Working Towards a Goal

Working Towards a Goal

I am currently working towards a goal and I am struggling. I am struggling to stay focused when I follow online courses because I find that my mind strays. I am also struggling because the topic is so broad that there are hundreds of things you can learn but you need to be focused.

I am also struggling because although many people live in denial about the pandemic it is still thriving. The positivity check, for a disease, to be considered under control is less than five percent. COVID, after five years is still at ten or more percent. This gets in the way of going to conferences, meetups and other networking opportunities.

Out of pandemic I would volunteer for many events for two reasons. The first is that I’m shy, and by volunteering I force myself to go to events. The second reason is price. If you volunteer you pay for the train or parking but nothing else. This is a good way of going to conferences, meeting people, and coming across interesting ideas.

If I felt comfortable with what I am learning at the moment I would spend four or more hours a day on it. I would spend two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.

Recently my progress keeps stalling because I don’t have the solitude that I need to be at my most productive. I sit down, start to focus and then noise interrupts what I am working on and I stall.

This isn’t an uncommon problem. Usually writers complain about this but I am not a writer.

What I find hard with this situation is that I am a good worker, when I am in contract. The problem is that contracts are hard to find and they end after six to nine months, and finding the next one is a struggle. That’s why I’m working on changing career. That’s why I try to write at least a few lines of code every day. At the moment I am working on being at ease with Laravel and PHP and it’s progressing.

The progress is not as fast as I’d like, because I don’t have as much solitude as I would like to make good progress.

I am close to reaching my goal.

Twitter: The Rise of the Personal Question That Isn’t

Recently I have noticed individuals tweeting as if they were people, asking questions and getting 120 or more comments. They ask a question like “What was your first OS” or “What is your current setup” or other questions. These are generic questions that everyone has an answer to, so everyone answers to them. Those answering think either that they will get a personal answer back, or that they will increase their visibility by answering to these questions where no one cares about the answer, except marketers.

These questions are simple, and brilliant in their deceptiveness. They give the illusion of a personal question, but require no timeline reading, no investment of time or attention. Just broadcast a generic question, and wait for answers.

When I see that a tweet has three hundred answers I usually don’t bother to answer. I look for one on one conversations that may expand to four or five people, but no more. I have no interest in listening to a crowd that does not listen back, and by listen I mean read tweets.

I come from the age of chatrooms and web forums, an age where we were part of communities where everyone knew our name. I come from the Cheers age of the web. “Hello everyone”, “Hey norm”. An age where presence and time meant visibility, rather than algorithm seduction.

The accounts that I start to see more and more, are just noise. They don’t give me a reason to spend hours on the web. They give me a desire to do something else.

This morning I did do something else. Clothes washing, looking at kindles and learning about what service workers can do, by a four year old course that seems out of date. It wasn’t part of learning path I would have dumped it and moved on. I find it hard to watch courses where I can’t get practical experience. I will find relevant information to put the theory I am learning, into practice.

And that’s it for today.

High Winds And A Skipped Walk

High Winds And A Skipped Walk

There is a cold wind blowing today so I skipped my daily walk. I can dress for the weather and I am usually fine. Today I simply decided to miss my daily walk. I believe that walking whatever the weather, whatever the wind, and whatever the precipitation is good. I also believe that it fatigues us. For this reason it makes sense, sometimes, to stay indoors, and focus on studying or spending money on things we don’t need.

Early Sunsets

One of the problems with winter, aside from cold weather and finding a valid excuse is short days. When days are short you spend daylight working towards your goals, and by the time you’re free to go out the sun has set. It sets at 1720 at the moment so a one and a half hour walk requires going at three in the afternoon at the latest. Today I missed the window of opportunity.


I finished a course on closures in JavaScript today and I played around with creating a function to convert from knots to kilometres an hour. The first version was simple and had no interactivity but the second version, by copying someone else’s code works. I always make sure to credit the source from which I am learning. The next topic will be JavaScript Classes.

Android and iOS

I revived my android phone and tried Google Pay and it works very well but then tried Android car play or whatever it is called and that worked badly. In fact it didn’t work, so I feel that unless I swap the car, or go for what could be an expensive car os upgrade I might as well stick with Apple despite not being enthused with the platform at the moment. I wish switching the two could be as easy as a dual boot computer or laptop. Choose one, or the other, and everything is smooth. Unfortunately you need to commit to one or the other.

Playing With Tweetdeck

Recently I grew tired of seeing tweets that fill the entire screen. Twitter is meant to be a microblogging platform, not FaceBook. One way to avoid seeing tweets that fill the entire screen is to use It allows you to see as many lists and columns as you want. You can use the number keys to change between views. I believe that the decision to design for mobile first is a mistake, in the current web landscape, but is worth exploring in another blog post.


Thoughts on The Google IT Support Course

I am currently studying the Google IT Support Course. I am familiar with many of the topics and I have used many of the tools discussed. What the course offers, and the reason for which it has so much value, is that fills my knowledge gaps.

One example of this is the TCP/IP model. Until I studied the networking module I never thought about the five layers. I never thought about the complexity of getting packets from one machine on one network to another machine three or more hops across on another network.

Before I studied this course I was familiar with adding an IP address and Gateway address but did not understand how subnetting works. In the process I learned to count in binary. It is a simple concept to understand once you have played with examples a number of times.

One of the strengths of this course is that it tests you at the end of the chapter to ensure that you remember what you learned. In some cases it took more than three attempts to pass certain quizzes and I had to wait twenty four hours before I could continue. I like that there are these challenges. It encourages you to do some background research to ensure that you understand the topics that are making you struggle.

I also like the practical tests where you have to either SSH or RDP into remote clients and accomplish tasks using what you have just learned. You can fail here too, and that is where you invest more time in ensuring that you have really learned the topic.

One exercise I liked is SSHing into a test server, fixing a file name, checking that the page loaded, and then SSHing into the production server and doing the same. I had often seen SSH mentioned but until recently I had not had the curiousity to accomplish tasks with it.

On Linkedin Learning I studied AWS Provisioning And Deploying before I took the Google IT Support Course and I was able to get through the course and understand most of the concepts and tasks, but the Google IT support Course really added to my knowledge and understanding of the entire workflow and environment.

Yesterday I was learning about the opportunity to record actions in terminal and if I had known about this earlier then I could have written scripts to deploy and breakdown instances that I was required to install for projects.

When studying web development I had to install Ruby, Ruby on Rails, NPM, Angular, React and more and they sometimes interfered with each other. If I had the knowledge I have now then I could have had a clean install for each, and I could have configured and used virtual machines.

I started the course with knowledge of how to use computers. Now my knowledge is well founded, with many of the gaps in knowledge and understanding filled.

Web Dev Studies During The Pandemic.

Web Dev Studies During The Pandemic.

During this Pandemic, I have decided to study Web Development and I am slowly making my way through one or two Linkedin Learning Pathways. In the process, I have learned about CSS, PHP, JavaScript ECMAScript2016, Frameworks and more.

The course I have studied are:

Angular Essential Training / React.js Essential Training / Git Essential Training / Learning ECMAScript 6 /Node.js Essential Training / Javascript Essential Training / RubyonRails Essential Training / CSS Essential Training / Ruby Essential Training : 1 The Basics / Installing and Running Ruby On Rails 5: Mac / Programming Foundations: Web Security /PHP with MySQL / Essential Training 1 and 2 /PHP Essential Training / Programming Foundations: Databases / Responsive Layout / HTML Essential Training / Introduction to CSS and CSS Essential Training.

With these studies I am getting a good overall appreciation of the options and solutions available to web developers. When I complete the “Become A full-Stack Developer and Become a Web Developer Courses I want to focus on a single framework and try to do everything from scratch, from setup to deployment, or at least to it being “completed”.

It’s easy to watch hours of videos and not learn much. It’s for that reason that with these courses I have re-written every line of code and when it did not work I persisted until I resolved the issues.

With CSS I took the opportunity to re-work the entire website. I made it mobile compliant and more visually appealing. I plan to take the same approach to learn about frameworks, taking my website and its sections, and using a framework as a CMS.

For now I need to keep progressing with the learning pathway. I have eighteen hours of courses to go but that’s without including the hours of effort put into getting things to work after I’ve written the lines of code.

At least this is a productive way of taking advantage of being in self-isolation for the foreseeable future.


First thoughts

You know you’re a final year student when the last thing you think about before going to sleep is your dissertation. It’s also the first thing you wake up thinking of and to make matters worse you notice that a friend has joined a group called “my dissertation is driving me crazy, just to make you feel that much better.

It’s not that I’m doing particularly badly, after all, I’ve done all the research I wanted to do in relation to the topic I’m writing about and I am progressing. I just wish it wasn’t so important in relation to all the other work I’ve done. It’s over in a month. That’s when I can finally relax and enjoy the real world again.

How many university students a year write dissertations? At least thirty to fourty thousand I’d guess. How many enjoy it, probably quite a few. I enjoy it but it would be nicer if the purpose was to create more content for a website than to be assessed by a lecturer. I’m going to work on adding at least another 2000 words today, get it to five thousand words today. That’d mean I’m halfway to completion and it will be a really nice feeling.

Now it’s time to stop procrastinating and do something more productive. No holidays for anyone so close to the dissertation deadline.

Dissertation feedback

Yesterday I went for some dissertation feedback and heard that some people have not yet been to see their dissertation and if these people have seen no one then I am quite surprised. The reason for which I am surprised about this is that it’s a new form of writing which involves getting a good knowledge of certain rules.

One of these rules was never written “Should”. Your dissertation is meant to be based on fact, on what has been documented. Anything within the speculative realm is worthless. You might as well take those sentences and write an article about them for pleasure.

The second rule is simplicity. If you’re writing a dissertation you’re writing for people who have never heard about the subject before. What this means is that if you use a technical term you must make sure to explain what it means and why it’s relevant. Assume your audience is off the street rather than some well-informed individual. In some ways getting someone to read your dissertation who knows nothing about the topic is great because they’ll point to you the error of your ways in assuming that everyone knows something. I’m going to have to elaborate on those points.

Language is an essential part of the writing process. Did you mean channels or outlets? Are you speaking about perceptions or opinions and do you know the difference. Remember that words are the only method by which to get your point across. If you use a word make sure that it is used in the right context. If you don’t you may confuse your reader but more importantly, you may set out that you are going to do one thing but due to an error in language you’re doing something which does not link directly to this.

Overall dissertation writing should be a pleasure to write and to read. It’s about taking a subject that you’re really interested in and sharing it with your audience.  Over time it comes naturally but if you’re like me it’s a question of experience.

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All that is left from three years is one essay and one dissertation

Yesterday I handed in my penultimate essay.

There are two main assignments remaining. the first of these is a tech case study which should be fun to do. I already have an idea of a topic that I know fairly well. with the second it’s the dissertation and I should really spend a few hours progressing with that.

I had one of those classic nights on Saturday. You begin with the idea that you’re simply going to drop into the cinema and watch a film before going home and watching the lunar eclipse from the relatively low light pollution of the area around the halls.

This plan disintegrated as a friend encouraged me to stay out and go out clubbing instead. I knew I had the penultimate essay to finish. Most people hate the night bus because it’s so full of weird people, some are just drunk, others are in worse states and finally some are amusing.

On occasion you’ll enter the bus and a girl will offer you some crisps and you won’t say know, to which someone next to you asks whether you’re really going to accept them. Later on you understand that it’s the brother joking around.

In other cases you’ll find that it’s like a plane cabin. If you’ve ever flown easyjet and got up to go to the front of the cabin you’ll know the sight. it’s that of two hundred people having a nap. It’s a soothing sight to see so many relaxed people.

Occasionaly some people get cold so you lend them their jacket and you walk them home before rushing home to finish your essay rather than taking the time to get to know more about them.

There are a lot of people that hate the stop at Sudbury but having lived there last year I know a little secret. That there’s a 24 hour shop where you can buy jaffa cakes and lipton ice tea for the second part of the journey.

What I enjoyed most about saturday was the people I met on the bus journey home.

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Delegation and working to deadlines

I love working on my own projects, where I rely on no one but myself but occasionally I’m lucky enough to have no choice but to work with other people. It’s at these moments that I learn more. I learn about team scheduling and teamwork. I also learn about delegation.

I’m not that good at it yet but I’m learning. Anyone working as a producer or director needs to learn that job and some are better than others. The recent myspace and Magician audition projects I worked on saw some good producers in charge. As a result, the project was good.

Recently I’ve had to be a co-producer with someone else and I was asked what jobs still had to be done and I had to think about it before I could delegate the responsibility. I finally found some methods of delegating responsibility, therefore, I’ll have more material to choose from when it comes to editing.

The project has to be finished by Monday because Tuesday I’ll be back in London with a three thousand word essay on technological determinism to hand in. On the Monday following that I have a presentation on digital content. I’ve been thinking about that concept and I think I’ll be able to produce a good product.