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.

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.

Week 1 of MakerSquare

MakerSquare. The big game-changer for my life. The reason I made this blog. It was taking up most of my time all summer even without having started yet. I completed tracks on Codecademy, started others that I only got partway through, completed classes on Codeschool, read bits of documentation and so many blog posts about different concepts, worked through a few more tutorials, and then spent most of the last week before Labor Day reviewing as much Ruby as I could on Rubymonk.

I am now here to tell you that no amount of preparation is really enough.

Since my cohort had all of the aforementioned prework (the first cohort apparently didn’t), the MakerSquare team was able to start us off “easy,” but still with more advanced concepts than the first group had in their first week of class. Of course, “easy” is a funny word. People were struggling on different concepts every day, and I know that at least a couple of us (myself included) were (not figuratively) near tears on Friday as we worked on the projects meant to evaluate how far we had come this first week.

That said, if I had any doubts about how much I was learning, I can look back to last night. I was showing off my projects to a friend, joking about how it took me all day to create the 100 or so lines of (still incomplete but) working code, and my friend pointed out that I had just explained to him exactly what every bit of it did in such a way that he completely understood it. That was pretty cool.

Also pretty cool: Harsh (one of the instructors) came by at the start of my first solo HTML/CSS project to give me some help. A while later, I called him over to have him check the finished product, and the first thing he said when he looked at it was “wow, that was fast.” He didn’t make a big deal, it was a very casual statement; but that casual tone made me feel better about my work and grasp of the ideas than a big deal would have.

I am pooped, to say the least. Part of this is that I am, by nature, a night owl (take note that this is the most extraordinary of understatements), and starting last weekend, I’ve been waking up at 6am. On Tuesday, my cohort and I arrived an hour early for the “breakfast/meet and greet” before class, and since then, I’ve been getting on the bus at 8am to be at class before 9am. Except for Thursday, when I stayed late to push myself through a project and understand a bit more about class instances, I get out of class at 6pm. I’m in bed most nights by 10pm, 11 at the latest.

No matter how tired I am (my body is starting to adjust to the new schedule; I don’t hurt so much in the morning anymore and my skin is calming down), and how frustrated I get (that 100 lines of Ruby code from yesterday still needs (what feels like) a few hundred more for the project to be complete, but I think I can do it faster now), I need to stress that I am loving this. The team at MakerSquare really knows what they’re doing, and just as importantly, they really know how to teach it. There have been a couple of curriculum hiccups (as the second cohort, we’re still guinea pigs for a curriculum that will always be evolving), but the team’s response times on adjusting to the level of the class are nothing short of amazing. If my teachers in school had always been this good, my life would be a very different place. Of course, I’m now happy they weren’t, because my life led me instead to a place where I get to do MakerSquare. 😉

all day and all night

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I spent the week before last moving from one part of town to another, and last week was all about unpacking and organizing with my new roommates. My life has been chaotic, to say the least. The evidence of this chaos is all around me, in the form of all the things around the apartment that my roommates and I haven’t had a chance to unpack before resuming our regular daily lives (which are, of course, enhanced greatly by the fact that our new complex has a pool).

Of course, we got the vital stuff squared away quickly. The kitchen is organized (with 10 whisks, at least 50 coffee mugs, and enough baking equipment to start a small cake business between us), and, more importantly, my “office” is set up, bigger and better than ever. My new desk is huge, and I’ve set things up so that my TV is also my second monitor. Coding has never been so comfortable, leaned back in my nice reclining drafting chair, keyboard propped up ergonomically above my lap, blasting through Codecademy exercises on this huge screen.

In exactly 3 weeks, I start MakerSquare. Between the minor life upheaval of moving and the impending major upheaval that is the program itself, I’m both extremely excited and somewhat stressed. Time management is the big issue at the moment; I have to get everything in my room organized (I really have too much stuff) before MakerSquare, while also staying on schedule with my prework for MakerSquare (one of my deadlines for that is this week). And all of this, of course, must be worked around my daily break at the pool. At age 31, I’ve finally learned to float, and my freestyle swim stroke is beginning to look less like flailing and more like actual swimming. It’s remarkable what one can accomplish in an hour a day within two weeks.