Wow it's been a busy three weeks! I apologize for not getting anything meaningful out in that time. Here's a quick update on where I'm at currently:
Day to Day
Work's going great. I'm with a fun team and implementing some features I feel good about. We're seeing a lot of positive change and progress with the software we're working on and I know my boss is pleased with the results. More importantly, I'm still enjoying myself. The tech environment is such a joy to work in - the people and the culture just feel like home. I can't express enough how happy I am I made this career switch.
I find that I'm coding less and less but getting more and more done. I chalk a lot of this up to growing experience. It's becoming more important to me to implement features as gingerly as possible, and to take time mapping out classes and getting a full understanding of what I'll be affecting before I type my first
def. My coworker and I are also trying to bring our whole monstrous legacy code pile into compliance with more modern standards. This includes testing - we're not aiming for a full TDD approach at this time, but we are hitting our major features with some functional coverage so that we can spend less time reloading our browser to see if new changes do what we expect. It's a nice feelign to look at the current state of of what we're building and think back to the state it was in even just a month ago. There's a really rewarding sense of accomplishment there.
On The Side
I'm also beginning to spend more time coding on the side. When I started working as a dev I went through a short phase where it was difficult for me to code after work hours. I just didn't feel motivated - I would try working with new technologies, but give up halfway through a tutorial because I was antsy and unable to focus. I attribute some of this to burnout - I just left a rigorous bootcamp development program, switched jobs in ~3 weeks and started commuting 3 hours roundtrip each day to an entirely new environment. There was definitely some new fatigue involved.
Now that I'm in a routine and feeling more confident, my codiong hobby's back in full swing. I've got a handful of active projects going, but right now my three biggest are:
Maildump: A distributed disposable inbox generator. Think 10minutemail, but on your own domain. This is my pet project, and I haven't made it a big public deal. I'm still testing it before I push it out and write tutorials on deployment for others to take advantage of.
OpenKittens: Cats for a good Cause. I saw the OpenPuppies site via a random tweet and immediately had to dive in. I did two things - started work on OpenKittens and reached out to the OpenPuppies creator (@heyits0livia) to say thanks for the inspiration and ask how I could contirubte to her project. I got a pull request accepted adding a fun feature to her site at about the same time I launched mine. It's been a blast to get feedback and hear from people who enjoy the silly little diversion. I'm not out to make money or get famous off it. My olny hopes with this site is that sombody will visit one of the excellent shelters I've included on the page and give them some live - they're the ones that really need it!
I'm working independently on rebuilding my ex-employer's internal software as a web app. I spent far too long supporting a local server and legacy .NET application for basic CRUD functionality. Now that my confidence levels are growing in my own skill, I decided it was time to give a significant chunk of work back to the office that gave me so much for so long. I don't have any links for this, of course, but it's a big undertaking and I'm really enjoying the challenge so far.
I went on a StackOverflow binge and managed to scare up 300 points! Gamifying the Q&A format may seem silly but I found it to be an added boost and it's kept me motivated to contirbute more to that community as a whole.
I submitted some work to a project called Verba. Verba's a neat project wit hthe goal of rewarding users for writing every day, both to build skill and share experiences. Development is intermittent but it's worth checking out if you'd liek a rpoject that's easy to both use and contribute to. I had fun working on it for a few weeks .
As I stretch my wings a little more, I find myself complimented and involved more frequently. I remember reading an interview with a venture capitalist once where he discussed the ass-kissery of his position. He talked at great length about how people would go out of their ways to compliment him all day, to notice every change and comment on how nice every step he took was. He noted how every group that walked through his door was increasingly intent on earning his investment by schmoozing and selling themselves on how much HE mattered to THEM. He wrote warningly about how easy it was to buy the snake-oil, to believe that he was THE best, and to start expecting the special treatment instead of just receiving it as it was offered.
I don't remember how long ago I read that article, but I took a very specific lesson to heart from it. I don't ever want to find myself in a situation where compliments become a cushion on which to lay my aspirations. I've found a good balance in using special attention of my own as motivation to step up my game. "I'm glad you like that. Let me show you what else I can do...". It's rewarding to be able to make good on those promises, both to myself and others.