November 23, 2013 · ada community

My Ada Developers Academy Blog: Week 4

We’ve finally finished our first month at Ada!! 1/6 of the way done with classes- hooray! (...buut only 1/12 of the way done with the program-oh god.)

This last week was full of adventure and guest speakers. Our first speaker was Sam Livingston Grey, who taught us some sweet rspec tricks. A good portion of it went over some of our heads, but I found that it really seemed to click for me. The Friday prior to this, my partner and I had done some rspec writing so we had some basics down. This plus my background in manual testing and selenium test writing made the rspec topic more absorbable. I found it sort of annoying, in a way, that I decided that I didn’t want to get stuck on the QA track and yet the thing that I have felt most confident about so far is automated testing. I suppose that this will just help motivate me to push myself harder in directions that I find more interesting. The test driven development strategies that we learned were at least more interesting than manual testing, but I did find it a hard adjustment to switch gears and code slower and in smaller chunks. I tend to get ahead of myself or attempt complicated things before I fully understand how to do it, and while that is fun and challenging, it often leads to frustration and a lot of half-finished projects. Prior to Ada, one of the soft skills that I was trying to practice was patience- it seems I have many more opportunities to practice here as well.

On Tuesday, we went to our very first conference- the Xconomy Big Data one-day conference held in South Lake Union. I decided that my goal for the conference would be to try my hand at live tweeting. I am new to twitter, and only joined at the impetus of Ada, which means that so far I have been struggling with how to navigate this particular bit of social media. Other media that I participate in tends to have targeted audiences and topics, so this is my first time in which I have felt free to just say whatever comes to mind. This is difficult as I suffer from impostor syndrome, as well as having general reservations about sharing my thoughts. So I decided that the conference would be a good opportunity to trust in my own voice. Although it felt like I was spamming the #xcondata hashtag, it ended up being alright. I had some positive interactions from other audience members and also had the top tweet for the tag. I find myself, even now, thinking that this is a stupid topic to write about but I know that while I feel confident in my abilities I still have a lot of work to do in removing my gendered speech habits. This week in class I made efforts to stop couching my questions in “This may be stupid but...” and to stop using so much “I feel” language when I have opinions. At the end of the week, it was disheartening to realize that while I felt positive about my skills and have high self-esteem, I still feel the need to buffer my language out of habit & insecurity, as well as the need to navigate the balance between being perceived as less competent and being labeled a bitch.

Our second guest lecturer was Trevor Bramble, who entertained the class with nerd puns that were definitely of a higher nerd-pun caliber than we have currently reached. We knew they were puns, we knew they were nerdy, but sadly we still didn’t know enough to be in on them. As a side note, he also taught us some internet junk or something. Just kidding- Trevor lectured on client/server interactions, HTTP, and DOM. We learned about all the different pieces necessary to get our programs and apps out there on the internet, and how users would interact with them.

I am really looking forward to next week. Not just because it is a short week with the holiday, but because we will be learning some HTML & CSS. It’s been quite a while since I have played around with those, but I’m excited to have some structure and direction as I get back into it!

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