My Computer Issues

Right now, I do all of my work (both personal and professional) on a Lenovo ThinkPad T440 that’s hooked up to all sorts of external peripherals. On it, I dual boot Windows 7 (I’m eager to see Windows 10) and Fedora 22.

You know what annoys me? Some of my stuff only works in Fedora (coughTrimagecough) and some of my stuff only works in Windows (coughDisplayLinkcough).

The one place where all of my stuff (or close alternatives) work? OS X.

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg writes that her grandmother’s business acumen resulted in a “profit margin that Apple would envy.” It is comical, and the story of Ms. Sandberg’s grandmother is one of the anecdotes I liked best from Lean In, but it is less comical when you’re considering a Mac to keep you keeping on.

And so, after much spelunking on the Interwebs and a weekend spent futzing with compatibility issues and the like, we are now saving our pennies for a mid-range MacBook Pro. There is something to be said about using what everyone else is using, and by not doing so, I more time that I would’ve liked trying to figure things out on my own.

What I Did, Volume 6

What I Did is a 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?

This week felt weird. I don’t know how to describe it, but it felt like I did a lot of work with not a lot to show for it.

  • I spent a lot of time reading and taking notes on Think Python, not because I can’t write Python at all, but because of the theory behind the Python. I thought I would be working through this faster than I actually am, and at the end of the week, I had only made it through chapter 3.
  • I finished Udacity’s Responsive Web Design Fundamentals, which was a whirlwind tour of all things responsive (obviously). It was nice to see all the things that exist for making sites pretty and responsive, but I don’t feel like I got much out of the class that I could use (ten miles wide, less than an inch deep), but…
  • I began Udacity’s Responsive Images course, which is making me feel better about my inability to *do* anything after the overview course mentioned above. I’ve begun working with Grunt to automate image alterations, and I’ve installed RIOT and ImageMagick (which I will be learning how to use soon enough).

What’s next?

Recent Reads

lean-in-by-sheryl-sandberg_original

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg

I don’t know if this is true, but there are those who like Sheryl and those who don’t, and those who fall in the former have read her book, while those who fall in the latter have only read things about her book.

I first read Sheryl’s book in December, and I liked it so much that I just reread it. I think of her as a mentor (Sheryl, if you’re reading this, I know to never ask the “Are you my mentor question?”), and her advice is what prompted me to pull on my big girl undies and ask if I could return to a full-time schedule while working from home after the recent birth of my child. In addition, every time I second guess myself, feel insecure about the work I’ve done, or engage in self-flagellation to the point where I’m tempted to throw in the towel, I remember Sheryl’s admonition to lean in…and I do.

With my economics background, I’m well-aware that one cannot have it all. It defies the laws of eonomics, and in my opinion, the laws of reality. But, this book reaffirmed for me that we can potentially have the things that mean most to us and by leaning in, we can make this happen.

life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up-kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo

If you look at my workspace, it’s pretty tidy. That’s because I firmly believe that cluttered space = cluttered mind. I picked up this book, however because clutter. is. everywhere. else. in my house. Marie says there are two types of tidying: the kind where you put back something you’ve been using and the kind where you’re doing full-area sweeps for out-of-place objects. The goal of this book (and mine as well) is to eliminate the latter type. What I like most about the KonMari method of tidying, which is what this book is about, is that it places the person’s desires and what brings that person’s joy above all else when deciding what to keep. I believe Marie when she says that her clients never rebound: when you’re the one making decisions on what to keep, based on what makes you happy, you don’t reverse your decision the way you might if you followed someone else’s rules (“throw out anything you haven’t worn in 2 months” and so on).

I got the Kindle version of this book out of the library, but I liked it so much and have plans to implement her method, so I’ll be picking up a print copy the next time our family’s Amazon purchase day rolls around.

the-power-of-habig-duhigg

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

Where the War of Art talks about Resistance, what it is, and how it is the biggest roadblock to attaining your goals, I consider The Power of Habit to be a practical, how-to manual on identifying the triggers for our habits and how to change them so that the things we want to do become habit, rather than the things we don’t care to do. There’s too much in this book to give it justice in a paragraph, but if you’re looking to make long-term changes in your life, I recommend this book.

What I Did, Volume 5

What I Did is a 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?

This week:

  • My SQL-to-RTF project passed QA. Praise the Lord.
  • I finished Udacity’s Programming Foundations with Python. I’m new to neither Python nor OOP, but because I felt that my grasp of the latter was severely lacking, I enrolled and completed this course. This course was great, because it wasn’t for complete beginners (and thus, no lessons on what a string is or how to print integers), but it was simple enough that, at the end, I think I *finally* grasp the basics of OOP, how it is useful, and how to implement in Python.
  • I began the next course that’s part of Udacity’s Front-End Web Developer Nanodegree, which is Responsive Web Design Fundamentals.
  • I began looking up blog/website themes to see what I’d like to do. It’s kind of overwhelming, so I’ve started to skim the samples and clicking only on those that appeal to me immediately. It’s not the best system, but if I succumb to Decision Paralysis, this might never get done.

Areas of Improvement as of May 2015

This morning, I put the finishing touches on a script I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks. This was the second large project I’ve worked on this year, and it was far deeper in scope than the first project. Given its immensity (perceived or otherwise), I’ve noted several areas where I can improve:

1. Planning

Whether it is during the development phase or during the QA phase, I need to be better about working in a systematic manner. So far, my methods are more haphazard than I care to admit (“Oh, I need to code this! Wait…let me write this section first! Crap…I don’t have this function available.”) This scatterbrained method of writing code is inefficient and makes it hard to work in a logical, linear way.

2. Testing

So, this is related to the need to plan, as discussed above. Above all, my issues stem from laziness, but we all know that, in the end, there aren’t shortcuts when you want to do well. I used to write test plans, and they were super helpful. They don’t have to be extremely detailed, but I do work best when I give some thought to how I am going to test something.

In addition to test plans, I need to remember that there is no substitute for using the debugger, even if the way the script is written makes testing cumbersome. I can’t just read through something and find what’s wrong that way, especially when I’m the person behind the code.

3. Estimation

I understand there’s no way to get around providing estimates regarding how much time things will take, but goodness, I was off by about 60 hours for this project. Granted, I don’t think anyone else realized the enormity of this task, but above all, I just need to realize that I can’t always make a solid promise. This is annoying, I realize, but better to say admit ignorance than to apologize (repeatedly) for missing deadlines.

What I Did, Volume 4

What I Did is a 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 am beyond thankful that this is a three-day weekend.

  • You know that SQL-to-RTF script I was doing and how I said I was done last week? I lied. It spilled over into the weekend, and it is currently in QA. I hope there will be no more changes and moves forward in the QA and delivery process.
  • On Udacity, I started Programming Foundations with Python. It’s a lower-level course, but it isn’t for complete beginners. I know my syntax, but I don’t feel comfortable with my grasp (or lack thereof) of object-oriented programming. This class focuses on that.

I meant to look up design ideas for this blog and the webpage that will serve as my portfolio, but I didn’t get around to that. That’s going on this week’s to-do list, along with my OOP course.

What I Did, Volume 3

What I Did is a 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?

So, I’ve already broken my commitment for twice-weekly updates, so this WID post will count for both of my posts this week. My blog, my rules, right?

Anyway, what have I done since I last wrote to y’all?

  • I finished the SQL-to-RTF coding for a work project. This assignment is one that never ends, but the hard part is done. Some day, it will stop coming back from QA for design-related elements that I have little control over due to a third-party widget we use.
  • I did a bunch of stuff on Udacity!
    • I finished How to Use Git and GitHub. Then, I promptly forgot about version control and regretted it immediately when I wanted to roll back some a lot of changes I’d made for an assignment for…
    • Intro to HTML and CSS. I started and finished this course, and in addition to learning the basics of boxification, HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap, I produced my first ever page from a provided mock-up (and according to the bots, I’m only off from the original by 0.75%):

orange-udacity-mug

What’s next? Python, Python, and more Python.