Saturday, March 31, 2012

virtual life vs. real life

I have written about this topic in a few forums before. It's a topic I come across more and more often. People, including me, use the media "internet", computer, play stations and such devices so much more than they did just a few years ago. It's part of their daily lives. It can become addictive.

Let's start with a simple thing as a mobile phone:
Can you remember a time when all you had was the stationary phone at home? Connected with a cord that got tangled up ever so often? Remember the times that you missed a call and it was still not too late when you called back as soon as you came home? I do!! 
When it first came out, people loved their mobiles. To be able to call whenever they wanted to - no need to search for a public phone or get home to do so. And to receive a call anytime. Not only in cases of emergency! But also to do business away from office. Faster and more instant than before. What a great invention!!!
And then the possibility to write short text messages!!! Another great invention. Now, if you were not able to talk (i.e. because you were in a crowded, noisy place or did not want others to eavesdrop) you could still communicate. Prices for the mobile devices and services went lower with time too, so more and more people could afford this. 
By now though, I can observe schoolchildren texting their friends (or even phoning them) as soon as they leave the school building - with their friends walking right next to them!!!! And when asked why they answer: "I can write them (or talk on the phone with them) better than directly."  
Now this is a development that I find odd. "Virtual" communication better than "real life"?! It makes me think. Are they afraid of direct communication? Have they forgotten how to do it? Or is there something else going on? A kind of separation between people through devices that are supposed to help them stay in "touch"?? Or is there an additional communication going on??? Communicating on more than one level at the same time?? Enriching their communications, not diminishing them. 
I don't know - I'm not using my mobile this way. I'm one of those that can turn it off for days and not miss it!!

Next thing is the computer:
First used to help organize and get things done faster (i.e. making, keeping and evaluating statistics) - computer as calculating machine. Then to write on it and be able to correct without it being noticed or having to retype all of what you have written before - the computer as typewriter. It did not take long and small games were programmed as intermezzo to the often boring office work.
But as those little games distracted from the work AND people wanted to play them at home too, and not only at work where they had the computer, the first "only game" computers were built (I remember the Commodore 64 as such a game computer, although I never had one myself). Now, there is a whole market for those game devices and games. And people spending most of their free time on those games. Even children. Not going outside to play in nature. So game devices to make people move again were invented (i.e. Wii); still inside but not stationary anymore. Most of these games though are "single person" games. No second person needed to play them - only you and the device. Sure, there are team games; but you can have fun alone too!! All you need another person for is to compare your scores. Actually, there are complete competitions run with computer games. And then it's not on how fast you can run or how high you can jump, but how fast you can click, or how fast your computer can calculate your input into output.

Closely connected to the computer as such is the internet:
First invented as Intranet for one office to communicate nearly instantly with the other office within an organization (or university). The Internet followed very fast - and that not only for corporations but for anyone that had a personal computer at home. In the beginning used mostly to send emails - instead of mail  which usually was: write something on a piece of paper and send it off through a delivery service. This took some time. Email was instant compared to this (you still have to wait though if the recipient of your message actually reads and answers it as before). It did not take long and firms had their own websites for marketing - and private ones followed fast. A whole new profession developed. 
[There is a whole market too for all types connected with sex. Because the first contact can be so more anonymous than in real live. It does touch my topic. But I do not want to elaborate on it here.]
But not only websites as such flourished. There were also networks established that connected people not only within their work but in their private lives too. Websites on which people could interact with one another without having to actually be in the same place at the same time. Guestbooks to websites were people can leave public comments, forums were discussions take place. Games went online - to be played still by one alone but also as a team. And soon social networks followed (G+ being one of them - although not the first). All of what had been done in real, daily life can now be done virtually too. 

And now comes this "virtual life vs. real life" into play:
There are people that use the media "internet" and all it's different ways so intensive that they do not seem to have a real life anymore. All they live for is their virtual life. The person they are online. They identify with the online personality they show in the games they play, the social networks they communicate in. Here they can be what they can't be in their real, physical life. "Online" they can be a hero, brave and strong. Or the vamp they do not dare to be for real. Or the wise person with deep insight they fear to utter to the people they meet every day. Or the bad guy. The possibilities are as vast in the online worlds as in the offline one. 
As long as you can distinguish between the virtual one and the real one all is fine, I'd say. The problems come when you start identifying yourself so much with your virtual self that you had created that you actually get lost in it. And if someone does not react the way they thought they would (the way they should react as to the image they had built up "online") they are so surprised and shocked as if they had been attacked in a real, physical way and not only virtual. 

To name an example is "Second Life" - an online virtual world. Now, I never have played this. I know people that have, and have read public comments on social networks and news articles about this game. And all the problems with this addictive way of playing the game. And one of my first comments to this game was: what if our real life was only a virtual game like "Second Life"? All we are and do is such a part of a game, you a character in a game played by someone else that you don't even know or ever have seen or heard from - but that directs everything you do. No free will, no own decisions, all pre-programmed reactions. A game within a game (within a game within a game maybe even). At this point many couldn't "follow" my line of thought anymore.
They got lost. It's hard enough to cope with one online life and the physical one. But more of them layered and intertwined?? That's too much. OK, I'll leave it at online vs. offline.

Today I read on my favorite online gaming site Neopets :
In reality, you can play a game much like "Kacheek Seek", although it involves YOU hiding and physically having to move. This can be a scary concept, as reality is in 3D and provides endless possibilities for your foes to hide. Also, it is not the social norm for them to give you money if you end up finding them.
 lilshadowdweller, Tips for Surviving the Neopocalypse

This takes up what I have been observing. The real physical life as a scary thing. Why? Because you already have identified yourself so much with your virtual self that anything else is so new and different that it can scare you? Or because you have to be brave to face the physical real world - with all it's problems and difficulties and you do NOT have the pre-programmed reactions and solutions to problems easy accessible? It involves a quite different way of communicating and thinking. And it involves moving more of your body than just the hand and fingers to move the mouse or to type in something quick at the keyboard. 
And you can't not re-do it over and over again most of the time until you are successful or can "level up" to the next stage of the game. A mistake in the physical world can be the last mistake you make! In the virtual world, well, you can easily start over again if you have lost a life by your mistake. Sure, it will not be the exact same virtual you anymore, but that does not really matter as long as you "live".

And again I get "lost" in the thought that maybe our physical "offline" life is not that much different than an virtual "online" one. In both you can win or you can fail. It just depends on how you perceive this. You can be an expert in the online life and fail badly in the offline one. Or the other way around. Or be good in both. To know if you can still master the physical life, simply turn off the internet (and all your other technological gimmicks) for a few days and depend on yourself and the people around you. And be ready for a few surprises!!

So as a conclusion, I would say that for me it's not a "Virtual vs. Physical", but a "Virtual + Physical". I can learn from both ways of living. Use and improve my talents, share my thoughts, train my mind (and body - yes, with devices like the Wii mentioned above this is virtually possible too), communicate with others, discover new things and ways of thinking every day and enjoy life as such fully.
It is my responsibility how I balance both "lifes" and which one I give the priotity. And it depends on my own decision and free will. I am responsible for all of my actions - both physical (real) and virtual (real).

I am the master of my life. 
Or not ;).

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring - this is the time for poetry

I see the flowers bloom
spring has come so soon
the sun is shining bright
chasing away the night

the days will be long
as will be my happy song
birds sing with all their might
the fun of spring in sight

bees come out to play
nothing will make me stay
I go out in the sun
to play and have fun

in the sun so bright
I fill my heart with light
so I can pass it on
to anyone that comes along

winter now has gone
spring again has won
no more stories to be told
about the freezing cold

and even if it may rain
it will cause me no pain
I think of the little flower
with rain it has more power

to grow and strife
and show of the new life
coming out of the earth
it is like a birth

Micha Fire; April 2008

This poem is a few years old - and it has been valid ever since.
It even made me take a photo of the tree that I had painted a twig from.

bloodplum on 7th April 2011

This year I'm still waiting for the tree to start blooming - on last years photo it had been in full flower for over two weeks already.

Once it is in full flower I will take another photo to show how it "shines" this year. ^^

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Can you write a myth today?

Myths are an interesting thing. 
They narrate about strange happenings from a time long forgotten. No one really knows anymore what actually happened. But it must have been something so strikingly different than normal daily life that it has been handed down over many generations.

Some of these myths are about catastrophic events. About earthquakes, floods and other natural phenomena. So vast, that they were affecting the whole world. And are now "known" world wide too.

A few centuries ago scientist and thinkers mused over what truth lies behind the myths, making bold statements. Now a "modern" author, Rens Van Der Sluijs, has summed up all these with his own ideas to them.

Catastrophism in the Humanities - a Low down - Part one
Catastrophism in the Humanities - a Low down - Part two

I observed, that news, that get reported and remembered, are mainly those that are out of the ordinary. Things normal are forgotten easily and neglected. 

It is not only bad things, though, that are being remembered this way. Not only catastrophic events but also the too good to be true things are being remembered longer. 
There is the common phrase of the "good, old times" when everything was so much better than it is now. Not because it really was, but because the "bad" parts, that are similar to the ones now, have been forgotten. They have been there all the time so they did not get remembered - only the outstanding good things, those that were not everyday experiences.

What will be remembered about our time, the era we live in now? 
Will there be a myth about worldwide connections and friendships without ever having met the other for real? [social networks as example] 
Of making money from things that do not even exist as material things? [example here could be the "Wall Street"] 
Or will it be remembered as a time of war and hardship for most and luxury for some? 
Or a time of natural catastrophes that are "only" regional but still had impact on people far away through the media that connects them worldwide; with some then actually physically helping those affected and many just giving money (to help - or calm the conscience) but actually wanting to ignore that it had happened at all and will never happen or affect them.

Or will there be nothing to be remembered at all? An era that will be forgotten completely? A blank page in the overall history of humanity. Maybe there are some outstanding "discoveries" in the field of science, medicine or exceptional things done in art to remember. But assuming a long, long time has past (thousands of generations): what of these will be left? What stories, that could become myths, will be handed down over generations? What will remain in the common memory of all? 

Maybe we should write and tell stories to our children and grandchildren about things that we deem important to be remembered. Not about us, our "mundane" daily life. No.
Stories about all the great discoveries and inventions and other happenings that had an effect on our world, the way we live. And about the dangerous things we have "created": nuclear weapons, oil spills, damaged ecosystems to name a few. And how we went about, once we realized those dangers, to eliminate them.
For a "better" world to live in. 
A world we "remember" as it can be like.

In 2009 I have self-published my first story, a small book. I received a comment on it then that said the story is "out of time": it could have been way back in the past, now, or play in the future. Like a myth. 
I did not really understand it that way when writing. I was just bringing to paper (computer) the images and emotions that were buried so deep inside me. Maybe it's just that "common" memory that surfaced. Maybe there is more to it.

Here is the free link to the PDF file of this story:

Yes, it's free! I want to share this little book. I'm on the lucky side of life that I do not have to earn a living with writing.

I hope you enjoy reading it. And sharing it to the people that mean a lot to you; those that you trust.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Awesome tree and tiny caves

These recent early spring days I took the chance of the splendid weather, and having a bit of free time, to walk around the woods around my home with my daughter.
We had a lot of fun walking together. And we took photos too.
Here some of them:

This is one of the first flowers to bloom; growing very, very close to the water. It belongs to the family of  Ranunculaceae. There even was a patch of them growing right in the middle of the little creek!

Along the path some of these stone piles could be seen. This one in particular was in a dip of the path (on the left side of the photo). During winter, this stone pile is the only way to know you are still on the right path and not walking cross country through the wood. And there are some places where going off the path could end you up at the edge of a steep ravine or at the top of a big block of rock with no way down. 

Stone piles like these can be found all over the world: in the European Alps, in barren areas with no good landmarks; even seen them in Australia.The origin and meaning varies from landmarks, piles that are used to store food and other important hings below them or some cultural and religious uses. The ones in the woods around here were done by passing persons for fun. Some have become path markers. But I think most are there just because people had seen and heard something vague about them and just add another stone to mark that they too had passed the pile. And, yes, I do remember that when I had seen such piles in the Alps during a vacation hike there many years ago I too added a stone to a pile while taking a pause to look around the awesome landscape there! ^^; 

We walked along this little creek right to the spring. Here an impression of the creek (taken in January BEFORE the snow and ice had come and passed away) as it is flowing over the rocks. It's a well visited tourist path; especially on weekends. Even now it still looked this way - no spring flowers there yet - only greener grass and moss.

When we finally reached the spring we looked at the place it came out of the rocks. Maybe there is a cave there? So hard to see in the dark and below the rock. So I used the flashlight of my camera to take a photo of what lies in the dark. 
Well, no cave there. Not one that a human could crawl into! But the water does find the way out right there.

The next day we went into the opposite direction.
All around there were also lots of rocks and "cliffs" with openings close to the ground. Again I used the flashlight to see beyond the area that was in daylight. But there was no water at all.

Well, there is nothing much there. Unless you are a mouse or a spider maybe.Or, if you're skinny and small you can use them as sleeping areas: about 1m * 1.5m * 0.5m of space.

On our way back home we passed an odd looking tree:

It had been cut at the top some long time ago. Then it regrew and had been cut again at the sides. But still this tree lives on - sprouting new limbs over and over again. Now this area is under nature protection. No more cutting of trees - unless they are so damaged (and hollow) that they would collapse onto the hiking paths for the tourists.
The "ancient" left over tree top is about my height; and we tried to climb up on it. To sit or lie on the strong horizontal limb to bath in the afternoon sun that was slowly being covered by hazy clouds again. (We didn't make it up as we kept slipping of the sides with our sneakers - barefooted we might have had a better chance. But we also didn't try very hard.)

And here a zoomed in view of the landscape across from the hill with clifff we were on today: 

I'm looking forward to the days when spring is fully here. 
With sunshine and warm air; and birds and insects all around; and green and flowers sprouting everywhere.

And I will take my camera along to make photos and share them with you. Nature is soooo beautiful, you just need to go out with open eyes and see and feel it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A photo - now decorated!

For inspiration on what to do with "boring" nature photos!

In the middle of January this year I took a photo while on a walk through the still not truly wintry landscape.
I showed it on G+ with a lot of others taken the same day ( now in the album "seasonal" ).

A few had a look; some outside of G+ too.
Now, there is a forum I visit daily that I had posted the link to my album and photo as well, as I wanted to "advertise" this new place I was using to share my photos. There, someone had the idea of taking this photo to "decorate" it. We already used to decorate Christmas tree photos there in the past years. 
I thought it to be a great idea to try this. It would be lots of fun to see how it would develop. So I gave permission to use my photo and adapt it to the needed requirements.
The script and coding for decorating (even with .gif animations) was already set up. This kind of coding is awesome - a great "Thank you!" to the man that did it. After starting to learn coding I know how tricky it can be if you have to start from scratch. So, using the given script, only new ornaments were needed to match this scenery - and found and re-sized quickly (in a team effort). 

Now the fun started. Ornaments were placed and then removed again as they didn't fit in properly. New ideas for things to add popped up and were added. And removed again. So over time, which was nearly a month, this photo scenery changed often. I did not save all versions. Actually - only one. And that without all the animated parts and the text scripts added to some ornaments. Those, if read in the order they had been added, formed a little dialogue. One, that someone not acquainted with the forum and its users would find very odd. Hilarious for the insiders.

Here my saved version:

Decorating went on from that for some time.
Now the "webmaster" of that forum was "brilliant" enough to save the finished decoration scene in a page of it's own when he put up a new photo for decoration. There you can see all the text and animated .gif's too!!

And when spring has finally arrived here and all plants are sprouting well I will go to that same spot once more and take a photo of what this scenery looks like in "real" life at spring time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Learning computer coding - an "update"

So, another week has gone by.
Another week of watching videos, 
answering quizzes to the videos, 
puzzling at why my codes don't work the way I thought they would, 
seeing the answer (possibility - I think that to some of the questions more than one solution is possible but only one best fitting to the lesson taught at that point is shown) after the quiz, 
going back to the quiz to correct my answer and finally 
getting a "You got it right!" button shown.
Only to go to the next video lesson and repeating it all over again. 
(For unit/week 2 it was "only"  about half of the amount of the first unit/week - but about as much information to digest)
And then, finally, daring to answer the homework questions.

And during the week also going over to the forum to the course 
to see how my fellow students are doing, 
what kind of difficulties they encounter or 
if it is only me that seems to have problems with the online python interpreter or the loading of the videos and such things. 
And being "oh so relieved" to see that I'm not alone with these kind of difficulties.

Yes, this kind of teaching and online course has it's problems. Not the method as such - visual (videos) teaching is well done with good examples. And a plus is the interactive quiz for most of the contents with additional "lesson" right after it.
But the amount of traffic, the amount of "students" being there at the same time is giving the server this course is on some BIG "hiccups". These make many of "us" having to spend more time waiting to see if our code, that we just wrote, is working or not.

So once again the deadline of the homework was pushed back for one more day - the teacher adding some hints to the most discussed questions of the homework. This shows that they too do read the forum to see what's going on, a plus! 
I went through my homework answers again - re-writing some of my code. Finally, this homework has been graded. The result? :( <-- not disappointed, but not expected THAT much "incorrect" this time as my codes worked for my testings.
I did not repeat the mistakes of the first unit - to rush through and not even listen to / read the questions properly. I worked harder and my codes worked. Just not for ALL cases that are possible. And that made the answer "wrong" right away.
So, I went through the video answers to see what was not correct - and, sure, now I understand. The hints did help a bit - but not enough. The main "problem" was that there is NO feedback on MY homework; no feedback on where I was wrong in coding. Only how it should have been done.

Now, I do understand that there are "thousands" of students at this course the same time. A personal feedback is sheer impossible. Also the server and/or online interpreter is having issues due to "overflow" of input it has to work through. reading through the forum to get some other feedback on why my answer was "incorrect" I had to notice to my digress that most of the problems my fellow students have is not the lessons as such but the work with the interpreter like me.

Now, unit/week 3 has started. This time it's many videos again - as much as in the first unit. Again tiny steps. But, with me wanting to understand what I did "wrong" in the first two units I go through them even slower. About half way through I have come to a "conclusion":

As much "fun" all this is and truly helps me to understand computers and their programs better I will have to downgrade (that is seen as good - a positive) myself from "student status" to just wacthing the videos and doing the quizzes and do some of the homework but fail at most of them due to my "normal" offline life getting into the way of my "online" life ;).
I found myself spending more and more time leafing through the forum trying to make sense of all the posts that either ask for help or give help than in actually watching the videos and learning and working with the Python interpreter.
I'm not saying goodbye or farewell at all. I'm only stating that I now know that this type of course is not made for me at the phase of life I'm in. Not that I feel too old or stupid to learn this. I just can't spend as much time on it as I would want and need to.
Three hours a week is not enough to watch the videos, understand what is being explained and answer the quizzes and do the homework (correct of course). I'm not stupid or slow in grasping new concepts. With enough time I can do this. And with a well working system for answering/writing and testing the codes - the biggest handicap for most of the students.

But, most of all, I just don't have the time anymore now from what I had planned for this when I had started.
Many in my work got sick and I have to work overtime now to help out there. To me that has more priority than finishing this course. And there are some other projects too that are waiting to be finished; projects that overall give me more personal satisfaction and pleasure than doing well (or be one of the best - my competitive side coming through again) in this course.
And, this time is "missing" for participating fully in this course now. As this course progresses it gets harder and harder (<--of course :P) and I would actually have to spend more time on each unit than less.

My "luck" is that this is hobby and not related to work. I do not have to excel at it at all. I can drop it any time without consequences. I have already learned so much from taking this course up to this point. 
No regrets at all. And repetition of the course is not rejected.

I feel like a winner after all. :D

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Learning computer coding

A report not about the actual computer code,
but on how I experience the learning process.

Multitasking on leap day 2012

Just one week ago, on Sunday, 26th February,  I enrolled to a free online course at
Well, not one like "Google"!! They are not going to teach us that. The main goal is to understand how coding works. The search engine part is only to get people interested in this course and is a basis for the exercises.

Now, I've been out of school for some years and thought it challenging to see if I still could learn something new this way. And if I would manage as well as in school or do much, much worse since I'm "out of practise".
"Class" already started a week earlier (on the 20th), but it was still open for enrolling and the first set of "homework" was not yet closed. So, anyone interested could still catch up and be "graded" as any other that had started "on time".

The first unit went in very small steps, with quizzes to test how well you understood the lesson. All in all there were 40 lessons for the first unit and week. 
When I saw that, my first reaction was "ooff" that's a lot to catch up with. But actually it wasn't. Each lesson has a short video between 30 seconds to maximum 8 minutes; most range on 3 minutes. It doesn't take much time to watch them. To understand what is being shown, well, that depends on how well you grasp the contents.
And on how well you concentrate and not distract yourself (or get distracted) if you forgot to "shut out" any outside influence i.e. phone, doorbell, demanding children and pets or even other websites you follow, like G+, at the same time.
I was lucky to have some time to myself in the next few days after I had enrolled. And the homework deadline had been pushed one day behind too. Thinking that it was all so easy, I hurried through the lessons, quizzes and the homework. I was finished fast. Too fast, I know now, as I didn't take the time to read the questions for the homework properly and got many of them "incorrect" because of that.

No, I'm not disappointed about that at all!!! It taught me something too!! :D
It's part of a learning process to realize that you need to read carefully and do exactly what is asked of you. And not creatively make a new question out of the one asked. Sure, the answer to the question as I had interpreted it was correct, but it was not the correct answer to the one asked.
That is a little problem with this online course. Different with school classes in the traditional way, here a computer examines the answers. For the computer program there is only a "true" or a "false" to the question. There is no "you did it the right way, but it is not what had been asked of you to do".

So, besides the actual understanding of how the coding works, I also learned that:
a) I need to take my time and not hurry, assuming I already know the answer
b) I need to concentrate on what I'm doing fully
c) I have to exactly follow the rules that are given
d) I have to think like a computer

And the last two points are the ones that feel not so good to me. I have my own mind, want to be "free". But for this course they are necessary. As to the first two points listed: yes, that is something good to learn. Not only for this course, but for every day. To be able to concentrate on what you are doing fully and do it with care.

Unit 2 started before the homework of Unit 1 was returned. And like most of the students (They have been commenting in the additional forum about it. I joined the forum a few days after I had enrolled when I noticed a question asking about how old the "students" were and the poster stating he was "old", over 40, which I think is not old at all to learn something new like this.) I, too, started with Unit 2 before I had the results of my homework. Eager to go on, confident that I had passed the first unit well, and as I wanted to do things with more care and not in a hurry, start early enough to be able to do that.
When the homework to Unit 1 was returned I was well into Unit 2 - and had to laugh out loud to some of the answers I had given. By now I understood what I had done wrong - even without having seen the answer video. Yes, I had finally understood the lessons in Unit 1! But too late for "good" homework grades. *lol* (Thinking of learning as a competition here.)

Still, although I gave myself more time for each lesson, I was "through" with them fast again. Time to start on the homework. This time we had to do some coding that advanced the one we had in the lessons. The question was similar, but added a "creative" note to it. It made it challenging to write it all yourself. Not just repeat what had been taught in the lesson.
I was so "into it" that even on my way to work or back home, or right before going to sleep and right after waking my mind jumped to the still unsolved homework question trying to figure it out. It was obsessed to get an answer. 
I do not like this "obsession" (you could call it even addiction) and it made me think on why and what for I do this course. Work, rest, fun and other daily activities have a priority (not necessarily in this order ;) ) to solving these homework problems. I do not have to solve them! Nothing will happen if I don't; except my own "ego" might feel "cracked" or disappointed. So, I took a "time out" to do other things: painting, being on my favorite websites, spending time away from the computer again and again.
Sure, when returning to the coding my mind had to think hard and "change the way of thinking" again to get into the coding. But oddly enough, with giving myself more breaks between working on the homework, there were moments when "suddenly" the code I wrote finally worked (that is: gave a correct answer and not a red text telling me there is a mistake in the coding or produced an answer that was not the one I had wanted to achieve).
Whenever that happened I felt "free"! My mind was "done" with the problem and I felt no more "urge" to go on. 
Now, there is only one more homework to do. It's marked with two gold stars. This means that it's not expected that everyone will solve them already and will require much thinking. 
Well, even "normal" questions took me more time than I felt comfortable with. I still have some time until the deadline for this one. Maybe I will spend some more time on solving it. Maybe I have sudden insight at how to do it - and when testing it, it actually does give the "correct" answer. But is not "necessary" for me to solve this last question. I will get the answer (or at least a useful hint at how it can be coded) when the homework gets graded. I can learn then how to solve similar problems and not "waste" so much time on trying to solve it all by myself NOW.

I feel, I already learned a lot. Enough that I could stop with this course now. 
Not enough about the code and how to use it, not for building a search engine easily. For this I will (have to) continue with the course. It does interest me, or I wouldn't have started with it in the first place. 
But I learned enough to know that code writing is not my interest as such. Nor is the way a computer thinks my way. Nothing against structure, clear structure too. But not as rigid. Not so "close-minded". There is no way for me to express what I think, feel and want to share this way.

You just need to look at how I composed this text. There is structure; but I also break free from it when I feel it is necessary. Necessary for further explanation or additional thoughts that do not actually fit into the stream of the happenings described.

As a conclusion (after a week - this is not a "final" conclusion - such will never happen as my whole life consists of continuous learning, even about myself) I can say:
I do not regret having taken this opportunity. 
Even if it took (and might still take) a lot of my "free" time that I could spend on other things I love to do. And even if I won't succeed in this course and be able to actually code a "program" all on my own. I do understand it a lot more than before. 
And I understand ("get") other things much better and easier than before too. Things that seemed strange to me suddenly make sense. In a way that I can not yet put into words. Seeing i.e. movies, I had liked a lot, again and now seeing even more "contents" and messages (hidden behind the actual scenes and action) in them. What a wonderful expansion. :D
And I "re-found" what is more my "inborn" ability (or abilities :P). And that I prefer the non-usual way of doing things over the strictly regulated. 

Once the course is over in about another five weeks I might give an update on this - if there is anything that needs to be added.

PS: Writing this took about as much as solving one of the last homework questions. But it was more fun to do, gave me less "headache" and can be shared so much better than that little code I wrote.