Posted by notKlaatu , 05 June 2009 · 209 views
Funny thing happened to me today. I was demonstrating some software to some clients/students and of course some things went "wrong" and I was able to use these little mistakes as examples of, well, what can possibly go wrong when one is working on something. At the end of the lesson, they were all probably a little overwhelmed but they were also impressed with how well I knew the software I was demonstrating (which, when you think about it, is not really something to be impressed with; if I hadn't known it, I wouldn't have dared demonstrate it...but such is the advantage of being in the teacher position: you look really really smart) and so they asked me "how do you know so much about this!?"I told them simply that it just boiled down to using the software a lot.And when I thought about it, I realized that, in fact, it's really true. Using the software a lot -- and I mean, a lot -- is how one becomes an expert at something. And furthermore, the more diverse situations in which you use the software leads to a more diverse expert.Example:A friend of mine once asked me why I was always installing Linux onto everything, or even installing different Linux distros onto the same computer, seemingly over and over. I don't think I had an answer then, but now I realise that installing Linux on lots of different machines, or different distros onto the same machine, is simply practise. You never know what kind of wacky errors you're going to run into when you install an OS, so never stop installing and eventually you'll either have seen almost every error in the book, or else you'll be familiar enough with the general kinds of errors and you'll be able to make an educated guess as to how to get around them.Same goes with, say, Blender or GIMP or ffmpeg. Use these little applications all the time for everything...and one day you'll realise that there's simply nothing you don't know how to do, or nothing you can't figure out how to do within a reasonable amount of time.Same goes for compiling software, too. And even boring (to me) stuff like office applications and spreadsheets and... stuff.In fact, the same goes for computers in general. Use computers (meaning use Operating Systems -- all different kinds) and eventually you can pretty much find your way around any OS.And now...to macrocosm-ize this idea, UNIX PHILOSOPHY style -- Yes, the same is true of Life. The more people you deal with and the more weird situations you get into, the more you start getting the hang of things. "Social Engineering"? whatever...it's just the practise of living and being familiar enough with the Way Things Work that you can do crazy and cool stuff without, more or less, Fear. A friend once told me that after he tried sky diving a few times, he lost pretty much all fear. I told him that until he'd produced a film with other people's money, he had no idea -- but the point is, it's the risks, sometimes small and trivial, sometimes big and threatening, that really changes our perspectives and makes us fearless.So, whatever that all means to you... The point is, practise makes perfect. Nothing new, just an observation that an old adage is indeed correct.