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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

To Be Successful or Not To Be Successful

NOTE: Because this post is very long, I've highlighted the most relevant parts in yellow. That's basically the most important details of this post. I've also left the less relevant text in for you to get a better understanding of what I went through and what are some thoughts I think would be interesting for you.

EDIT: One of the pointers below is removed because I got a message from someone on Facebook saying that I wouldn't share this to the public.

Welcome to University of Waterloo, one of Canada's top engineering universities!

Hello, everyone! I'm Gregory P. Desrosiers, 21 years old and from Montreal, studying at University of Waterloo in Software Engineering. 

I went through my first term with my last exam on the afternoon of December 16, which went quite well. What I want to bring to you today is a story of some of the experiences I had over here in Waterloo, and what some of the things that I wish I can definitely work on, for myself, and for everyone's sake, including you and my parents. There are a few obstacles to face, yes, and so I'll have to pay attention to the most relevant ones, work on them first, and once they are satisfied, get some support for the rest of my troubles.

If you are in Software Engineering where you have just completed SE 101 (Introduction to Methods of Software Engineering) with Dr. Andrew Morton as your professor (he's the director of the Software Engineering program for those of you who don't know), you can see right away that the kind of approach I'm thinking of, assuming I am some software and I am implemented by others, is an incremental approach. The requirements for the software are broken up into increments, and the most relevant ones are worked on first before any additional features are added. [I'm simply making up an analogy between me and some software that software engineers work on. But most of the time, I think my similes are so inaccurate and don't make sense.]

Before I continue, I want to announce that even though my results for the term are still unofficial, I have completed Software Engineering 1A and am promoted to 1B, with five courses, one seminar, and co-op applications ahead of me. (According to UWaterloo Career Advisor Linda Davis, who delivered the seminars early in the SE 101 course, she said on average, it takes about 90 applications for a Software Engineering student to get a job match. But the number always depends on multiple factors, including my volunteer and work experience, how I describe myself, my skills, and how my applications are refined, specifically my resume and my job interviews. So, I better start working on them, and learn on how to cope with anxiety and nervousness when I have my interviews, whether it's phone, Skype, or in person.)

My term average (by summing all grades and dividing by 6) is 80.5%, with my best course being SE 101 (Introduction to Methods of Software Engineering) at 88%, as well as MATH 115 (Linear Algebra) at 88%, and my worst course being MATH 117 (Calculus 1 for Engineering) at 73%. I have calculated the GPA under a 4.0 scale, but I'm pretty sure my calculation is wrong, because the SE directors do it differently. By using a chart provided by McMaster University and using the index at the bottom (http://studentsuccess.mcmaster.ca/students/tools/gpa-conversion-chart.html), and by following a few pointers I found online through Google, my GPA, as calculated solely by me, is 3.53.

NOTE: It turns out that the term average and GPA I calculated before are not right. From a website link one of my SE classmates provided, my average is actually 79.8%, and my GPA is 3.5.

Anyway, moving on to the rest of the blog. There are primarily a couple of reasons why my dad and his girlfriend took the decision to have me attend University of Waterloo instead of McGill or Concordia.

One is, I had some academic potential while completing a Quebec college degree (Diplôme d'études collegiales) in Computer Science and Mathematics at Champlain College Saint-Lambert (right outside Montreal), even though most of the time I asked my academic advisor for a reduce course load. In fact, except for my integrative project course where the instructor wasn't really clear on the instructions of the project initially and I was not totally aware of this inconsistency, I was really good with programming in Java and most of my core classes. I even made one successful attempt in getting a 100% in one of my courses, which was Program Development in a Graphical Environment; basically, coding Java with the AWT and Swing packages in an object-oriented approach.

To be fairly honest of this, before they came up with the decision for me to go to Waterloo, they thought of me attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. But we were affected so bad by the economy recession in 2009 and from what happened with my father regarding work in 2011-2012 we couldn't save up enough money for me to make a move to Boston and do my education there. I was reluctant of this back then, but I think by now it would have been awesome to be there, just as long as I get some support to help me with my success.

The other is, when I had my diagnosis for autism at two years old, my parents were told by our family neurologist that I was not going to be able to speak French very well. And sadly, this turned out to be true, because I was not being very mature and concentrated in elementary school and the first two secondaries at high school. I was born and raised to speak mostly English. I even failed Secondary 5 French where I had to spend an extra seven days in one summer to clear the failure and move on to CEGEP. Somehow, with the help of the special needs advisor and some people, even my teachers, I was able to complete the two French courses I had in one fell swoop. But the most important idea is, I have been discriminated so badly when I tried to get a job here during summers, and it has been turning me down so mentally that I anticipated too many negative emotions, experienced trouble with stress, and worst, not thinking realistically enough. (I even had two big occasions where I tried to get a couple of projects of my own, one being two long videos, and one a book, out for a price where both of them did not work out quite so well because I pushed myself too hard and was not being realistic enough with things like making sure I would be safe in doing this, or having a publishing budget. One of the videos is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5qfoBuMaeM)

Now that I'm a student at University of Waterloo, I'm no longer being discriminated on the basis of language at all anymore. In fact, thanks to the Equity Office and some of the policies put forward, such as academic integrity, I was never insulted, bullied, or even a victim of illegal actions put by other UWaterloo people. There are still so many things I have to work on though and get used to, however. (I'm wondering why I am thinking of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, because I can't seem to remember what I understood about the first three volumes. Even if I were to remember, I don't think having a discussion about Marjane fitting into the scenes in Austria after leaving her home in Iran fits into this context because how does it even relate to this blog?)

Before I give you a list of what are so many inconsistencies I found about myself as a UWaterloo first-year student, there are a couple more details I want to give. Because I definitely do have numerous symptoms related to my diagnosis, I have a file opened with AccessAbility Services. My next step would be to try out the Inspiration and Kurzweil 3000 software packages that my dad has suggested to me and decided that we was going to get the money to pay for them. (Because I'm from Quebec and used up some financial aid for my CEGEP education, it's from Aide financiere aux études Québec, not from the Ontario Student Assistance Program.) I was feeling kind of paranoid when he told me about this initially because if there's one thing that's turning me down where it's making my parents really concerned about the serious consequences I can run into, it's stress. Simply put, I wanted to push myself to get through university without using any special aid tools.

To better aid the process of me succeed better, they suggest as well that I am offered some tutoring for one of the courses I'm struggling with in my next term. I think by now, I should find out how I would do with my courses first, and if I run into some trouble, I use the aid. But otherwise, it should be there for optional use.

But now that I'm in Software Engineering and that having to be a UWaterloo student would mean that I should learn on how to be a bit of a pioneer, I still don't understand why my dad said it's not a good idea to let all SE students have the software for themselves, even if they don't really need it. And what about the LiveScribe pen?

Speaking of which, I once wrote a comment on the Sobeys app directly on the Sobeys website that me and some SE students at UWaterloo should work on developing a better kind of the app to adapt to the customer's needs. And I even wrote an e-mail to my AccessAbility advisor saying that there should be a server to where students registered with AccessAbility can access their time and location of their midterm and final exams so that way they don't have to step into their office to look at the exam binder, or ask the receptionist. (The only major difference I found is, I once took a look at my exam seating for my CS 137 exam, and the room I was doing it in is exactly the same as was written in the exam record with AccessAbility.) That server would be programmed by us and I would try to learn and practice both leadership and oral communication skills, working in collaboration with the executives of Software Engineering including Dr. Morton himself.

And second, can I really make University of Waterloo my home? Even though me and my family have some issues with money, they would rather want me to succeed better over there, because eventually I can have stronger potential and be successful in my co-ops since I do want to work around Canada and the United States (except for Quebec). And regardless of the struggles and issues I have to this day, with the right people like you, I could eventually one day do something that I would earn some fame. (Technically, I tend to be too greedy for fame, which is one inconsistency I'll point out to you.)

UWaterloo Engineering Class of 2019 Aerial Photo

So, what I want to draw down here is many of the struggles I found about myself before I started writing this blog. Some of them are experiences as they are related to events, or occasions where I made a mistake that was fixable, and hence I wasn't fallen into too much trouble.

  1. Taking what the prime leaders of Orientation, EdCom, had said too seriously where I felt like I was in the middle of an army. Whether this simile is true or not, I felt like I was being totally disciplined in a negative way.
  2. Paying too much attention to perfectionism in several assignments. What I mean is, focus on getting every single answer right, especially in MATH 115 assignments.
  3. Not taking exams seriously enough; what I mean is, meet up with my professors and TAs overtime to discuss things about understanding questions in assignments and figuring out what would be a straightforward approach to them.
  4. Not spending time each night to read through my notes. That's where complications in my solutions come in because I think about certain theorems or ideas that I'm more linear with them instead of combining them with others to generate a logical approach to solving.
  5. Not always listening or memorizing what other people say because I hear video game music or other media audio at the same time I do things in reality. In addition, it can be related to my emotional troubles, such as anxiety, stress, selfishness, or sadness in general. (Take this as a sort of attention problem.)
  6. Mood swings
  7. Social withdrawals (What I mean is, up until the end of the term, I never really took a chance to meet up with my classmates at the Software Engineering Lab.)
  8. Need to be more concentrated and efficient with my approach on homework, because then I can understand more complex theorems and apply them to practice.
  9. Nail biting, nose picking
  10. Not being flexible to all extreme or important changes such as my routine in homework or having to meet up with teammates for projects.
  11. Saying something that I literally mean one thing, but the person I talk to has an understanding of something else, which totally upsets me. (Where can I work on my oral skills?)
  12. Anxiety and stress when I have to talk to my family (as I am living on my own), especially for Skype calls.
  13. The need for other people's attention when it is totally not necessary (unless I am doing something that I feel it's important to get support such as media or projects with publicity.)
  14. I am seeing marks as myself too much (at university, I cannot do that because failures are complete learning opportunities. Learning from certain failures is the point of attending engineering programs.)
  15. Writing too much in e-mails.
  16. Everyone would want to emphasize this: Keep it simple. How can I keep things simple when I am too sad about myself, or not thinking right?
  17. If my parents get upset when speaking to me because I am feeling too stressed or ready to lose my temper, it will make me feel more agitated because I see it as though they are ready to criticize me or they are getting angry at me.
  18. Trouble understanding abstract ideas and being seriously flexible to changes. (for example, in my first time where I had to go to see my partners for our SE 101 project, I was feeling stressed out because I had plans for other homework. In addition, I flunked three ECE 105 quizzes because I didn't understood the question really well, and didn't took every night to read through my ECE 105 notes, as Dr. Michael Balogh emphasized, because of the course load I was in.)
  19. Too many fears and worries of things that should not happen, including the possibility that the manager I'll be working with in my co-ops is so rude to me that they start threatening me or tell me things that I think are rude or awkward for me to do.
  20. Issues with controlling my patience, one of them having to take a look at the clock frequently to see what time it is and how much longer I have to wait until a lecture is finished, especially those that finish at 6:00 PM. (In other words, I'm feeling way too bad of myself that I can't keep my concentration and interest much that will help me get through the lecture much more easily. That is, I don't experience any thoughts of, “Oh, can we please make time go faster? I simply just want to get out of here. I'm bored.”)
    [I am not even really sure if this is really related to hyperactivity, because I was once told by my dad a few years back that I had a little bit of ADHD as well. Or that it's a natural side effect from playing video games in the past, or simply eating too much sugar.]
  21. Trouble with controlling my obsessions. (For example, before the Exam Period, and between my SE 101 and CS 137 exams [five days], I decided to keep on sharing my Stand Up to Stigma photo to Andrew Reams himself and to several other people, including the Autism Parents Support & Discussion Group. Because it definitely had some potential where I could get some spectators for future projects, I decided to write up on my day planner where else I would share my photo.)
  22. Being too formal when talking to my friends or my classmates.
  23. Taking on too much resources, or not enough, of what I need (such as using the gas radiator too much to keep myself warm).
  24. What happened on several occasions during the term (including one on the afternoon of December 14).
  25. Pausing too often between thoughts; they can often be too long to think of as well. Definitely not good for an engineering candidate, because aren't engineers supposed to be efficient at their work? (My biggest trouble is that I tend to daydream or listen to multimedia audio in my head, or even see it in me.)
  26. Putting out too many fears and assumptions where it has no good on me; instead, I easily put on disrespect to others and have them feel disinterested in being friends with me.
  27. Even though Orientation was supposed to be fun, somehow I think I took it too seriously with the activities provided, because I tried to join in with the rest of the team and work on stuff in equal terms with everyone else. But that didn't worked out because generally the people who really worked on the project were smarter than me. In fact, they were much simpler than me. In addition, I was probably not used to doing a lot of activities outside or in the classroom where we don't have any access to computers or phones, which I tend to have fixed interests to. (Besides, I was totally new to everyone else, so I felt a little bit that I was in an alien world.)
  28. Used to communicate with people by person or by e-mail. (I'm too nervous to make phone calls, which by now I don't want this to limit me.)
  29. Word choices and grammar (I don't phrase things properly when spoken. There are occasions where I choose a word that I would mean one thing, but the person I'm talking to understands it as something else.)
  30. Turning small problems into larger ones too often.
  31. Not being socially appropriate enough to some people whenever I would try to build a friendship with them.
  32. Not understanding non-verbal communication really well, or not taking the time to work on my understanding of it. (Is it true that whenever I do my co-op, I always have to use non-verbal communication, or it's considered unprofessional?)
  33. Whenever I talk to my classmates, sometimes I do feel not so confident, or I rather not be convinced to feel happy because I don't know how well I do with very big assessments.
  34. Not being proactive enough in certain areas.
  35. Paying, or taking, too much time on one topic because I am making a big worry out of a single assignment problem for having a serious mistake in it, when I should be working on other assignments as well.
  36. Solutions that are too complicated when things can be much more simplified by reading carefully and thinking about what was taught in lectures. (For example, in some of my CS 137 assignment questions, I took on a complicated approach to solving the problem when I could just simplify things around. This is a very serious concern because if this keeps on going like this, eventually when I have my career, it'll be too much since I'll be too slow, or I'll be putting in too much on something that it gets out of hand in the assignment as a whole.)
    A more static example for SE students: In one CS 137 assignment, you know the function “polyGetCoefficient” where it returns 0 whenever the index is greater than the polynomial's size? It's not like that, because in my original solution, I had the program reallocate memory before returning zero, which I was told by our TA that it's not a very good idea.
    Do I really need to memorize the fundamental concepts discussed in our notes when we use them in our assignments?
  37. Seeing certain situations as computer games.
  38. Talk to myself out loud too much, especially whenever there is no one around but me such as when I was in my room in Village 1.
  39. I overreacted in my head too much during the Single and Sexy drama act one day at Engineering Orientation, as well as the two diversity workshops hosted by UWaterloo's Equity Office as an important learning experience in SE 101. (I was never caught in trouble at any way. Instead, it had to do with something personal I can't reveal at all.)
  40. Trouble with some short-term memory because as soon as one important thing goes by, there may be something else I have realized that I forgot to bring up.
  41. Issues being optimistic depending on the season. For example, at the start of Engineering Orientation, I felt like summer is already dying, which made me feel so upset and sad inside me because I felt like my chance of going out with my friends and being empowered was over. By now, I hate getting so agitated based on the weather because I think I should be flexible from now on to work on improving myself and the skills I need to know for my future. In addition, I need to be more happy.
  42. I know that my parents are there to help me and that they were there influencing me to better improve myself as a person, yet for some reason I tend to get angry or worrisome because until they explain to me to refresh my memory, I do have trouble understanding what they're going through and how it affects them emotionally.
  43. I don't know how I can control my worriness, because otherwise it definitely does affect my performance that I'm trying to achieve at University of Waterloo by letting me waste some time off of studying for something else. But how can I keep myself concentrated on one thing alone for several hours, especially when thoughts do come to me so much that even if I were to write them down, it's hard for me to persist my thinking to the important task at hand.
  44. I tend not to think often enough which errand or thing I'm to do is more important than anything else. In addition, how will I be able to do this thing when I'm quite exhausted and I'm on my vacation or break time?


If these struggles keep on going, I could end up having the following consequences:

  1. At one point, I would feel so discouraged of myself compared to other people that I would start trying to get negative attention, leading eventually to disrespectul behaviour. (In other words, the thoughts I'm getting in my head frequently become actions that I do, such as insulting others, making a big deal out of nothing, being disrespectful to people, or harassment. This is a very serious concern, because one false move of violating academic integrity, and I'll be in serious trouble.)
  2. Violate academic integrity and/or certain university policies I would be under discipline or under a consequence for my actions.
  3. Losing too much control of my temper and behaviour towards others, as well as not understanding very well how I'm behaving to people.
  4. I can take sarcasm and disinterest from other people too seriously.
  5. Easily go into negative emotions and comments.
  6. I am more insecure to insults or disrespect from other people.
  7. Will be too selfish or too greedy for certain things such as money and public attention.
  8. Rejecting on getting help from the Tatham Centre and AccessAbility for job searches, as well as turning down employment interviews. (I'd definitely had enough of rejection by now, because I really need to work on employment skills and building empowerment, self-esteem, and self-security. I really want to build a professional profile.)
  9. Being easily manipulated, peer pressured, or influenced, by people who get the attention they want by sarcasm, irony, and deceiving (telling lies).
  10. Making way too many assumptions or fears on what the most important people I know of, like my parents, will say to me or what they will do under circumstances I am thinking of. (In other words, it's me being way too anxious to live realistically, which I can't take it anymore because it destroys my self-esteem and thus I can't take things realistically enough. I can even be too anxious to talk to my parents or my family as they still need to support me throughout my university education)
  11. Never reach my career dream of becoming a computer game designer and never work on the skills I need to use in my full-time career since being one is very demanding, including efficiency, attention to detail, patience, leadership, respect, and watching over our budgets. (I definitely do need to keep an open mind, yes, but I want to try out developing a computer game of my own.)
  12. Using solutions to problems that are technically so complicated people can start to feel disinterested in working with me, especially in workplaces.
  13. I could easily throw out tantrums at people when I'm not supposed to because my temper management goes down too much.
  14. Whenever I'm trying to have a friendship with someone, I could easily ask a question that I think it's polite myself, but someone else thinks it's not, and thus I get way turned down for asking such a peculiar question.
  15. I can push myself too much for a friendship without even thinking realistically how to have socially acceptable behaviour. As soon as that behaviour is triggered, it can then become an obsession.
  16. It will be totally overwhelming to try to make words distinct. In fact, if I have to think about the differences between the words I typed up on my blog right now, this is way too much because I don't know the true definitions of them nor can I give out definitions that are right.
  17. Not use non-verbal communication politely, or not even use non-verbal communication at all. I would have to ask everything explained to be in words instead of in gestures.
  18. I could run into a similar situation where I do have to come in with a group of others, especially with autism, to work on skills of life, such as navigating through an airport, as I've seen from a CNN video once. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb0Nvh8hCoM&list=WL&index=17) I never want to be in something like this for myself, because I should be okay with learning, for example, how to fill out bills and complete payments, or how to sign up for some important things in life.
  19. Develop hysterical behaviours or making too many worries out of little things too much, like I would demand for everything to be so perfect I could threaten myself or someone if this doesn't turn out.
  20. Start demanding more for medical things that even go against my academic potential as I am expected to show at UWaterloo. They are also things that my family really hate to hear because they find out that I am silly, when I am not.
  21. Start having mental issues that critically affect my academic and social statuses, (disturbing my concentration in academics as well as when I should chat around with friends) and that I can risk being withdrawn or expelled from UWaterloo.
  22. Overwhelming negative publicity, with most people disliking me than liking me.
  23. Paranoia, extreme phobias, and ridiculous behaviour with regards to my disability. (For example, I am too scared that my co-op employer is going to fire me for forgetting something from reading, for example, a business contract and what is to be done. Or that I would be disciplined so bad I would overreact.)
  24. Being the “referee,” “police officer,” “security guard,” or “supervisor” when it really isn't minding my own business.
  25. Turn down on what my parents were expecting in terms of academic excellence and potential.


A few questions to ask:
  1. I have played violent video games many times before. Recently, I have played Carmageddon, which is a 1997 car game complete with gore, violence, and profanity. Now, I have done an essay in the past about an ethical issue surrounding whether or not violent video games should be banned. But under my own research, taking into account Grand Theft Auto IV, I found out that for mature audiences like me, we have so much control of ourselves that we refrain from the violence mimicked in those games.
    There's one question I have to this day: do violent video games really add up to nightmares?
  2. Where should I start looking for companies that hire UWaterloo Software Engineering students for co-op interns other than JobMine?
  3. Why is it true that people can take things too seriously? I can't simply relate it to a mental disability because it's totally ridiculous. Even worse, it's not myself.

Me and some Software Engineering 1A students together at East Side Mario's on King St. In Waterloo, with our MATH 115 professor. (for privacy, I'm not revealing the names.)


Below are the things that I want to do eventually, although there is no guarantee because even if I am to be flexible to changes, I am to be myself. In addition, there may not really be enough time to work on all of these skills because of the course load and the workload I'll have for my academic and co-op terms:

  • Do more research on an American organization called Autism Speaks, because there is a very heavy controversy surrounding it that I want to actually run a petition across University of Waterloo to boycott Autism Speaks' Canadian office in Toronto. There's about 1.5 million followers on Facebook, but what I found out is, they're labelling autism as a “tragedy” instead of using it as a new way to make society more diverse. In fact, they are highly supporting the anti-vaccination movement, as they say that vaccines do cause autism, which I entirely go against. (one of my classmates in SE even told me that this is one of the most stupid conspiracy theories.) They even label autism as a disease, which is completely stereotypical, because if autism is really a mental disease, I would not be at University of Waterloo in the first place; never, never, ever. And worse, they once joined up with Sesame Street last June to get their own message across to children. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-sutton/sesame-street-partners-wi_b_5466917.html)

    NOTE: You may want to ignore the part where I said specifically "If autism is really a mental disease, I would not be at University of Waterloo in the first place; never, never, ever." The SE student I've exchanged a question about vaccines related to autism has told me that this sentence unfortunately perpetuates a stigma on people who were diagnosed with a mental illness or disability. Basically, in simpler terms, by saying that my mental illness would make it impossible for me to attend university, I am already contributing to the stereotype. 
    Please let me make this much clearer: the reason why I said this is because when I found out Autism Speaks would label autism as a disease, from what I understood, they would label it this way because they are referring it to the social tantrums and some inappropriate behavior that may be experienced at an early age. Since that would definitely continue on for a quite a while where I have seen parents having emotional issues regarding this matter, (I even saw this with my parents when I was young), especially whenever there would be some other negative behaviors such as making holes in the wall or hitting someone, I think this is why Autism Speaks would label autism as a disease. But since people with autism would still be able to learn on how to behave properly like me (for example, with my reaction to solving some mistakes quickly, I never was caught at all for violating University of Waterloo's policies nor academic integrity in my first term), this statement is definitely false.

    However, it's my guess that there is definitely something I am not quite understanding from having the organization's claim, or that I am getting confused with my understanding
    . So if this sentence is really stereotypical and that you feel offended this way, please take it back because I sincerely apologize if my original meaning in using it isn't clear.

    We definitely do have an equity office at University of Waterloo, and so whenever I do a speech delivery or a written work or article like this that relates to certain people, I should ask them to help me take a look at my work and identify sentences that go against equality. This blog was written in the past few days where I simply wanted to get this out, so I couldn't talk with the people at the office regarding this.

  • I want to make my manager for my co-op feel so proud of me and extremely happy for following their recommendations and satisfying the duties I am asked to do.
  • Work on a computer game during my co-op term because I want to start building a portfolio of computer game work as part for what I want to do in the future. (That's because I want to open doors to holding a position to working somewhere in North America other than Quebec. Even though I obviously won't get much of a chance to work in a video game company like Nintendo, I feel that by collaborating with other people on how I'm doing and get some input during my work to make sure that I'm doing things in the right fashion, I could have a game that by the end of sales, I would reach $500 for a start. If that goal is reached within several days, I want to expand my publicity on the game and get it more out there for more enthusiasts. Besides, I took a look at the Employment Opportunities on their website, and they want to hire trained people, not those under co-op interns at the moment. Still, in the near future, I should keep an eye out.)
    In addition, with the right amount of support from my photo sharing and beyond, I can keep my focus up on that game, get some feedback, and eventually help myself with some of the stress I'll be having when I have to pay my AFE Quebec loan back.
    For this, I'll need to run a crowdfunding campaign close to the end of development after I get multiple feedbacks, because I need a publishing budget in order for my game to get out. And I'm not sure if I'm allowed to share the campaign on a UWaterloo Facebook group, because usually unauthorized solicitation or advertising is not allowed.
  • Work on multiple skills: public speaking, understanding abstract ideas, how not to take one meaning too seriously and instead look at other possible meanings, enhance my communication skills, and hopefully learn on how to do some leadership. I also want to enhance my friendship skills so that way people are interested in hanging out with me, as well as understand non-verbal communication and cues.
  • Managing stress and anxiety because then I could do things such as fixing my teeth, getting my bones checked, and change my diet. In addition, I could be more flexible to changes in my routines, be more friendly to people, and be part of groups where we just chat around and have some fun.
  • Explore new places outside of work and enjoy living in an apartment alone, except for when my parents and family have to call me up regarding family matters or other stuff.
  • Go out and have some fun, where one of the prime activities I want to do is play vintage arcade machines and computer games, watch a movie, or even attend conventions. (Just when will I get a chance to travel to Los Angeles and attend the Electronic Entertainment Expo? What about ComicCon at San Diego? Or all of those job and business fairs going on in major cities like Toronto?)
  • Be more flexible to donating more money to charities and international organizations, but I have to be careful not to donate too much that I can't pay my taxes, insurance, apartment rent, education, bills, and groceries.
  • Eventually hold a public speech with former 2012 Miss Montana pageant Alexis Wineman (from Montana), or Andrew Reams (DieselDucy on YouTube, famous for his videos on elevators) from Roanoke, Virginia.
  • Possibly be an Orientation Leader where I can share my experience of my first year at UWaterloo to other first-year students for inspiration. (When I did the Frosh Week in Engineering, we once got together in RCH 101 for some relevant information delivered by a few instructors and a few students, including one who is in Civil Engineering.)
  • Have a psychoeducational assessment done by UWaterloo's Centre for Mental Health Research. (Two reasons: I want to provide them with some input on what made me successful in Software Engineering 1A, and I should get some input on what areas I need to work on the most, then ask for support.)


Because I was really concerned about what were the multiple problems I have of myself, and how there is a risk associated with them, I have decided to set up two appointments, and I will set up an extra two when I head back to Waterloo. One appointment is with my AccessAbility advisor, and another one is with the counsellor I'm assigned to, where it is from the Engineering Counselling Department. One appointment I'm expected to set up really soon is Linda Davis herself; she said she's going to get in touch with me. And because I failed the English Language Proficiency Exam in September, I am to set up an appointment with the Writing Centre and discuss what are the things I need to work on and what I can do about them without having to worry too much about irrelevant things like me being too hard on myself.



The serious problem is, since I want to tackle Software Engineering 1B under a full course load again and will be under pressure for both homework and co-op, I won't really have that much time to work on improving my emotions and skills that I wish I can work on to be a proud university student. In addition, Counselling Services are so short on people that if I was to go get some more help, it would be health services outside of UWaterloo. But I can't afford it because it disrupts my budget for groceries and other expenses.

Instead, I can get some inspiration before the term and during the term for some short pointers, which is why I wrote this blog specifically to share with you. The thing is, I want to be empowered here at University of Waterloo, not disempowered. If I'm going to be successful as a student, I might as well be empowered. Otherwise, it's going to go against my parent's wishes for me to get a job and pursue excellent education outside of Quebec.

In summary, I am not feeling discouraged of the marks I've got for Software Engineering 1A. Instead, I am feeling totally discouraged about myself because I am too hard on myself, not thinking and communicating right, and I am having negative thoughts just way too often. This has got to stop...

Like I said once, and I'm going to say it again, I want to be empowered at University of Waterloo, not disempowered.

Would you please be so kind as to help me out succeed here in a better way?

A selfie of me wearing my Engineering Orientation 2014 T-shirt with my hardhat in front of a mirror in my room at UWaterloo's Village 1. (it's a residence complex)

FAQ

Q: Come on, Gregory! There's gotta be at least one thing you like about being a student at University of Waterloo! Can you tell me what it is?
A: Oh, I can definitely answer that alright. It is definitely so expensive having to be a student at UWaterloo, and so it seems I need to start looking for more things I like about this. Anyhow, one thing I definitely like about being a university student is, obviously it lets me identify, for myself, what are so many of the problems I got about me, and how I'm going to solve them. (Of course, you did see my problems already, and solving them isn't complete without personal opinion.)

But otherwise, it's the amount of diversity, the facilities available, the friendships built upon, and of course, some of the events and things going on sponsored and supported by University of Waterloo I would have happened to take some time and seek upon. Whatever it is, I never want to see a university be too perfect, because it's simply way too pressuring for such a prestigious university. And we all know that prestigious alone is quite abstract.

Q: Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
A: Absolutely. I was born in Longueuil, which is just off the island of Montreal to the southeast, in a region called Montérégie. Since my dad was into some programming languages before he took on a job for financial consulting regarding mining exploration, and my mom was a broker at RBC, I was thrilled into computer games and media. In fact, they were so nervous when they found out that I was too much into Pokémon after they bought me a Game Boy Color and Pokémon Blue. Alas, I have watched numerous shows and played multiple games. The most relevant childhood experience I can give is, I was really into the Nintendo 64, and whenever me and my family would go out, I would be enthusiastic to arcade machines as well.

But otherwise, now I'm an enthusiast on YouTube and love social networking. I also like some old computer games that can be downloaded from sites such as GOG.com. One thing I definitely miss for real is all of those Nintendo games I should have played over the past several years since I was so struggling too bad that I couldn't afford myself a 3DS and a Wii U, because I definitely do like Mario and Luigi, but seem to have too much love into Princess Peach and Daisy. (Hmm, I'm wondering what I can do with the millions of people to make sure that Shigeru Miyamoto and Charles Martinet have an awesome retirement, but that's not to offend them anyway because they deserve to be respected.)

Q: If we are to ask you more about your childhood memories and what you love, will you be able to answer by providing us somewhat with a long or full story?
A: Yes, but it will have to be in a separate blog because it's completely irrelevant to the point of this blog. Or, the worst case scenario, a book where I'd keep in touch with UWaterloo's Copyright Office to make sure I'm on the right track with my write-up before I sell it at, say, the bookstore, at a price for whatever works best for all students and faculty members. (I have written a book before, but it was removed last summer because I made a very serious mistake regarding copyright that I've learned about it from a Facebook group. I wasn't caught at all, but since I learnt from it, the next time I do a media project that I want to do, I want to make everything completely original. I want to start communicating with officials to see if I'm allowed to use certain content of their own with possibly a deal. But perhaps later when I finally make money and I become much more empowered as a student.)

Q: What was your best course for Software Engineering 1A?
A: SE 101: Introduction to Methods of Software Engineering. Although I did had issues with getting used to university life and my partners, especially with one of them liking the use of some profanity, and we had some trouble with our Scribbler robot project because they, along with their Fluke dongles, were cheap, I really liked the topics discussed. In fact, because I want to eventually build a computer game of my own to build experience and help me be empowered, where I can ease off some of the stress with the money part, I should start using the techniques discussed in lectures and have a meeting with the directors to read through what I came up with for some feedback before moving on. After all, I'm pretty sure all of these basic engineering techniques are to be used when I have my co-op terms.

Q: How old were you when you had your diagnosis?
A: Two years old. I'm pretty sure my parents were so heartbroken when they found out because they repetitively argued that I was not going to get this far. Not even Quebec college or high school.

Q: What was your favourite part of Engineering Orientation 2014?
A: Most likely that mock-up of Family Feud in Mathematics 3, inside this lecture hall I was in back at UWaterloo's Fall Open House in November 2013.

Q: This blog sucks (or, in a more approriate sense, boring, irrelevant, or not really fun to what I'm interested in). What can I do?
A: By all means, if you think you are not interested in providing me some insight in becoming a better UWaterloo student, be my guest and you can go do whatever interests you or whatever you must do. However, if you do have time and you are interested in understanding me, or providing me some insight, then why do you have to say “I'm not going to read this at all because this is a very bad blog” when you haven't read it yet?

Q: This blog is sort of confusing. Can you please give us a quick summary?
A: I'm introducing myself, explaining why I'm a student at University of Waterloo, pointing out the problems I found of myself during my first term, the consequences, and what are the things I want to do. That's pretty much all the relevant things discussed here.

Q: Why did you decide to tackle Software Engineering 1A under a full course load? Why did you decide not to have a meeting with the program staff to reduce your load?
A: It was stressful, yes, but I decided to give it a shot because it took me three years to complete my DEC in Computer Science and Mathematics. I spent my first year initially in Computer Science, but in one meeting with my academic advisor, she found out that in order for me to get into the Computer Games program at McGill, I have to take mathematics, physics, and chemistry. And so, she decided to switch me over to Computer Science and Mathematics, which was only available starting Fall 2012. I don't think I really decided to reduce my course load because I knew I was going to have a few potential consequences afterwards, especially when I'd rather try to get a job and get some help on my issues and such so that way I'm definitely ready to take on new duties. As you can see

Q: If you said “Computer Games” for McGill, why did you chose Software Engineering at University of Waterloo?
A: My dad and his girlfriend convinced me to go into engineering, since computer game design does involve software engineering. Then again, I'd only wish I can sign up to be a junior game designer in UWaterloo's Games Institute and Game Development Club where we would work on a game together, and have some of our university staff be recognized in the credits for our game. (For example, I would see Dr. Morton as producer, the engineering dean as our executive producer, and even our university president as our senior executive producer. But since they are more concerned about university, it may be too much or too irrelevant to list them as such if they decide to touch with us for a bit to see how our project is going.) Alas, it's not possible right now because I have yet to learn on how to apply for co-ops and be successful in the candidacy process efficiently, as well as how to be extremely efficient with my homework. Even then, would I ever be myself that way? (Not that I don't want to lose my own self-awareness, but I did remember seeing something on a show a very long time ago that a 12-year-old in India was administered into a university.)

Q: “Our university staff?” What makes you say that?
A: This is something I haven't asked my professors or even my AccessAbility Advisor to see if this is really true and appropriate, but even though I am not really volunteering for leadership at the moment, I still want to say “I represent University of Waterloo.” Since I'm a student there, I might as well say to all the other students that they represent University of Waterloo too. In fact, anyone registered there represents the university at the same time. It's just a sense of spirituality and pride, because after all, why wouldn't it when it's considered one of the top engineering universities in Canada? (Earlier this term, a website labelled this university #1 for software developers.)

Q: Do you even have friends at University of Waterloo?
A: Not exactly. I do know multiple people, mostly my classmates. But we are so busy we rarely have time to go hang out and have a blast. The only exception is when we are back home from the day for co-ops or during the weekends, although there is no guarantee. (That's because whenever I get usually bored, I'm too used to watching so many YouTube videos or trying out an old video game without really talking to my old friends about it. But I do miss the fun part of not talking about them with my friends.)

Q: What services provided by AccessAbility do you use?
A: Primarily extra time for exams because I'm really slow at them. It gives me a chance to think better without the strong sense of pressure that I believe other students would be able to handle. (I wouldn't necessarily say it's unfair. I think it's more an adaptable technique for people with an official medical diagnoses for special needs to get through exams, optimistically at the level that professors usually expect.) Otherwise it would be a few checkups because they simply want to make sure that I'm doing okay.

Q: What made you receive 88% in Linear Algebra and 73% in Calculus I?
A: Before I enrolled in MATH 115 (Linear Algebra), I have taken a linear algebra course before at CEGEP. But I had a burnout at the end of the semester where I couldn't study for the final test as much as I hoped, and so my final mark for that course was 76% instead of 80% or higher. Thanks to the help from my professor and my TA, as well as looking through the solutions to the assignments and quizzes, when I did the final exam, I found out it was much easier than I anticipated. (The only thing is, I couldn't answer the five questions at the end involving proofs; instead, I answered two of them with the time I had.)

As for MATH 117, it was more likely the final exam, because it counted for 65% of the final mark. It turned out to be more harder than I thought, especially when it took place the day before my ECE 140. Because I only scored 58.75% in my ECE 140 midterm for not studying enough, but 84.5% in my MATH 117 midterm, I had to shift my focus more to preparing for the final exam for ECE 140. (Thanks to this, I earned, for ECE 140, 80% as my final grade.)

Q: Why haven't you joined a sports team? Why haven't you joined a club or a group? I mean, can you really see the advantages of being in one if you really are into developing leadership or some skills to where you want to go?
A: The most logical reason I can think of, although my parents don't always see it as an excuse since they are very concerned about how I spend my day, is the load of homework I receive every day. Therefore, I barely had time to join a sports team or a club, or even have a part-time job with the kitchen staff, bookstore, whatever seems advantageous for job integration. But otherwise, it's more about me trying to managing my emotions and figuring out something that I want to talk about with people where it suits their interests. Then again, since computer games and Internet is my thing, not everyone is really interested in talking about this. And of course, I still got issues of myself to this day, and that's referring to the things I've explained earlier in my blog.

Nevertheless, I do see that these are some of the relevant skills I am to develop since they tend to be realistic.

Q: Do you have any awards / recognitions you've earned from the past?
A: Sure thing. The most important I can think of is the Principal's Award for when I was a student at the only English elementary school in my hometown: Boucherville Elementary, ran by the Riverside School Board. Other important awards is the so-called “Honours Roll” fame at Heritage Regional High School for four years straight, the School Champion Medal for the CEMC 2009 Pascal Contest, and of course, a $100 graduation grant for participating in a talent act where it was a lip sync of Justin Bieber's “Pray.” (I don't like him anymore, but I did it under this song because the show was a sad reminder to the victims of the earthquake that hit Haiti really bad in January 2010. The show took place in February 2011 at my high school, organized by my Secondary 3 English teacher.)

Q: You said in your last question something about CEMC. What is it, and did you do anything else related to it?
A: Believe it or not, CEMC is owned by University of Waterloo. It's called the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, where they hold annual competitions. And I actually participated in the 2014 Canadian Computing Competition; by surprise, most of us at Champlain College Saint-Lambert were at the top in the results. But I wasn't because the other folks scored a full 75 points; I got 72 since I decided to put in redundant input checking in my programs.

Q: Since you are going into co-op which will help you with your employment skills, now that you are out of language discrimination, can you describe yourself in five optimistic words?
A: I am caring, responsible, smart, organized, and attentive to detail.

Q: What are your major weaknesses? List five of them.
A: I'm pretty sure you can see them already by simply combining your understanding of what I said earlier in this blog, but nevertheless I'll answer this question. However, I cannot say them this way when I have my job interviews because if I do, the employers will automatically reject my candidacy, and since I'm in co-op, I'll be in big trouble. Even worse, it definitely goes against me very badly, which ruins my self-esteem. I'm going to say it once, but I'm not going to answer this question this way anymore after this because no one is even ever interested in reading this. And when I say ever, I mean totally ever.

The five weaknesses I got are that I am often pushing myself way too hard, easily discouraged or stressed, sometimes not very logical with my approach to answering questions or even speaking up, trouble understanding and catching abstract ideas (especially in English reading), and I definitely do have too many anxieties.

Q: Based on reading this blog, I am wondering if you went through special health services that allowed you to cope with many of the symptoms regarding to your diagnosis?
A: I have, thanks to my parents. Although I can't give so many details about it because I feel it's totally not right for me to do so for a public audience, the most important detail I can give is, I went through a special therapy service given out by a local therapy organization in Montreal for about three years. Technically my father told me I had a file with them since I had my diagnosis. And to help them discover what would be their next serious concerns about how I was going to perform later at school, I went through a psychoeducational assessment in early 2006.

Q: Do you have something else you can show us about your intensive struggle from your autism diagnosis?
A: Just this YouTube video I uploaded last summer; it was a recording of my graduation ceremony at elementary school. I put it there because I've learned that by now, whenever parents would learn about their child or children had a diagnosis for autism, they would say, "oh, no! What am I going to do to help him/her/them?! I feel dejected... I don't think my child/children is going to get really far in education!" This is really to show that even with a diagnosis, a child diagnosed with it will be able to get through school. (Then again, it always depends on the degree of the diagnosis, because symptoms are not exactly the same for all people diagnosed with it.)

Q: Where can we find you other than Facebook (and on campus)?
A: You can follow me on Twitter (GregoryDes), Instagram (GregPDesIG), Pinterest, or even Google+. I do have a LinkedIn account, but don't expect it to be complete just yet because I have yet had a chance to practice my candidacy skills and build them up on my resume and my LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is more for regarding employment.

I also have my own Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheAspergerComputerGregDes?ref=hl


Me in the Stand Up to Stigma social networking photo campaign.


If you have any questions, comments, or compliments you want to offer, please write them right here, or write a comment on the post I've shared this on social networks. Otherwise, you can leave me a message about your overall impressions, complaints, or anything you want to discuss.

Otherwise, thank you for reading, and happy holidays!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Game to Develop for the rest of Summer 2014 - Brainstorming (Shortened)

Game Ideas:

1. (Based on Taito's ARKANOID series and Atari's Breakout)
I would design a block-and-paddle game where you need to move the paddle left and right accordingly to direct the ball to hit the blocks. You would have powerups, certain difficulty settings, a custom level designer, and certain modes of play.
Modes:

- Classic
- Endurance
- Time Attack
- Brick Breaker
- Local Multiplayer
- Profile
- Options

2. A cannon game where the cannon is drawn at the bottom of the screen to where a scrolling image or something of interest is drawn; perhaps a gradient to simulate a horizon. The user can move the cannon sideways, and is able to rotate using either the mouse or the arrow buttons. The game would be to shoot down a whole bunch of enemies that come and go, something like a mix of Raiden, Galaga, and maybe Atari's Missile Command.


3.  A hard game based off of Flappy Bird, a very small and hard computer game to where it was taken off of stores because it infringed Nintendo's original artwork for one of their SNES games. I can't tell exactly where they came from, but I can tell that the bird had sprites based off of a Cheep Cheep, while the obstacles that people struggle to get around were Warp Pipes.
Mine would be some kind of hoverjet riding through different kinds of tunnels that get narrower and narrower until a potential minimal size, as well as placing these openings in different vertical positions. In addition, at the user's convenience, either a custom speed would be used, or that the user selects a starting speed and overtime, the speed increases.
This is after a series of Facebook comments I've exchanged with one of my acquaintances who was at my college. He states that with such a hard and simple game, making sure that there is a current score and best score, it would drive a lot of people's attention into it.

(EDIT [July 8, 2014]: It appears I was wrong on why the game was taken down. Someone on Facebook from the Indie Game Chat told me that the game was actually taken down because Flappy Bird received so much negative attention to it.

In addition, this idea will definitely not be used in my project, because I got word from the group saying that clones of Flappy Bird deserve negative reception as well.)


4. A rather boring text-based adventure that I would write the story first before I program it. There would be options to change the font used in this program, with a few predefined fonts, as well as how fast the text is printed character by character.
The stories I would write and then program on would involve those on fantasy, girl's stories, fiction, action, adventure, comedy, fables, classics, legend, realistic fiction, science fiction, suspense / thriller, children's literature, or comic novel.


5. A Bomberman-type game where a character can elimate enemies and obstacles with bombs. It would take place in several different thematic worlds across a storyline that the player can progress through as he plays. There would also be the option to play two players, assuming that the keyboard can respond to the various commands as needed.


6. A retro side-scrolling shooter. Inspired by Sanxion from a Finnish programmer that was released for the Commodore 64. Bit mapping and sprites would be used to develop the game, and of course, a storyline would be created so that way the game is more fun than just standing alone. Parallax scrolling would be used as well.


7. A game based off of Namco's ToyPop, only that I generate a theme myself, and I decide on how a player or two can interact with the characters to defeat certain enemies.
The story would be where two intellectually smart children, one night during the summer, where they are taken inside some magic portal into a world of overwhelming mathematics and physics. They find out that their beloved
The enemies would be things that are personified and have senses; rulers, pencils, erasers, pens, packs of paper, binders, duotangs, pocket folders, things you can think of. Desks are the sources of those materials these children must destory.
To advance a level, the children need to find the key to unlock the classroom door, because the


8. A Snake game.
There are at least two variants where I can develop one of them, but not both, because the second one takes more time than the first.

First Choice:
A simple polygon or token-like snake game where you have an area the snake is in, and you have to eat as much bait as you can. Each bait lengthens your snake by one unit, and you are given several points. If the snake hits a side wall, or overlaps itself, it's game over.
There are only four directions you can do, and you can't do diagonals: up, left, right, and down.
There will be seven difficulty settings, where each one has different speeds, and thus it is up to the player to decide which speed the snake should move across the given space in order to get the bait. There will also be a side option to whether or not the speed should increase overtime, and hence the difficulty is the starting speed. Otherwise, the speed is static, and the only challenge that loads overtime is the snake's length.
The difficulties are: Boring, Very Easy, Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard, Intense
There will be an option whether you want to have a time bonus for each bait, or not. What happens then is, you will be given a certain time limit to catch that bait and get the time bonus you want. Three bonus options are available: same limit but score multiplication based on difficulty, different time limits with same worth of points, and different time limits with difficulty-based score multiplication.
To add to the fun into this game, the player can enter their highscores. There are different highscore boards for different types of gameplay as depicted by the options; each board will hold 100 records, with the top 10 emphasized.

Second Choice:
A more realistic top-down game where you can move the snake around in all 360° of rotation, where it is simply a series of dots, or even a paint stroke, to where when you turn, all parts of the snake turn in response as well.
The difficulties and how the scoring works is the same as the first choice. The game would have several different backgrounds and modes to how you want to play the game, so that way you are not paying attention to just a one-color or multiple-color tone background with a different-coloured snake all the time.
Modes:
- Classic
- Challenge Mode
- Endurance
- Time Attack
- Multiplayer (Classic, Challenge Mode, Snake Battle)
The backgrounds of the game would be built up of various themes, although it may be hard to draw. Sometimes it would be better to do pixel artwork than having to work on a fully-detailed artwork, because then there would not be that much work involved in creating spectacular sprites and backgrounds.
Highscores are also used the same way as first choice.

9. A top-down rail shooting game, with some basic graphical design and detailing. It's something like Raiden developed by Seibu Kaihatsu. Pixel art will be used to design the backgrounds and such; the advantage of this is, it will make the player think this is retro style, and in addition, because of its low resolution for the sprites and backgrounds, except for the user interface, not much space nor time is needed to load the resources and put them together.


10. A racing game involving simple polygons and easy-to-implement steering, although different types of polygons will have different statuses. It will be a top-down racing game with a lap time, best time, and race time.
The simple polygons include equilateral triangles, isosceles triangles, squares, pentagons, hexagons, some combined shapes with one another, and will have different liveries.
Modes of Gameplay:
- Arcade
- Championship
- Single Race
- Time Attack
- Score Attack
- Free Roam
- Multiplayer
- Extras
Difficulty settings, many courses, secrets, as well as shapes to unlock for racing.

In all the ideas described above, at least two modes are preserved: Profile, and Options.
The Profile Mode has the following options:
- Achievements
- Rewards
- Load Profile
- Save Profile
- Delete Profile

The Options Mode has the following options:
- Profile Options
- Performance Settings
- Game Settings
- Music Settings
- Sound Settings
- Graphics Settings
- Controller Settings

Music and sound is a must for the game to be developed. Music and sound that are licensed through the Creative Commons license or any other copyleft license shall be researched and used for the game.


Additional Touches to the game, assuming that the game is big enough that the player is interested in checking them out:
- Quotes from famous people around the world, including authors, advocates, philantropists, historians, and some other key people that can encourage the player to persevere on this game. By using these quotes and combining the meaning with my own from the game, it should make the player feel so influenced and such that they decide to tackle this positively, with a positive light and a positive feeling.
- Load custom music from your computer
- Change the font and styling of the User Interface
- Creating secrets in the game that the player can come across with at any time.
- Additional units to control the player has to unlock first.
- Achievements, sort of like Trophies in PS3 and PS4 games, and Achievements in Xbox 360 and Xbox One games.
- Fullscreen Display
- Different qualities of visuals for more efficient execution, since higher quality visuals involve more RAM memory, and thus the processors may not be able to change some specifics of them fast enough for fast-moving play.
- Loading Utility and other loading screens
- Credits Screen




I am open to comments and any suggestions you have for me. Please exchange contact with me about this and we'll see what I can do to better improve the quality of my game before and during development.
Once again, because we are using work that use the copyleft license and not created by me or anyone I'm hiring (I am too short of money to hire someone to do some work on this), I cannot run this game for profit. There would be another crowdfunding campaign I could work on, but the problem is, it'll take too much time to get the money needed, as well as ruining the schedule I have to finish preparing for University of Waterloo.





Please let me know what you think! 






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