We all fear the world ‘technical’. The world is increasingly moving towards designing equipment that spares them even the most basic technical details. They all want what a lot of people are now calling a “no frill” tool to get stuff done.
So why do we fear it? The answer is simple; because we don’t understand it. So many of us simply do not understand the technical aspect of something. Now let’s think about why.
Is it because most of us have never been exposed? Or is it because most of our interests have lay in areas that allow us to forgo technical know-how? Or is it because we have tried, found it to be simply too hard and given up altogether. I think most of you would agree that the main reason is the third.
Once people start learning something technical, so many of us fail to see it through. The problem is not the so called “difficulty”. The problem is in our philosophies.
Here are 10 tips that will guarantee you learn technicalities completely and learn well.
1.Before you start, identify the area of application –
Simply trying to pick up something technical because it’s cool gets you nowhere. For example, most children at a tender age want to become an astronaut, or a space scientist, or a doctor, or something that requires extensive technical know-how. The same minds become altogether averse to technical aspects of the same, when they are older.
2. Calm, objective evaluation –
There are literally thousands of people to tell you not to give up when you get stuck. But we all know that’s just motherhood talk. So what do you do when you get stuck? Try to identify why you are stuck.
For all of us, getting stuck simply means “I need to fix this”. If you get stuck, evaluate why – For example, in C you may have written a program that implements a simple logic to reverse a number, but you just can’t get it to work. Your logic seems sound to you but it just won’t work. This is when programmers generally give up. DON’T GIVE UP. Just trace the code. It will become clear why it wasn’t working. If not, there’s probably a hardware level error like a compile time error or a runtime error. If you play around with enough of these, although compile time and runtime may sound like Greek words to you at first, you’ll see that such errors fall into a specific set of errors and can be more often than not, tackled pretty easily.
3. Don’t attempt what you don’t know –
Sometimes you don’t know enough to try what you were trying before you got stuck.
For example, you know arrays in a somewhat elementary manner; enough to know what they do and how they are handled. Then, say, you try to design a bingo program using C just because you know loosely, that it’s done using arrays.
I mean come on; stop kidding yourself. Go back a notch and practice some more.
4. Don’t antagonize your passion –
Like if you know you want to be a space scientist and you also know you need to know applied physics to do it, don’t try to finish it all in one day.
This can be frustrating for the most zealous of learners. Because you’re mind stores the horrid experience of having been so brain-fried, you dread the moment when you have to resume your learning. Very soon, you find you are stalling unnecessarily and under the worst, you find you are losing interest ( This can be very misleading. Because oftentimes you haven’t really lost interest and years later you feel like you wasted your life for having tried something else and desperately wish you could revert back to the thing you gave up on).
5. Don’t fry your brains out! –
You are human man! Don’t be superman. Just give it a rest when you’ve had enough. Otherwise, you’ll give yourself a headache.
6. “I will learn nothing else” –
A large part of mastering the technical aspects of various disciplines has to do with developing logical reasoning. Just because you do programming, or because you do physics, does not mean you adopt a “can’t do” attitude when it comes to, say, solving a compound interest problem, or a statistics problem, or even giving an intelligent and well constructed opinion on an article you may have read. It all involves logical reasoning, which is paramount to mastering any technical subject.
7. “I don’t like challenges” –
Most people are defeated because learning something technical is inherently challenging. By nature, most of us, if not all of us, are opposed to challenging circumstances. Try not to get too comfortable in any space. Develop a progressive and productive personality; one that always has you seeking to challenge yourself further, beyond what you may already know.
8. “I won’t discuss what I’ve learned” –
A lot of people like to say “Oh, I’m not discussing what I’ve learned with people because it will confuse me and I’m not a master yet”. That’s bullshit. That simply means you are conforming to the pattern of usage in the book or lecture you learned it from. You didn’t really understand the application of the concept. If you did, you would have no qualms discussing it.
For example, you may have learned a quick sort algorithm works best when the pivot element creates a roughly 75-25 partition of the array. Now, when someone wants to dispute it, your immediate instinct may be to shy away because you believe you’ve understood the reason well and you don’t want anybody to confuse you. But, NO, that means you have NOT understood the reason well enough. You are simply subconsciously storing a snapshot of that part of the lecture or book, where you followed the reasoning behind that conclusion. If you really had understood the reason at it’s core well, you would have no trouble debating it with another person.
9. “I will not experiment” –
It’s good to follow a careful approach to learning something technical. But, sometimes you have doubts to which clear answers are not provided in any kind of resource. Most times, because you know you are not perfect yet you don’t want to explore your doubt. Please, experiment. If you are afraid, you will lose your basics then work through some more problems to ensure you never lose your hold on the fundamentals.
For example, if you have learned how resistors and capacitors work in theory and have performed some prescribed experiments to understand their working better. Play around with them to know more. There is always a “more” that comes from experimentation. Not to get this point confused with point 3. Hopefully, from the examples you see the difference.
10. If it works, it works. Let’s not pay attention to optimization –
Good technicians will inevitably develop an “I’m always right” mindset. In such a large world, what are the chances that even one technician out there does not have a solution to a given technical problem? Close to zero, if not zero. As an expression, some might say negative probability. So optimize your paradigms, your models as best as you can even it requires you to take a less straight forward approach.
For example, if you need to find the result of a 20% increase of a value, say, 10, the general convention is to calculate like so:
10 + 20% of 10 = 10 + (20/100*10) = 12
But, this is the same as 10 + 0.2*10, which again equals 12. Similarly a number plus 0.31 times the number will give you the result after a 31 % increase. But, just because the general method is more obviously elaborate, people don’t seem to want to just go with the second which clearly proves a much faster way to do it, if you were doing calculations on the go.
Pay attention to things like popular conventions as well.
For example, in programming, it is a good practice to have all identifiers’ names contain an underscore wherever there would normally be a space used in the English language. Some people say it makes the definition section look too cluttered. But, there is a good reason why this is done. With the extensive function library of most programming languages out there, the chances that a variable defined in proper English, or something close to it, will not cause an error for having the same name as one of the functions is again close to zero.
So, I hope this helped. 🙂 Enjoy learning. Here are a few good sites to learn programming languages, in case you are interested.
And here’s a great one to learn things like applied math and applied physics
Subscribe to MindPluckd for more intriguing posts.