Friday, September 4, 2015

Learning new things =)

In the past, I have had bouts of feeling... extremely static. Like I have itchy feet—I don’t know what I want to do, but I know I want to stop doing nothing! These bouts can be really frustrating because most of the time, I’m not doing nothing. I’m just doing more of the same. I can’t put my finger on what I want to do; most things sound really unappetizing. What do I want‽ I yell at myself.

Finally, after much mental wiggling, I figured it out.

When I feel like that, I’m longing to learn something new. Something creative, preferably. A new craft, a new skill, a new technique. My brain is tired and wants to stretch its atrophied muscles.

In the spirit of learning new things, I’ve been going through the Python Codecademy course to learn how to program. I’m 90% of the way through it, apparently, and it’s come... fairly easy to me, so far, but the farther I get the more respect and awe I have for people who got a degree in this nonsense. You have to tie your brain up in corkscrew-knots to think through the logic, and once you have something that works, your brain unwinds and you don’t understand what you just did. But hey, it works, don’t look at it too closely!

I have been wanting to learn to program for a long time now. I learned PHP well enough to automate math problems, which was what I wanted it to do. But since I’ve been unemployed and struggling with being functional, there is a project that is near and dear to my heart that none of my code-savvy friends have the time or bandwidth to do for me: An Android app.

In its conception, Next is a to-do list, but it’s much more than that to me. It would be a time- and energy-management tool. It would help me keep things the right “size.” It would help me reclaim my agency.

Okay, I’ll go through why it would be special. (See, I’m having a hard time figuring out where to start, haha!)

  1. User makes a list of what they need to do.
    1. User makes a short-term to-do list.
    2. User makes a long-term to-do list.
  2. User arranges things in priority-order.
    1. User organizes things in terms of what is most important to them to get done.
    2. User organizes things in order of what has the closest deadline.
  3. If there are explicit deadlines for a task, user assigns those deadlines.
    1. This can be used for appointments, too.
  4. User customizes settings.
    1. What kind of encouragement does the user want to receive?
      1. Text messages, notifications, social media, calendar events.
      2. Message a friend/SO/family member to ask them to send encouragement.
    2. How frequently do they want to be “encouraged”?
    3. What escalation of encouragement do they want?
      1. User-written affirmations / encouraging messages.
      2. Developer-written affirmations / encouraging messages.
    4. What kind of recognition does the user want for completing a task?
      1. None, congratulatory message, social media integration.
    5. Choose the level of urgency for each item on to-do list.
      1. One task may require frequent, escalating encouragements, while another may require a more low-level reminder schedule.
    6. Specify down-time.
      1. After a specified time of day, notifications go away, encouragement messages stop, and the pressure is off.
  5. When settings are finished, list is “finalized.”
    1. The list becomes a little obfuscated; at this point the user is passively discouraged from altering it.
  6. The next thing on the list becomes a notification in the user’s notification bar.
    1. The notification cannot be swiped away; the user must consciously deactivate Next or complete their to-do list to vacate their notification bar.
    2. The notification can be interacted with via “snooze” or “mark as complete” buttons attached to the notification.
      1. “Snooze” will move the item in question below the subsequent item on the list.

Uh, so, that’s it in a nutshell. It’s enforced baby-stepping, but not as baby is it could be, which is a little unfortunate, but I suppose a user could get that kind of granularity by having user-written “encouragements” that read “Stand up,” then 30 seconds later, “Put on your shoes,” etc. It will hopefully stop a to-do list from looking overwhelming, because, well, you only have one thing to do!

But that kind of integration is the sort of thing I’m not going to be able to jump right into, not least because programming for mobile is kindof a bitch. Right now I’m a little bit beyond “Hello World” and about aeons before making a duck that won’t run into the side of the pool. (A digital duck, people. I’m not God, or a mother duck. Geez.)

And, if you were going to ask, yes, this is avoidance behavior. Shut up.

How about you, gentle readers? are you learning anything new? Let me know in the comments. Ciao for now!

Word count: 3,776 (ເ)

1 comment:

Becky Munyon said...

Congratulations on having the motivation to learn/try something new. Many people, myself included, shy away from that because of all the work involved. You get a gold star.