Tag Archive: coursera

Day 46: I Wrote This on My iPhone and It Was OK

I started writing this post on a smartphone at lunch and finished it in my hotel room. I’m not used to typing on a smartphone, but I got tired of losing the thoughts that slip through my head while walking, eating, and people-watching.

I wonder why each person is here, in Quebec City, as they walk past — who he is, if she is on vacation or on sabbatical, if they work here or study at a university or travel, with one foot in this city and one in the next place.

I love this city. I haven’t been super-productive, choosing instead to enjoy the Summer Music Festival and my family’s company for the few days they also were here. Today was different — I read for five hours and then stepped out for lunch. Later, I’ll read and write for five more.

Low-Level Hardware-Software Interaction

I’m learning about low-level hardware-software interaction — the stuff that happens when mouse clicks and typing are translated into machine instructions that whiz between the central processing unit (CPU) and the memory and back. My vehicle for learning these things is a great Coursera course, The Hardware-Software Interface by University of Washington professors Gaetano Borriello and Luis Ceze, complemented by Zed Shaw’s Learn C the Hard Way and Bill Dudney’s All the C You Need to Know. Even though Objective-C is going away, I think it will still be a good idea to understand it and the C underlying it, so I can make maximum use of Swift alongside those tools (since I think they will coexist for a couple of years at least).

I learned Objective-C as my first programming language (and I love it, despite its to-be-deprecated status), so I’m in a bit of a weird spot. I think it’s a sweet spot: I understand enough about low-level programming to learn the guts and internals of machine language — so I’m taking that opportunity because I think it will make me a better programmer. I also understand enough about high-level programming that I’m able to comprehend Swift fairly well and expect to grasp JavaScript/node.js when I dive into it later this summer.

For now, I’m having lunch on a street in Quebec City, watching people pass by.

Goals and Productivity

On last week’s goals:

  1. I fixed the search functionality in my flashcard app. I also identified ways to improve it.
  2. I implemented swipe-up functionality. The card doesn’t disappear yet after the swipe, but I’m working on fixing that.
  3. I read part of the Swift book, but then got distracted by the Coursera Hardware-Software Interface course.

This week’s goals are:

  1. Fix the swipe-up functionality in my flashcard app so the card disappears after the swipe.
  2. Delve into low-level programming topics and struggle through what I don’t understand, including the C underlying Objective-C.
  3. Finish creating questions for my flashcard app database.
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New Adventures, Day 2: A Little Procrastination, a Little More Action

Day 2 started well — I read 60 pages of the NASM textbook, which I need to finish so I can take the personal trainer exam by July 1. After that, I relaxed for a few hours and then went to a Memorial Weekend barbecue.

When I came home, instead of reading the Apple Mobile Human Interface Guidelines or working on my flashcard app, I booked a trip to Quebec City. I did need to book the trip, but I needed to get the other things done more, in advance of tomorrow’s session with my awesome Thinkful mentor.

I also noticed that my Coursera Intro to Marketing course had a hard deadline of May 26 (tomorrow) on the first quiz, so I dedicated an hour to reviewing the slides and passing the quiz. Luckily for me, I watched the videos last fall, so this was a review for me. Nonetheless, it was procrastination.

Now, at midnight, I am reading the Mobile Human Interface Guidelines at last. I’ll spend another half hour reading, then go to bed and finish tomorrow morning. Not ideal, but I will hopefully pull some inspiration for the next iteration of my flashcard app, which I need to implement before 9pm Monday. It’s a self-imposed deadline, but an important one for me to feel continued forward motion.