Exams Stress and Exams Anxiety

2017-03-09 00:00:00 +0000

All students have tried, whether it was their first exam, one in the middle or the very last one, all students have been nervous before an exam. But some students have worse, some get stressed out by exams, and with this is do not mean the F*ck I didn’t study kind of stress. I mean the students whom have planned their exam period to the very last detail, follows their plan 100% studies all subjects, gets good/great grades and still get the fucked stressed out. However, there is a special group of students whom do not just get stressed the f*ck out. They get anxieties, they can have problems like fainting during the exams or throwing up without any apparent reason. I was one of those students and to some extend still are.

In this post I will explain my experience as a student and how I solved some of the issues. I am, however, not a professional and by such this is not a post detailing a psychological evaluation of my self, nor a recipe for success. The latter simply doesn’t exists and your leg has been pulled, by anyone who told you so.

High School

In high school I was not the best student far from it, I just needed a certain grade average to attend the Computer Science program at Aarhus University and I wasn’t going to do anything extensive to get above that average. By such I actually didn’t care about the exams, I did get nervous close to the exams and by such the exams wouldn’t affect me or so I thought. However, during my senior year I started to experience something, I had never tried experienced before. I started getting sick on the day of written exams and almost on the clock one hour before any written exam, I would have to throw up and again half an hour before. I did the logical thing and talked to my parents, whom assumed, like I, that it was just extensive nerves, which had gotten to me, as it was my senior year and final exams in high school. Then came Aarhus University.

Aarhus University

Oh my f*cking gods what a mess that was for me. Not due to lectures, work load or stuff like that. It was due to exams. At the department of Computer Science at Aarhus University and the remainder of the Science faculty, most students have finals every seven to eight weeks, and instead of working in semesters, the students work in “quarters”, eg. seven weeks. For me this resulted in a lot of stress, because I had to attend exams constantly and though I thought my throwing up days from high school was over, they were not. So instead of having it rough once, I now had it four times a year. However, unlike high school I started seeing an effect at oral exams as well. Which where very problematic, I have once fainted during and exam and once I have forgotten my own name and where I was. So as you can see it got pretty rough. Therefore I stopped at Aarhus University and started looking for other options. I did want a degree in the fields of computer science or related field, so I needed a solution.

Before I started at another educational institution, I worked for six months. During this period a former fellow student made the comment, that I should consider that I did not just have exams stress, but suffered from exams anxiety. But I was macho, heh me macho, and said no that couldn’t be possible. Then I started to attend Business Academy Aarhus and SURPRISE I started throwing up again.

Business Academy Aarhus

At Business Academy Aarhus, I attend the academy profession degree computer science program and during the first semester I had course I was pretty sure I would nail, because I already had passed similar courses at Aarhus University, but even though I had that knowledge I still needed threw up and in some cases even fainted, though luckily at the end of the exam. However, unlike last time where it was a friend whom suggested I might have exams anxiety, this time it was a teacher. The teacher suggest I saw a student psychologist to get it classified if it was just exams stress or anxiety. This time it did not sound so stupid, because it came from an authority and I decided to comply.

The psychologist indeed concluded that I suffered from exams anxiety, though not a server case of it. Otherwise I would have gone completely bongos to exams, I must admit I kind of thought I did. However, she did ask me questions about how I planned my exams and stuff like that, and to my astonishment, she made once comment plan less study more. I took this comment to heart and start to change my study patterns and not planning my exams periods to the very minute. I graduated from Business Academy with the average of average. Meaning I had achieved an average equal to the third highest grade after the danish grading scale. However, I was pleased, because I no longer needed to throw up before written exams and I no longer fainted during oral exams, which is a great plus. I was still nervous but far from the levels I experienced at Aarhus University. This was one of the things which encouraged me to continued my studies and I was accepted to Aalborg University.

Aalborg University

As I am not completely done with my masters yet, 1.5 years to freedom. I cannot fully state it yet. But I will say I still experience nervousness and once I have thrown up, before and exam due to anxiety, but it is still far from what I experienced at Aarhus University and my current grade average is very, very good.

What have I done then to help lessen my anxiety?

Well the first challenge is to accept that you do have anxiety, that was very hard for me and it took me some time to accept it. Secondly stop planing everything, I made a scheduled for reading both during the semester and the exam period, down to the minute and how many pages I needed to read to “succeed”. This was one of the things which gave me stress because it resulted in me felling behind, when I did not reach my planned goal. Leading to me not thinking I would do good, resulting in anxiety. Thirdly take notes rather than study, this one might be more particular too me than others, I stopped reading before lecture, but rather took notes during the lectures and started reading afterwards comparing my notes to what I read, ensuring I had understood things correctly, further ensuring that I believed I could achieve a good result at the exams. Lastly remove your ambitions. In the TV-Show How I meet your mother Nile Patrick Harris starring as Barney Stinson, has the perfect line »Ambition is the enemy of success«. If you start setting high requirements for yourself, you start expecting more of yourself than you are actually capable of. However, if your ambition is to pass an exam, rather than ace it, you will not overload your head with expectations. I do not want you to say f*ck it all. I want you to realise what you are actually capable of.

Those are the things I have done to help lessen my anxiety and hope I will help someone else. Again I am not a professional, so seek one out if you need it.

-Lars Nielsen

Why I continued with Mac

2017-02-28 00:00:00 +0000

So for the past two years or so, it was time for me to get a new laptop for university and my choice was to be between a Lenovo machine with Linux or a MacBook Pro with MacOS. For years I have want to go completely Linux or BSD, and therefore I was looking at other products than Apple’s professional laptop line up. I looked amongst others at the Dell XPS series, HP Pro series (yes HP), and the Lenovo line. In the end I had to choose between Lenovo and MacBook Pro. So why did I go with the MacBook Pro?

Well what many might not know, is that I am actually a passionate photographer and I do a lot of image manipulation and clean up. In relation to the Lenovo line up this actually became a major factor. Because, though the Lenovo line does provided full-HD 15” displays, they do not provided above that. This is sometimes relevant when working with for instance RAW images and so on. Furthermore, some of the colour spectrum’s on the Lenovo screens, where not true colour and if you have ever worked with a true colour screen, you know there is no going back.

Secondly, materials. The Lenovo line up is stilled made in plastic, though fair to say it is some strong as plastic, close to magical. However, I do have fellow students whom have actually succeed in breaking their cases, though taking better care of their Lenovo laptops, than I do of my MacBook Pro. This was a concern to me, as I am really good a breaking plastic stuff. So again here the MacBook Pro with its aluminium casing got a point.

Additionally, one of the concerns I have had with macOS and the actually reason I want to leave the Apple ecosystem, was due to Apple, in my opinion, neglecting Mac OS X and now macOS. However, when macOS Sierra was published, I saw some of the magic returning to macOS. Almost like Apple had remembered that it exists. This made me believe, that Apple actually was refurbishing macOS.

So based on this I went about another Mac. The only thing I upgrade was the CPU, so now I have to live with a 512GB SSD.

Many where surprised that I did, due to the lack of connection ports. The current generation of MacBook Pro’s only have USB-C ports. Well I see it as USB-C is the future and Apple is actually not the first company to completely remove a certain port from their devices. And in case I need an old USB stick, I have bought an adaptor, it is annoying, but it is life.

So what is my experience. Well life is good I adore my new laptop, still have the old one as well. The new one, ensures that I can go an entire day without recharging. I love the new keyboard. I actually use the touch-bar, I thought I would hate, though it from time to time activates Siri, because I apparently hit very high on the keys, when I am typing.

Side note: Emacs scales extremely well to this new display resolution, good job developers.

So that is my current hardware situation. Hope you will comment and let us have a discussion.



2017-02-22 00:00:00 +0000

For years you were certain that the world was much more than humans believes and that it might not be as light, as everyone thinks. Now you might have gotten your prof, you got a letter, the letter is addressed very specific and asks you to come alone to an up town address, located in the finest quarter of town, at a certain time on a certain date.

So you are standing outside, on a certain time, on a certain date, without no idea if you are going to come out again or if you are about to make the greatest mistake in your life, by entering this house. The house, what a house, impossible ancient, yet modern, so well kept. Looks like a small castle and from what of the garden you can see, it is kept in a old British style. However, you cannot enter, the gate is closed, but there is an intercom, which has a button you can press. Do you press it? Of cause, you do, you are brave, are you not? Almost like you are not even thinking about it, you press the button and a short static noise exits the speaker, followed by a very slow monotone, demanding voice, simply ask; »Yes?«. You answer a bit to nervously and fast, by rattling of your name and that your were invited and so on. There is no answer, but the gate does open inwards, inviting you in. Do you enter or do you run? Of cause you enter, you came this far did you not? You slowly walk down the pebbled path to the door. As soon as you are passed the arc of the gate it closes and you are now inside, no matter if you feel safe or not. As you reach the door, a younger looking woman opens it for you, and like the rest of the establishment, she looks very British, but it is almost like she is domesticated to be British, without speaking and using hand gestures only, she invites you in takes your coat, and asks you to follow her. Shes show you into a small room, it looks like a study and with a gesture to a very comfortable looking chair, she leaves. Do you sit? Of cause the opposite would be rude, would it not?

You sit there, for maybe ten minutes and you start to get restless. Why are you here? Why are the host making you wait? What is going on? Should you run? As you finish the last thought, the door to the study opens, you had not even realised that the young lady had closed it. But this time it is not the young lady whom enters, it is a man and he resembles the house impossible ancient and modern at the same time. He has black hair, with streaks of grey and impossible sharp eyes. When he looks at you, it is like he looks past you, to see you in another world or maybe even in a different time. As he releases his, what you have come to realise, stare at you he sighs and extends his hand for greeting. He presents himself as Sir Raz, his voice is lovely, soothing, yet dangerous, and as you finish the last thought he smiles lob sided, almost like he heard you thought and enjoys the truth in it. You answer his greeting with you name and that your were invited, but you are not completely sure why. Sir Raz looks at you almost regretting, like he is not sure your are ready to bear the burden, he is about to give you. Yet, he starts speaking. »For years, you my friend, have been certain that the world is not what it seems, that it is darker, more sinister than is shown to the mortal eye«, whilst he speak, he starts looking at you appreciatively and almost… almost proud, like he expected this much of you, but you have achieved it before he expected. You answer slowly, confirming, his statement and you follow the confirmation, with the most important question, »Are you one of them, those who walk this world and the next?«. He looks at you surprised, almost like he was certain, you had not made that connection yet, again he looks straight at you and again it fells like he is looking past you to another version of you, he sighs an answers. »Young one let me tell you a story, it is not a happy story, nor is it a story you will pass on, for no one will believe you.«. He flicks his hand and the young lady from before enters carrying a bottle of whisky and two glass, the man slowly says »Tia go get a third glass, for I can not tell this story alone«, the young lady looks surprise but nodes at the man and exits the room, only to return a few minutes later with a third glass. She then pours each of you a glass, even without asking, if you want a glass or not. The man takes a sip and it is obvious that he enjoys it, from what you can tell he enjoys it more than breathing. This time the both smiles and the man again focus on you and without any introduction starts his story. In the beginning he talks about a time before genesis and a different breads of angels and their descends, where they called Embreons? But then the story moves from the former strict path, to a quite elaborate story about the expression of death in different religions and the story is told, as it was a personal experience and you assume that it is. Finally he, looks a the lady named Tia and asks her to continue, as she is more in tune, with the next generation. Tia looks at him nodes, focuses on you and this is where you notice, that her left eye is grey as the mans and the other blue like the ocean on clear day. She chuckles, again almost like she knows what you think and without opening her lips, she continues the story, by placing words directly in your mind.

But before she starts, she readies her self, straightens her back and tuck a lock of hair behind her left ear and then she speaks in your mind, »I am Tiaran, though my father do prefer Tia, I am the concubine of death and his messenger«, she stops shortly, searching your face looking for a reaction. Apparently she finds nothing and continues. »I am the second oldest of deaths children, only surpassed in age by my brother Thanatos« she stops realising your reaction to the name, Thanatos, the greek god of death. This time Tia actually laughs out loud and the man looks at her sternly, saying something about mortals not knowing the truth and that she should respect them still. Tia composes her self and continues with an apology. »I apologise for my reaction, I just find it funny when mortals thinks that my brother is a god…« she takes a short break, to you it seems like she is pondering what to say next. She follows it by saying »Thanatos, is not a god, he is the first reaper and I am the second. We are a special breed of angels, we have a very specific domain, within which we work.« She takes a short break, sipping her whisky. »Our duties include that of Thanatos described in the Greek mythology, to guard the bounds between this world and the realm of the death, both the one in heaven and the one in hell« She sighs, almost like it still is a daunting task to her. At hearing that thought, your are pretty sure she is reading your mind, she smiles and nodes, again taking a small sip of whisky. »Now our duties also includes the transport of souls from here to their, certain groups of reapers take care of this, the most famous group is the northern reapers, they were knows as the Valkyrie by the vikings. We also make the first judgement of wetter or not a soul should go to hell or heaven. My brother Anubis, is properly the most famous of the judges. Though before you are completely scared of us, I will say that my father, my mother, and of cause master Peter have the final say in terms of judgement«. She takes a longer break this time, she looks at your untouched whisky glass, then she looks at Sir Raz and then she closes her eyes for a short moment opening them. For some reason this makes her seem more vulnerable, almost like she is about to start the saddest part of her story. This makes you take a sip of your whisky and by the God, it taste amazing almost like life it self was in that bottle. Sir Raz chuckles and unlike Tia, he still speaks out loud. »Do you not know, that whisky is from an old Gaelic word, which means water of life, you would be surprised at how true that is. My sister once blessed a whisky distiller and therefore all whisky made by the old ways, taste like life« He chuckles again, then turns his eyes to Tia expectantly, like he knows what is coming, yet it is something he has never heard.

Tia looks shortly at Sir Raz, then turns to you. »The hardest part however, for us is not transporting human souls, nor pass judgement, nor guard the bounds. Our toughest task are the same, but in stead of humans, we also handles the soul of death angels, both fallen and pure, and also those of Embreons… Those are the hardest, the souls of our family… Not believing they are death. How could they be, they are immortal… However, nothing is immortal, even one day my grand father might die« A short moment passes until you realise she means the all mighty God and for the first time you are scared. Both Sir Raz and Tia looks kindly at you and Sir Raz says »Yes… the burden of this knowledge is heavy, yet I believe you can handle it, for you already had figure most of this out on your own« Then He turns to Tia and nodes. Tia looks surprised at this, looks at you, the at Sir Raz, then back at you. Again she sighs, takes a sip of her whisky and you replicate this action almost like it was a compulsion. Tia then begins to speak in your mind again, but her voice has change and it is clear that she is sad, very sad, you almost want to comfort her, make sure she is okay, her lips turns into a very small smile. »Life as a reaper is tough, we are feared and hated by most, yet they do not understand that we help, both in this life and the next… Though we do not see it as two separated lives… That is the curse of the reaper, to always be unwanted by those we try to help«. Tia stops very abruptly, looks away and try to hide that she is wiping her eyes, but she is. You do it by impulse, something you never thought you would do, but you slowly stand, walk to her and hug her. Not like a stranger try to comfort a stranger, but like she is family, maybe even a younger sibling. You try to fill the hug with love, respect and safety. The most surprising thing about this, is that she hugs you back, buries her face in your shoulder and starts to sob uncontrollably. You do not count the minutes, but hearing a close to immortal being, sobbing, that is something you will never forget. Sir Raz said that the story would be a heavy burden, but nothing will be as heavy, as knowing that an entire race of beings exists, which are only loved, by the few whom know their work and burden. You do not fully understand what it is to be a reaper, but you have gotten a glimpse into the resentment and anger their soul. Tia pulls back a bit, and looks into your eyes, studies them, like she is looking for a lie, a hidden agenda. She then looks at Sir Raz and so do you, he also are in tears, though his are silent, a deeper sorrow, something you have completely missed and then your realise, Sir Raz, it is a shorting of Sir Razaphel, the angel of death and you have just been told the story of his children and their burden. Tears slowly starts spilling from your eyes, you do not even notice that now Tia is hugging you. The she springs the greats surprise of this evening, do not be sorry my grand child, for there is enough sorrow in our family as it is. Then she turns your head towards her, she push it gently downwards and gives you a loving kiss on your forehead and starts to stroke your hair. Now you know the truth, you are a nephilim, a descendent of angel and for the first time, you are home. Tia whispers »Yes, you are home, you are home my darling granddaughter«.


This is again a new type of short story, it relates to the universe of my books, Tiaran has already been mentioned in another short story on the blog. This story is related to reapers and nephilim, who both have a very big significance in the book universe, especially as nephilim and Embreons are distant cousins. I hope you enjoyed it and will give some constructive criticism.


Adding Disqus to the blog

2017-02-18 00:00:00 +0000

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen.

I have for some time talk to a friend about adding reader interaction to our blogs and how to do it properly. We even discussed changing to other blogging platforms, such as Wordpress (may the gods forbid it) which comes with this capability build-in or provides a good, and in some cases even brilliant plug-in options.

But we both love Jekyll and it does not come with the same options as for instance Wordpress. So how do we solve this? Well luckily I am working at a company which webpage is also made with Jekyll and have been looking for a solution to the same problem. Actually, if you want another tech blog follow the company [1]. Anyways trying to find a solution to the problem, the CTO of Steinwurf found Disqus and suggested we tried it.

However, I had a few problems with it, first it adds a level of user tracking and as most of you know, I am big privacy advocate and hates being tracked, but a lot of that can be disabled by the user by using for instance Ghostery [2]. Secondly it adds third party java script, which I have little to no control over, which also annoys me.

So how do I address this? Well the first one I cannot really address, besides disabling tracking as much as possible in Disqus, which I have attempted. The third party java script I just have to accept. But I will monitor the traffic generate for a while.

Anyways, this gives me a better way to interact with you guys and I hope you will use it.

- Lars Nielsen

Staying up to date with software development

2017-01-22 00:00:00 +0000

Employees who are involved in software development, both programmers and non-programmers needs to stay up to day with their respective fields. In this post I will talk about how I stay up to day, in the fields I like and find most relevant on a daily basis. These practices can also be applied in other software development fields.

So first let me state the fields which I focus on, when staying up to date:

  • Parallel Programming and Computation
  • C/C++ Programming
  • Ruby Programming
  • Open Source in general
  • Linux
  • OpenBSD
  • Fedora
  • LLVM
  • Programming Languages
  • Emacs

So there are a few additional fields, but these are the one I primarily focuses on. The reason I mentioned the fields are so you know where to look for information about these specific fields. Now let us continue with what I do, to stay up to date.


Most people know the web site Reddit[1] and use it to find funny posts and stuff like that. However, a lot of people does not know that there are a lot of serious sub-reddits, which are pages dedicated to a certain topic. Among these sub-reddits are a lot focused on software development, programming and *NIX, so right down any software developers ally. The reason I will recommend these to stay up to date is, that for instance /r/cpp[2] continuously contains information about what is currently being discussed to become a part of the C++ standard, what as been accepted, and what has been dismissed. Giving a good ground for following the development of C++. Furthermore, there are also a lot of open source developers whom post on reddit when a new version of library is available or if a new library has been published. This do not only matter for C++, but for almost any programming languages you can think of. Some of my favourite language sub-reddits are:

There also exists sub-reddits for the remainder of the topics in the list above, and I use them all to gain new information and stay up to date with any given topic. I further more recommend, the following sub-reddits:

  • /r/programming[5]
  • /r/softwaredevelopment [6]
  • /r/emacs [7]
  • /r/linux [8]

Some might wonder, why I have not recommended /r/bsd[9] and /r/openbsd[10], the reason for this is that I fairly reason was made aware of their existence and do not feel I can give a proper recommendation yet. However, I will say that so far, a month in, I think that the content is of a high quality in general and the tone is very sober.

Mailing lists and newsletters

What are they not dead yet? NO! Mailing list may be primarily from the prior century, but they are fantastic. First off you can get help through mailing list and by reading others question you can even get smarter and more up to date with techniques you might even not know existed. Furthermore NEWSLETTERS the king and well of new information, where the creators of a programming languages, a technique, a compiler, a library, or something fifth, explains what is new, what is old, what is removed and so on. This often gives an in-depth understanding of the changes which occur to a project you use. Often newsletters also provides links to blog post or white papers which goes more in-depth with the changes allows you to get a very update view of what has been done. Therefore I use these two options to get new information.

I primarily uses newsletters for:

  • fedora
  • linux
  • llvm

Bonus info mailing lists also sometimes contains information about meet up opportunities which you will not find on any webpage.

Blog posts

Blog posts are close to the holy grail of getting new information for a software developer. This is due to two reasons: Firstly technical blogs by companies and individual project developers. These blogs tents to go in to detail about a specific topic and covers what is new and how to use the new stuff or may be cover a feature in-depth which you had never heard of. Therefore these post really expands your knowledge of the project and teaches you something new.

Secondly are developer blogs, these are not by developers developing a particular product, but using it in stead. This type of blogs have a tendency to be brutally honest, though coloured, and therefore gives a fantastic view of how good a product or technique is and by such informs you if it is worth you time.

So these two types of blog post are actually the reason I primarily recommend blog post and I find information about all topic via a blog post. I will, however, not recommend any specific blog or author, but rather say log on to feedly[11] and navigate the different RSS feeds for nerds, software development and programming to find those you find the best, did you know I provided an RSS feed?

Research papers, articles and technical reports

Now I know that most do not think that it is relevant for them to know the latest research, but it is, just accept it. Go read some research papers, it will give you a wink in the direction of where your field is going and what the next path will be. Of cause this is also often a bit harder to read and understand but I sincerely think, they are worth a read.

I predominately use google scholar[12] to find research resources.

Now I primarily uses these resources to find information about parallel programming and computation, and compile design. But there are tons of fantastic papers about almost any subject.


Ah the magical world of youtube[13]. Youtube is a platform for distributing free videos to the masses, just in case you did not know that. Some companies, conference and developers have taken to youtube to share material about subjects, project, and products. Where they provided videos explain a topic and or a product and how to apply this in a real world scenario. A youtube channel I personally are very fond of is CppCon’s channel[14], where I find a lot of good stuff about C++. Again here I will not recommend a lot of specific channels, go look for your self it is awesome.

I hope this gave you a tool box on how to stay up to date with some of your favourite fields. So happy hacking.

-Lars Nielsen

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