{December 17, 2009}   ‘Cause Life is Sweet

So a week ago, I got my green belt in modern arnis. Through hard work, practice and persistence I earned this honour. This semester has been one of learning, of growth. Of awakening.
I took on a group project, and although it was in many ways not quite what I’d hoped for, it turned out all right. I found myself joining another project, and that one was more fun – and stressful at times. :) I started the semester with a workload I knew I could handle, piled on more things until I was feeling overloaded, scaled back to what I could manage – and then loaded on more again and found a way to pull it all off. I’ve discovered things I’m quite good at, and some I’m really not. I’ve made mistakes, and hopefully learned from most of them ;)
I feel as if a whole new world has been opening up before my eyes. It’s scary and tough, but I feel like I finally have the strength and desire to face it and show that world what I can do. :)

I was a lot calmer for my green belt test than I had been for my yellow a year ago. It’s hard to believe it’s been only one year. Four other students had their yellowbelt test the class before, so on the day of our test (me, G and L) it was a sea of yellow – just one white belt there. :) Quite a change from most semesters I’ve been there – being on-campus there’s a lot of churn. L has left for another university already, actually. Anyways, the test went all right, and next semester we’ll probably get started on the blue belt requirements. Plus working on the weak areas of our green belt stuff, of course. It’s a really great experience being part of that class… martial arts with a good teacher teaches you so much more than just self-defense and exercise. :)

As for the robocup project… I have mixed feelings about that.
Most of my initial fears turned out to be groundless, but motivation was a real problem. I found out I kinda suck at research – but that was soon irrelevant because the base code never did what it seemed to do. We ended up spending most of our time trying to understand and fix it, which wasn’t much fun. I’m still not sure whether starting from scratch would’ve actually been faster…

Everyone in the program was a good student (however the teachers measure “good”) so there were no serious issues with group dynamics, but it still wasn’t perfect. One group member dropped out just after the initial code sprint, and that combined with the infeasibility of building AI on top of a buggy base threw a lot of confusion in. I have a feeling the experience was much closer to that of a real job – we were all competent with at least *some* experience, but our motivation went down steadily, the project goals got revised considerably, nothing was as it seemed on the surface, and all the code we had available was strange and underdocumented (what few comments there were were just as likely to be german as english). The project wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t a clear success either. :/

Then there’s the maemo project. I ran into my friend’s teacher at Qt Dev Days, and he convinced me to help with their project – I got to borrow an n900, how could I resist? ;) So I spent some time building the UI for that project with my friend, and we got to show it off at a nokia event at the end of the semester. I got some good experience from that, too – communication was difficult at times, and we were having trouble understanding what each other’s requirements were (some other guys were writing a c library that our c++ code would use) but we got it sorted out in the end – or didn’t, as it turned out, but the misunderstanding simply made integration easier anyways. :)

At some point in… er.. november? The git migration team started having weekly meetings, too. ohhh, meetings. We had bikeshedding galore… confusion everywhere… I’m pretty sure I contrubuted to the confusion even when I was trying to reduce it. :P It’s been an… interesting… experience, and I gained a new appreciation for the term “cat herding.” ;) We’ll get there in the end, but we’ll be sure to argue over every single bikeshed along the way (and several we passed ages ago). :)

So many other things have happened this semester – some good, some bad; some big, some small. I certainly can’t write about all of them, nor should I. It’s been fun, it’s been painful, it’s been everything in between. I’ve made new friends and met lots of interesting new people. (There’s someone I’m forgetting to call again, isn’t there?) I seem to have lost a friend, too, which really sucks. The semester is over; my exams are done. It feels more like a beginning than an ending, though.

My reason for being in school right now isn’t really the classes – it’s learning how to deal with people. Learning about computers and math and stuff isn’t that hard, I can figure it out on my own if need be, but people are *hard.* Communication is hard. :P I think I’ve actually made some progress, though. Yay :) There’s so many things I still don’t get, and it seems the more I learn the more there is to learn, but still. Progress. :)

So now I’m going to take a few days to myself to actually relax (or more likely: spend half a day relaxing and then get sucked into kde things again). I’ve got plenty of things I’d like to do over the holidays, but if I start talking about them they’ll start to feel like obligations, so I think I’ll just let it be, and see what I find myself drawn to. :)


I found that what really helped me get ‘people’ was reading up on psychologie.

It really helped me understand what made me, and everyone arround me, tick and why we react the way we do.

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