Processes.

I have a confession to make. I can’t type.

Ok, that’s hyperbole. I can type about 70wpm. The thing is, I do so primarily with two fingers on my right hand and occasionally my left index finger. I lacked regular access to computers when I was growing up, and had no occasion to use a keyboard with any regularity until I was in my late teens. So I just hunted and pecked.

When I did start using computers regularly, learning to type properly was hard, and I didn’t really see the point of putting in any effort about it. I mean, who cared how many fingers I used when I was writing in my LiveJournal about my cats? Besides, I was getting really fast with just the fingers I was using!

Fast forward to the present, and I make internets for a living. I’d like to think that nobody’s judging me for the fact that I type like a child, because, well, I’m damned fast and accurate. But I can understand how it might be hard to take a person seriously as someone who uses computers for a living if they type like I’ve been. Additionally, as a developer, it does slow me down; there are more keyboard shortcuts for SublimeText than I’d like to admit that I can’t properly utilize. And I don’t expect to ever learn vim this way, either.

So, as of earlier today, including this entry, I’m going to ask for a bit of typo and slowness forgiveness in my written communications (particularly in chats and wherever else speed is relevant). I’m typing with two hands now, sort of by touch. It’s slow and my left hand is tired and sore after only a day of it. I’ll be writing most of my code one handed for a bit longer, until I can get either faster or more accurate doing it the right way. It’s important that I teach myself this new process and retrain my muscle memory, but it’s also important that I not become less productive at work in the meantime. Also, I’d like to not totally lose my freak ability by gaining a new skill.


Whoops. Forgot to post again!

Damn, I guess I was so busy with my shiny new job, I forgot to post.

Yes, that’s right, I’ve been employed for a whole month now! I got my official job offer just about two weeks after finishing MakerSquare. Pretty cool, huh?

I do front-end development at an interactive agency here in Austin. Translation: I do a lot of Javascript and CSS stuff to build custom web experiences for our clients. It’s pretty cool. I like the people I work with (most notably @wayspurrchen, who spends a lot of time helping me get up to speed), and the work is challenging in a good way.

That said, when I say “challenging,” I’m not joking around. It’s a PHP shop. As you may recall, at @MakerSquare, I learned Ruby/Rails, not PHP/Laravel. Laravel is an MVC framework, like Rails. I can figure out reasonably accurately where things go or are supposed to go within that, but PHP and Ruby are syntactically different enough that it has taken me this whole month to get to a point where I was able to debug something I had screwed up in a controller today.

The only real bummer about working in a PHP shop is that I have less time to keep practicing Rails. At the moment, I have no time. Between acclimating to a new job and the holiday rush (throw an extra “holiday” in there, too–my birthday is mid-December, and I firmly believe that throwing anything less than a 3-day celebration for one’s birthday = doing it wrong), any downtime I get at all is pretty much spent sleeping.

Things should get better on that front after tonight. With no more holidays/birthday stuff to worry about for a while, and with more of my #mks2 homies accepting job offers every week, there should be time again to work with Rails in my off-time. My pet project is stalled at the moment, because the one thing I really need from Facebook to have an MVP (graph search for events) isn’t something their API supports (yet?) and I don’t want to violate their TOS, but I’m excited for some collaborations on other people’s upcoming projects that I’ve been offered. Bonus: I won’t have to be my own project manager!

Lest I come off whiny, let me be clear here: my life is awesome right now. The majority of my time is spent getting paid to do something I enjoy, in an environment where I’m encouraged to learn. I’m mentoring two awesome chicks (@JesseDowntown from #mks3, and one of my oldest friends back in Jersey via Skype) in their coding journeys. I had a great birthday, and these hectic life circumstances have led me to place a priority on getting enough rest (and in doing so, I’m winning the battle better than ever against a lifelong circadian rhythm disorder). 2013 has been kickass, and 2014 is looking even better!


what’s next?

When I last posted, I was fresh out of MakerSquare. As in a few days out. I felt, for lack of a better word, hungover. It took until a few days ago for me to start feeling human again.

All that happened to change things was that I got sick. And really, I don’t think I even got “sick” in the proper sense, but rather my body finally figured out that I could take a rest and then that was all I did for two days.

After that, I was ready to start coding again. The weekend of graduation, I found my inspiration: a girl at a live show who didn’t have a smart phone or an internet connection at home. She was talking about how nobody remembers to call or text when there’s a show anymore, because everyone just uses Facebook to keep up with that stuff, and she misses out on a lot of cool shows that way. Believe it or not, right here in our little “music and technology hub” of Austin, there are a lot of people like her. Furthermore, I’ve encountered a fair number of people (punk rockers and techies in particular… go figure) who just don’t want to log in to Facebook unless they have to.

That’s how the idea for ATX punx was born. The MVP I’ve got planned for bands is to sign up and share the link to their Facebook, and for fans to sign up with their phone number, “follow” a few bands, and get SMS alerts when those bands have a show that night. I’ve got my work cut out for me here; Facebook Graph doesn’t support searching for events just yet. The good news is that one of my besties from MakerSquare is Bonnie. Bonnie, aside from being brilliant in general, is already a regex guru, and has agreed to help me with the scraper/s I’ll need to use to get around that pesky failing of FB Graph.

Of course, this project will be open source, which means that once I’m “done” building it, people will be able to get the source and use it for whatever music scene in whatever city they want.

In other news (because I know you #mks3 kids and future MakerSquare hopefuls are wondering), yes, there have been some meetings and a couple of job interviews for me in the last two weeks. I’m not even going to say more because I don’t want to jinx it, but I feel really good about my prospects.

While I’m talking about jobs, I want to shout out my pal Jesse, the first of my #mks2 homies to officially start a new career. He started at what.it.is this week, and I’m incredibly excited for him. If any one of us deserved the distinction of being first hired more than the rest of us, it’s Jesse.


The Aftermath.

I’d like to say I did nothing this weekend, but that is actually not true in the slightest. Friday night, there was a party at the DevHouse (for those of you just joining in, the DevHouse is the student housing available to MakerSquare progeny who come from out of town). I spent some time there, but… the band I manage was playing a show near downtown, and I had barely seen the guys for months. So, as much as I adore hanging out with my #mks2crew, it was time to head home for a bit.

Of course by “home,” I mean a live music show where I was mobbed by friends who missed me and were happily surprised to see me. (And where I discovered that Instagram doesn’t validate properly if you have more than one Twitter account. I got a bunch of great pictures and videos using the band’s Instagram, but they went to my Twitter. I never connected that Instagram to any Twitter but the band’s, which is where they should have pushed to. Sorry if you felt spammed by that, and you’re welcome if I inadvertently helped you discover a great new band.)

Saturday, Nick and I finished what we started on Friday, putting the final touches on our resumes, LinkedIns, and GitHubs. We also watched a lot of cartoons.

Yesterday, despite my best efforts at non-productivity, I set up a Trello board where I could organize and track everything I have to do now to find my dream job. In a final effort to be lazy, I headed out to another punk rock show (where I was again mobbed by congratulatory friends), but that whole “lazy” thing didn’t work because… I came up with an idea for an application to streamline and amplify promotions for local bands, did some quick on-site research on how it would be received/used, bought the domain name, and got a small team together to build it with me. Whoops!

Finally, today, I put things into motion for all-of-the-above, and wrote this post, along with another one or two that will be up this week.


This is the end…

… of MakerSquare, anyway.

Today is “Career Day,” otherwise known as the day we take over Capital Factory for the evening and show off all the great apps we made for our final projects. Within the next couple of days, I will make it a point to post our presentation slides and the screencast of CrossfitHub in action. In the meantime, you should know that Nick, Justin, and I built a terrific app using Rails 4, Postgres, ActiveRecord, Javascript, jQuery, some sweet Ajax goodness (I’m particularly pleased with how comments on a post will appear immediately after being posted, as inspired by Facebook), Firebase, and Foundation with some custom SASS.

Ever since yesterday, when my student spotlight went up on the MakerSquare blog, I’ve been cracking up about having been pegged as “creative with a tech twist,” which I’ve been joking is someone’s polite way of saying, “she’s got purple hair, talks about music a lot, and likes to cut her t-shirts into new and exciting shapes… and we aren’t sure what to say about that.” I would have preferred that they had said “tech with a creative twist,” but looking at what I wrote 11 weeks ago when asked what excites me about being a web developer, I suppose I can see where they got that.

I do see writing good code as an art form, more now than I did even then. And while I can’t draw, paint, or play a note of music (although I am absolutely a karaoke rockstar), I am a “creative type,” especially since I’ve become a web developer. I can come up with an idea for something cool, and iterate over it until it becomes an idea for something I can build, and then get a team together to actually make it (like Lyric Ipsum). I can create it, figure out what parts of it suck or could just be better, and make those improvements. I can join a team, work on someone else’s inspiration, and still contribute in meaningful ways to the project (I chose to work on CrossfitHub not because I’m at all interested in Crossfit, but because I wanted to work with Justin and Nick and build something big and complicated).

Anyway, tomorrow is the real last day here. We’re going to work on polishing up our resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and GitHub accounts, and do some training for technical interviews. I hear there’s going to be BBQ for lunch, and I’m excited about that, too. (By the way — my LinkedIn already looks pretty sweet, hint hint!)