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Too much of a good thing: over-nitpicking of Say.java?

Dean Funk
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 20, 2001
Posts: 42
I'm now on the 11th iteration of "Say.java" since June...
Every one has functioned, if not elegantly, at least to or near to specification.
Don't get me wrong, I value the nitpicker's suggestions, but thrashing on the same simple two-page Java program for four months has gone way beyond 'tedious'...
I understand that nitpicking means what it sounds like, and that my code leaves, shall we say, ample room for suggestions - but this is just silly. I know the code has yet to reach perfection, but is there some reason we can't move along?
I've had assignments 5-8 on disk since July, when I figured Say.java would be one or two iterations, just like my previous assignments. I've completely forgotten anything I learned by writing them. To get any benefit from them now, I'll have to dump them, and rewrite them - so the time I spend doing them is a write-off? Great, I'm just made of spare time.
Yeah, I'm a little frustrated, because I had a good head of steam up when I headed into Say, but after four months of the same assignment my attitude toward the JavaRanch course has done a 180.
This is not an ultimatum to the nitpicker. This is an appeal to balance the value of further work on the same code against the benefit of moving on. It's a good bet that the same stylistic foibles that have provided such bountiful fodder for nitpicking in Say.java will show up in the next assignment, so can we please move on?
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
Bartender

Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
Dean this thread belongs in the Cattle Drive forum and I will ask that it be moved there.
Ajith Kallambella
Sheriff

Joined: Mar 17, 2000
Posts: 5782
And there it goes... to the Cattle Drive.


Open Group Certified Distinguished IT Architect. Open Group Certified Master IT Architect. Sun Certified Architect (SCEA).
jason adam
Chicken Farmer ()
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 08, 2001
Posts: 1932
It took me 13 attempts at Say-4b. It takes sometimes 2 weeks for just one attempt of JDBC to get completely nitpicked and resubmitted. First we all need to realize that Marilyn is just one person working on everyone's submissions, and Say-4b is one of the longer of the programs until you get up into the higer servlets and JDBC.
Yes, it gets nitpicked a lot, Say-4b has always been known as the hump that everyone has to get over. The first few assignments are meant to prepare you for 4b, because it is a rather daunting assignment for elementary school.
The whole purpose of the nitpicks is to get your code to as close to the instructors solution as possible. If it isn't there yet, it's going to get nitpicked. This isn't a course that is supposed to accept a marginal program and say "Ok, it's pretty good, let's move on" If it was, all the rest of your programs are going to be just that, pretty good. Personally, I'd rather get ripped apart at the beginning and hopefully learn from that experience so that later I don't have to focus on the little things.
As far as the assignments that you've already written but say you have lost everything you have learned from them, I don't see that as a problem with the Cattle Drive. If you let yourself stagnate, you lose it. I don't think anyone who has gone through most of the assignments already just sat there waiting for something to happen. And who says you can't keep going through those assignments and find ways to optimize, clean up the code, etc, based on what you are learning now from 4b? I already had a couple of the OOP assignments in the works when I finally passed 4b, and when it came time to really clean them up, what I learned in 4b helped tremendously.
Going into 4b with the expectation that you will pass in a couple of iterations was extremely unrealistic unless you A) are the instructor or B) are some super programmming machine. Search through the Cattle Drive forum, you will find a multitude of posts relating to how long it takes people to get through it.
I don't want to sound like I am slamming you, but getting frustrated over something like this, this early in the game, is setting yourself up for failure later on down the road.
Jason
Marilyn de Queiroz
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 22, 2000
Posts: 9047
    
  10
Originally posted by Dean Funk:
I'm now on the 11th iteration of "Say.java" since June...
Every one has functioned, if not elegantly, at least to or near to specification. ... since July when I figured Say.java would be one or two iterations ...

Part of the "four months" has been my problem due to delay in turn-around-time. This has already changed dramatically and I expect that it will continue to stay short at least until I go on vacation without internet access the last half of December.

However, the expectation of finishing Say in one or two iterations is unrealistic. No student to the best of my recollection (including me) has finished Say-a and Say-b in less than four or five iterations. One student went up to about 17 iterations.

Rather than have you submit your solution and I say "fine, it compiles - here is the instructor's solution" I am attempting to have you understand some of the finer points of java programming. We think that such understanding comes from struggling with the issues a bit. Therefore, we can't just blurt out the answer - instead I try to give you hints which you struggle with to find the final solution.

If you feel my hint is too tough, then say so and I'll make it easier for you. Eventually, I will just give you the answer - thus robbing you of an education.

Also, the more homework you do at this point, the better prepared you will be for future topics. The second part of Java-4 in particular prepares you for larger projects.

... It's a good bet that the same stylistic foibles that have provided such bountiful fodder for nitpicking in Say.java will show up in the next assignment ...

This is exactly what we are trying to avoid. If I can get you whipped into shape now, it will make my life a heckuva lot easier when we get to assignments Servlets-4 and beyond which are difficult enough even without "stylistic foibles".

[This message has been edited by Marilyn deQueiroz (edited October 31, 2001).]


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Daniel Dunleavy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2001
Posts: 276
Dean,
Don't worry, your not the only one out there on Say. I don't agree with some of the solutions/style, but it always is nice to look at how someone else would do it.
Dan
Matthew Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
The most important benefit of the Cattle Drive is the nitpicks. Until you get to servlets 4, it is pretty easy to create a running program that meets the specs. What will set you above other programmers(the ones without the benefit of nitpicks) is the tricks that you will learn from the nitpicks. I started programming a little over a year ago. Java was my first language. When I started the cattle drive, I realized what the difference between being a programmer and being a good programmer. That's what the nitpicks are all about.
Say was definately the most frustrating experience I had as a programmer. I may be the person with 17 tries between the two versions. I am still not sure that I think that the instructors solution was the best way to go about it, but I appreciate every nitpick it took to get there.
The most important thing is to hang in there. Until you get to servlets 4, Say is the toughest nut to crack.
Matthew Phillips

Matthew Phillips
Carol Murphy
village idiot
Bartender

Joined: Mar 15, 2001
Posts: 1197
Dean,
Say was by far the most difficult of any assignment I've encountered to date on the cattle drive. ( I'm currently working on OOP-4. ) Patience is not a normal state for me, and I have to say that this assignment had me so very demoralized that I was nearly in tears about it. I obsessed over it for weeks. All of my submissions worked, but they weren't ELEGANT. There was another, better way to accomplish the task and trying to find that particular way nearly drove me totally mad. BUT......
learning to approach problems from different angles and thinking in slightly different patterns ( which is often painful and humiliating ) is precisely what this cattle drive is all about for me. My suggestion is to not let yourself stagnate, but get really amped about figuring out what it is you haven't been seeing. ( And I'm NEVER shy about asking for help! )
Pauline McNamara
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
    
    6
Hi Dean,
You are persistence personified, and that's GOOD. It takes stubborn people like us to put themselves through this nitpicking process, stubborn enough to stick with it each time through to the "good job, here's the solution" end.
As has already been said, it's the nitpicking that makes the cattle drive worth it. The way I see it, you're getting at least 11 times more out of this assignment than those who did it on their own (pretty quickly, I imagine) without nitpicks and solutions.
As you said, nitpicking is a good thing (a good think, too?); if the "Aha!" reaction doesn't happen quick enough, c'mon back and post here. There are lots of extra tips (and commiseration, if need be) to go around.
Hang in there,
Pauline
jason adam
Chicken Farmer ()
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 08, 2001
Posts: 1932
*coughs*
If we're talking about how many times it took to get Say done (both A and B), I think I'm the 17 iterations person... just looked over my old nitpicks and actually counted.
So there, yer off the hook Matt
Jason "Who feels the need to brag about OOP-4 for some reason" Adam
Pauline McNamara
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
    
    6
You still out there Dean?
Pauline
Josue Cedeno
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 06, 2001
Posts: 71
I have to say that I really appreciate this question. Say 4b was the humped that stopped me. I thought maybe I didn't have the stuff. But hearing this story has changed my perception. I won't stop until I pass this Say hump.
Thanks, guys!!
jason adam
Chicken Farmer ()
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 08, 2001
Posts: 1932
Hopefully you won't stop then, either
Keep trudging along!
Joseph Russell
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 08, 2001
Posts: 290
I dropped out of the Javaranch college a few months ago because of Say b. It probably had more to do with my other college and life pressures but it does take someone real determined or stubborn to continually get nitpicked and to then turn around and just keep at it. Especially when most of us are used to instant gratification. That said...I guess it's time I hopped back on that ol' say(b) horse again.
jason adam
Chicken Farmer ()
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 08, 2001
Posts: 1932
Joseph, that is music to our ears!!!
That's saddles been dusty for too long, get back on and start trail blazin'
Jason
Pauline McNamara
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
    
    6
Really good to hear that you guys want back (some people are just gluttons for punishment ).
Joseph, you get a little bit of instant gratification for your efforts: you're back on the log and on your way.
Josue, just let us know when you get back on your way over the Say hump.
Cheers,
Pauline
Josue Cedeno
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 06, 2001
Posts: 71
I just submitted my newest version of Say B. I'm pretty excited. It actually compiles and delivers. Now for the nit-picking, which I think is in order (and appreciated).
 
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