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.
I was given twelve BBC computers, each had the ability to change chips, I had a selection to play with, maths dedicated chips and one for. Musical applications, it had an overlay to turn the standard key board into a musical key set, plus tapes of games in code which took forever to load and often failed,
I do remember when using the 286 based machines there would be many 5 1/4 disks just to navigate a simple environment in a child’s game, “ Please insert disk 3, go off make a cup of tea and hope tat disk threee had loaded, only to find out disk three was to take a wrong turn,
Ah the good old days Lol.
Peripheral 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.
Peripheral 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!
Peripheral 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.
Trogluddite said: I'd even done a bit of work experience in a professional laboratory working on semiconductor fabrication (Plessey, if I remember rightly.)
I used to run a production line building semi-conductor quality verifcation equipment - DLTS & Hall Effect test systems along with CVD coaters. We used to make all sorts of weird specialist equipment like fourier transform infra-red spectrometers, sputter & carbon coaters, laser microscopes etc. - it was a great place to learn about the fundamentals of matter. Later on, I literally got into mass production by smashing atoms around.
Trogluddite said: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!)
I've got LOTS of Technical Lego - tons of it - I build off-road trial trucks - I'm fascinated by complex suspension & transmission systems. You never, ever grow out of Lego.
Plastic said:I've got LOTS of Technical Lego
Now you're really making me jealous!
This is probably going to sound daft, but I have this weird mental block with Lego, Meccano, Airfix kits, etc. I would absolutely love to spend hours absorbed in them just like I did as a kid, and with bonus craft and engineering experience I've gained as a adult; but I just don't dare let myself. The fact that some might think it "immature" doesn't bother me, it's more that I worry just how hopelessly addicted I might get to it (far more than my income would allow, for certain!) It would also mean never getting any hoovering done, as I no longer have the kind of bed that I can just sweep all the Lego under so that I can pretend I've put my toys away properly when I get told!
A typical Christmas day when I was a kid usually meant ripping open all my presents as quickly as I could get away with, bundling any and all Lego straight up to my room, and not coming out until I'd built all the things shown on the boxes. Then I'd sit around sulking for a bit because I had to speak to relatives while my brain was zinging with all the new possibilities for combining the new parts with my existing kits. I was glad to see my childhood collection go to good homes, at least; it would have been unbearable to think of it just getting dusty in an attic.
P.S.) It's so nice to talk about this on a British forum for a change; my eyes hurt every time I see the word "Legos", as if a single brick is "a Lego". It's sacrilege, I tell you!
I never really mentally went above 16 so people thinking I'm immature is a bit lost on me.
My AS means that I instantly become an expert at whatever I focus on (like Neo in the Matrix - I know Kung Foo) - I do ebay so I get my Lego at silly-cheap prices from the fools who do bad adverts. I never got into Meccano - it was always too expensive to build anything I wanted. I've got a ton of Scalextric (good for a beery evening with competitive friends) and I buy & sell large model boats - this is from when I used to go into model shops and drool over the expensive models on the top shelf (like in WHSmiths too) that I can now afford. I build them and sell them on to fund the next one. My wife is into train sets - she's done all the Hornby stuff so she's collected a few of the Lego ones. She does the large Lego sets like the Disney Castle - I always wanted the Star Destroyer (10030) but missed the boat before they became too collectable.
Using ebay, I'm gradually working my way through all the things I coveted as a child that my parents couldn't afford.
Lego and an Acorn Electron! (I know! ... cassette tapes for the latter but enjoyed coding on it).
Apart from that, hiding behind books or up trees!
The Electron was interesting - but they just missed the peak of the market that was dominated by the Spectrum. I remember those days of a multitude of compluters hitting the market like the Oric, Amstrad, Vic20, Jupiter Ace, Dragon32, Lynx and the rest - all almost totally unsupported with no games apart from what came in the box .I remember you could go into Smiths and 'test' them all in their fledgling tech centre (a grubby corner of the shop) where you could buy a calculator for school and the elderly staff had no clue about all this weird new stuff.
I wonder what happened to them all? There must be millions of useless computers in lofts or landfill.
I would find old unknown to me games consoles, the drop a cartridge in type that connected to the tv, as you say hardly any other games available, they were early machines and clunky, the joysticks were limited, but I had fun setting them up and some were quite good fun,,,wish I had kept them as some are considered collectors items due to limited amounts being distributed and they all played a part in the start of computer games tech, a timeline of advances,
I do have two Gamegears, lots of games, tv add on adaptir but no signal to tune into these days, they got hot due to having an analogue tube type screen. Both suffered in the end with total sound loss, apparently they can be repaired, one guy fixes them, way ahead of the pocket game machines,
For several years the only school computer where I was. I actually got sent to play on it on my own instead of going to maths classes. I wish I knew what had been going through the teachers' minds when they decided I didn't need to learn maths; was I that obviously bored? So I effectively got Computing O Level early by self-tuition, as well as maths with about half the classes. Probably appropriate decisions by the teachers, but of course back then they only focussed on academic things, and missed intervening around the social differences (i was luckily reasonably popular, I suppose, so even if they thought it was a problem, it was outside their scope).
I probably remember rather too much about the 380Z. It had a 4K ROM based at 0xE000, including the tape loader, video I/O and a software 'front panel' you could always access with Ctrl+F (actually a great idea - you don't need to run a program under a debugger). I wrote a Z80 disassembler in RML BASIC, using the opcode list provided in the ZX80 manual (CD=call, C9=ret etc), so I could take a printout home and spend the weekend reverse-engineering some assembler. 4K may not sound like much, but it probably took a few days. Other students were inordinately excited when it got a colour graphics card; I used that for some games and various purely decorative, 'stimmy' effects. And that ZX80 was cheaper bought as a kit, but I don't know anyone who actually managed to solder the components in correctly - had to send it back to be fixed and pay the extra. Do people appreciate that their everyday gadgets still use similar processors to those and the Acorn RISC stuff?
Trogluddite said: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.
Pretty much the same here, minus the alcohol.
Peripheral said:went flying across the room
A couple of mains shocks here, not quite flying. Evidently didn't learn my lesson the first time.
Plastic said:We used to make all sorts of weird specialist equipment like fourier transform infra-red spectrometers, sputter & carbon coaters, laser microscopes etc. - it was a great place to learn about the fundamentals of matter.
(relating to particle accelerator)
Trogluddite said:I have to admit, this does make me a little jealous (though, no doubt, I am idealising it somewhat!)
Yeah, is it possible this is what the tech was really meant for, not cat pictures?
Cassandro said:Yeah, is it possible this is what the tech was really meant for, not cat pictures?
I'm getting used to the fact that my attitude to technology is getting anachronistic. It fascinates me how I know so much more about the inner workings of the machines than most people I know, and have been familiar with them for so much longer, still code in several up-to-date languages, build my own PCs etc, yet lag way behind in why I use them, where I use them, and how I use them.
Something that has astonished me most about the rise of "social media" and smartphones is how readily people of my own generation and older have taken to them; people who grew up in a time where few homes had a computer, and to even want one for your own pleasure really marked you out from other people; a weird mix of awe and suspicion.
Yet I'm the one with no desire to have a computer on my person at all times, unlike so many folks who were sure that they'd never want to touch one at all. I have a £10 brick of a phone, and didn't have a mobile at all until around a year ago. I like being able to communicate with people using text, but have no interest in Facebook etc. Playing with a computer was always a refuge from human concerns for me, and writing is a way to communicate without being rushed. The rating system, counters, and rolling updates even put me off using this forum for while when they were introduced.
As long as I live, I'll never get touch-screens to do what I actually mean them to; the lack of tactile feedback just doesn't work for me at all (my bass-playing callouses probably don't help!) I even still delete text very often by laboriously backspacing when my fingers forget that mice exist.
I enjoy tinkering with computers as much as I ever did, but I still find it strange when people expect me to have adopted every new technology just because it's computer related. I have never bought the highest-spec PCs, never had more than one desktop and one laptop, and I usually get 8-12 years out of each one without ever fretting about upgrading - eeking out every drop from a clunky machine is all part of the fun. My phone is just a phone, and my cameras are just cameras. I'm an old fogey, really, using modern technology with just the same motivations as I had when I was a teenager; my Mum's a more typical computer user than me.
Oh, and since this post has unintentionally turned into a geek confessional, there's something unforgivable that I should come clean about...
When I was seven, I was taken to the pictures to see Star Wars. That is the only time I have ever watched a Star Wars film all the way through!
(I have nothing against Star Wars particularly, but many self-confessed geeks seem to find my super-power for being apathetic about movies featuring robots and space-ships almost miraculous (or diabolical), which amuses me for some warped reason; it's so like the reaction I used to get when I bored people to death about my ZX Spectrum all those years ago. I always preferred my sci-fi with a tad more "sci-".)
Maybe I'm of a particular category of geek that needs it's own name (it is partly why I spell my username with 'luddite'.)
I'm with you - I use cheap old PCs and don't load them up with tons of software - I'm typing this on a Win7 PC that was given to me. I only use my (ex-daughter's) phone for emergencies - my £10 credit from last year still has money left.
I use a real camera (Lumix TZ10) for taking photos.
I spent so much of my life doing amazing things with technology - proper cutting-edge stuff that the world still hasn't caught up with - that I'm bored with it all. It's gone past the golden era of the mid-90s when it was fun and just become another 'need to waste more money' consumer must-have fashion parade (i-phone anyone?).
I see all this new 'smart house' tech that's being pushed now and think 'why?'
It doesn't actually add any value to me - but it does provide endless data to advertisers.
I'm with you, too. My desktop PC at home is my lifeline. I use it for everything - writing, research (via internet), artwork... and connecting with you good folk. I have a smart phone, but I only really use it for taking photos (I had to get it as part of a job I once had, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered). As most people on here know, I simply hate the impact they've had on society - turning people into addicts who can't go anywhere without having the phone either in hand or immediately to hand. Social media was deliberately designed to be addictive. Facebook, Twitter and so on - their entire business model is predicated on advertising. The greater the usage, the greater the amounts of money flowing in. And they've succeeded phenomenally, as we can all see. Can't go anywhere now without the intrusion of a smart phone user: public transport, cinema, theatre, library. I work mainly with people aged 18 to 50, and they're all addicted. All constantly using the phone to check up on what's going on. I'm the only one in a staff of 20 who doesn't use the phone at all during the day - because I'm doing my job! And they think I'm a fogey and a Luddite! The people I feel most for are the young. The pressure to have these things and keep in the loop is massive. My niece held off for as long as she could with her two young sons (11 and 15). But now they've got them because of social pressure from school. And it's changed them. They're now stuck on them all the time.
I was reading, though, that sales of smart phones actually dropped in the last year, whilst sales of 'dumb' phones (without internet) have increased. Maybe people are starting to realise just how much of their lives are being lost caught up in the trivia of social media.
Having said that... I do realise that for some of us, the smart phone is a vital tool for keeping in contact with the world and feeling included.