Compass points

I’ve done some nature this week. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

Nature the first was a walk in an inner-city park on Tuesday. Nowhere to be, nothing really in mind to see: just walking, looking, feeling.

Nature the second was some experimental filming done as part of a research day in north-east Melbourne. The hastily-cut-together results of this experimentation are included below. More to follow in the coming weeks. Nice to get something in the can, no matter how out-there.

Rules

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Taking my first steps in the world of programming, I’ve been intrigued to see that many of the overarching rules for ‘best practice’ and the more philosophical protocols for program design/code structure, are nearly the same as in screenwriting.

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Show, don’t tell.
  3. Don’t repeat yourself.
  4. Only do one thing at a time.
  5. Write for your audience.

These aren’t rules in the traditional sense. They aren’t dictums passed down from on high that every programmer/screenwriter must adhere to. Occasionally you simply can’t keep it simple. You may well have to tell, rather than show. And sometimes, because it’s necessary (or because it’s something of an artistic flourish), you may have to repeat yourself.

Rather, these are popular rules, finely honed over the 120 years that people have written for the screen, and the 200+ years that programs have been written for machines.

It’s not just rules that translate between programming and cinema, though. There are quite a number of connections between the art of creating computer programs and the prevailing analytic approaches to film; but that’s for another time.

DOMs away

75% of the way through an Essentials course in JS, and I can’t wrap my head around the DOM. I get the concept, but the logistics of actually manipulating it are eluding me.

Yes, I realise there are simple syntax solutions to most problems. Variables, functions, arrays, etc, have well and truly sunken in, but the DOM is a wall in which I can’t seem to find a doorway.

Bah.

Entering the matrix

I’ve found myself frustrated in the last twelve months or so with a few mundane computer tasks that I have to undertake regularly, both for life admin and for work. Things like sorting out variable savings budgets, typing the same sentences over and over again in emails and other correspondence… I have also found myself wanting to play with websites in interesting ways, and am looking forward perhaps to looking at some of the intersections between cinema and code for research. All this — along with an institutional subscription to Lynda — has led me to undertake something of a crash course in programming. My initial efforts are the usual (Hello world, guess my number etc), but it’s enlightening to see how much work goes into the simplest of applications.

Stay tuned…

Progress

For those that were concerned, it got better.

A few weeks ago, I asked a colleague how everything was going. He replied, ‘I have too many balls in the air.’

I decided to take it one ball at a time. One ball per day, in fact.

You can realistically only tick one big thing off per day. Anything more, and you’ll drive yourself insane.

Getting to this point was tough going, but it feels good to be here.

What a difference…

Sometimes the gurus get it wrong… it may not be best to ‘mark’ down when you feel like your life is on a trajectory. Since the last blog, the contentedness I felt at managing things vanished.

In its place was left a gaping hole of uncertainty. Doubt. Fear. And most keenly felt of all: a crippling lack of productivity.

Bottom line? I think it’s important to acknowledge what things work and when; it’s also just as important to note when the train has derailed.

Deep breaths. Multiple cups of tea. The train is back on the rails; now carefully re-stoking the boiler.