Doxanthropos A personal weblog

#CNC2018 Code More: Pre-Mission

Like I alread said in the last post, I enrolled into the CodeNewbie 2018 Challenge not just for one, but for two goals: “Code More” and “Blog More”.

Like the BlogMore challenge, the CodeMore challenge also has a pre-mission. This pre-mission is to think about previous coding session and answer some questions about them, with the goal to better understand what works for me and what doesn’t. This seems to me like a great idea, as I have experience myself and seen with others, that it is crucial for any activity to find this understanding and use it to cultivate the desired activity or habit.

What has worked?

Pair Programming

The first bunch of coding sessions, that comes to my mind where I can identify something that worked was during the algorithm challenges of freeCodeCamp. Moste of them worked somehow in the sense that I was able to do them and had fun doing so, but a few of them stand out, because I was able to find somebody to pair with to practice pair programming on these challenges.

I had read about pair programming before and that it can be more productive than programming alone, because you can use the creativity and problem solving skills of two people at once and they do more than only add up to another. But it is one thing to read about such a practice and another to actually do it.

As a self tought programmer, who does not work as a programmer, I rarely have the opportunity to even talk about what I am doing extensively, because nearly no one would understand what it is and why I care. These pair programming sessions have been the exact opposite of that: we were both interested in the code and in solving the problem at hand, so bouncing ideas back and forth while regularly changing who is typing and who gives ideas about the directions to take was at the same time very effective and fun.

Building something useful

At work, where I am not paid to code (I work as an elearning developer, which means I use a software called Articulate Storyline, that works a little similar to PowerPoint, to create elearning content), I have not often written code, but the few times, that I did, have felt very good. What motivated me in these situations was the knowledge, that my code would do something useful, that would enhance the learning experience of the people taking the courses that I was building.

Creative Sketching

When I sit down to code in the evening, I mostly choose to do projects that can be categorized as “creative coding”. Like the definition of creative coding says, without the goal to produce something functional, but instead something expressive. Like other forms of art, this kind of coding is usually done with sketches, that try out new ideas and variations of existing ones. This mindset of producing sketches, where the measure of quality is not some objective function, but rather the answer to the question “Do I like that?” tends to free my creativity in problem solving.

What has NOT worked?

Tutorial Hell

Yesterday I encountered an article, that summed up a big part of what I experience as not working in my coding practice. It is called Digging my way out of tutorial hell and written by Zuzana K, who is also doing the CodeNewbie 2018 challenge. I think she describe the problem a lot better, than I could do, so I advise the reader to read her post.

Time management

Setting aside time for coding sounds easier than it is for me. Coding challenges or projects more then once fell short for me, because after a good start something got in the way and after that, I did not pick up again, either, with challenges, because it feld like a failure, that I did not want to think about further or with projects, because my mind was so out of the topic, that getting into it again felt like investing the same amount of time again.

Too many unknowns

This third aspect of not working in the past is related to the second. When I choose a project, I more than once choose to do something that was so out of the reach of my current skills, that I lost faith that I would be able to do it and so stopped doing it. The experiences of failed starts in the past feed into that loss of faith in myself.

What are your long-term goals?

In the long run, I would like to do more coding at work, maybe even work as a programmer (as my work experience now is mainly in the line of elearning, I would like to combine the two in the most ideal case. So something like developing for a company like Codecademy or Treehouse would be great). But also indepenent from that. I would like to contribute to the open source world, either with own projects or by contributing to existing ones.

What are your short-term goals?

My short term goal for this challenge is to get into a more solid habit of regular coding and learning to trust my skills and ability to learn what I need to build something bigger than just variations of tutorials.