Concept? There’s a concept?

June 3rd, 2005

There are so many things I want to learn how to do that seem so daunting and complex. Of course, if I were to view my current self as a young 16 year-old I’d say to myself “Wow, I’m really smart! Look at all of this stuff I can do when I’m 21!” because the things that I know how to do now (HTML, CSS, Litestep, etc.) were such foreign concepts to me back in those days that they seemed nigh impossible to fathom.

Most things aren’t as complex as they first appear and once you strip away the details and look at the skeleton of a process or system, it’s fairly simple to wrap your mind around how they work. The trick to doing this is conceptualization.

Conceptualizing a complex idea is sometimes harder to do than it should be. As humans, we tend to overcomplicate things and look too closely at the finer details thinking that we have to understand every little thing before we can begin to grasp the big picture. Really, the situation is exactly the opposite.

The next time you’re struggling to understand a new idea, strip away all the details. Look at the concept behind what you’re doing. Stop trying to figure out how to get something to work for a specific task and take a look at why you’re trying to get it to do that and what consequences this task has on the large scheme of things. If you can understand the concept of something, all of the details will fill themselves in and make a lot more sense.

Let’s take Litestep for example since I’m pretty good at explaining the concept with an apt analogy. Litestep, as an executable, is simply the brain of the shell. It can’t do anything on its own but it can handle the bang commands and scripts which are the thoughts. So what’s a brain without a body? Nothing.

That’s where the modules come in. Litestep is the brain and the modules (such as xlabel, rainmeter, lsxcommand, and taskbar3) are the appendages that get stuff done. A Litestep theme’s scripts (thoughts) are processed by the Litestep.exe (brain) and whatever changes made are reflected by the modules (appendages).

It’s this sort of conceptualization that makes it hundreds of times easier to understand how Litestep works. When you look at it this way, it’s so much easier to locate the problem when something breaks or figure out how to add a feature to a theme.

The point of this is to encourage people to stop looking at everything with a finetooth comb and step back. Forget all the details and look at the big picture. It will make understanding complex systems so much easier and you will actually learn how to learn if you can imagine that. Just give it a shot.

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