Tag Archives: practise

technical

Cruelty to cats

When I play Roller Derby, I go to training. A coach will give us various drills to do, she will explain what we are doing, how to do it, break it down into smaller steps,explain why we are doing the drill and what the aim of the drill is trying to achieve. Sometimes it will be to develop a skating skill such as a stop, a turn or a jump. Sometimes it will be to execute a strategy to give our team the advantage over the other team.

We will then work on that drill,depending on what it is we work individually,pairs or small groups. Repeating the drill, helping each other to develop the skill, discussing our limitations and encouraging improvements. Often as we work on the drill we will discover things that work well,things that don’t work and how to overcome or bypass these. Finally we come together as group and feedback thing we have learnt to the entire group so we can all learn and improve.

At our ordinary training sessions  the coach will be one of our own coaches, occasionally I will attend boot camps and be coached by top U.K or U.S coaches who will impart cutting edge strategy currently been used by top WFTDA Derby Leagues.

Essentially what I am doing when I train is copying what the coach does. From the copying comes adaptation, changing the move or strategy to suit a different situation or physical limitation. Finally by either accident,design or good fortune occasionally something new will happen, the new thing might not always be really new, maybe someone else somewhere has discovered the same thing, maybe the new thing works better than the original maybe it doesn’t, but it all starts with copying.

Copying is one of the most natural ways of learning, its how we learn to talk,its how a lot of stuff is taught in school and a lot of life lessons are learnt that way. I learn by doing,so just reading an article doesn’t work very well for me, but if i type in the code, it sinks in better.  Copying is how products develop, after the Wright brothers cracked the basics of flying most aeroplanes have copied the same basic idea, but improved slowly over time.

When I am writing Apps, I’ve really shied away from copying anything, even if its just a  few lines of code from a tutorial or book, It has felt like cheating.

Probably this is partly from reading stories pretty much every day about all the legal fights over  stupid patents   that always seem to be in the news, partly out of genuine respect for the work other people do.

I’m starting to realise that there are only so many ways of getting data from a database or showing text on a screen and its not sensible to come up with something original for every small problem.  That’s not to say its okay to rip off somebody’s hard work,ideas,code, artwork en masse.

While browsing the Google Play store a few days ago I came across an App, that had a very similar function to my E number knowledge App. A closer look and the interface was almost identical to mine. At first I was absolutley outraged and disgusted that somebody couldn’t be bothered to think up an original product and could only go around ripping off the work of developers such as myself.

Then Shock horror I realised that the App in question had been available for well over a year, a lot longer than my App, panicking I started to worry that I was the one that had ripped off somebody else maybe I had seen that App and subconsciously  without realising it copied the interface. Fortunately a quick look at my App showed I had changed the layout before release quite a bit, it was just that when i was developing it the interface was similar so it had got inplanted in my head what it looked like.

So no more worrying about copying the nuts and bolts,  There may be more than one way to skin a cat, but I like my cats cute and fluffy.

Here’s my plan think big,copy small.

thoughts

Practise makes you better

There is a saying “Practise makes you Perfect”  so you want to get better at something so you practise and practise and practise and eventually you’ll be perfect.

But it doesn’t really work like that. The more you practise the more you’ll learn and the more you’ll learn the more you’ll discover that there are things you need to learn and practise  that you didn’t even realise existed when you started out.

As you keep learning, practising and  discovering, the better you will get at your chosen activity.

Today has been a good day for me, i’ve realised that the days I’m spending writing the Java code for Android Apps are improving my thinking. I’m starting to look at problems slightly differently, thinking them through more thoroughly, breaking work down into manageable chunks so it doesn’t become overwhelming. I’m becoming better at reading docs so I can get things done better and make less mistakes, so its not as frustrating when things go wrong and I can fix them faster.

The other thing about all this practise is that its not in isolation. I can write code and release Apps, and that leads to learning and discovering more things. So i might never be perfect but i’m going to keep practising.