Simple Programmer’s Email Course on Blogging

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to say that I’m writing about John Sonmez (a.k.a. the Simple Programmer) and his email course on setting up your own software development blog because he told me to do so. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like it or that it holds no value for you or me. The truth couldn’t be further away.

Over the course of three weeks, you get two emails per week, each with a clearly defined task for you to complete. The perks of this format are obvious: you know what you need to do, you know when you need to do what you need to do, and, most of all, you don’t have to decide what to do.

As you can tell, this blog doesn’t have very many posts on it (yet!). But, I can still tell you how doing this has helped me:

  • That which is measured gets done. The act of writing down what I have done and what I will do makes it easy to see what works, what didn’t, and how I can adjust and plan for the upcoming week appropriately.
  • I’ve been forced to reflect on the work I’ve done as part of generating ideas for this blog. This ties into the point above, in that I have to engage at a deeper level with the material I’m working with, which cements concepts in my mind.

If you’ve ever thought about writing your own blog (or even if you haven’t), I highly recommend John’s course as a jumping-off point. Consider it to be like training wheels that have been raised off the ground: he’ll help you get going, but once you get going, it really isn’t that hard to keep going. I’d also like to mention that, while John is aiming to reach software developers, the principles of his course are helpful even to those outside the field. I shared my emails with my writer husband, who has set up his own blog recently.

What I Did, Volume 1

This is a new series that documents software development-related work I’ve done the previous week. As the old adage goes, that which is measured gets done, and there’s nothing like broadcasting to the world that you’ve done nothing to motivate the self, right?

  • I finished Lesson 2 of Udacity’s version control course (How to Use Git and GitHub), and as of Friday, I am about half way through lesson 3.
  • I converted an old script someone at my company wrote back in the day from VBA to VB.NET. I need to write a script that takes data returned from SQL tables and outputs it in RTF. Obviously, lots of tables, each its own size, are required. Joy.

Lessons 1 and 2 of the course on version control cover the basics of git, and lesson 3 covers code sharing via GitHub. I haven’t used either of these tools outside the course, but I’m eager to integrate these tools into both my work and my studies. I have never used anything more than the most primitive versions of version control (that is, I save multiple copies and label them with different numeric suffixes). This has to be better.

The script for work threw me for a loop at first. For some odd reason, I thought that the output had to be in HTML and only after spending all Friday morning trying to learn how to create such tables using SQL data in Visual Studio, I realized that a)that was NOT what I was supposed to be doing and b)out software doesn’t display HTML in the documents I was to generate anyway. Luckily, I found a script that converted SQL to RTF one of my colleagues wrote back in the day, and after a couple of hours, I had an updated version written in VB.NET

What’s next?

  • Going through Think Python as a refresher. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve touched Python, and after the time I put into learning it using 6.00.1x, I’m loath to lose this perishable skill. I also have access to CodeWars, so I’m looking to get back into that as well.
  • Finishing the course on version control
  • Beginning Udacity’s Intro to HTML and CSS