The Time I Waste

Is never wasted.

Its About Curiosity, Not Control

Although it is now vital to in my day to day life, leaning to "touch

type" sucked. I remember sitting in the Elementary School's 

Computer lab with my back at a 90-degree angle to the chair

and fingers placed precisely on the home row of the keyboard

(something the instructor insisted upon) with a sheet of printer

paper, that caused endless irritation as it rubbed across the back

of my hands, draped over my fingers to keep me from sneaking

a peek at what key I was supposed to hit next.

The exercises were monotonous, endless typing of different combination of "asdfjkl;" with an occasional Q or P thrown in to keep you guessing. The only mildly interesting part was between the different lessons there was a “game”. The game still required you to type but it was more entertaining to hit letters and watch asteroids explode, then an endless stream of letters that turned red or green depending on if you typed the right one or not.

Despite this I actually took the class twice, the reason being that the first time I took it was a half year course called “introduction to computing”, the next year I took full year version and that counted as a Science credit. Then only difference between the two (I thought) was that the year version gave you more time to complete the typing exercises. But as it turned out that extra time was devoted to what has now become my passion.

Being that I had already done the course once I quickly cruised through the exercises and was one of the first people in the class to finish the entire “Touch Typing” program. It was then that I was handed very thick book and told to “work through what you can I [the instructor] will give more instruction once more people catch up”. Being that the computers weren’t connected to the internet there really was nothing better to do then crack open the book and start reading.

                                                                “QBASIC” the cover very plainly stated, I can’t remember what the first exercise was                                                                    but I have to assume it was some variant of a “Hello World”, I do remember how                                                                        annoyed I was the first time I got a syntax error and spent the rest of the class                                                                          combing over less than 10 lines of code trying to figure out where I had made the                                                                      mistake only to realized that I hadn’t closed a quote, and being infuriated that the                                                                    error message didn’t just say that. I still really wasn’t interested yet, that didn’t                                                                          come till I realized that you could take input from the user and have the program                                                                      spit it out. The very first program I wrote, that wasn’t an exercise from the book,                                                                      was a little ditty that would ask the user their name and then proceed to do a loop                                                                    of beeping, color changing text saying that they, by name, were stupid.

                                                                It was several days before enough of the other students were finished with the                                                                           typing portion of the class that the instructor felt his instruction was needed. By that                                                                 point I was on If-else loops and variable modification, and content to work through                                                                   any problems I came across on my own.


That was until someone asked for my help (like the majority of the class). I don’t remember their issue was or what the program was, but what I do remember was that I solved the problem in what I thought was the most logical way and was happy to help. Until those students I helped were showing their work to the instructor and were unable to explain how the bit of code I wrote worked. Being that the instructor had been going over my code for the last week he was very quickly able to identify my style of problem solving and scolded me for not letting the students do it on their own. I was furious I kept thinking “who cares how the problem gets fixed, as long as it gets fixed” In hindsight however I understand that by doing it “for” them I was preventing them from learning on their own. But that moment brought something to light, I liked fixing things and I was able to understand the intricacy of computers in a way others didn’t.

Which through a series of compounding events, brings us to today, where I am striving to learn and understand as much as I can in the hope that I can keep fixing things.


 

​Martin Banks dislikes being referred to as a hacker, and does not consider himself one. He dislikes the image that the term “hacker” conjures up, and finds that being a hacker requires too much effort since it means he has to be rebellious all the time.....He was just a guy who really liked monkeying with computers

               -Scott Meyer

               (Off to Be the Wizard)