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Learning to Write Online
Learning to write online
It may sound odd that I'm doing a course designed to teach the art of online writing, but I'm an autodidact, and I'd like to learn from people who have proven their ability. Some of the first lessons I learned from Nicolas Cole, before I even started on the Ship 30 for 30 course led me to write my "Code is Just" thread. The results speak for themselves.
The key aspect of this course is to write "Atomic Essays", where you express a single idea in around 250 words, or just about what will fit into an embedded tweet image. Writing cogently requires that you kill your darlings to be left with just the essence of what you're trying to get across — or suffer death from oblivion.
In case you've missed my efforts, here they are! You don't have to read all four, even though they're all short. You don't have to read any of them. I'd love your feedback on which one you liked best and why!
1. Playing Super Crate Box Loosened my Fixed Mindset With Three Lessons
Before I played Super Crate Box, I had an arrogant, fixed mindset about videogames.
I thought I could play any videogame and figure it out, that players with huge scores were cheating. Then, Lorenzo, my PlayStation colleague, scored over 100 in the PSVita Vlambeer classic. I'd only managed 20! Bruised, I bet that I'd more than double his score.
Running this gauntlet shifted me from a fixed to a growth mindset.
A videogame is one of the best tools devised to shift you from a fixed to a growth mindset.
Ignoring video games as a tool for mindset shifting might cost you years of mental anguish.
Videogames reflect your skill, immediately, with low consequences. They offer immediate feedback, like a patient teacher.
How did Super Crate Box do this for me?
#1. It taught me patience
Sometimes, you get stuck at the bottom level, wih a bad weapon and endless waves of enemies for ages. You simply have to ride it out. You'll get your chance. If you make a break for it too soon, you'll nearly always die.
#2. It taught me endurance
You don't have to be flashy to do well. You just have to survive long enough to get just one more crate.
#3. It taught me to make the best of what I had
Disc gun hurting you? Learn to use it to your advantage. Make its cons its pros.
I won my bet and tripled Lorenzo's score. I did this because I let the videogame be my teacher. Maybe videogames can do the same for you?
2. Programming is as Easy, or as Hard as Making a Cup of Tea. Here are the 5 Steps in Easy and Hard Mode
Some people will tell you that programming is easy, that anyone can do it. And they're right. It can be easy easy as making a cup of tea.
Others will say that you need to be experienced and highly skilled to be a programmer. And they're right too, but it all boils down (sorry, not sorry) to making a cup of tea.
Tea in EASY mode:
1. Boil the water
2. Put a teabag in a cup
3. Pour boiling water in
4. Brew for 4 minutes
Tea in HARD mode:
1. Is there water in the kettle? Is it filtered? Distilled? Or heaven forbid, tap? If it's tap, might as well drink sewage, especially if you're in an inner city. Apart from Madrid, their water is good.
2. A teabag? Are you nuts? Real programmers use a pot and fresh leaves. Preferably TGFBOP1. The pot: Is it ceramic? Earthenware? Glass? What precise weight of tea did you use? What precise volume of water? What's the ratio? Is it always consistent? Was the pot warmed?
3. Was the water freshly drawn? Or did you reboil? Please don't say you reboiled.
4. Do you vary the brew time according to the ambient temperature and altitude and water quality? Hard water needs less time. Hard water is evil.
5. Can you taste the tea? Did you use sugar? Then you can't taste the tea.
But don't let hard programming ever put you off from doing easy programming first. Develop a taste. Then, go as far as you dare!
3. What Pink Floyd Taught Me About the Anxiety of Procrastination, and How I Beat it
"If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding!”
— Roger Waters, Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall Part II
I. Just. Can't.
I was avoiding urgent tasks. Sirens blaring, klaxons sounding, creditors calling, and...
"I'll just watch one more YouTube video"
Have you ever been there? Wouldn't you like to do the thing you know you must do, but find you just can't? Procrastination causes ruinous levels of anxiety. Can we fix it?
Pink Floyd showed me a way out
We procrastinate because we're hardwired to move away from pain, towards pleasure. If I avoid the creditor and watch YouTube instead, that's what's going on.
The reason I was rebelling wasn't because I couldn't have any pudding, but because I'd had my pudding and still wanted more, only, pudding was making me sick, and the meat was still in my plate, every day.
I felt the way I did not because I was hard done by, but because I'd ignored the instruction that would make me mentally healthier. And now I was exhibiting the behaviour of an addict and needed an intervention, or I would stay sick.
We feel bad because we're watching Netflix, or playing games, not because of the task we're avoiding
The only way past anxiety is to go through it and to know that it wasn't ever as scary as we thought it was. If all we eat is pudding, we get sick. If we eat the meat (or suitable vegan substitute) first, we'll soon get better. I did!
4. Videogame Crunch Nearly Killed Me, Then Gave Me 3 Examples To Manage Diabetes
It was my third straight night in the office. As Producer, I'd written my resignation letter, in case we didn't hit milestone 7 of New Day.
We made it. I destroyed my resignation letter. Then my blood sugar crashed. The truth is, I had a bad project plan, and the problems had been in milestone 6.
Understanding Lead and Lag Measures
My blood sugar now is 6.9mmol/l, a touch high, but taking insulin is an overreaction that could cause a crash — and a failure to understand the effect of lead measures on lag measures.
Lead measures are actions taken, Lag Measures? The outcome!
It takes time to see lag measures. Overcorrection based on early measurement is a killer.
Lead: Insulin, carbs, exercise
Lag: Blood glucose
Lesson: If I'd known that my current blood sugar is the result of actions taken many hours ago, I'd never "rage bolus"
2. Project Milestones
Lead: Bug-free code modules, integrated assets
Lag: Working milestone deliverable
Lesson: If I'd known that the work done on milestone 6 would only be seen in milestone 7, I'd have defined milestone 7 differently and not crunched.
Lead: Calories, steps walked
Lesson: If I'd known that my waistline was produced by years of slight over-eating and inactivity, I'd never crash diet.
- Measure the right actions and outcomes
- Know which outcome each action produces
- Know how long the lead measure takes to show up before you take the lag measures
Overcorrection is overreaction. Pause. Measure what matters. And let time do the rest.