Video Somnolency

As discussed previously I have concerns about the market viability of the old Excel/VBA/C# skill set, so I am developing other skills.

Part of this reskilling involves watching some very good videos.

Every time I put one on I get extreme head lolling syndrome.

I was watching one on the train last night and nearly missed my stop I was so flat out asleep.

I’m getting scared to put the videos on as they seem to just flick an off switch in my brain, and within 5 mins I’m snoring like a good-un.

As I mentioned they are good videos, so I really don’t think it is the fault of the producers.

I remember the same from years (decades!!) ago when I was learning Access 2.0, it seems I’m just not very good at learning from videos.

Maybe I should put them on my iplop and watch them whilst walking, although latest research suggests that using a smart device on the move is the cause of an increasing number of accidents. I have never fallen asleep whilst walking but I have dozed off whilst standing, so this could be risky.

I have some related books that are pretty heavy going too. Maybe I just need to start straightaway building something, even if it is very badly, and cobble it together as I go. But before I do that I was really wanting to get some perspective about what is possible. Maybe I just have to resign myself to building the same thing half a dozen times as I learn more and more…

Do you have the same video learning problems? (Maybe this is an important issue for all these MOOC’s)

What do you find is the best way to introduce new stuff for you?



13 Responses to “Video Somnolency”

  1. Patrick O'Beirne, spreadsheet auditor Says:

    I can’t bear videos. I always look for a transcript first. I can read much faster than listening to a tedious presentation. I can see their value in interactive tutorials but for technical material, text plus screenshots is all I need.

  2. wessexbob Says:

    Can’t say they send me to sleep, but I do agree they are boring. I find the problem with videos is that they tend to show the stuff that you can figure out yourself, how to drive the product, not how to maximise it. I tend to think it is suck-it-and-see that works best, together with a good book and the internet that you can delve into when you have a specific situation that you can describe/search for. And yes, doing it many times helps, hopefully you improve each time and learning something new.

  3. jonpeltier Says:

    I hate trying to learn via video. It’s at someone else’s pace, and it’s in someone else’s order. You can’t move around, it’s hard to go back for that one detail. Plus you can’t be trying to work on your own very badly cobbled together project.

    Better for me are books + Google.

  4. kalx Says:

    I don’t spend enough time watching to fall asleep, I just get impatient and move on. Regarding new skills to learn, now is a great time to get into C++. is a great overview of how to write modern C++2011 code. C++ is damn hard, but it is getting easier.
    Maybe that is why C++ programmers get paid so much. :-). It would be a good fit with your current skills.
    People don’t like to pay much for Excel spreadsheets. They also don’t like thinking clearly about specs. I use Excel as a ticket to a front row seat with the people that do the dirty work, put together a first cut, find out what works, what doesn’t, what they forgot the first time around. Rinse, repeat, and keep pushing the business logic into platform independent C++ code in an xll.
    If your code is useful they will eventually need to put it into their production systems.
    That’s where you make the money. The IT guys will insist they have to rewrite everything. Let them tell the business how long it will take. Patiently answer any questions they have. Give them as much rope as they need. :-) Smile. Be friendly. Don’t laugh at the ridiculous things you might see. You’re there to help. Etc.
    Then you pitch the business guys who write the checks. Instead of x months (which the business guys automatically convert to 2x months) they can just write you a check for your production-quality platform-independent library that is producing numbers everyone is already happy with.

    Keith “50 cents to jump in your cesspool, 50 bucks to get off your porch” Lewis

  5. Stefan Kemp Says:

    Hi Simon, what skills are you planning to learn?

  6. Mike Woodhouse Says:

    I know there’s a market for videos but they don’t work for me either. Maybe advanced stuff when I already have a good working knowledge would be OK, but the demand for that is much smaller.

    I generally learn best by doing. Case in point: I have to build something that can run in a JVM environment, but I’m totally not a Java fan. So I thought I’d have a go with Scala. Got a book, read just enough (50-60 pages, I’d guess) to acquire basic syntax and started making mistakes. 4/5 weeks later (call it 2/3 man weeks) and I’m well into it: 150KB of source code (it tells me), almost half of it tests. Googling around is helping me learn what better, more idiomatic Scala looks like and I’m gradually adding to my understanding as I add features.

    Learning by doing, that’s me.

  7. Jon Nyman Says:

    Finding a good book that you can work problems at the same time is what I like to do. And then build a crappy product, multiple times, until it becomes good. I find videos helpful for certain topics. But I also use VLC to speed them up 2X speed and then I slow them down if the topic is a bit more difficult to understand.

    I’ve also started to use the free Anki (Japanese for rote) software, which is a computer based flash card system that spaces the flashcards depending on how well you are memorizing.

    Some people like reading other peoples code to learn. Just go on Github and you can see how people are writing.

    You can use Rosetta Code to see the differences between languages.

    Some people like mind mapping too for learning new concepts. I haven’t tried that but have thought if might be useful for designing projects.

    I’m learning JavaScript right now and I’m starting out with *Eloquent JavaScript* and then I will start reading *Functional JavaScript* (I like the functional paradigm more then the OO paradigm) and while I’m reading the second book I’ll start looking at other people’s code similar to a project that I would like to create (database existing on DropBox) and I’ll dive into Drop Box’s documentation. After I read the functional book I’ll read about jQuery.

    You can look up good books to read by googling “Best books on ___ language” which might bring up Dr. Dobb’s website.

  8. Jon Nyman Says:

    One more comment on Anki. I’ve been learning ASL (American Sign Language) and I have been able to learn about 4 words a day instead of 1 and now I don’t have an upper limit. Before I hit about 50 words and I was like, “What was that one before that I learned?” Now it is *easy* to learn.

    I’m been using it for Vim also, and it has made that easy.

    I’m been using it for JavaScript and it has made that easier, some of the concepts are still a little difficult. But it keeps me on my toes by bringing back the more difficult ideas more often.

  9. Biggus Dickus Says:

    “books + Google.” :-)

  10. Simon Says:

    Thanks for the input guys, glad its not just me.
    Has anyone tried live, interactive, but remote learning?
    I was going to sign up to a course a while ago but then the provider cancelled it (not a good sign!). I did some training like this last year and it seemed a bit clumsy.

  11. jonpeltier Says:

    I’ve tried doing live online training, and it’s very awkward. I can’t see if people are with me, and I can’t easily interact with them.

  12. jeffrey Weir Says:

    I have an ear worm:

    Video killed the VBA star
    Video killed the VBA star
    I watched my ipod on the tar
    then stepped out in front of a car
    Oh-a-aho oh,
    Oh-a-aho oh…

  13. wessexbob Says:

    The mind buggles!

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