Stumped

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#1 fromTheSprawl  Icon User is offline

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Stumped

Posted 13 June 2012 - 07:54 PM

Hi there. I would just like to ask, especially the pros, have you ever encountered a period where you're stumped by something? For example, how to implement a particular technology or implementing something in a language? If so, how long did it take you to overcome these obstacles, and if you didn't, is giving up an option? And if you did overcome this block, how did you do it?

To give you reference, I'm working on a simple tool on Java and I'm trying to learn Spring. Well, I want to populate the combobox with stuff but turns out all the tutorials in the internet use a method that is deprecated, therefore leaving me no idea on how to implement this thing on the new version of Spring. I could do it in another way(using JSP) but that would defeat the purpose of learning something new. So, I halted the project for now. Guess I'm fishing out for advice and maybe some inspirational stories. :)

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Replies To: Stumped

#2 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Stumped

Posted 13 June 2012 - 09:47 PM

All programmers run into problems they don't know how to solve initially. How do they overcome this problem? Research. Google queries, articles, ask questions on boards like DIC etc.

As for giving up, it depends on the thing you are working on and for who. Giving up is always an option but if you need to solve it for work or need to solve it to move forward onto another project itself it may be less of a "viable" option.

When you don't know how to do something, that is the time you should ask questions and look for answers. Be resourceful.

:)
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#3 fromTheSprawl  Icon User is offline

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Re: Stumped

Posted 13 June 2012 - 09:58 PM

Yes, resource, as I was saying I Google'd it but it seems I might have to read the whole Spring documentation to fully understand it. If that is the way to go, then I'll do it. ^^
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#4 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 06:46 AM

.

This post has been edited by tlhIn`toq: 14 June 2012 - 06:53 AM

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#5 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 06:53 AM

View PostfromTheSprawl, on 13 June 2012 - 08:54 PM, said:

Hi there. I would just like to ask, especially the pros, have you ever encountered a period where you're stumped by something?


Every fraking day. Welcome to coding.
Yesterday it was something in WPF that turned out to be a bug in the CheckBox.IsCheckd property. Followed by an odd behavior when you put ComboBoxes on tab controls.

Sometimes its the API of a device, like a camera. Every programmer has their own style. So when you are learning to control new devices you have to wrap your head around their style and how they designed their interaction.

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If so, how long did it take you to overcome these obstacles,

1 hour 14 mintues for every obstacle.
... No, seriously how can you ask that? Like any obstacle in life they will all take a different amount of time to resolve because they are all different issues.

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And if you did overcome this block, how did you do it?

Just keep hammering on it. Read the documentation. Re-read it. Try, try, try again. Trial and error...and error... and error... Look at it from this perspective and try... change your perspective and try again... Oh, what if they meant this? Try again. Google. Try some more... Lastly, post a thread asking for help.
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#6 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:10 AM

View PostfromTheSprawl, on 13 June 2012 - 11:58 PM, said:

Hi there. I would just like to ask, especially the pros, have you ever encountered a period where you're stumped by something


Yes, all the time. And writing code isn't even the main focus of my work.

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it seems I might have to read the whole Spring documentation to fully understand it. If that is the way to go, then I'll do it. ^^



This is often a good idea. You don't need to memorize every detail, but going over the whole documentation at once, first off, orients you to everything that's documented and where it's found. This helps later when you're looking for a particular detail.

If you don't mind killing a tree, print it out and put it in a binder. Your brain remembers much better if you give it a physical context to work with.

This post has been edited by jon.kiparsky: 14 June 2012 - 07:13 AM

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#7 Ryano121  Icon User is offline

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:17 AM

I often hit huge brick walls in personal projects, and they sometimes are never solved (yet anyways). I try to think about other ways I can do they same thing - which often results in a much better overall solution.

I remember one personal project in college I wanted to complete however I had no clue how to. I kept coming back to it every so often and tried again using some of the new techniques we learnt in class. I continually got closer and closer, but ultimately it was always full of bugs and well really didn't work that well at all. But anyways it took me the best part of three years before I actually had the know how of how to actually solve the problem.

Of course you never have three years to solve a problem in the real world, but the principle is just the same - try, fail, learn, try...
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#8 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:25 AM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 14 June 2012 - 08:10 AM, said:

If you don't mind killing a tree, print it out and put it in a binder. Your brain remembers much better if you give it a physical context to work with.


Oh hells no... At least not in my world. I would have a library of binders given all the devices and API's. That's what an iPad is for. Just think of it as a digital binder. It holds a couple hundred textbooks and thousands of PDF's just fine. In a single, easy to travel with <4 pound device.

Besides I can never get the 'search' feature on a binder to work, and the binder's built-in backlight sucks.
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#9 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:43 AM

Trouble is, the brain works on associations. If you want to learn systematically, you need to give yourself context, and the iPad is a context-poor environment. If you just want lookup, yeah, online docs or an electronic copy is fine, but if you're reading a whole document, paper's your only man.
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#10 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 08:01 AM

I can't agree with that at all. I don't see how a binder of paper is any more or less context-rich or memory associative than an iPad.

A paper printed PDF in no way forms more bonds to an abstract concept like an API for a camera than does the same document on an eReader. Unless the reader CHOOSES to give the medium more validity based on personal preference/prejudice. Its like having your nagging sister give you advice that you reject, but when your loving wife tells you the same thing you are more open to accepting it.

If one hears, then writes notes (which involves reading as you write) as you would in a classroom lecture, that is better than receiving printed notes because it engages the brain more and on different levels.

But looking at a PDF printed on paper or printed on LCD is exactly the same thing. All you are doing is reading.

And in some cases paper is less effective because eDocs can embed sound and video, so reading the docs can sometimes have demonstrations or graphics that SHOW how different things interact. Some eReaders are decent at doing text-to-speech so one can listen to the documentation (while driving or flying) giving it an additional entry path to the human memory. A good example of this in an eBook is the deluxe electronic edition of American Sniper by Chris Kyle. That version has videos of sniper training, maps of the various regions discussed in the book etc., making it a more emersive environment. Sure that's not a techie example, but it makes my point about the potential.

I'm afraid that the paper vs. digital argument just doesn't hold up. It more an argument of generational preference. Some people just like to be nostalgic about books/magazines/print. Save the book. Bring back 8 track. Film cameras. Print your documentation. Let's do away with calculators and computers and bring back slide rules and abacus while we're on this trend.

This post has been edited by tlhIn`toq: 14 June 2012 - 08:02 AM

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#11 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 08:31 AM

Quote

I can't agree with that at all. I don't see how a binder of paper is any more or less context-rich or memory associative than an iPad.


Physical context is what I'm talking about. Think of how you read text on the iPad: you stare at a fixed point and move text past your focus point. At most, your eyes travel the area of the screen. There is no physical context for page 180 as opposed to page 10, and if you're leaping about following references there's no linear context for the material. How's your brain going to work with any of that? At best you have a linked list of concepts, which is broken every time you follow a reference. A linked list is not a very searchable data structure, nor is it robust of you lose a node.

A book is a physical object. You have twice the area, at least, to look at, and you have to scan to the text, it won't scroll to you. That's context. When you're reading a particular page, you have a certain amount of paper under your left thumb and under your right thumb - you're not paying attention to it, but that's context. And if you want to follow a reference, you have to navigate to it yourself - turn to the index, look up "someFeature, broken in the version you're using, 342", and turn to that page. That's more context.

Memory is associations, the more associations, the better, and the more scattered, the better. A book gives your brain a lot of hooks for these associations that an iPad just doesn't give you.
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#12 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 08:38 AM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 14 June 2012 - 10:01 AM, said:

If one hears, then writes notes (which involves reading as you write) as you would in a classroom lecture, that is better than receiving printed notes because it engages the brain more and on different levels.


And if you make notes in the margin of a book, you're tying your thoughts to the material in the book, strengthening your associations for both. If you make notes in the margin of your ipad... oops. Can't really do that.

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Let's do away with calculators and computers and bring back slide rules and abacus while we're on this trend.


Funny you mention slide rules and abacus - for learning math (which is what we're talking about here) these are much more effective devices than computers or calculators, because the student has to engage with them, and they reveal more about the process than they hide.


For reference purposes (ie, actually doing your taxes or looking for a particular detail about a particular function) computers, calculators, and electronic references are generally more effective, but that's another matter. I still say learning the stuff right in the first place beats the hell out of being able to look it up later.
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#13 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 08:58 AM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 14 June 2012 - 09:38 AM, said:

If you make notes in the margin of your ipad... oops. Can't really do that.


Why can't I?
http://itunes.apple....d363998953?mt=8
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View Postjon.kiparsky, on 14 June 2012 - 09:38 AM, said:

I still say learning the stuff right in the first place beats the hell out of being able to look it up later.

Abso-frakin-lutely!
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#14 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 09:05 AM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 14 June 2012 - 10:58 AM, said:

Abso-frakin-lutely!



That seems like a good place to end the digression. Returning to the original question... yeah, we all get stuck. That's what learning is: getting stuck, then getting unstuck. That's one reason why answering questions on this forum is a useful exercise. You have to get into someone else's stuck space and navigate your way out. You can't help learning from this process.
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#15 fromTheSprawl  Icon User is offline

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Re: Stumped

Posted 14 June 2012 - 05:43 PM

Whoa, great inspirational posts, then a healthy books vs. eBook debate! Cool! Back then I would be siding more with Jon, but now that I use my phone as a comic book reader, and now I'm halfway through a novel with it, my view is kinda opening up to eBooks too. Still, I love the feel of paper on my hands more than digital does, so when I like an eBook I'll probably buy a print of it.

Regarding the topic, yeah I left what stumped me for now and will focus on reading the documentation and learning the concepts first, and will dive on other projects in the meantime to keep me occupied. ^^
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