Two keys to a failed CS education

Not a great place to start

I think there are two keys to why I was a successful electrical engineer, when I did not (initially) succeed as a computer scientist—despite being more interested in the latter, to begin with, and despite wanting to pursue the latter now. The first key: invisible struggle, no displays of fallibility I went to the University of Virginia as an undergrad. I transferred into the Engineering School a year in, which put me approximately one semester behind my peers. I chose Electrical Engineering (EE) instead of Computer Science (CS), even though it was a CS major who convinced me to switch. … Continue reading

Ingress

enl

I started writing my annual changing-of-the-calendar-year post, and I realized I was spilling a lot of virtual ink on, arguably, a pretty small aspect of my year — because, while it’s kind of unimportant, in the scheme of things, it also takes a little explanation. And it’s fun! So, rather than keep expanding the bullet point in that post, I figured I’d give Ingress its own post and just link to it in making my points about 2014. Ingress is an augmented reality game created by Google. It’s probably really cool with Google Glass, but I’ve only ever seen people … Continue reading

A little bit about Unicode

unicoooode

I thought about writing a really long post about handling Unicode in Python, but, honestly, you should go watch this video; that’s where most of my points would have come from, anyway. (It’s a great video! It’s funny and helpful and relevant, whether you use Python 2 or 3. I hope I get to go to PyCon and meet Ned in person and thank him for it!) If you wonder how I ended up watching that video—along with several coworkers—we were doing a lot of metadata parsing, as part of our work on the SHARE project. We were building an … Continue reading

Playing with GitHub

this shows up when GitHub has errors

I had the opportunity, at work (and a bit outside of work), to learn the GitHub API, as wrapped by Python’s github3 module. I found the documentation really hard to follow, maybe because I don’t have a lot of experience reading API docs, or because it wasn’t organized in the way I think about things, or maybe just because my work on this API was part of a larger, much more harrowing project, and I was already discouraged* … who knows? I made a thing! Maybe it’s helpful! Ultimately, I ended up documenting the parts of it I needed to … Continue reading

Three weeks as a developer

My work laptop is fairly opinionated, too.

Three weeks have gone by. I still don’t feel like a real developer, most of the time. But there are glimmers, moments when I do. Usually it’s right after I finish a little script of some sort, or I give a funny name to a variable (while still following PEP 8), or I use a clever shortcut, or I realize I’m writing really opinionated code. There’s that moment of “YES! I am good at this!” Continue reading

Why I give to the Ada Initiative (and hope you will too)

ada

This blog post is a little late. Others have written really evocatively about this subject, already. But, late or not, it feels wrong not to say something. The Ada Initiative is my favorite non-profit (besides perhaps the one I work for? :)). They’re my smile.amazon charity, when I remember to use it. AdaCamp changed my life. And I think sometimes librarians might be inclined to look at the Ada Initiative as “a tech thing,” something not relevant to reference librarians or children’s librarians or school librarians … or really any librarian who doesn’t write code for their job. But Ada doesn’t look at it that way. Continue reading

Week one as a developer

I had hoped to document all of the stuff I was learning each day, or at least each couple of days, through my first few weeks in this job. I knew I’d have a lot to share. But I’m so tired at the end of each day that I don’t really have a blog post in me. I hear one gets used to non-stop thinking for 8+ hours per day and functions better over time. :) Continue reading

Day one as a developer

Day one of the new job: I don’t feel like a real developer yet. I didn’t write any code today. I did read through a good portion of our documentation; install the development environment on a shared machine (my laptop hasn’t come yet — and actually, getting the shared machine working is a step toward one of the things I want this organization to do, anyway, so it’s good); fill out all but one of my new employee forms; get access to the offices/parking; and add two steps that were missing from the “setup” directions to our docs. But since … Continue reading

Need to tell a bunch of coworkers unpleasant tech-related news?

Test sites with http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

So, here’s a thing I don’t see many people posting about: how and when it’s best to share unpleasant technical information. It seems really relevant today, when most of the web (well, OK, all the stuff I bothered checking) seems to be patched up after Heartbleed (more on that below, if this term is new to you), and therefore everybody ought to be changing all of their passwords soon. We had a discussion, in my department (Systems), about how best to share this information—and whether sharing it was the right call. There’s an argument that we should have waited for … Continue reading