why not to say “it’s easy”; 8 interpretations

I recently took the AWS Practitioner test. When speaking to a number of people who took the exam before me, I heard a lot of “it’s easy.” That simple phrase doesn’t convey much information and has the potential to make people feel bad.

Curious why? Keep reading for the many possible interpretations of “it’s easy”. I’m writing this in the context of a test, but it applies to tasks and skills as well. For example, I find coding “easy”, but many people do not.

Option 1: “It’s Easy; the test covered things I knew”

If someone doesn’t know the material already, he/she will have to study. Which means work and not “easy”.

Option 2: “It’s Easy; there were no trick questions”

Having straightforward questions is definitely easier than trick questions! Saying that conveys more information than “it’s easy”

Option 3: “It’s Easy; the test covered what I studied”

Without knowing what you studied, the listener isn’t likely to have the same experience.

Option 4: “It’s Easy; it’s not technical”

In the case of the AWS Practitioner exam, target candidates include technologists, sales and finance. This means there is a limit to how technical the questions can be. Personally, I like technical questions so non-technical questions aren’t necessarily easier.

Option 5: “It’s Easy; it was mostly memorization”

People vary extensively in their memorization skills. I’m not good at memorizing facts. Understanding things is something I’m good at. Retaining information in a context is also something I’m good at. Remembering random facts, not so much. Which means I’m going to find an exam that focuses on memorization far harder than one that involves coding and rules like the Java certification.

Option 6: “It’s Easy; I forgot how hard it was”

People frequently forget how difficult something seems before they understand or know it. For example, I bet you find it easy to tie your shoes. Now go find a four year old and she if that child finds it easy. This means that an exam is likely to seem easier after the fact. (I *so* wanted to say “it’s easy to forget how difficult…”)

As an author, we constantly need to fight this reason for “it’s easy.” Our readers are unlikely to think everything is easy. We have to remember what it is like to not yet understand the concept.

Option 7: “It’s Easy; I passed”

Sometimes people think that if they can do something, everyone can. Sometimes it comes from how the person views themselves and sometimes from other things. But most exams are set up so not everyone passes. Which doesn’t mean it is “easy” if you passed.

Option 8: “It’s Easy; I want to be seen as smart/knowledgeable”

Sometimes people say something was easy when the person thinks it is hard. The idea is to seem smarter/more knowledgable/more clever in front of others. Like a form of boasting. “Oh, you thought that was hard? I thought it was easy”

In conclusion

There’s at least eight interpretations for what “it’s easy” could mean. So they next time someone asks you how an exam/task/etc is, use more than two words! Conveying actual information will help the person asking. And it will avoid the person feeling bad if it isn’t easy for that individual!

Editing eps files on a Mac

Scott and I need to edit some .eps files. Scott has Adobe Illustrator. I do not. Adobe no longer sells Illustrator. Instead Adobe offers a subscription for $21/month. They also offer a free trial. Given that I edit documents infrequently, I don’t want to pay for a subscription. (It cost over $200 before they switched to a subscription which is also more than I want to pay for my infrequent access.) For a while, Scott was editing all the documents to get around this problem.

Viewing eps files

This is easy. Viewing eps files works in Mac Preview

Creating/editing eps files

Inkscape allows creating/editing eps files (and svg files and other formats.) It works on most operating systems.

Here’s how I installed it on my Mac. (I donated money to Inkscape. But not $20 a month!)

  1. Install XQuartz
  2. Install Inkscape
  3. Log out and log back into Mac

Using Inkscape to create a file

The basic tutorial on the tutorials page gave me everything I needed to get started. It took a little time to get used to zoom mode being enabled when I wasn’t expecting it and selecting elements. But I was quickly able to create my image and exporting it to an eps file.

Using Inkscape to open a file

Inkscape gives an error when trying to open a file:

Failed to load the requested file xxx.eps

Luckily, there is an easy workaround. Macs can open an eps file in preview mode. You can save that to PDF and then open the PDF in Inkscape. I was able to edit the shapes and text from the imported PDF. Thank you to this blog post for the tip!