Although I am not officially diagnosed Aspergers although I'm 99.9% confident I am and still awaiting my first assesment I cannot help but think my love for Mathematics and Computers and playing chess could be related possibly to being an Aspie.
I have always found Maths interesting and although never an expert on it would consider myself good at it. Last Semptember I enrolled on a Maths GCSE course at my local college it lasted about 9 months I skipped a few weeks and end of year revision classes but still managed to pass and found out only 22% of adults aged 17+ actually passed the maths GCSE this year so I was really proud when I got my results a few weeks ago.
I also enrolled on an computer course level 1 and passed this too all with working full time and living with a wife and kids. It was hard and stressful mind as I couldn't find my much needed time out but the enjoyment of working my brain made it worth while. I don't know if any of you are the same but I love working things out or fixing things or playing games console to keep my mind ticking feels great.
Anyway I also love chess I was in chess club at school and even beat a chess player whilst on holiday who kept bragging he was the "chess master". I find it hard playing chess on a games console for some reason and alot easier on the actual board game maybe because I'm up close and get a better view.
Anyway my point of this short story is I'm thinking maybe why I excel at things I enjoy could be related to being an Aspie and it would make sense.
Do any others on here enjoy Mathematics, Computers and Chess?
I've been into computers and electronics since childhood; I was part of the "Clive Sinclair" generation that started out with ZX81s and ZX Spectrums (Spectra?), and before that had a few of those electronics experiment kits where you joined components up by trapping wires in little springs. It began, I think, just with an incredible fascination with how things work; since early in my childhood, I learned to take things apart and (sometimes!) put them back together again. My music system was always stuff from the second-hand shops that I stripped down and serviced myself.
Once I got my first ZX Spectrum, there was no stopping me. I was never really interested in the games much, always the programming, and later, building my own hardware add-ons for it (don't etch circuit boards in your aluminium kitchen sink - you'll get in trouble with your Mum!) We didn't really have computer studies at school, so I was always self-taught; BASIC to being with, then machine code (hand converting op-codes to hex), and later, a bit of Pascal and Forth (for which I wrote my own compiler.) I did do an O-level in electronics at school, though - not taught by the teachers as such, they just put me in for the exams. I made a little audio sampling add-on for the Memotech machine I had at the time, and got 100% for the practical part of the course, one of my proudest school achievements because I'd had so little input from my teachers (my need to do things myself rather than ask for help is rather pathological!)
I had a break from all that for a few years in my late-teens and early-twenties, as I got very involved with photography and making music (I did save a few gigs by being the only band-member who always carried a soldering iron!) But once I realised that I couldn't hack the social side of gigging in bands, I got my first PC, and dived straight back in again, learning the more modern object-oriented computer languages. I still do a lot of coding as a hobby, though not the electronics any more. Most of what I write are add-ons for music making (VST plugins) and tools for helping to organise my computer; but I also write a lot of code for no purpose other than to see what I can do, and sometimes have a go at a new computer language just for the fun of it (Haskell at the moment.) I'm also fascinated by the history of computers and programming, and the theory which underlies how computers are made and used.
I was always good at Mathematics, but I've never been good at Arithmetic. Re-arranging equations, complex numbers and a bit of calculus, I can still do OK; I use them all the time in the sound-processing code that I write. Working with actual numbers, though, I'm hopeless at - my working memory lets me down all the time and I can never remember my times-tables; as soon as I have to carry-over a digit, I'm utterly lost, and writing it all down is essential. Quite often, I will write myself a few lines of code rather than struggle doing it in my brain!
I've never been into chess, though, nor any other kind of competitive game. I can enjoy games where I pit my wits against logic problems, etc., but not playing anything against another person. I think I just don't like the social problems of how to deal with bad losers, gloating winners, impatience at having to wait my turn etc.
I remember back in the day it was RML380Z - and then onto the Sinclair products. I did a BBC micro course in my first job - and then a Z80 specialist programming/interfacing course. It was handy because I ended up as a production manager at a place designing and sub-contract manufacturing Z80-based multiplexers.
Back is the old 286 days, I had one with Windows 3.0 - and then a 486DX4/120 with 32MB of ram (most people had 1MB, some rich people had 4MB and I managed to get a sample of 32MB = superfast PC!). I used it to create album cover-art for my friends band. I've just got myself an old Atari ST for my studio - goin' old skool!
I taught my daughter to build PCs from scratch and to install operating systems when she was 8 - we've always been techy. We run about 10 PCs here - and a couple of raid servers. We;ve got all our data and music available from anywhere - very convenient.
A few years ago I had to spec, design and program some operating systems for nuclear particle accelerators. No pressure.....
I'm still into Quake 3 - it's my favourite for a quick frag-fest.
Plastic said:it was RML380Z
The first machine I ever touched, too; my middle school had one (just one!). It was never used in lessons, and I don't know even if the school staff ever used it for anything much. I joined the extra-curricular computer club, but it wasn't a success at all; it was just too impractical to have only one machine between all of us, so my eagerness quickly turned to frustration.
At upper school there was a network of 480Zs; I remember being rather jealous of schoolkids in other areas that got to use Beebs (I don't really recall why; though I do think they're rather prettier to look at!.) Again, the computer room was barely used, and there was no programming in the school curriculum. The only lesson I used them in was something called "Control Technology" (I got the O-level, but never met anyone else who even remembers this subject.) We did the basics of external interfacing and a little robotics, so I really enjoyed that subject (partly because it involved lots of motorised Lego!)
Plastic said:A few years ago I had to spec, design and program some operating systems for nuclear particle accelerators. No pressure.....
I have to admit, this does make me a little jealous (though, no doubt, I am idealising it somewhat!) Once it became clear that I was doing well with my A-level studies, and considering all the technological hobbies I had, this was the kind of career that I hoped for and which my family wanted for me, and it was thought realistic by career advisors. I'd even done a bit of work experience in a professional laboratory working on semiconductor fabrication (Plessey, if I remember rightly.)
Unfortunately, the cracks were already starting to show by the time I finished 6th-form, and the social demands of University crushed me completely - I turned from a model student to a severely depressed alcoholic within a few months, and quit my course a term or so into the second year to go hide from the world. I view it stoically these days. Probably better that I discovered my incompatibility with what I was aiming for back then than later on, when entrusted with something as dangerous as a particle accelerator!
I find the sharing of stories here fascinating as they all seem so much like how I remember things ? Strange as like I say I struggled so much, but I did have an interest in how everything worked, even when very young I would undo plugs to see what was inside them, using of all things the end of a kitchen knife! I had no concept of the dangers of mains power though, once I dragged an old vacuum out of the cupboard and decided I would see if I could fix it, I plugged it in and went flying across the room, it hadn’t got a lid on the plug!!!
i also tried unplugging the main fuse up by the electricity metre, bang I had sweaty hands and again flew across the room, I had to untwist the lead seal to get it off.
I was fascinated by physics and chemistry but failed to do the written work, I thought biology was to organic, meaning not so fixed, variability across the board and assumptions were made about biological reasoning,
I excelled in metal work and made many tools myself, I now restore a lot of top quality old ones, when quality was key. I seemed to understand everything about how to work metal and how different metals were best suited for different applications.
I too am frustrated as I settled for mundanity over inventing and designing, I didn’t have a choice as academically I had nothing to show so missed out taking most exams.
I was always taking things apart, but rarely put them back together again, this was when most kids were still just being kids playing in groups etc.
@ Trogluddite, The working memory thing is spot on as I have dyslexia, mostly being memory shortfall, I didn’t understand letters or words in written form, and therefore refused to accept it as a concept, once I had learnt the sounds of each letter I accepted that and soon caught up with my siblings and eventually surpassing them, in the space of a few weeks.
so many similarities with a lot of you.
Feels good to know I wasn’t so Alone in My solitary world.
( ) said:I find the sharing of stories here fascinating
Yes, likewise; it's very bizarre sometimes to discover these commonalities through the forums. Especially the similarities in childhood experiences; our innate talents, traits and favoured learning styles may be very different, but so often still directed at that curiosity about how things work, whether technology or people.
I did a huge grin reading about your ersatz tools and shocking experiences ('scuse the terrible pun!) I used to do exactly the same; I remember that whole-body hit-your-funny-bone feeling very well! In my own way, I have the toolmaker calling. A great deal of the code that I've written over the years has been library code of one form or another, not intended for a particular end use, but components for solving generic problems, debugging tools, test frameworks etc. The closer I am to the nuts and bolts, the happier I am, usually.
( ) said:I do remember when using the 286 based machines there would be many 5 1/4 disks
Ha ha. Still better than trying to get a ZX Spectrum to load from a cassette that was a fourth-generation tape-to-tape copy you got off some fellow geek in the playground!
I find people's impatience with computers very amusing sometimes (including that of other programmers, and of course, myself.) I still haven't lost that obsession with trying to save every tiny little bit of memory that I can, and spending hours optimising everything to death, that I developed working on those early machines. I like to muck around on some of the emulators for vintage machines every once in a while just to remind myself how lucky I am!
( ) said:Musical applications, it had an overlay to turn the standard key board into a musical key set
When it comes to music making, the change has been phenomenal. I started out tape-bouncing between two domestic hi-fi tape decks, then the classic 4-track cassette porta-studios, then 8-track reel-to-reel with analogue mixing and outboard, then digital 8-track. I got into using the PC when the VST standards first came out; my Pentium 200mmx could just about manage a couple of tracks of audio and one or two effects processors, so I still had all the "fun" of syncing up the multitrack recorder to the PC. My studio is now pretty much just an off-the-shelf laptop, a few nice microphones and pre-amps, and my instruments - I can literally carry everything I need in a rucsac. There are aspects of the analogue ways that I miss, but I would have killed to have the resources I have now back when I was still regularly playing in bands.