betwixt code and music

Staying Connected

or Self-encouragement

TL;DR - smile at other people and talk to yourself.

A friend of mine recently nailed it. I would love to work in a place where I could know the people and learn from them. This type of environment is preferable to me. No cubicle farm for this guy. My friend
Scott W. tells me the jobs at the giant companies are better suited for the anti-social coder, but, "that is not you." Bingo.


I am a weird bird, equally comfortable sitting alone in my living room reading a book or speaking to a crowd at a meeting or presentation. As a kid I was definitely introverted...perhaps I still am. However, an effective teacher gets up and makes things happen. Practicing these skills of speaking, leadership, decision-making, problem-solving for over a decade continues to pay off. I do get more energy from being alone (introvert!), but I really enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories about life, the universe, and everything.

If you have been watching me code (don't be creepy), then you would have noticed me mumbling, "focus, focus, focus, focus" to myself. Hey, I am not above talking to myself (apparently programmers are
known to do this, even encouraged to do this). I am also one of those people who doesn't really care what other people think, so some days you will find me sitting in the public library muttering to my laptop. I am friendly and mostly stable...don't be alarmed!

This "focus" habit is helping me to:
  • find new job listings
  • work on coding projects
  • learn JavaScript frameworks (Hello, Angular!)
  • keep my GitHub streak alive
  • fill journals with code
  • stay connected with my kiddos

Staying connected to other programmers and technologists (hehe) has been less challenging than I expected. I am on several
Slack channels. This is a fun way to communicate and stay "in-the-know" on what is happening in your network or the world writ large. I have learned about multiple jobs, meetups, articles, tutorials, cat .gifs...you name it. I also curate my twitter feed to show me people and places to learn more things.

Meetups in Dallas have been a good time. This is a great way to meet new people and learn about happenings in the Dallas tech community. There are a metric ton of startups here in Dallas, and it is a great place for new businesses. Thanks to our oil baron overlords, there is a vast amount of capital available (mostly kidding...but really, there is a lot of money in Dallas). I still hold to this tenet: people in the tech community are really cool. There are likely exceptions to this, but I try to find the good in people. It is so much more fun to go through your day expecting people to do the right thing. When I look at somebody with a big smile on my face - a genuine non-fake smile - then that goes further to making the world a better place. If people don't smile back, then that is on them.

So here's to the people that smile at strangers, that joyfully mutter to themselves, that stay focused in the face of adversity, and host meetups that give away free coffee. Keep it up, you magnificent people.

The Weeks After Code School

or How to stay focused

Since returning to my home near Dallas, I have been working hard to stay busy. This is fairly easy to do with four children in the house! A glimpse into my post-code school adventure follows...

Back in June I attended a meetup called "Social Coding" (my very first meetup!). It meets at
nod - the North Dallas coworking space on Preston Road. There I met Chirag, who runs the place. Turns out, not only is he a fellow drummer, but his first drum teacher was my best friend Chris from middle school/high school. Small world! After that, my schedule became too full to attend. I was in Austin for code school and coming home each weekend for maximum family time. I got back over there the Friday before Thanksgiving and met even more cool people. I am excited to help out on the project that they are doing!

I also spent a day working at The Iron Yard-Dallas with campus director Caitlin. She is working out of the
Dallas Entrepreneur Center, a coworking space in the West End area of downtown Dallas, while they are getting a bigger campus area organized. Working with her was extremely helpful. I was having writer's block about getting a cover letter written. My versions kept sounding like I copied it off of Google, despite my best efforts. Travis from the The Iron Yard-Austin campus also gave me some helpful hints. These people are brilliant and go out of their way to help out.

The next day I attended a
coffee club meetup in the heart of downtown Dallas. Being downtown two days in a row is enough to make you feel like a grownup! I met several cool people at this meet up that work for the city, work for themselves, work for other code schools, build robots, make startup businesses welcome in downtown - it was a good time. I will attend again.

The week of Thanksgiving came at a good time. I was able to hang out with the kiddos and give them my full attention. I also managed to keep my GitHub streak alive, but just barely! It helped that a couple of coding sessions spilled over past midnight - that counts as two days! I know that stimulus of the coding streak is a bit superficial, but, hey, anything helps!

2015-11-25 11.16.41

We did manage to get away to downtown Dallas as a family. Melissa and I were lamenting that we had never gone downtown much to just hang out. Our remedy - take the train downtown and just wander around. It was a fun experience. Downtown Dallas is really nice!

I have applied to several jobs and have even more in the backlog for further research. In the meantime, I am learning some Angular.js and updating some old projects. I also made
a repository on GitHub with as many of our class's whiteboarding examples as I could find in my notes. This is a good resource of things we did at the whiteboard in front of other humans. I am also going to be updating my drumr app from my final project to reflect many of the features that I wanted to include but were outside of the scope of my two-week timeframe in early November.

I have learned so many new things recently, and my list of people and places to find help continues to grow. Things are looking good for a life-long learner like me.
It has been a good month!