Just finished the ‘Test-2’. Here’s the first post that can genuinely be called “mine”…

With my last minute ‘C2S’ plans [Co-operate to Survive… does it ring any bells??] failing to work, the tests did their job,cleaned me up [both literally and metaphorically]. Though I didn’t learn much while preparing for the tests, the syllabus gave me a brain wave (surprised to find that my Brain is still ticking…. after more than one year of Engg.) : Build my first Computer game!! [Don’t expect too much from it… I’m a novice at programming and my game doesn’t even have a GUI as of now!]

I had been doing a l’l bit of C programming off late but, I never learnt ‘file management’ until the “Test-2” forced me to, and Viola! I embarked on a self assigned, “Project - Hangman”.

Here’s a peek at the game… [after a lot of testing and debugging (the use of technical terms is just a matter of “phantee”)]

“Phantee”- a typical hyderabadi term; has no literal english translation; refers to “concealing ignorance in style” ??

The basics were quite simple and were done in two hours… but then began the real test! The program needed a lot of improvements to make it “Playable” but, the tests were less than a week away.

I managed to find enough time even during the tests (it doesn’t really matter whether you spend a week, a day or just an hour mugging - you are bound to be cleaned up!), and finished most of the stuff within a week.

There were quite a few road blocks which I had to get around. Amongst other things, obtaining a ‘decent’ database of words was one. Initially, I wrote another program for building up a dbase of your own. This wasn’t good enough…. so, with some ideas from Arunodai, I successfully integrated a dbase of 14000 words [picked it from another version of hangman] with my own version. After one whole week of debugging and improving {with an annoying disturbance called ‘Test-2’}, now my game is quite ‘playable’ (i.e it can be played by people other than me).

So you might say, “what’s the big-deal about writing a simple program of about hundred lines, that can randomly display words and check if you guess it right within seven turns?”. This l’ll project of mine may seem like a Pro’jest’ to many! [writing a complex code, messing it up, debugging it for one whole week, etc just for the sake of creating a simple game, that can be played if you have a friend,a pen and a paper. Doing so much for a game, that already has ’n’ version, seems very foolish and a collosal waste of time and effort. Doesn’t it??] Obviously, that’s not a great achievement, its not something thats worth a mention in the Guiness Book of World Records or something. But it taught me a lot of stuff, stuff that you can’t learn from books,stuff that you can’t learn by mugging [I wonder if you can learn anything under the sun by “Mugging”], stuff that you can only learn by experience.I learnt a lot more of Computer Programming through this project, than I learnt through two, ‘3-point’ courses!! {Of course, I wouldn’t have even dreamt of doing such a thing, if not for these two courses, that introduced me to programming and taught me the essentials}. Can’t such projects make the other courses a joy too?

This brings me to our recent TRW [Technical Report Writing] project. You might wonder what kind of projects could be given in this kind of a course. We were asked to write a report on ‘Waste Management’ in our college, and to include some suggestions on the ways to improve it. Though this was an interesting job, with scope for some field activity and other such stuff, we [a group of six members] successfully turned the ‘project’ into a Pro’jest’!! [that’s my personal view; the others in the group may disagree].But still, we learnt a lot on Report writing. A lot more than what we learnt by reading pages and pages of instructions, on the techniques of writing good reports,by the so called experts.

Both the projects helped me understand stuff better and to put them to use. Why can’t all courses have little projects, along with the routine stuff? Will it not improve my understanding of the subject matter? Will I not learn a great deal of things more than I do by mugging things up, just a week before the tests? Will it not be an experience, a lesson, of its own??

I see and I forget. I hear and I remember. I do and I understand. –A Chinese Proverb.

I wonder if my “Engineering”, will ever be a joy for me?

I am looking forward to more Projects… to make engineering a joy for me!! [it doesn’t matter even if they’re self-assigned ;-) ]