Going through our archives, we came across this great post by Dr. AnnMaria De Mars from July 19, 2014 “Clones and Ugly Code” that we wanted to share in case you missed it the first time around.
If I had a clone, all of my code would be beautiful.
Last week, I was a speaker at the Tribal Disability Conference in Turtle Mountain, where I spoke on starting a business. Then, I went for a site visit at Spirit Lake Vocational Rehabilitation followed by another talk on self-employment at the Tribal Disability Awareness conference. In a nutshell, I talked about how having a disability often teaches people to persevere, to not accept when told they can’t do something, to find different ways of meeting goals and solicit other people to help them – and pointed out that all of these traits can be an advantage in starting a business.
Along the way, I was working on a couple of grants, edited a couple of papers – and just this second remembered I have to finish editing a paper I co-authored for something – crap!
There was also the usual matter of approving payroll and invoices, answering email and reviewing work people did while I was gone – new teaching videos to go into the game, artwork, animation, sound files,documentation, bug fixes. Haven’t nearly finished with that.
I’m super-stoked to be on a panel on Monday at the National Council of La Raza conference, “Economic Empowerment in a Wireless World”. I’m planning on going Sunday as well, to a lot of the sessions on education.
I got to hear Heidi Heitkamp speak at Turtle Mountain last week and with any luck I’ll be able to attend Elizabeth Warren’s talk on Sunday. Must be my week for Democratic senators.
Somewhere in all of that, I finished my slides and video for the Serious Play conference, also this week, which I am also excited to attend.
Then, there was the meeting people for lunch, stopping in on my daughter who had surgery and checking on her and all of the other general life things. There is a board meeting I have to get up and go to in about nine hours, which I am definitely NOT excited about, but I’m the chair, so I kind of have to show up.
In the midst of all of this, there are 77 fixes and improvements in the Fish Lake game, from “add a better message when the pretest is completed” to “Revise quiz code for re-routing students. This is replicated in many quizzes. Make external file ref & just call it in all of those”. Some of those are crucial – like I never wrote the quiz for one spot and so that is a dead end.
There are another 47 improvements for Spirit Lake. All of those are to make the game better. For example, we recorded voices from kids at Spirit Lake, and when a student gets a problem wrong, I want to add a video clip that shows one of the game characters and says something like,
“No, 7 x 8 = 56. Now your village burned down.”
The kids did a great job and I think those clips will really help players remember their multiplication tables.
But … back to my missing quiz. It has to be on mixed fractions, with questions answered using both improper fractions and mixed fractions. There also should be a question with two answers for the numbers that the mixed fraction falls between. Also, at least two word problems, with answers that are whole numbers.
As each question is answered, the program needs to determine if it is the right answer, and, if so, add to the total score, then show a slightly more difficult problem. At the end of the quiz, the student is shown a success message and the student data written to our database and routed back to the game. If it is the wrong answer, the student is shown a failure message and routed to the appropriate page to study.
In the process of writing this, by the way, I noticed that one of the links on the study page is wrong, so I need to fix that. Apparently, I meant to write something involving turtle eggs. Also, there is a video Diana did on mixed fractions which I have yet to review because I got back at midnight on Wednesday and dived into everything else.
So … back to my no-longer-missing quiz. It is done. I even put in a few comments. As I was writing it, I was thinking, “some of this code is duplicated” and “I bet I could re-write some of these functions so they were more general and then not have so many functions” and a whole lot of other ideas for making it just a better program.
I KNOW that the world is full of code that gets written to be fixed “another day” is still sitting there six years later. In my defense, I will say that I do often loop back around and fix that code – although it might be a year or two later.
Here is my compromise – when I am in town, I try, come hell or high water, to make at least one substantive improvement on one of the games every day – a new video clip, a new quiz. At worst, I may not get any more done than fixing a broken link or touching up a graphic or sound file, but I really try to do more than that. Those 124 fixes are down from 266. It is not perfect but it is progress and it is 1 a.m. In addition to writing this post, I did review one more instructional video and sent feedback, finished the first draft of editing the paper and added improving the code in this quiz as a lower priority game fix.
My code is not perfect but it works, and I will come back and try to do better tomorrow because, at the end of the day, there’s another day. That’s how time works.