An experiment in training leave

Having completed a small software development project, set up the basics of A Little Research, come to the end of the home improvements that had I intended to do upon moving back into my unit in Wollongong, and finally having a short holiday, I found myself casting around for things to do. By happy coincidence, a few courses of interest to me recently opened for enrolments so I’ve decided to devote October and November to learning. (Of course I still work part-time at Western Sydney University and will continue to work on my various writing projects.)

Firstly, I enrolled in the SDG Academy’s Tech for Good course through edX. “SDG” in this context refers to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which I came to in the process of looking for applications of technology that might have greater impact than yet another consumer entertainment device. The goals also happened to come up in a recent discussion around student projects with some work colleagues. Of course the Sustainable Development Goals themselves don’t set out any particular technological aims and “software” isn’t (yet) a human right, but the goals seemed as reasonable place to start as any for what “greater impact” might be. At least some people believe that computer technology has a part to play and I’m curious to learn about it.

Secondly, Zig Zag Hub, co-working space in Wollongong, is offering an Incubator Programme over October and November supposed to assist new businesses to develop their initial ideas into a viable operation. A Little Research is at just this stage, and the main alternative to this course would have required me to travel to Sydney, so I look forward to working further on the idea while also seeing what other Wollongongers are up to.

Finally, I happened to read a news article on live coding, in which a performer produces ever-changing music by programming and re-programming a kind of sequencer/synthesiser. Live coding has actually been around for quite a few years, but I hadn’t heard of it before, and being both a programmer and someone interested in music I realise that I’m well overdue to give it a go. I also picked up my guitar for the first time in a little while, but don’t expect the debut album any time soon (or ever).

It being nearly twenty years since I was last a full-time student, and since then only ever doing the occasional course in the evening or on weekends, it took me a little time to accept that devoting a month or two to this sort of thing was really a “proper” use of my work time. But I’ve already completed the first week of Tech for Good and churned out a couple of basic tunes, both of which have gotten me back in the frame of mind, so I look forward to what I might think of as two months of “training leave”.

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