November 16, 2013 · ada

My Ada Developers Academy Blog: Week 3

It's strange to think it's only been three weeks that we've been at this; it feels like much longer. It's sort of a good feeling, in the sense that it I no longer have that pending sense that they are going to finally figure out that I don’t really belong in the program or that I am not really as smart as I seem. On the other hand, it’s a bit unsettling to think about how much we have learned in just three weeks. Extrapolating that out to what we will know at the end of the 24th week is a little bit terrifying. I don’t think I’ve ever learned anything this quickly or intensely in my adult life.

The good news is that week three felt fantastic. It is the first time that I have walked away from class on actual positive notes, rather than leaving frustrated or just simply exhausted. We spent the week doing our first multi-day pair programming exercise. My partner was Ellen, because we had happened to sit next to each other for the first time on Monday.

The start of the week consisted mostly of learning how to work through miscommunications and different coding styles, as well as working on increasing our stamina. We had multiple days where we had project time from 11 am to 5 pm. Since most of us are coming from little to no coding experience, this is a ridiculously long period of time to bang your head against a wall when you’ve never done it before. This, coupled with the process of figuring out how to actually pair program with another person physically next to you all day, was pretty difficult at first. I suppose there is no other way to learn it other than by doing, but it is definitely a shock to the system regardless.

Ellen and I also managed to figure out after the first two days that we both seem to get the most frustrated right before lunchtime. I was really glad that I paired with someone who is also in tune with what sets off her emotions, so we were able to matter-of-factly plan the next days to have early lunches and afternoon breaks. Although this seems like a rather banal thing to notice, I know that fostering these skills are really going to be what pushes me to be a good employee when I finish this program, rather than just merely a good coder.

We finished the base requirements for our program on Tuesday afternoon, so we had the rest of the week to follow what we found most interesting. We created additional methods, memoized some of our code, and wrote additional rspec tests. We ended up deciding on waiting until we finished all of our additional methods to optimize our code, and now I wish we had practiced that a bit more. We both ended up over-complicating some parts and I think it would have been good practice to try to cut out the fat. Our additional rspec tests were fun to write, but we had the methods before we wrote the tests, so it would be interesting to see how our code might have turned out differently if we had done it in the other order. I felt like I had a leg up in the rspec & DB department since I had previously been doing manual testing and some automation in my last job, so conceptually, rspec and our CSV database seemed simple and usable. Sadly, the ease at which I found myself with those didn’t particularly make me proud, but rather made me a bit annoyed that although I have managed to get myself out of the QA track from my previous job, I am still stuck testing. Perhaps my opinion on testing will change since we are doing test driven development and that's pretty different than automating after the fact. If only I could have that same quick grasp of concepts in other areas of our learning.

Overall though, we finished the week on a positive note having worked hard on our project and having finished multiple extra-challenge tasks. We even made sure to reward ourselves with mochas and positive verbal reinforcement!

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