- Computers & Software
Mobile Apps And Me: Fascinating Science - I Wish I Could Do It!
Technology Fascinates Me
When you think of how far we've come in a comparatively short span of time, it's pretty amazing. From a technological point of view, we've gone from computers that could fill the entire bottom level of a building to tiny handhelds from which we can command our home to control the heat and watch any security cameras we might have in operation.
What tends to fascinate me are apps. I've often thought that building apps would be sort of entertaining; after all, when I first started using computers, it was back when you had to program them to do what you wanted them to do, and even then, it was the most basic of commands. I had a bit of a knack for using these green screened clunkers, and I recall it being sort of fun, so I figured I'd look into creating apps.
I might well have decided that I was going to plot my own personal course to the moon for all that I understood. As I often joke, my degree says Education, not Engineering; I get a lot of questions about everything that my degree doesn't cover, so I use jokes like that to remind students, and people in general that I am not a human Swiss army knife, with multiple skills at the ready. However, I have been known to actively try to teach myself various things, so I thought, especially given my background having taken a really basic computer course that incorporated programming when I was quite a bit younger, I could cover this nicely. I wasn't sure what sort of app I'd create, but I thought it seemed like a great idea.
I ended up staring at videos, trying to make sense of what I was reportedly being taught, and while I got the general idea, everything felt clunky and weird when I was trying to do it myself. I looked at teaching programs which discussed Xcode (at least, I think that was what it was called), in the hope that I could learn how to build an app. The more I looked into information, the more frustrated I got but the more determined I was to actually find something, anything that would work to teach me what I thought was a valuable skill.
It wasn't pretty. Maybe it's because I don't have a logical, ordered mind in the way that math teachers seem to; I'm not sure. I remember, though, that I was about ready to spit nails by the time I got done.
For someone who has prided herself on her patience in dealing with students of any stripe, this isn't a good thing.
I Think I Wanted A Bigger Hammer
Too Much Television
I thrived on television shows like CSI and Castle, where the people on those shows and other shows like it seemed to be born knowing how to hack systems and build applets to make their lives easier or, at the very least, get what they needed done. They made it look easy, and while I understood that these were people playing a role, there was a piece of me that honestly thought I could get it done in equally short order.
No one said that I was particularly clever when it came to estimating my own real capabilities.
I was alternately fascinated and frustrated by what the computer was showing me, and every time I went to duplicate what the tutorial was showing me, something went horribly, horribly awry and the program would crash. I realized that while I might have an understanding of how to reboot a range of programs, perhaps the fine art of app design was currently elusive to me, and that was as frustrating to me as anything. I had come to believe that I could do pretty much anything I set my mind to, and the fact that I just wasn't getting what to me seemed like a pretty easy task aggravated me no end. After all, fairly young children could design apps, so why wasn't I "getting it?"
Tech continues to fascinate me, and it will no doubt continue to do so for some time to come. It's fun to play with and learn more about. I also enjoy telling my students regularly that tech is great as a tool and not as a must. In today's world, it seems as though we've almost forgotten the importance of reading a book and experiencing life directly instead of peripherally through a range of devices. Sure, my students laugh and roll their eyes when I hold up a French-English dictionary and tell them with all the mock-seriousness I can muster, "This is a book. The pages are made of paper and everything - it's like a low-tech Kindle."
I know, though, that I will somehow get a grasp on app design. It may not be the next Flappy Bird, or whatever the current craze is, but it'll get done!