Nick Charlton

Ideas and University

It’s been a while since I’ve written down a set of thoughts. Most of which occurred before I started University. What I do want to ponder here I will come to in a moment, but now I’ve been at University for nearly 4 months - I’m trailing on to the end of the first term.

It has certainly been a experience, but something I thought would be overly more strenuous and complex. Especially after the first few weeks. Unfortunately, it has not been like what I had hoped. I certainly don’t find the amount of work I’m given hard enough - or even to the level of other’s at different Universities and the topics covered never seem to go into the depth I’d like. All in all, it either feels like I’m not learning anything or that I am rather having to teach myself.

Arguably this is a failing of the University itself and speaking with others the first year doesn’t appear to change, and some have stated that the second year is not much better.

What I do want to talk about though are ideas. Ideas are those amazing things you dream up doing and in most people’s cases, don’t get the chance to execute them. I used to have a constant flow of such things. Possible projects flying out of my ears just waiting to be executed.

Since getting to Plymouth though, that all seems to have changed. I have ended up having passing possibles, rather than something that sticks for any reasonable amount of time.

Quite possibly this down to not specifically having any problems to solve, or indeed too many options to solve it, neither of them which are worth spending time on.

As an example, I have been meaning to launch something of substance on Heroku for a while. Could do with patching up my Ruby knowledge by writing some client-side apps, rather than simple ideas executed with Sinatra and then abandoned. Similarly, I haven’t used C for a while, would like to learn some Objective-C for Mac development (and Cocoa, obviously) but have no reasons to push ahead with it. No project idea generally means that I merely read and plan about either a project, or something new (like a framework) and not end up with something at the end.

As part of my course, I am supposed to be learning C#, half of my problem here is that I don’t use Windows and therefore I don’t have a need to build anything there. Although, fortunately I seem to be able to pick it up quite easily.

So, instead of spending my time working on something specific I am slowly reading through a mountain of books. To run off a list off the top of my head:

I do also have a couple of UK-centric business books which I’m slowly attacking, although there is not much point (bar the background reading) to learn about that when I have nothing to execute!

You can of course put an idea on a postcard.

Of course this “lack of ideas” could instead be covering another problem. Instead I may have lost the passion I used to have for simple things that felt worthwhile building. Whether that is a good or bad thing, I’m not sure. Possibly better in the sense that I end up not starting and then stopping projects, but not so great in the sense that in four months I have produced nothing.

Retrospect is a wonderful thing and the last few weeks can be looked back upon with the odd test, only three assignments, and a pretty dodgy sleep pattern for me to look back upon. Don’t get me wrong, University is worth it’s while, however when you feel you are getting nowhere (because it’s too simple), it’s easy to wonder if being somewhere is worth it’s time.

So now, my general week consists of 5/6 lecture slots, sinking my way through some quite heavy books, eventually learning the Guitar and spending just a little too much money. That’s quite a far cry from the last two years. Maybe I shouldn’t complain?