PD 4 Jnr Devs

learn-to-code

After about six months at Flick Electric Co. and then working on my blog post about Webstock I started to wonder about what I was going to do about my professional development in my new career. This got me thinking about how do graduates / juniors who aren’t working in a big company like Xero, Trade Me or Powershop continue there learning?

Are there courses people do? How  do people continue learning? What type of support are people getting from their employers? What do people do to keep up their own learning?

WHAT I DO…

Online Courses 

Before and while I was studying at Enspiral Dev Academy I enjoyed using Treehouse and occasionally Codecdemy. There are courses on Treehouse and Code School that I would like to take but with working full time and not wanting to spend all my non-work time coding I can’t justify the cost as it would probably take me a few months to complete a course (you pay monthly).

What I have done though is pay for a React for Beginners course by Wes Bos. This allows me to not only stream but also download videos, which I then can complete in my own time. I like this as I can stop and start as I please and I won’t lose any money!

Are there online courses or face to face courses that you have used/attended? Are there courses you recommend?

Attend Meetups

I am a member of a number of meet up groups. EDA has run a number of meet ups and I have found RailsNoobs really good.

RailsNoobs have pretty regular events and with a talk/presentation for everyone and then a break out for an intro to Rails and others can do other coding they are interested in. The people that run this are well organised and enthusiastic.

The other main two that have semi-regular meet ups that I attend are WellRailed: Wellington’s Ruby on Rails Community Group and Node.js Wellington.

There was a great presentation at the RailsNoobs meet up by Raquel Moss – Continuing your learning as a post-beginner programmer (a 3 part series). I think it is a must read for any new developer / programmer (no matter what age) who has finished their training and is making the next step into the working world.

What meet ups do you attend? Are there other groups you have found useful?

Make Stuff

Start making stuff, even if you never finish some of them. I have started working on a couple of ideas. One is a karate site of terminology which I am making in Rails. Some ideas of where it will go are making it into a quiz; adding JS to the frontend (vanilla and then a framework; improving styling. I am also adding things I want to do to the issues in the repo. Karate repo / site

Don’t be scared about putting your code up on GitHub, it is a way for others to see what you are up to and a way to get help as well. I would also recommended having a crack at getting some sites/apps set up on Heroku or similar..

What are you making? Do you have any recommendations for projects for new programmers?

Goal / Aim

I decided before I got my job at Flick Electric that I would consider the next couple of years as kind of an apprenticeship and work on trying to do something code related for around four hours a week outside of work. Whether this be going to a meet up or doing coding on one of my projects. This has been flexible, in that I don’t berate myself if I do none, but it has also been really good to have a aim to do coding away from work.

Do you have goals/aims?

Today I Learnt

Awhile ago I also started a repo called TID/TID – Today I Did / Today I Learnt. I was having a crisis of how to record things I was learning when coding (at work and outside of work). I was thinking about doing short blog posts about things like errors, however getting to my blog site wasn’t immediate enough. I asked the world of Slack (EDA and Ruby NZ) and found out about the concept of Today I Learnt (a couple of examples https://github.com/jbranchaud/til, https://github.com/thoughtbot/til).

Mine is a bit different as I have added Today I Did. I thought this would be a good way to have a record on things I have worked on. Although it is a bit difficult with not being able to be very clear about things due to not telling the world what I am doing at work.

The Today I Learnt is a collection of snippets to do with everything from Ruby on Rails, to Postgresql errors and MacBook shortcuts.

I have found recording things useful as just the act of typing notes helps me embed that learning. And it gives me a great resource to search when I have forgotten how to do something, or a similar error occurs.

In what ways do you embed your own learning?

Ownership

At Flick Electric, the whole company has gone through a performance review recently and from this my manager and I came up with some goals for the next six to 12 months. With being part of a tech team in a small company, where there are about six developers, the onus will be on me to be active on achieving my goals. This will involve  finding opportunities inside and outside of work. This, I think, is quite different to big companies where training and development programmes are in place and I would imagine developers have clear milestones they have to meet.

How are you taking ownership of your own learning and professional development?

Other thoughts

Join channels on Slack – I belong to RubyNZ, JavaScriptNZ, RailsNoobs, WebDev Meetup to name a few.

I have chatted with some people who have talked about working on open source projects as a way to code and learn. I haven’t looked into this at all yet. Have you? Where would someone start with this?

Questions???

What courses have you done? Recommend?

What support are you getting from your employer?  What support do you get from other programmers? Colleagues? Is pair programming part of your teams ethos?

How are you continuing your own learning?

Are there online courses or face to face courses that you have used/attended? Are there courses you recommend?

What meet ups do you attend? Are there other groups you have found useful?

What are you making? Do you have any recommendations for projects for new programmers?

How are you taking ownership of your own learning and professional development?

If you work in a large company, what is the professional development like for you? What are you getting out of it?

Employers, how are you providing professional development for your new developers?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Webstock 2016

In January this year I applied for a scholarship to attend Webstock 2016 in mid February. I had seen information about the scholarship a few weeks before I applied but I wasn’t too sure if Webstock would be good/useful to go to being a very new developer. I didn’t actually really know what Webstock was all about.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 10.25.50 PM.png

Then I came across this post by Natasha Lampard. Makes for fascinating reading. And so I applied and gained a scholarship to attend Webstock.

Having attend a few different conferences while teaching (Ulearn comes to mind), and having attended WDCNZ in 2015, I had an idea of what a large scale conference would be like.

However, Webstock is run differently. There is one stage, one stream of presentations, no smaller venues for different speakers or multiple themes. One stage, one presenter about every half hour. So actaully quite different to other events.

And what a mixture of speakers. From Luke Wroblewski talking about Screen Time (the kind of thing I was expecting) to Annie Machon who is a former MI5 intelligence officer-turned-whistleblower and Cindy Gallop telling us Why The Next Big Thing In Tech Is Disrupting Sex.

I think there was something for everyone in the eclectic mixture of speakers.

I think all the talks will be up sometime soon at http://www.webstock.org.nz/talks/, there is already six years of Webstock talks up to view (if I could only take a month off and watch them all!).

Screen Time

Luke Wroblewski – www.lukew.com

Screen time used to mean sitting in front of a TV. Today we move between screens of various sizes, proportions, and quality all day. The abundance and diversity of devices can overwhelm teams delivering software. We need practical ways to tackle the problems that come with this diversity of screens. Luke explores a deeper understanding of screen time today and ways to design effective cross-screen experiences for tomorrow.

Here is a link to his talk, not the one he did at Webstock but the same talk (with slides, handy!). He talked about history of glass and four things to consider 1. know your screen, 2. output, 3. input, 4. posture. One thing I didn’t know is that you can get a lot of data about users and what devices they have via your website and apps and from that you can then tail content for them.

The Map and The Territory

Ethan Marcotte – ethanmarcotte.com

When we create for the web, we participate in a kind of public art. We code, we design, we build for an audience, making digital experiences that provide a service, that create joy, or that simply connect readers with words written half a world away. But in this session we’ll revisit what we’ve learned about responsive design, and ensure our content, not just our design, is readily accessible to them wherever they are. In doing so, we’ll look at some ways in which our audience reshapes the way we think about our medium, and see where they might be leading us—and the web—next.

 

This talk started off with looking to the past and the mapping of Manhattan. Ethan coined the term “responsive web design”. He talked about the digital divide and how in parts of the world most devices a sub 3G and that this will change the way people design sites. The idea of “good design” will change. It also look at the performance budget, reducing and revisiting, pages should not weight more then 300kbs, and to consider loading speed? 

This shows how much I have yet to learn. As I don’t even know how to figure out how quickly a page loads, how fast it is, what things effect it (besides image sizes!).

CSS Wizardry

Harry Roberts – csswizardry.com

For his Webstock presentation, dressed as a wizardHarry will perform an interpretive mime cycle, translating the array of human emotions in architecting, writing and scaling CSS for large sites, apps, and products in large-team environments.

His silent exercises, which include such classic works as the cage, walking against the wind, the mask maker, and satires on everything from sculptors to matadors, have been described as works of genius.

I was looking forward to this talk about CSS, however, due to it being a non-technical audience, Harry changed the focus. He talked about doing lots of travelling and talking at conferences. Some interesting travel tips like using a different card to keep the power on in your hotel room when you go out.

Did a Google search to find a presentation of his, What Is A CSS Framework Anyway?, from Industry Conf, and slides https://speakerdeck.com/csswizardry/what-is-a-css-framework-anyway. Haven’t watched it yet.

Adaptive Content, Context, and Controversy

Karen McGrane – karenmcgrane.com

In 2016, “adaptive content” has become a buzzword. To some, it’s a complex, long-term initiative to structure content for flexible reuse and dynamic targeting. To others, it’s a way to ensure that everyone, everywhere, sees exactly what they want—like magic! In this talk, Karen shares her perspective (and reservations) on how adaptive content is being used today. She’ll discuss how adaptive content supports targeting content to device type—and why that’s rarely necessary. She’ll also describe ways that adaptive content can support tailoring content according to context—and ways that can go wrong. You’ll walk away with a better understanding of when adaptive content is necessary and how to get the most value from it.

This was good. Difficult for me to describe as by this point if the day I decided just to soak everything up and didn’t take many notes. I will definitely be watching this when the videos come out. In the mean time, here is one from her site https://karenmcgrane.com/2012/09/04/adapting-ourselves-to-adaptive-content-video-slides-and-transcript-oh-my/.

Bug Fixes & Minor Improvements, Writ Large (aka Humorous Self-Flagellation and the Multiple Benefits of Being Old On The Internet)

Anna Pickard – annapickard.com

Somehow, improbably, the release note — that little space used by apps to describe their latest updates – has become a remarkable, human way for the creators of software to communicate with their users, and Slack (where Anna words*) has been at the forefront of the movement to turn that microcopical nugget of technical documentation very few people bother reading into (basically) a new literary genre. This little revolution didn’t happen by accident though: it’s the result of a fortunate series of events, a short list of values about how to behave as a company, and a long trail of people feeling out what it means to be oneself on the interweb.

This was a great talk and I now read all the release notes for Slack. If you are involved in writing well worth a watch.

Why The Next Big Thing In Tech Is Disrupting Sex

Cindy Gallop – @cindygallop

The tech world welcomes, supports and funds innovation and disruption in every area of our lives and work – except one. Join Cindy Gallop, founder & CEO of http://makelovenotporn.com/, for a provocative, insightful and revelatory examination of what constitutes sextech, how it can bring about world peace, the battles she and other sextech entrepreneurs fight every day to build their ventures, the huge amount of money there is to be made, and why New Zealand has a unique opportunity to become a global hub for sextech.

Now this was a talk that I wasn’t expecting at a tech conference (although, I learnt that Webstock isn’t really a tech conference). This was a fascinating presentation. Here is her talk at TED a few years ago – http://blog.ted.com/cindy_gallop_ma/


That’s my brief (and rather late) blog post about Webstock ’16.

As I was writing it I started thinking about professional development in the developer world. My next post will be about this.