Fear and Loathing in Corvallis
Blog Post #4
Working Through Being “Stuck” on a Problem
Being stuck on a single problem can be incredibly frustrating. As I’ve progressed through this program, I’ve found myself encountering more difficult problems. It can be disheartening, especially when impatience gets the best of me, and I can’t find an immediate solution. This impatience often leads to a downward spiral of frustration, where I become absorbed in negative thinking.
Through trial and error, however, I’ve discovered a strategy that has helped me break through these moments of stagnation. If I find myself unable to find a solution, I’ve learned to step away from the problem and come back to it later. Initially, this was a difficult concept for me to embrace, as I felt an urgency to solve problems immediately. But I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of taking a break.
Stepping away from the problem allows me to reset and clear my mind. It provides an opportunity for me to engage in activities that help me relax and recharge, whether it’s going for a walk, practicing mindfulness, or engaging in a completely unrelated task. This mental shift allows me to detach myself from the problem temporarily, providing a fresh perspective when I return to it later.
In many cases, this break proves to be immensely helpful. Often, I find that I can approach the problem from a new angle, consider alternative solutions, or identify potential mistakes that I may have overlooked before. It’s as if the mental distance I create during the break allows me to see the problem with greater clarity.
Of course, this approach comes with its own challenges. It requires me to start projects earlier to accommodate for the time I may need to step away and revisit the problem. Procrastination has been a weakness of mine, and I’m actively working on improving in this area. While I have made progress, there’s still a long way to go. By being proactive and managing my time effectively, I can mitigate the risks of falling into the trap of procrastination and make the most out of the valuable technique of stepping back from a problem.
Utilizing ChatGPT and AI Tools
ChatGPT has proven to be an invaluable tool for me throughout my journey. Its primary function for me has been in understanding new technologies and procedures. While official documentation is important, it often falls short when it comes to providing introductory explanations and illustrating the benefits of a particular technology. This is where ChatGPT excels.
The AI’s ability to offer metaphors and high-level explanations has been useful in helping me grasp complex concepts. If I find an explanation difficult to understand, I can simply ask ChatGPT to simplify it for me, making it more digestible.
Furthermore, ChatGPT has been a great resource for understanding code. By copying and pasting code into the prompt, I can receive line-by-line descriptions of the logic behind it. This feature has proven immensely helpful, especially when working with extensive code bases.
Additionally, ChatGPT can act as a translator and debugger. When working with a new programming language, I can write out the logic in a familiar language and ask ChatGPT to provide the equivalent in the new language, facilitating a smoother transition. Moreover, when I’m struggling to understand why something isn’t working, ChatGPT can often provide immediate insights and suggest potential solutions.
While ChatGPT is undeniably a powerful tool, it’s important to approach its usage with caution. I must consider the risks and limitations associated with it. Factors like intellectual property rights, copyright infringement, and the accuracy of information should be carefully weighed.
In conclusion, being stuck on a problem is undoubtedly challenging, but with the right strategies, we can overcome those obstacles. Taking breaks, managing impatience, and stepping back from a problem can provide fresh perspectives and alternative solutions. Additionally, leveraging AI tools like ChatGPT can enhance our understanding of new technologies and procedures, assist in code comprehension and translation, and act as a debugging resource. However, it’s vital to exercise caution and consider the potential risks and limitations associated with AI tools. By doing so, we can maximize the benefits of these tools and continue to grow as effective problem solvers in an ever-evolving landscape.
Why did you choose to go into Computer Science?
I, like many people in the Postbacc program, had an odd journey to get to this point. I got a Bachelor’s in Film and Digital Media from Baylor in 2018. It was certainly a fun degree to get. I took some cool classes with interesting topics, got to make some fun short films, and met some cool people. However, once I started working in the real world, I quickly realized that a degree in film is just about useless. In addition, I realized that I did not really care to work in the film industry. Sets are not fun. Once you get past the glamour of being around some sort-of-famous people, you will suddenly find yourself being criminally underpaid for physically demanding, spiritually exhausting, oftentimes degrading 16-hour days. I had a full-time gig at a studio for a while, which was better than many of my peers from school could say, but when Covid slashed budgets I was tossed in the bin. I knew I was done with the industry after that, so I started exploring options. I’ve always liked computers, so I took a Udemy Python course. I loved it so I signed up for a community college course. I liked that even more. Then I found out a friend of mine had graduated from this program and it seemed like the perfect option. I’ve enjoyed the past couple years of cs and – once I land a job – I’ll be positive that I made the right choice.
Are you worried about working in groups? If so, what do you plan to do to make this experience better?
I’m terrified and extremely excited to work in a group. I love working with other people. I always learn new things and have experiences I would have never considered. Working with other people is one of the few things I actually enjoyed about working on sets. However, jumping into a new group is also a scary prospect. It’s impossible to know how you will get along with everyone. It’s tricky to keep up consistent communication with online partners. And, most importantly, you never know if your partner(s) will carry their own weight. I have been a part of a few groups that fell apart the moment they came together. It’s disheartening to try and drag the corpse of a project to the finish line. It’s hard to take pride in that. But, ultimately, it is worth the risk because when you find a team you fit well in and you start firing on all cylinders, the passion can really come out. I plan to fully commit to my group this term and put out positive energy. The fear of a bad group can be difficult to drown out, but (crossing my fingers) it will all be worth it in the end!
Got any book recommendations?