the power she has every right to assert. She encouraged us to be 'upfront' and bold, and explained that there's a huge lack of diversity on stages worldwide.
The talks at SheSaysBrighton made me realise that there is no one set path to success or changing the world. Even if you begin your journey later than others did. Does the old adage 'better late than never' ring true? Yes it does. Rejoice in the sound of a thousand bells, encouraging you to achieve what you really want. Step back, look around and observe the beautifully diverse film reels that are everyone else's life paths. Strength comes from diversity. Multitudes of different experiences foster shared understanding, connection and knowledge growth. We are stronger together. Always encourage others to succeed.
I read that those who are jealous of others' success will find it hard to be successful themselves. Conversely, lifting others up and celebrating their successes, no matter how big or small, can increase your own chances of enjoying success and growth. I would like to find a credible scientific paper and backup the claims I have made here. Even without solid evidence, it may not be hard to imagine that choosing happiness over bitterness can only affect one's life positively. Making an effort to introduce and maintain snippets of positivity in life can spark a snowball effect of happiness.
Making a conscious effort to be positive can promote happiness. Simply being yourself is another way to do this. Being yourself is often overlooked or undermined. I have been told that if you want to be good at public speaking, try to be yourself. Others want to see the genuine you. They don't want to see a copy of someone else. Everyone is unique and that's a wonderful thing. Bring yourself to the table and people will be able to learn from your one-of-a-kind perspective. Don't put on a show, be a show-stopper. It requires so much less effort, really.
Public speaking appears to be a scary thing for everyone. Not one person I've spoken to has told me they aren't at least a little nervous stepping up on stage. Personally, some audiences scare me more than others. I am more likely to speak confidently to a whole room of strangers about a topic I have no knowledge on (i.e. Toastmasters) than a smaller group of peers about a topic I've thoroughly researched (i.e. a Master's class at university) Why? I don't know. I do know that I want to practice public speaking. So I can share my passion live.
Speaking to people in the tech industry can also be intimidating. People with many more years of experience than me seem like giants. Towering above me, it seems their head and shoulders are shrouded in opaque, soundproof clouds, through which I can discern fast-paced mumbling but not much else. At times, they bend down, look you me the eyes, and talk to me. Eventually, they inevitably end up in the clouds again. Goodness knows what they are doing up there. What exciting topics they are discussing. I like giving visual explanations. Perhaps my vision is complete nonsense. What is yours?
It's a good kind of exhaustion, creative exhaustion. Throwing yourself into twelve straight hours of talks, discussions, meeting new people, and thinking of ideas. You feel your brain starting to ask "okay, what's up here?". Talking to a friend who recently moved from a physically demanding to a mentally demanding job made me consider the differences between these. How many types of exhaustion might there be? Perhaps, broadly, only physical and mental. Physical exertion can, in short bursts, give you endorphins. Being on your feet all day probably won't give you any. Being creative all day? That gives me plenty.
I am trying to be more and more productive every day. How can productivity be defined? Put simply it may mean getting as much done in a short a time as possible. How, then, can one measure productivity when there are no set goals? Learning about web development and the massive umbrella of skills that covers it makes it hard to set tangible goals. There's simply too much to learn. How can new developers (who are also very curious beings) feel productive while learning? I make lists of small tasks I want to achieve. This helps me focus my time.
Small lists. Post-its. Facebook messages. Twitter messages. Facebook saves. Twitter saves. Screenshots. Pictures. ColorNote app. Word of mouth. E-mails. Bookmarks. And more. The places I store tiny snippets of useful information are plenty. Consolidating them all is difficult. One thing that helps me get tasks done and leads me back to relevant snippets is writing a to-do list daily. I know everyone does things differently, which is a fascinating topic by itself. Finding your own, personal, best way of doing things can open up the doors of productivity for you. Want exclusive membership to 'Productivity Manor'? Search and earn it.
Let me take a quick foray into the topic of success. There can be much said about it. It can scare some people. I wonder if it is really so scary, or elusive, or undefined. Maybe people get worked up pursuing it. Perhaps it's easier to obtain than many think. Stepping back, taking a deep breath, and spending a few moments thinking realistically can bring your path into a clearer view. Note in simple terms what you want and, much more importantly, why you want something. The honest and unique reasons behind why you want something are important to know.
I talked about the importance of being yourself, about being honest and open. I get reminded of this multiple times every single day when I talk to developers. How is it that I get reminded of this with such frequency? Developers, the ones I have met anyway, are some of the most open, empathetic, and intelligent people I've ever encountered. I'm not one for mushy sentiments, honest. They remind me of an over-the-top, airy-fairy teen beauty queen acceptance speech every time. You can believe that I'll only give them where credit is due. Get to know a developer, they rock.
As a budding developer, is it more important to read a lot, practice a lot, talk to lots of people, have your own site, build a stunning portfolio, worry all the time about the skills you'll need to be hired? I am realising more and more that there's no prescribed path, and there's no one thing that's more important than another. In the world of development it might, just infact, be most important to show passion, willingness to learn, kindness, empathy, openness, honesty, etc. A genuine, fiery, popping enthusiasm for the world of web development gives you the best start.
I got some unexpected advice from someone at Codebar. It reminded me how magic it can be to connect to someone in such a meaningful way, just by sharing stories and encouraging each other. It's a pretty good incentive for talking to as many people as possible. The definition of a good life for me is being able to connect with other people, share experiences, and find common ground. Life is too short to be worried about what people will think of you or if they'll reject you when approaching them. Be yourself, don't deprive other people of your magic.
All the emphasis is architect or designer, scientist or engineer or whatever, as opposed to where do you want to live? What kind of life do you want? I saw this quote at a job fair. It spoke to me as I've always been primed to think of jobs in rather black and white terms. Study this to be this. If this prescribed path isn't followed, success can't be guaranteed. I believe this stifles creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, which is a big shame because the world needs more of that stuff. I'm finally starting to ask myself the right questions.
© 2017 Amber Wilson.