Well, I’m slowly returning to the land of the living; I spent most of today codeine-free, meaning I actually got to do something besides drugged-out moping. So I spent the day studying database design, MySQL, and electronics theory. I’m doing much better with the first two than with the electronics, alas.
Following Laritza’s advice (thanks Laritza!), I have decided to go ahead and build the projects database anyway. I am thinking of starting up a study group, and I’m thinking that this would be a good beta test – storing all the study-group projects in it and seeing if it works. If all else fails I can keep my own projects in it rather than having to keep updating travelingtiger.com with photos, and it will be a good learning exercise.
Towards that, I read through the lone chapter on database design in Learning MySQL and have designed a relational database of sorts. I say “of sorts” because many of the finer points (like foreign keys) are still a bit fuzzy. I was going to run down to San Mateo to get a book on database design (to my shock, the Borders at the corner of 3rd and King, which usually has an excellent selection, had no books on the subject), but finally decided that the fuzziness wasn’t actually due to my not understanding database design, but simply from never having used a database. There’s no way for me to tell right design from wrong design right now. So, I decided to tackle learning MySQL first, then come back and finish the database design.
Which is where I stand right now. I’m done with basic SQL commands and am working my way through the advanced querying section. Hopefully that will teach me what I need to know in order to finish the database design and create my tables. So far it isn’t difficult, but then I’ve had some (very limited) SQL experience in the past, which is helping. Tomorrow I’m hoping to polish off the rest of the SQL section and input my database tables.
Meanwhile, my electronics knowledge continues to flail. I simply have no intuition about any of this stuff. I mean, I know the equations and I can do the math, but I have no more idea of what a resistor does than I did when I started. It’s very frustrating. The book keeps introducing concepts at lightning pace and I really don’t understand any of them. Mike is helping somewhat, but I’m sort of at a loss. Not sure what to do about that – I may wind up having to spend a day or two just thinking about the concepts. I do want to understand it, I just don’t.
It reminds me of the general mental block I have around physics – up until I tinkered with a spinning wheel (well after my last formal class in physics) I had no intuitive understanding of mechanics at all. I made it through all my physics classes on pure mathematics – I could push the equations around even though I had no idea what they actually meant. It’s sort of like that. I can do the calculations, it just doesn’t do me any good in terms of actual understanding. I don’t know how to get around that.
Well, more stuff to think about tomorrow, I guess. I might order a book with a gentler learning curve than Horowitz and Hill.