Thursday, February 24, 2005

School, Work, and "fiddling" with Visual Studio

Generally Tuesdays and Thursdays are just long days. When I registered for this semester last fall I thought that having all of my classes on two days would optimize the school/work balance. When I made that decision, I hadn’t considered two things. First, what it is like to sit in a chair for six hours of class in one day. Second, how being in the office every day puts co-workers at ease, and keeps me on top of the work.

The chair time isn’t too bad provided that I have had a good rest the night before, but it makes for a long day by the time my Linear Algebra class ends at 6:30 PM. Sure, there are some good breaks, and time to study, but being on campus all day, and the homework load that comes from one day of classes can be quite menacing at times.

As far as work goes, I try to stay up on the email but there are some things that are just done better in person. Not to mention, delving into testing or a bug report isn’t the best thing to be doing from school in-between classes. I am getting the work done, while in the office, and working about the same number of hours, but things just seem to go better with the daily exposure of being in the office. Conceivably this is just one of the side effects of being the only part-time person on an entire staff of full-time persons.

Humorously, on my current assignment in Software Practice the following instruction appears: “After you unpack the two zip files, you will need to fiddle with Visual Studio to incorporate the new projects into your solution and get them to compile.” Last night, I “fiddled” with the project for three hours to no avail. Thank goodness this morning a TA helped to shed light on the issue. Apparently when the file unzipped an extra folder was being created, and Visual Studio didn’t like that. I think this is one of those times where it is really important to consider the value of the preverbal journey. For if you are the one who doesn’t subscribe to this school of thought, then the three hours I spent last night would be considered as time wasted. It seems that in CS, more so than my previous major, there is a lot of value in the journey. The major lessons appear to be learned in the struggle. Yes, there are well defined requirements in every assignment, but perhaps they play a lesser role than the requirement that one learn the critical thinking/problem solving skills that are required in software development today. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t frustrated last night, because I surely was, it just means I am trying to put a happy note on it, and thinking about the aspects of visual studio that I have learned as a result. Software practice hasn’t been easy, but I am learning, sometimes painfully, but learning none the less.

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