My first week at Makers has surprised me in so many ways. We were introduced to pair programming and TDD in our final week of the precourse, but I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to work with a new person every day and our project has been a lot more complex and longer than anything we came across in the precourse. Every day we have a ‘stand up’ where as a group we think about the previous day and consider what went well, what we struggled with and what our focus is for the upcoming day. For me, there have been a few recurring themes which I’m going to highlight, in the hope that it will help me create targets for this week.
Finally meeting the entire cohort has been great. At last I can put names to faces and being able to finally share my learning experience with others has been really helpful. I’ve noticed an increase in my productivity and I am positive it has accelerated my learning process.
That said, it has not been without its challenges. Pairs switch up every day and constantly learning and adapting to a new style of working has been difficult. It’s been particularly hard when I’ve been paired with someone who understands programming at a deeper level, largely because I put pressure on myself to keep up at their level and feel insecure about hindering their progress. I’ve actually found it very valuable helping others understand things that I already get, but somehow I don’t allow myself the same luxury when the situation is reversed. That change in mindset is my first goal for this coming week.
TDD / RSpec
This time last week, if you’d given me a coding project, I would have attacked it head on by focusing purely on writing the application. Now, I have much more appreciation for testing first and allowing the tests to drive the design of the code. Earlier in the week, not knowing the correct Rspec syntax made life difficult, and then setting up the right test situations sometimes proved problematic. However, at some point the penny dropped. I started to understand when the problem was with my code or my test. I was using feature testing to decide what my unit test should be and what I wanted it to return.
I’m not RSpec fluent yet, unsurprisingly. I still have problems with syntax, refactoring, keeping it DRY. When using mocks and doubles to eliminate the dependency of the test on other class objects, I’ve sometimes noticed that my test is basically redundant. And when I am tired and stuck, I have a tendency to start spiking rather than testing first. As they say, old habits die hard! So that’s my focus for the week. 1. Pick up more RSpec terminology, 2. Avoid vacuous tests, and 3. Stick to being test driven and don’t write code unless I’ve got a test for it.
I managed to get some sleep. That’s a positive, right?
Except it wasn’t quite enough sleep. I fell victim to the Curse of the Blue Light, and I have myself and my laptop to blame for it. Especially over the weekend which was a prime resting opportunity, I ended up working on our weekend project until I went to bed. That was just silly. I knew I would be too wired to sleep, yet I convinced myself each time that this time would be different. Pah! I scoff at my pathetic self. So this week I’m taking a stand. Downloading blue light filters for my MacBook and iPad and no phones or computers 2 hours before bed. It will be tough, but the sooner I establish a healthy routine, the better.
So that was week 1. To say I didn’t expect myself to find it as challenging as I did is an understatement. Hopefully this week, with that initial buzz calming down, I can find some balance in my approach to work.