Success through failure

It isn’t common for people to become successful without first tasting failure.  I’m not sure where I heard this but the quote was something along the lines of “everything is hard before it gets easy”, which means learning is the ugly step sister to mastery’s beauty.

Today I took a calculus test, and although I felt prepared it didn’t go as well as I had hoped. The one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that as I study more and work harder  my grades do not always reflect that. I used to be able to sit in class and simply remember everything and do well on tests with minimal effort. Times have changed. I already have a degree (in the social sciences) so sometimes I wonder why I put myself through this torture. Since I am working toward something that is much more difficult the challenges are greater, struggles are more common and failures are grand. Still, I savor the torture, I enjoy working in my room on my white board and working out problems, figuring out what I did wrong, then solving them. When I was in high school I would’ve never dreamed that I would be taking calculus or studying computer science, much less enjoying the challenges. Surprisingly, I actually don’t have to take this calculus course for the associate’s in computer science. I’m doing it because I want to, in part because I think it can only help my eventual career but also because I’m fascinated by it. Working on the same material that Newton and Einstein did, learning the math that was used to get  a space ship to the moon is pretty awesome. There is some pride knowing how to deal with the math that most people avoid. I view calculus problems like a puzzle, unfortunately sometimes I have trouble telling the pieces apart but that is where the struggle, and failure comes in. I haven’t failed because I never fail to learn. So next time it gets easier and it is a matter of time and practice that I’ll reach mastery. Until then I’ll keep my sense of humor and keep moving forward.

*Edit 09/03/2014

I received my test back and after a lot of thought I realized what I had done wrong. At the end of my last study session I wrote down some notes to help memorize how the two formulas work and I wrote them in a different order than I had learned them, so during the test I wasn’t getting the answers I was expecting which means each question took longer than it should have and I eventually ran out of time to go back and the necessary corrections. If you learn do you really fail? No, and I didn’t actually fail the test I just didn’t do as well as I would have liked, although anything less than an A is disappointing for me.

Android Programming – The Big Nerd Ranch Guide

The book I’ve been using to learn Android development is from the Big Nerd Ranch guides. It has been difficult to find a book that suits my  needs because I’m not a complete beginner, but I’m also not advanced and it seems like every book on the market caters to those two market segments. The text is either dumbed down to the point where it feels like the author is talking down to you  or so complex that you have to research the topics to understand. This book is full of clear explanations and feels like a learning tool. The  book isn’t colorful, or very pretty, but if used as a tool for building great applications it is worth its weight in gold (this book is huge and that’s still an accurate metaphor). Don’t let its simple appearance fool you.

This Big Nerd Ranch Guide seems to cover everything you would need and the language is accessible to a non-technical person. I like the format. You start building an app then you cover why you are writing the lines of code. Some of the info I had already learned watching YouTube videos but I always find myself having to watch videos repeatedly and because most YouTube videos do not walk you through creating an app it feels a bit disjointed. The Big Nerd Ranch Guide teaches you how to create apps step by step in a cohesive way. One thing I found helpful is that as you progress through the book you go back to previously written code and update it to add more functionality. Although that may sound like it is just creating extra work for you I think it is worthwhile because you build on the complexity but in your own apps you may not need the more complex versions found later in the book. Since you are learning how and why things work it is easier to use things learned in your own apps.

I haven’t finished the book so if my feelings change I will update this post. As of now this is the best book I’ve used.

If you are getting one book on Android Development, this is it.

Hello World


My name is Josh Cruz and this is my first post on my first website. I am a computer science student and I’m setting up this website as a learning process. I don’t expect this site to look the same in the future and the reason I’m using Word Press is because of how easy it is. I’m also learning to develop Android applications so although I know millions of people hang on every word I write, this blog is mostly for me to keep track of what I’m up to but also give other beginners some insight on some of the things I’ve learned.