Hello World!

Hello big, beautiful internet.

I have been thinking about starting a blog for a while now, and I finally decided to.

A bit about me:

  • I am 20 and I am studying computer science at Clemson University in South Carolina.
  • I love photography and programing, both of which I plan on blogging about here.
  • I get distracted easily sometimes. ¬†If I stop writing for a while, I am not dead, I am simply forgetful. ūüôā

Feel free to contact me if there is something specific you want me to write about.

Thanks,

James Hollowell

 

 

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Growing Up (F/L)ast

Even though I am posting this on April 1st, this has nothing to do with April Fools. Something else you see from me might, but this isn’t.

Growing up is full of “lasts”. Some are very obvious, and we see them coming: the last day before becoming a teenager, the last day of classes in high school or college, the “last time I’m telling you to pick up your room”. But there are some things we never realize are the last, and don’t realize it until years later.

I had one of those realizations¬†this past weekend. It was Easter Sunday, a time to be together with family and, of course, have an Easter egg hunt! However, I wasn’t home because of my schedule¬†this year (or last year for that matter), and neither was my little sister, who is off at college now too. As there are two of us away from home now, it gets hard to be home all together. This means that¬†two years ago, when I was a homesick freshman, was probably the last time my family will ever do an Easter Egg hunt together. That is just a weird feeling, and it makes me kind of sad. When you graduate high school, it is big, memorable, final, but that last Easter Egg hunt¬†was none of the above, ¬†not out of the ordinary.

When I¬†look back on my¬†life, even my (relatively) short 21 years, I see many¬†of these “ordinary lasts”, and I see more in my¬†future. As I get older, as I become less attached to my family, making my own way in the world, this will become an ever-increasing experience. But this doesn’t make it any easier. Some of them will be good, some bad, but the ending of something is always a bit hard.

This¬†is becoming especially real as a lot of my friends are seniors this year, or are graduating early. When will be the last time I see them? Will I even get to say goodbye? Or will it just end? The realization of that last Easter ¬†Egg hunt was hard, but I still get to see my family, I still get to celebrate things with them. With my friends, I don’t know if I will even see them again.

But I think these “ordinary lasts” are actually a blessing. ¬†They help us to transition from childhood to adulthood without all the stark contrast the momentous lasts bring to our lives. I’m not normally an emotional person, but I honestly might have cried if I had know that Easter Sunday would be my last hunt, and it would have been hard to go back to college. Although it is sad to look back on, I have grown since then, I am removed from the situation, so knowing it is the last is not quite so hard to deal with.

But now I must move on. Nothing I say or do can stop any of these last times, so I must do my best to make sure that the last time is wonderful, whenever that may be. See you around friend, until it is that time, the time to say goodbye, that one last time.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

-An old Irish blessing (and a beautiful song)

I’m Scared

I’m scared… Scared to leave my heart as vulnerable as it is now, to make the same mistake of loving someone too much, of letting them deep into my heart for the pain of pulling them out again. ¬†I’m also scared to harden my heart, to protect against that pain again. ¬†I feel like God has built me to love and protect people. ¬†I am afraid if I keep myself from loving to deeply again, I will eventually keep myself from loving at all.

You might be a programmer if…

I have some tendencies, which, although often very strange, I think help me be a better programmer.

1) Always trying to solve problems as if I was going to make a program to do it.

From complex calculus problems to everyday problems, I approach the problem as if I was going to have to write a program.  This has two major benefits specifically for me: it forces me to look at the problem from outside the box and it allows me to think of the problem as teaching the program what to do.  When thinking of a problem as a computer program, it forces me to think abstractly and within specific constructs, such as loops, conditionals and functions.  This helps me focus on the problem and look at it several ways before committing to a specific solution.  Also, looking at the problem as an opportunity to teach help me remember things better.  I personally learn through teaching, and if you understand something well enough to teach it, you understand it very well.

2) Solving problems on the edges of sleep.

I come up with the best solution to my coding problems as I am going to sleep or waking up.  When my mind is wandering, it is often then that it comes up with the best solutions. It is then that it looks at things from a different perspective.   When I am about to fall asleep, I can visualize the problem more easily and visualize how different solutions would work.  It is a bit weird, I know,  but it a useful tool God has given me that I believe helps me be a better programmer.

3) Use Google… for everything

I believe that in order to be a good programmer, you must learn how to use Google effectively.  Google is the best tool I know of to find documentation and help.  Many other people on the internet have probably had the same or very similar problem, and if you know where to look, you can find their solution to the problem.  Learning to use Google well is a very valuable skill for anyone, but it is even more important to computer programmers.

4) Learn from everything

Once you have a basic understanding of computer programming, one of the best ways to understand programming better is to look at others code and try to understand how it works.  You must also be willing to find information on your own.  You are not always going to have someone teaching you the latest language or new data storage methods Рthis you will have to learn on you own.  Books, articles and Google are wonderful places to learn this kind of thing and these are the ways I learned to program by myself.

These are just a couple of the things I see in myself that I think make for good programmers.   They are a bit strange, but I am a bit strange sometimes, so it works out fine.

Minecraft Server Control

I enjoy playing Minecraft, and my brother runs a small multi-player server from our computer.  Sometimes I would help him manage it and one problem I always ran across was the ability to run more than one command at a time.  So the programmer in me knew there had to be a way to fix this, so I started working on a program.

This has grown from a program to simply run multiple commands to a program that does a ton to manage the Minecraft server.  I am continually updating it and trying to find and squash bugs.  If you have an interest in Minecraft servers, please download this and let me know what you think.  Also, if you would like to just look at the source, feel free to as this program is open source and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License V3.0.

This project is currently hosted on sourceforge.net¬†at¬†sourceforge.net/projects/mcservercontrol/. ¬†Feel free to download the latest packaged version or if you are feeling adventurous, you can check out the code from the Git repository and compile the source yourself. ūüôā

James Hollowell