Sunday, August 4, 2013

8/4 - starting to wonder

Random geek stuff. Learn more here.
I had a blog post written in my head on Friday, but got caught up writing a stored procedure for my Database Programming homework. It's nice I can get caught up in the work like that. It kind of felt like the "flow" I used to get when working with clay, where I lost track of time and was hyper focused on the task at hand. I think the ability to find flow in these work related tasks is important. It means 1) the tasks, while challenging, are not completely out of my range, and 2) I enjoy doing them enough to get lost in them. This bodes well for a future in development.

Friday afternoon I attended a JavaScript class, where I was slightly less lost than in previous programming classes. I'm starting to recognize lambdas, and to understand things like calling functions. I still struggled, and had to have most things spelled out for me, but once spelled out they made sense. I'm still at the building block stage, able to write a few letters, maybe a word or two. This is to say, while I still don't know a programming language, I'm beginning to learn the language of programming.
This is about where I am in writing code. I know a few words (like Me, which starts the sentence above). I may not put the letters in the correct order, but I can sound out a word or two (like ADN above). I even know a few things like the sentence should continue on the next line, instead of say wrapping around the page. I'm at a kindergarten level, but I'm learning. However, I'm still stressed about learning fast enough. 

There was another newly hired engineer in the JavaScript class. This person knows SQL very well. He transferred in from our SaaS department, so has quite a bit of other computer knowledge. He came from the company where we purchased the program I used to support (and is on that team in PD). He also has no programming language. This newly hired engineer is finding himself in the same position I am, struggling to understand what they are trying to teach, unable to display what we do understand without a language to express the concepts in. I understand why management hired us, but at the same time I'm starting to think it was a mistake to hire us as engineers.

It's sad, but it made me feel better to hear him ask, repeatedly, "Are you sure there wasn't a prerequisite for this class?" I don't wish this frustration on anyone, but it reduced my stress levels a little to know he will experience similar issues. This way, management HAS to see it's not just me. It's not that I am too stupid to get it.

The good news is, when that senior engineer expressed concern about my apparently obvious struggles, management and the training coordinator had a meeting to determine what I would need in order to get up to speed. They want to create a training plan for people like me, who have no computer theory background or programming language. I'm told they have brought in math majors in the past, though I'm not sure how well those people fared or how they were trained. This whole training program thing is rather new.

The bad news is, the list of what I need to learn to catch up is extensive. I am the guinea pig, and have been tasked with finding the materials to train myself. I'm supposed to share what I find so others can benefit.

Oddly enough, there is no introduction to any programming language on the list.

This is what I spent Saturday evening doing: searching Google, Youtube, the free MIT training courses, and Wikipedia for information on the list I was provided. It's a somewhat terse list, so I'm not certain in all cases that I have found the information to which they refer. However, I have a combination of videos and MIT courses that cover the majority of what they want. In all, it should only take a month or so to catch up.

A month. *sigh* I'm already starting to chaff a bit for not actually learning about the program I'll be working with. When I started in Support, they gave us a week of training then put us on the phones. We knew the bare bones, the basics, and even that not well. We learned on the fly. I'm starting to agree with the Sr. Engineer who was pushing me to get into the program. I believe I'll learn more on the fly than I will in all this disparate training on things I likely won't use anytime soon. I'm planning to have a conversation with my manager first thing tomorrow, to see what his thought process is on the whole thing.

Meanwhile, I'd hoped to have the Database Programming homework done this weekend, but that didn't happen. I worked on it Friday, worked on the list they gave me yesterday, and today I went to a Medieval Faire.
The Faire was fun, though I'm not as obsessed as some of the people we saw. There were quite a few people in costumes of various eras. There were a lot of merchants, some good music, and a few funny acts. Definitely more than could be seen in a single day. I think the day would have gone over better if I hadn't spent the first few hours trying to find the friends I was supposed to meet there. This was made even more challenging by 1) no maps, and 2) no cell signal. Ultimately we did find each other, but by then it was almost time for Superman and I to leave. He has a very early morning tomorrow and needed to get home to prepare. I hoped to get more homework done, but somehow that didn't happen. Instead, I did some cooking and caught you all up on my weekend. 

On the running front, Superman came up with the idea that I would run home from his place. He would drive my car home, and run back to his place. This is a 13 mile run, which fit in pretty well with the 12 mile run I'd planned through the park. I figured I'd walk the first mile to warm up and avoid some of the issues I'd experienced in my last few long runs. That actually worked, for the most part. Unfortunately I failed to fuel properly so this run did not go as well as last week's. I did get 9 solid miles in, on some hilly terrain. I also get to think about how best to fuel for next week's race. This is a good thing, since I hadn't really thought about it until now. 

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