Focus

How does one maintain focus on a single activity when there is so much to do and see?

What if some brilliant new thought is missed?

To maintain focus, one must give themselves over wholly to the item at the crosshairs. Commit completely to one idea, forsaking all others.

When distractions arise, one must say, “not now,” knowing that the new idea might be gone when the time of focus is ended.

That potential loss is terrifying.

It is also liberating.

Like the recovering alcoholic who says, “I’m only going to concentrate on not drinking for today, let the future worry about itself,” one can see the freedom in letting go of the buzz of swarming “Look at me’s!” and allowing oneself to relax into the quiet of the single thought.

Trust that if the new thought or urgent message is important enough, it will wait it’s turn.

 

Friday Update

Hello!

So, from tomorrow until the 12th I’ll be neglecting you all and my poor clubhouse – gotta go earn some money doing my real job as the dream job can not yet support my food and shelter addiction.

Worked on making the cards selectable today – but no success to report.  Perhaps the long break will give me new ideas to try when I get back.

Have a good weekend!

 

https://www.patreon.com/posts/friday-update-7691177

My First Status Update!

Hello!

It’s my first status update, and I already messed up!  I forgot to say in the video – PLEASE leave your comments and suggestions on my patreon page so that I can incorporate them into the clubhouse.

ALSO – this video is being posted publicly – but the next one will go to PATREONS ONLY – so sign up now to continue following the adventure!  Only costs a buck!

Thanks!

https://www.patreon.com/posts/my-first-status-7670957

 

My 2017

Hello World!

I’m going to build an online space where, through the use of an avatar, you can meet with your real life friends, talk, play games and just hang out in a place all your own. It is not a game – there are no levels, quests or strangers. Instead it’s like a slightly more immersive google hangout or skype chat.

I also intend to post a daily journal entry here on Patreon and also on my blog (mindofamouse.com) to keep all of my Patreons informed of my progress.

See the video below for a longer demonstration of the clubhouse. As of January 1st, the day I am launching this Patreon page, I am very close to a functional prototype – I just need to make it easy for you to download and login. Once that’s finished, you can hang out – invite a friend – see how things work and tell me how you think I can make it better. Just remember – this is a prototype! Expect bugs! Lots and lots of bugs!

I’m planning on April to have it ready for you because I still have to work at my freelance job. So there will be many days between now and April where I will be unable to work on the clubhouse. A girl’s gotta eat – right? And rest… so I’m taking Sundays off. =) Anyway, I figure this gives me around 280 days to work on this. That’s at least 280 journal entries you should expect to receive from me between now and December 31… Keep me honest! Yell at me if I miss a day!

 

Change is Good

I’m trying to ignore the fact that as of today, (i love you. i know) 2016 is officially the shittiest year of my almost 46 years on this planet. It’s not just me, I know. Lots of people feel the same.

2016 – the year of death and disillusionment.

I want, instead, to focus on 2017, and on the things I am going to do to change my life.

I’m not going to read the damn news anymore – that’s for sure. Too depressing. Instead, I am going to read books in genres I’ve never read before, like historical fiction and mystery and (yuck) romance. I need to understand how other people think. You all confuse the hell outta me.

I’m going to get out of the house everyday – and I’m going to make sure I don’t look like such a slob when I do. A little effort in getting dressed in the morning will make it a lot easier to greet the world.

I’m going to put all my creative energy this year into developing my programming/app building skills so that by the end of the year I will be qualified, and have proof of that qualification, to get a new job.

So… change.

This blog is a tool I’ve used before to help me focus on following a new path. And I’m going to do that yet again. Starting on the first – I’m going to start documenting those three changes – everyday – except Sundays and holidays and travel days…  so – not the first then, the second. =)

But I’ll be posting all the details about my new super-duper app thingy here on the first – so look out for that.

See you then…

 

 

I hate it when that happens

Head down, buried deep into a problem, until, finally – yes! I figured it out. Only to find, once I step back and look at the whole thing, I’ve gone and created three more problems with my clever solution.

Does this happen to everyone or is it just me? It’s being so focused on chopping the vegetables just right that you let the rice boil over.  It’s letting go of the vacuum cleaner to straighten the pillows and have three feet of curtain sucked up the hose. It’s reaching for the potatoes and knocking over your glass of milk. “Slow down, pay attention.”  Only, I was paying attention, too much attention, to something else.

Related imageThese mistakes are the most annoying mistakes. They’re the ones you can see coming miles away.  They could happen to anyone, at anytime, but they’re so easily preventable. It’s very important with programming to stop, and look, and test after every change. It’s so important, they have a name for it: regression testing. If I don’t test the whole thing each time, it means I’m bound to spend another hour going slowly backwards, change by change, to see if I can find the moment where everything fell apart.

So, what to do about it? I think I need interruptions, like someone snapping their fingers in my face saying, “Wake up!”  To that end, I’ve downloaded an app to my phone that chimes every 15 minutes. A gentle reminder to pick up my head – look around a bit – see what’s going on around me. Because a quick test now will save me an hour of undo’s later.

Nasty Know-it-alls

Spent the last two days buried deep in a complicated problem with my code. Back when I was a kid – before the internet existed – if I ran into a problem with a program, I grabbed one of the thick manuals and searched the index or the table of contents for words that seemed related – then I turned to the page and read a bit, skimmed really to see if it looked helpful.  if it did – I’d read it again more carefully – if not – I was back in the index, looking for another word – or back to the shelf for another book. And if I really could figure it out – I would ask my dad, he knew everything.

Not much has changed.  Except now I type my search words into google and see what pops up on the first page. (If I can’t find a possible lead on the first page – I’ve used the wrong words) I follow the first seemingly relevant link then I skim to see if it looks close to helping me – if not, it’s back to the search results.  Etcetera…

Anyway, as my dad knows – and as anyone working with any coding knows – google will invariably lead you to StackOverflow.com.  It seems it is the only manual on the shelf these days.  Which is a shame.  It’s an awfully nasty book.  Full of nasty (male) know-it-alls who will call you an idiot and scream RTFM!* or GO DO SOME  RESEARCH! at you with the least provocation. They do NOT believe in the statement: “There are no stupid questions.”

I have never asked a question there myself – I’m too afraid.  Just being a woman amongst all that testosterone is enough to make me uncomfortable – I’ll think long and hard before exposing myself to that sort of vitriol.

Now – in their defence, I will admit that there are plenty of times even I’ve rolled my eyes at a seemingly inane question. Usually they are written simply: “How do I do X?” and for those, the answer is just as simple: go read the manual. But often it is painfully clear that the asker is struggling to write a coherent question because either they don’t know what they don’t know or English is a foreign language to them.  Often it is both.

I read those questions and I think of some poor overworked, underpaid developer, newly graduated from a for-profit tech school, thrown a mass of crap by their new boss and told they have one day to fix the problem, or else.

I think of the worst of the nasty know-it-alls as being time-rich hobbyists. Living off their mother’s or their wife’s income, and spending all day luxuriating in the deep waters of the esoteric conundrums of their favorite programing language. They surface occasionally to take vicious swipes at the children barely treading water – just for the fun of it.

They say they are harsh because they don’t want the site bogged down with crap – that if every question is legitimate and well written then everyone using the site will benefit. And yes, of course that’s true.  But how is it helpful to the sincere beginners out there to have a website they can’t use?  If the manual is written by and for the experts who already know what they’re doing, then my newbie search words won’t lead me anywhere. The gap between beginner and intermediate is too far to jump on your own.

I was lucky when I was just starting out. If I was so flummoxed that I didn’t even know what word to look for in the manual, I always had my kind and gentle father to help me out.  Not everyone has someone to help them to learn how to ask a question.

There needs to be a place to ask the stupid questions too.

*RTFM – Read The Fucking Manual

 

Be Prepared

I Want a Do Over

The auditorium is vast, absurdly over-sized for the two dozen occupants, yet filled to the rafters with the uncomfortable silence emanating from the stage.  I stand there alone, staring down at the plastic sheet on the overhead projector, wondering what the hell I thought I was going to say?  I’ve got nothing.

Overhead Projector

Despite the way my eyes have dilated in the glare of the projector bulb, I can still see my boss out in the audience, hunched down in his seat, a hand covering his face.  He looks like he’s crying.

This is not a nightmare.  This really happened to me, two decades ago now, and I still haven’t forgiven myself.

It wasn’t stage fright. (I actually like being the center of attention.) It was a total lack of preparation.

Be Prepared (Boy Scout Motto)

“Be prepared for what?” someone once asked Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting,
“Why, for any old thing.” said Baden-Powell.

I know, I know…  Everyone hates the Boy Scouts these days, but still – you have to admit that quote is funny (I copied it verbatim from their website.)  But it goes on to say, “Be prepared for life – to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best.”  You can’t find fault with that, can you?

In the list my life’s regrets, (have I mentioned this list before?) messing up that presentation is about halfway down.  I didn’t do my best, I hardly even tried.  I read a bit about the topic, I made some slides, and that was it.  I trusted too much in my ability to ‘wing it.’  (Wing it: to improvise; to do something extemporaneously (without preparation.))

All of my life, all throughout school and all of my jobs, I’ve managed to muddle through by just showing up and trusting that I would think fast, and just figure out what to do and how to do it when I got there.

Think Fast

I didn’t finish the book, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, (It ended up getting too technical, (ie boring.)) but I understand the premise: we believe ‘fast thinking’ (instinct, gut) is good and trustworthy, but inevitably it leads us astray. And more importantly, it’s just lazy.

“A general “law of least effort” applies to cognitive as well as physical
exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the
same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course
of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of
skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.”
― Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow

And that is my problem.  I don’t do now (prepare) anything I can put off till later. I rationalize my laziness by saying I am being efficient.  By preparing, I would end up spending a lot more time on a task that could be completed (perhaps not as well, but probably good enough) in a tenth of the time.

Be Prepared (The Lion King)

So prepare for the coup of the century
Be prepared for the murkiest scam
Meticulous planning
Tenacity spanning
Decades of denial
Is simply why I’ll
Be king undisputed
Respected, saluted
And seen for the wonder I am

But what if…  What if I had prepared for that presentation?  What if I had actually studied for the tests I barely passed?  What if I had done the research and found the quotes and thought long and hard about the topic of a term paper? What if instead of just submitting the second or third draft, I actually work on a story until it is perfect?

The memories of failure haunt me to this day. There are no do overs. But I could start fresh…

I could be prepared, for every old thing, to do the best I can, and to be seen for the wonder that I know I am…

Maybe I’ll start tomorrow.

(Reblogged from June of 2013)