Monthly Archives: January 2016

How I Feel About Being a Developer

I’ve had a request (from my huge online fan base) for a post about how I feel about being a programmer, my opinion of it as a job. I really wish people would ask me my opinion about things more often, I love to go on a rant.

I have to say that being a programmer is the best job I’ve had so far, and I’m not young. I’m 35, I’ve had quite a few jobs already. Apart from the fact that my current job is amazing, with genius, helpful people and great work-life balance, I also just love the fact that I get to do programming all day.

My career before becoming a programmer was so random: I studied a double degree in Chemistry/Economics, I was a budget analyst on the Federal budget in Canberra, a researcher at the Crown Prosecution Service in London then Head of Analytics in Shanghai for a UK digital agency. That Shanghai job was my first introduction to any kind of ‘online’ work. I was responsible for doing reports and analysis on the online performance of clients and it was fascinating to me how much information was available in web analytics.

Then my partner and I, who both worked for that agency, decided to move back to Australia and work on similar client work for ourselves. It was online stuff, digital marketing, and through this I had my first taste of programming. Writing small scripts for Adwords and Analytics, making changes to clients web pages. I was so interested in this aspect that I did a night-course in back end web development, and then eventually changed jobs so I could do programming full time.

That was the moment when I stopped doing jobs that I ‘could do’, and started doing a job that I enjoyed.

At previous jobs I wasn’t so interested in learning more outside of work hours, but in programming I attend meet ups, read books, attend study groups and build things outside work to learn more. This seems to be very common among programmers, and less common among any other kind of work I’ve done before. I don’t recall many public servants or marketers learning outside of hours for pleasure. If they were doing it at all it was for career reasons. While programmers careers definitely benefit from all the learning they do outside work hours, I’m pretty sure that like me, they do it more for personal interest.

So that’s the first reason I enjoy this job – because it’s something I naturally want to learn more and more about.

I love how dynamic programming is. There are some old principles yes, but there are always new languages to find out about, new ways to do things, new libraries and packages you can play around with. It doesn’t stand still. This can be daunting for a junior like me. I kind of want it to stand still so I can have some time to catch up, but at the same time, it’s also good to know that no matter how experienced a developer is, there is always more they could learn, always something they don’t know. No one knows everything.

Another thing I enjoy about programming is that it’s problem solving. This is the kind of work I enjoy doing. I don’t have to write briefs or reports anymore. I just sit down and nut out logic-type problems all day. It’s like getting to do (sometimes frustrating) puzzles for a living.

I enjoy the immediacy of my work. When working in policy for the Government, not only is the Government slow, but policy is excruciatingly slow. With programming I can change a few lines of code and see results immediately. I can imagine up a feature and build it myself. I can see a problem and go in and figure it out and fix it. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that.

With programming, what I do all day at work is not irrelevant to my home life. I’m learning skills at work to build things, so that if I have ideas I have the capability to make those ideas become reality. It’s pretty exciting to think that if I have an idea, even that simple one for chores, I can just sit down and build it. And if I can’t build it myself, I can figure out how, with the million of resources online and the help from all the lovely programmers I know.

So, I would highly recommend programming as a job. It’s probably one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

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Queen of Procrastination – My Cleaning App

I hate cleaning and I’m not good at it. Many are the times I consider hiring a cleaner, then realise I live in a 2 bedroom apartment, work 4 days a week and have no kids – I should have this covered, I should NOT need a cleaner.

One day, in anticipation of a very clean-type friend coming over, I freaked out and had to extreme-clean my flat. This would be the equivalent of a normal adult doing an average-clean of their flat. To help me, I made a big list of all the things I needed to do, and then checked them off during the day.

Weeks later I remembered that list and wished I had it to hand, it made the cleaning so much easier, and ticking things off is so satisfying. So, of course, rather than just get to cleaning my flat that day, I procrastinated by building this app, (which is designed for mobile really) (Github here)

I’m going to go ahead and say this is all ‘fake’ data in the app right now…

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The premise of it is to be a list of repeating chores that need to be done, and each chore has a frequency. The chore is green if you have just done it, goes orange when it’s just overdue, and red when it’s quite overdue.

A tiny bit of JS in it turns the item green and says ‘Done’ when you tap it. So satisfying. Also satisfying was the fact that I made something with a little bit of JS, which I hardly ever do.

 

 

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Starting out on Raspberry Pi – Electronics Basics

For christmas this year, I got a Raspberry Pi. It’s a small little single-board computer that were originally developed to help teach computer science, and are now also used by hobbyists to build games, robots, whatever.

It’s pretty easy to get started with a Raspberry Pi, in fact the whole site seems to be geared towards children! You just buy the little Pi, install the software onto an SD card, then plug it into power, screen (e.g.tv), mouse and keyboard. There is also a port for an ethernet cable if you want to get on the internet.

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