Tag Archives: development

Phobias

Javascript used to scare me.  I simply didn’t understand it, or what was going on.  I had done pretty well just using plug-ins and off-the-shelf solutions.  It was silly but I was comfortable in my phobia.  “This crap doesn’t make sense and I’m not a genius.” and the excuse machine that I maintained well just kept on producing. So there came I time where I was cornered and had to write some custom JS.  “Fine” I said, “whatever gets me through this.”  So I got it to work.  “That’s it?  Why was I afraid of this?”.  I recognized that there isn’t any magic going on, just a logical proceedure.  Phobia removed.

This led to forcing myself to logically review other bits of code, be it JS, PHP, Rails, Python, etc.  There’s always a pattern.  They’re always doing something pretty logical.  For those times where I have no clue, I’m forced to remind myself that “Hey, a human mind built this, so a human mind can solve it”.

Logical thought doesn’t exactly result from any particular training.  It’s just a valuable habit.

A habit that’s deadly against phobias.

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Dilligence

I’m helping a student go through the Iron Yard code academy.  It’s good because I not only share what helped me, but I remember the hopeless and lost feeling that came right before those great ‘AHA!’ moments.

So I got to go along for the ride, giving advice, pointing to references, and doing what I can short of giving him the answer.  That’s really what I wanted to do, but he wouldn’t really learn if I did that.

Yesterday they were off from school so he attended 3 different study groups to try and get a handle on some javascript.  All of this is new to him, he just started last week!

Yesterday I was swamped at work and couldn’t help out much so I had to keep putting him off until I got home.  Even then I was so exhausted from work (and sore from running this weekend) that I forgot until about 9pm.

I had a few emails that went like this:

“Hey I’m struggling with this, what’s a callback?”

“Dude I don’t know where to start, have any go-to pointers?”

“I’m going to my 3rd study group today, still don’t have a clue”

Before I could write back, he sent me one more:

“Hey man we figured it out!  I’m so happy that this worked out! We just didn’t give up and now it works! Check out my github and comment!”

This is the best email I could get!  I didn’t help him, he figured it out!  Getting news like this is a breath of fresh air and now I’m revisiting it while telling you.

Nice way to kick off this Tuesday!

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse, wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out. Gentlemen, as of this moment, I am that second mouse.”

Yes he is…

Mentoring

How fast you turn from student to teacher in this industry.  Crazy.

Only a few months ago I was asking myself if I would even make it in this new career. Now I’m helping others get into it and get through it.

Their thoughts and concerns bring back not only memories of when I felt the same thing, but also the little tricks I used to get myself out.  I continue to refine my outlook on the things I do professionally and as a hobby.

As a distance runner, I’m not out there at full bore – giving it all I’ve got every step.  That would be a sprint and I’d only make it to the end of the block.  I carefully think of things to improve my run.  I look at running as a balance of machinery.  My arms have to swing enough to benefit my legs and, using synced momentum, take some of the load from my legs.  This is incredibly helpful, and you’ll find you can rest during a run.  Further refined, you can start intentionally running with your arms creating most of the momentum while your legs aren’t necessarily driving you but catching you.  You’re almost low-level hopping.  You have to do funny things like that to go the distance.

Coding is the same to me.  You can’t sprint all the time, learning every possible thing all at once and be an expert after 1 or 2 days.  You need to set a pace, learn a little, refine your learning a little, and repeat.  Then you’ll be able to go on these distant runs (projects, hackathons, etc) because you’ve refined things.

I hope this makes sense.  I am trying to convey a similar concept to new students of web development.  Constant refinement, being in running, coding, or working on cars, whatever.

I don’t know it all, and neither do you.  But we’re all working on it, aren’t we?

and in the news

http://www.wired.com/2015/01/president-obama-waging-war-hackers/?mbid=social_twitter

If you read the above article, hasn’t it pretty much always been this way?

So what constitues a ‘hacker’?  Is it the ability to program?  Is it just having a basic enough understanding of the terminal to throw commands at linux?  Is having kali enough to be arrested nowadays?

I live across the street from some pretty sharp CS majors and I have to scan my wireless a lot.  I live in a small 4 unit building and supply internet to the other 3 tenants, so needless to say I don’t want 10 other people on there as well. So I use a few tools to keep things safe and routinely look for entry points.  I’m breaking into my own network.

So from the point of view of my neighbors, since I provide internet to them and defend it as much as I can, just having the idea that I can slip into their computers and have a look – can they bring legal action against me? We’re all friends, but who’s to say one of them gets mad and calls the cops saying I broke into their computer?  No evidence of intrusion exists.

Maybe the evidence would be the tools I keep on the computers.  Maybe I should delete them and hide my head in the sand and just trust that no one will jump on our wifi again.

Maybe we should all stay inside, lock the doors, and hope nothing ever happens.

Come on.

How about this, if only there were a freely distributed version of linux that has pen testing already built in?  What if it’s so easy you don’t have to really know what’s up?  What if we just give it to a whole bunch of people, in which case everyone will have at least some basic defense with the option of learning how to protect yourself.

Oh, this has been around?

So everyone’s a hacker I guess.  Hey, if you have terminal on your computer then you’re a hacker.

Didn’t even know it did ya?

If I’m off base, feel free to correct me.  I’m no activist, just observing.

State of the Dev Community

I really do enjoy being a developer!  I mean I’m getting into it more and more each day!  It’s complicated and you have to master several concepts just to get moving but there’s such a great and helpful community around you!

When I got serious into development and decided to make it a profession I immediately ran into a roadblock.  I started at community college and it was so ultra-competitive- which isn’t bad – but no one would share information with anyone.  This is probably because there were about 50(?) of us competing for about 10 jobs.  I really felt like I was on an island and I would have to figure out everything myself.

My last semester I had an instructor who obviously loved teaching.  He taught our network security class.  Talk about someone who really embodied the open-source idea – he wanted ALL of us to know what he knew and build upon it.  That spirit completely engulfed the class and we weren’t trying to beat each other up anymore.

Fast-forward 2 years, after going through code school, I’m working in a start-up where we’re doing a few things new to me.  I’m on deadlines and I’ve got to perform because there’s only 4 of us on the creative team!  Luckily community is huge.  There is always someone who’s been in your shoes before and are willing to take a few minutes to help out!  This really spurrs the idea that ’sky is the limit’.  It’s great!  It’s a great feeling when you can help someone else out as well!

The state of the dev community?  Very good and getting better!

If you’re a developer – remember to pay it forward and help someone.  It’ll completely make their day and they’ll do it for someone else as well.

Looking Back

So although I’ve some catching up to do, we’re at the end of our #10daysbetterblog challenge.  Like many things, I realize right now that I learned a pretty good bit more than I thought.

Of course like I mentioned earlier, time management.

Just a small 15-20 minute window can really be effective!  Also getting in the rhythm of doing your writing at the same time everyday has become my big go-to!

Music is pretty important as well.  It’s great to be able to slip off into the ‘writing world’ with some good tunes!  I completely wore out Dave Matthews Band “Best of What’s Around”.

I thought it was a good idea to re-read my posts from these 10 days and it’s a really good roadmap of where my thoughts were going.  What’s better is I remember thinking about perspectives or possibilities that I forgot to write down and come back to!

I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone else’s writing too!  I’m glad I got to get to know you a little.  I would read some posts and go ‘Wow, I completely get THAT!!’.  So much of it is so relatable!

So where to go from here?  Well I’m now in the habit of writing so I won’t stop that.  Created a bit of organization to make it not feel like a chore.  I like being a part of this community and I will make it a point to remain active, as I hope all of you will too!

Thanks to all of you and thanks to Saddington for bringing all this together!

Until tomorrow.

Getting Back on Track

Since the new year my routine has been a little crazy.  Along with work, I have accepted 2 short side projects, restarted this blog, started my long distance runs again, and completely just felt drained.

My creativity was just shot.

I know I didn’t take on too much, what I have found is that if I don’t have a routine to stick to then my time management flies out the window.

I read this somewhere recently (Saddington probably said it) but if you have a routine, you don’t have to create your day from scratch.  That’s leaving lots of brain processing for thinking creatively.  It reduces stress, that’s for sure.

Like this blog for instance – I know that it’s going to be the first thing I do today online.  I’ll get it done before I jump on my first project for the workday.  Of course this may sound like ‘Life 101’ to most of you guys, but it’s easy for me to get off course if I don’t have that kind of structure.

I’m more free to think about the blog.

I’m more apt to use my countdown timer for the blog and my projects for the day.  Hey this has been super-helpful because I have to do quite a bit of research for each project and it’s easy to get sucked into the technical rabbit hole!  My timer goes off and I realize ‘OK, I got what I came for.  Back to the job.’

I get off work and go run 40 minutes – no excuses.  That one frees me up for the longer weekend runs.  I’m already prepared to take it on.  Don’t even have to think about it.

I didn’t really make structuring my days a priority last year and I realize I wasted a lot of time.  So this is my mid-January New Years’ resolution.

Take it easy guys!