a little bit of everything

Lola: The apocalypse is here. Welcome to the end of the world.

So welcome to Lost in the Source. I am your host, Lola, and this is probably the fourth take I’ve done of this episode. The other ones were just, I don’t know. I wasn’t feeling them, let’s just say that I wasn’t feeling them. So yeah, I’ve been gone for a minute, I feel like I always do this., I disappear for a few months and then I’m back like, “Hey, I’m back”. This time, why was I gone? I was gone mainly because of uni. I took a break last year for summer, and then immediately after summer classes started, it just made sense at the time to put a pause on my podcast. Today I was gonna talk about my uni experience, but I don’t know how, like interesting that is really, there’s a lot of nonsense going on in the world. I didn’t really want to talk about that, but then, I don’t know, we’ll just play this episode by ear and wherever it happens happens, I will release something.

So yeah, a lot of shit is going on in the world, don’t need to really go too much in depth. I think we can all see what’s going on around us 2020 refuses to let us live and just let us have a good time. 2020 is really on our backs, my God, it’s a lot like it’s just a lot. There have been murder Hornets, there have been a pandemic well, we are still in a pandemic. Black people are still being murdered. Ebola is back. What else is going on? Oh, aliens, apparently, we don’t know if they’re aliens, but definitely unidentified objects in the sky, that’s a thing. Our governments are still doing what they’ve been doing. so yeah, it’s just. It’s just been a lot. So Black lives matter, I mean, that’s not even something I really feel like I have to say, right, but Black lives do matter and the tech companies have really latched onto this, you know, banners and free software for people helping Black people or just Black people. And I mean, that’s all well and good, except, it just all feels fake. The tech company is notoriously racist and prejudice in many other ways, too. And I just kind of feel like I don’t really care about having a free product because I’m Black. I want to be able to work at your company and not have to like quit because of the sheer amount of fucking racism, like, and I’ve had to do that. So, you know, who gives a shit about you donating your disgusting blood money and, you know, having a banner that says Black lives matter when in reality, Black lives do not matter in your workplace.

And also like, sure, like there is something to be said about, the Black corporate world or navigating the corporate world as a Black person. But we’re talking about people being murdered here. We are talking about people being murdered. Not only are we talking about people being murdered, but we’re also talking about the ways technology in particular facilitates those murders like Black lives matter, but you have customers who use your products to harm Black people or, people of ethnic minorities. And anyway, that’s a whole nother, that’s a whole nother thing. And I kind of wanted this space to be like free of the bullshit, but I don’t know, man, the bullshit doesn’t stop. The bullshit doesn’t leave you alone. 2020 is proof of that. So, yeah, that’s, that’s happening.

Twitter is really, really loud these days. Lots of white people arguing about the term master branch and Black lists and white lists and I mean, uselot know, I did English lit and creative writing, I love language and if you’ve been following me on my other twitter accounts, or like the twitter accounts I’ve had in the past, you will know that like, I love language. I absolutely love language, but I don’t give a shit about master branch when we’re talking about Black people dying, like stop killing Black people. And you know, I shouldn’t say Black people dying because dying sounds very passive. When someone dies in their sleep, you say, “Oh, they died” you know, when someone has an illness, you say, “Oh, they died of X, Y, and Z”. You don’t die of police brutality. You are murdered, by police brutality, like, you know, it’s not a passive thing, it’s a very active thing, it takes active engagement from somebody else to kill you. But yeah, [chuckle] it’s not funny, like I’m laughing, but it’s really not funny, but if you don’t laugh, I mean, hey, we will cry and there’s been a lot of that going on.

Uni. Let’s talk about uni. Okay. Uni has been stressful. I think that is the best way to describe it. Stressful is such a good adjective of describing my university experience from October all the way up until what last week - or two weeks ago? No, it was last week I had my last exam - all the way up until last week, right, my university did not handle COVID well at all. So that amplified a lot of things. I think my university was always disorganized and I think maybe running such a large institution, it’s hard to be like consistently organized across the board, right, but COVID really magnified the disorganization of everything. My first term. Alright. Let’s I don’t know. Should I break, let’s break this up into terms. I think I will break this up into terms, right? So term one, October to December, things are going good. Things are going all right. My manager at work - so pretty much, I work in an environment where going back to school is encouraged so much, so they will pay for your, they’ll pay for the things you need. Not all of the things they’ll give you like some money and you can use that money towards stuff. You only get that money once you pass the degree, but you know, they will help you and also it means that, the environment is such that your coworkers, your colleagues, all of that, they help, you know?

So I was able to go back to uni and I did full time, both. So full time working, full time uni and it was hard, but it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Like my stress with uni never had anything to do with work. I didn’t find it difficult balancing or juggling the time commitments, right and a lot of that has to do with the fact that my job is remote, always has been remote, it wasn’t just remote because of COVID. So there’s a strong remote culture. The kind of stuff I do day to day can be spread out during the day. I don’t necessarily need to sit down at my laptop for my whole day. I can do a little bit in the morning, a little bit afternoon and, you know, mix their match or whatever the case may be. So that makes things easier. It means that when I have to go to class in the middle of the day, I can do that because there’s going to be work for me to do after class and there’s work I can do before class and things like that.

So, first term, by the way, I picked this uni specifically because they did evening classes. That’s their whole USP, that’s their whole unique selling point that they do evening classes, except, it turns out , if you’re doing computer science, in which case why do you need evening classes? So my classes were like in the middle of the day, and that was cool for a while - like my manager didn’t complain about it. My manager at the time, he was super supportive about it but I didn’t like it. I feel like because I’m remote I stay at home, I work from home, so I just realized how much time I spent commuting and traveling and it just, I felt like it took too much from my days. I was like, all right, bun dis, I’m not going to go to classes for like the second half of the term, I’m just gonna read the stuff, the lecture slides and whatever, and just like, make things work that way. And my courses in that term, the lecturers seem familiar with the software of like uploading lectures and things like this, so it wasn’t too bad, it was actually pretty okay. Yeah, it was pretty okay, term one, then Christmas happened and we had a bunch of work to do, and then I got sick. I got sick in January, like literally January 2nd I got sick. And that led to two months of being out of work and two months being out of uni as well. And so, being sick for that long and not being able to do anything, I was already kind of quarantining. So when I got better, literally I got better and then the government was like, we’re shutting down the country and I was just like, Oh, but I’ve already been self isolating, like when will I see the outside world again? Anyway, this also meant that things were difficult for me. Uni became significantly more difficult. Whereas in term, one I at least went to some lectures I could choose and pick which lectures I wanted to go to and which I didn’t want to go to. In term two, I didn’t have the option, I just couldn’t go to any of them so that made things really hard. For whatever reason, my lecturers in term two, not all of them were familiar with uploading lecture content. And so bless the disability support department at my university, they were great, they were really, really supportive and there were lots of things they told me I was entitled to. And, I didn’t really take much use of it. There was just too much going on at the time, so I didn’t take much use of it, but they had loads of resources. And if you’re thinking of doing a degree and you have a disability, there’s so much available for you, but it also depends on how far your lecturers are willing to go to like help you out my lectures in term two, not all of them were willing to help me out, which meant that there were some modules that I just didn’t have any lectures for at all. Like at all, the only thing I had were slides and my issue with slides is that when people make slides, they create slides like they are presenting and that, you know, whoever’s reading this slide is also at the same time and listening to you present the slide, but that’s not always the case because sometimes people just read the slides maybe for revision purposes, or maybe after the lecture or whatever. And there’s no audio, there’s no video, there’s nothing to map these vague, random bullet points to actual concrete thoughts and ideas because we don’t have the audio.

So that was my life trying to figure that out and I decided I wouldn’t do that and yeah, it was just a lot, it was difficult. The one, not the one thing, but one of the things that really, really helped was the fact that, I asked for help a lot. Well, I asked for help and I knew who to ask help from. So I didn’t really fail in fact, I didn’t fail any of my coursework, despite the fact I didn’t go to majority of my lectures and that was because I asked for help and I didn’t necessary ask for help from my lectures. I asked for help from people like within my network, people, I know there’s only one person I didn’t know who I actually helped from and I didn’t necessarily ask him for help directly. I asked Twitter for help and he responded and he helped me and it was like, great, fantastic. And so that’s like, if you’re going back to uni, definitely, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re learning anything really truly don’t be afraid to ask for help. That was like, literally the thing that has been my saving grace, the reason why, if I don’t fail anything, one of the key reasons why I will be okay. What else happened at uni? COVID disrupted everything, as I said, and highlighted, you know, just highlighted the lack of organization within my institution, it’s ridiculous. I had two instances where I was taking an exam and during the exam lecturers emailed me about the exam, emailed important information about the exam. This is while the exam is going on, who is checking emails during a highly stressful exam. Like, that’s just, why do this, why do this? They did that. They moved our coursework deadlines back, which was great cause it gave us more time to do coursework. But they didn’t move exam deadlines back. So what ended up happening is coursework just ate into exam revision time, so normally in a normal year, [what it means to be normal] in a regular year, you would have like, you would have like a month, a month and a half for, just for revision. So all your coursework is handed in, you just have a month, a month and a half of revision. We got two weeks. Oh, man, we got two weeks to revise, eight exams, eight exams, one of our, our exams, one of our, I dunno, lecturers decided to make the exam significantly harder than, than past exams cause it was an open book exam but we’d been using past exam papers to revise. So if the content we’ve been using to revise is significantly easier than the actual exam, I mean, how’s this gonna work sir? How? Like what, how, what do we do here? So I cried in that exam and apparently a few other people did too. So I don’t feel too alone in that that feels nice to know I was not the only one suffering during that bloody exam. I had a panic attack during that exam actually, then it’s just nice to know I wasn’t the only one suffering through that. Yeah, I don’t really know, this episode is definitely kinda like ramble-y it is what it is, man, times are hard right now.

What’s useful to know? Would, would I recommend a computer science degree? Sure it really depends what you want to do with your degree. My degree was kind of generalist. It wasn’t like too generalist, but it gave me a taste of, like loads of foundational things and loads of understanding things, so like, there was a lot of math in this degree, stuff about computer systems and there was also like this really cool module that was more about, the non-technical side of, of programming or building software I should say, right, things like ethics, things like work flows and methodologies, that kind of stuff was really interesting, things like data protection and various different laws and stuff like that. That was really interesting we got to do some of that. So it was kind of like a generalist course it wasn’t, it’s not the course you would do if you want it to be like a data scientist, right or you want it to specialize in machine learning, there are degrees for that, but this was like computer science. And so you learn a lot of programming, different languages. I did Java, C sharp python and then bits of like JavaScript and CSS and XML, which I don’t really know many industries that use XML, but I think the publishing industry still uses XML, but I’m not too sure. Anyway, so yeah, you learn, you know, bits and bobs.

Now, if you have time and there’s no like rush to get a degree, I would say, and there’s no rush to like learn the stuff I would say just learn it in your own time. Like, there was nothing on my degree that I couldn’t have read up on or learn about for free on YouTube. And the reason I know that is because I used a lot of YouTube to learn my degree. I paid, I don’t, I’m paying literally for the piece of paper at the end. If you don’t need the piece of paper at the end, then you probably don’t need to do a degree. You can learn the content. The content is important depending on what you want to do with your career, depending on what you want to learn, right? The content is important, but, there are other ways to learn it. There are way other ways to learn it. There are loads of textbooks, I mean, tech technology textbooks aren’t really my thing but if you learn through reading and seeing examples and things like that, there’s loads of textbooks, there’s loads of websites. There’s also like books that aren’t really textbooks, but, you know, cover the same kind of things in really cool and interesting ways. So yeah - I wouldn’t - the degree is not the only way to learn this stuff and so if you don’t need the piece of paper at the end, then you probably don’t need to do a degree.

Is it better than a bootcamp? At this point, a boot camp and a degree are very different things. I think a bootcamp gets you more up to speed in one particular thing very quickly so like you go, when I did a bootcamp, I did like a ruby boot camp and so by the end I was familiar, very familiar with like Ruby and Rails and stuff like that by the end. This gives you a little bit of everything and for whatever reason this year, I think that they just didn’t plan things properly. So I’m not entirely convinced tha t there’s any one thing that I would have been - if I was starting this without a programming background - that there’ll be any one thing that be as, as good in as I was when I finished doing a three month boot camp learning Ruby, if that makes sense, because all I was learning was Ruby. Sure, we did a little bit of JavaScript, a little bit of CSS, HTML, but it was predominantly Ruby. Whereas this, I spent what eight months also doing a little bit of everything. And for three, for three of those, like if you take three months, batches, each three months I was doing a little bit of loads of things.

So yeah, I think it really depends, having a degree, definitely it gives you more of a foundation. Foundational knowledge gives you more of a understanding of the internals. Whereas I find my boot camp was a little bit more practical not, not loads, more practical, but a little bit more practical. So yeah, and there’s just so much if your only goal is to learn how to code, you don’t need to go to uni for that. But if you want to learn a bit more than that, then uni might be an option for you. You might want to look into it. I’m not going to tell you what to do. they’re both expensive, so yeah.

Yeah, I think, I think that’s it for me. I think that’s all I want to say. I don’t know if there’s anything else, was it worth it? I mean, yeah, I guess. It’s worth it for me. It might not be worth it for you. Would I do it again? Not anytime soon. yeah, anytime soon, but yeah, let’s take a break.

So I’m probably going to do another episode where I go a bit more in detail about my uni, but what I learnt, I don’t know, is that, let me know if that’s going to be beneficial, if you actually want to know, like the specific things I learnt, I think that’s boring but if it’s beneficial, I will do it, if people want to know. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want Lost in the Source to be, look like, feel like, it’s definitely something I want to give more time to, and I’m hoping I will be able to give more time to. And so I’m thinking about, should I do YouTube videos? I definitely want to do more blog posts, but it will be more technical focus. I feel like the podcast is a good place to just talk shit. I guess, talk nonsense about tech stuff happening and then like YouTube would be a really good place to like showcase or show like tutorials or projects I’m working on and building and blogs will be like really good place to like, or the blog would be a really good place to show, like specific tech things or specific coding things, right? Like one coding thing, this is a method that does this, and this is how it works versus YouTube, which is like, let’s build this thing together versus the podcast, which is like, let’s just talk shit. Let me know, let me know what you’re interested in, seeing what you’re interested in hearing about and stuff I’m still getting back into the groove of things, so we’ll see how it works out. I do I really, really, really do though want to show the process of, building my dissertation project. It’s not a challenge, it’s not a complicated masterpiece, not at all. I’m trying to get an easy grade if I’m honest with you, I’m not trying to challenge myself particularly in this, but I think it’s like interesting enough. And I think it touches on a few different things that you may not have seen, you may not have heard of like I’m going to be using the Twilio API to do some stuff. And then I’m using rails and I’m not using an SQL database, I’m using Mongo, which is a document based database, no SQL kind of thing.

So that might be interesting to see how all of those things fit in together and talk to each other and interact with each other. I think if it does present any issues or problems, they will be interesting problems, problems that I probably haven’t come across before and I think it will be interesting to document that. So my dissertation advisor, who has been great by the way, he has said that I shouldn’t publish any videos or blog posts or anything about the process until after I get my work graded. So I have to wait until I submit and get my results back before I can do any of that. But yeah, that’s just some stuff. I don’t know what my schedule for the podcast is going to be, I kind of feel like bi-weekly was going well. And so, yeah, maybe we’ll do like a bi-weekly thing again and that will be that, but yeah, that’s, I think that’s the end of this, rambly mess over podcast. Thanks for listening, if you are still here with me, thank you for listening and I will see you next time.