Friday, August 19, 2016

still here, learning and growing.

I've started writing this blog update many times over the past several months but always felt like it was inadequate, too long after the fact of doing something interesting, and I had just missed covering too much stuff over that time and it was too late to share it. So I ended up never publishing anything at all.  

My absence from the blog doesn't equal inactivity. Quite the opposite of that, actually. I'm still at my original & first dev job and coding every Monday through Friday and sometimes on the weekends. I go to tech meetups and even host my own events. Heck, I even co-organized and co-hosted a Stupid Hackathon in Amsterdam.

This year has been weird, stressful, anxious, exciting for both me as a human being and me as a programmer.

Here are the code-related highlights:
  • I've regularly kept up hosting the Coffee & Code meetups I started with another awesome person in January. Every 2-3 weeks we meet up to work on code and generally support each other while drinking a few beers or coffee. It's usually full and regularly attended by a lot of folks. I've actually made some new friends through it...
  • ...And with those friends I made through hosting the coffee & code meetups, we just organized and hosted a stupid hackathon ( event. First one ever in the Netherlands? I think so. It was literally a hackathon devoted to developing the most useless and dumb ideas for apps/hardware. We scored some sponsors and hosted nearly 40 participants for an all-day hackathon last Saturday. We had 17 projects presented at the end of the day! Cool stuff. I even worked on a project at the event. We made a lightweight css library for CSS'ing like it's 1996 Geocities again ---> Geolize.css.
  • Also... with those friends from Coffee & Code, we've started our own coding group. We felt our goals and mission no longer matched up with the local railsgirls organization we were previously affliated with. We not only want to get more women excited about coding, but also help them get jobs/internships with companies that are similarly enthusiastic as we are and dedicated to actually hiring them. We will host our coffee & code meetups through our new group & plan to soon host coding workshops and other events.
  • In May, I went to my first RailsConf in the US. As a Ruby/Rails dev, I feel like it was taking a pilgrimage! Utterly amazing. Everyone should try to attend RailsConf at least once... cuz it's fun. and you learn stuff. I applied for and received an opportunity scholarship. I'm really grateful that I was chosen, otherwise there's no way I really could have afforded to go. This is probably the funnest thing I've done as a dev so far. It was my first conference experience. It was awesome to be a scholar and get paired up with a speaker as my guide. I got paired with the amazing Nadia Odunayo. It was really invigorating to go and see/meet some of my Ruby/tech heroes like Sarah Mei & Sandi Metz.  I think RailsConf is probably the highlight of this year as a dev. I even gave a lightning talk - it's my first talk at a conference (don't bother that it was only 5 minutes long)!
  • I finished my 1 year job contract and signed a new, indefinite job contract at my current employer. In the Netherlands, this is what you want if you work a full-time job. It offers a lot of job security (or so I'm told).
  • I've learned some ReactJS through the awesome ReactJS Program by Tyler McGinnis. Highly recommend it - there are really good video explanations in there. I feel like it has helped me understand JS fundamentals better as well as I worked through it. And the intro to ES6 makes me really excited to see the direction that JS is going in. ES6+ is making writing javascript actually kinda pleasant for me. I've actually even built some react components for the production rails project I work on at my job. ;-)
  • I'm working through the FreeCodeCamp curriculum. Slowly. I'm trying to do the individual projects in ReactJS. I'm slow. But I try to work on it when I'm motivated and have the energy.
  • I'm really looking forward to getting more skilled/confident/comfortable with javascript and ReactJS. I really believe that building up my JS skills is a great compliment to what I'm now capable of building in Ruby on Rails and the next logical step for me as a dev. 
  • Next month, I'm attending Euruko with my colleague in Sofia, Bulgaria. Pretty excited to go to another Ruby conference after having such a stellar time at Railsconf. It wiill be even more awesome to share the experience with my colleague.
So, I'm still around... growing as a dev, figuring out interesting/frustrating problems, and trying to contribute to the local coding community positively. I'm still happy that I changed careers and I get to code for a living. 

More than anything, right now I'm trying to find a balance between the constant need to "always be learnin'" with also needing to be a real human being that takes rests and does other interesting things to keep my brain happy and keeps me a dynamic and interesting person and not a grumpy, dry code bot.