Crunch time

This post was written 2 years ago.
Tue, 19 May 2015

Yesterday I had this idea to turn this blog into a diary, just for this week. Post something every day. As my husbands writes a blog over in Mexico, I'll write mine here. This is at a point where I am reflecting on a lot of things anyway, so it might help to write them down. A lot to do with my professional life, and with my voluntary activities for CodeHub, too. They are connected, in that I have always felt I just want to run CodeHub if I can call myself a bona fide developer. But what does that "bona fide" mean?

For one thing, that I should actually earn money as a developer. I guess I've always wanted CodeHub to be of real value to people who have been learning to code, or have been running their own projects, and wanted to take it one step further, and get a job at a web agency, or the IT department of a larger firm. And I feel I could do this better from the inside, actually being part of the industry, rather than myself being somebody who is still waiting to make a proper entry into that world. But it is not such a clear-cut thing. There are big businesses on one end of the spectrum, small agencies and one-person businesses on the other. Is there a distinct point, a certain size or turnover, where you can be considered "part of the industry"?

I have worked for direct clients, and I have worked for two agencies, although one of them just briefly. I have earned money with developing websites, therefore I can call myself a professional for sure. Perhaps what is nagging me, is that volume-wise I have done less than others who've been part of the web dev world as long as me. Then also, towards the end of last year, I gave up my regular freelance role to join somebody at a startup who was going to mentor me. This was going to be an unpaid work experience up to the moment I was producing some work of value to him. But that moment didn't come, the work relationship ended earlier than that. It's difficult to put into a few sentences what went wrong. Ultimately I was perhaps just not up to this kind of work yet, but I also was not quite aware what was demanded of me. This does not do the whole situation justice, but is the best way I can describe it at the moment, if I want to keep it brief.

At the time I was working towards giving a talk for Women Who Code. I saw this as an opportunity to teach myself some new stuff. I had just learned about ReactJS (at the startup), and as I quite liked it, I experimented with it, and with Node. - This reminds me how a year before, I had made a big effort to learn Python. I went as far as even doing a course on using Python for linear algebra (I just thought, I'd look into it, then really enjoyed it and continued with it). I also at the time wrote the underlying classes for placing Minecraft blocks in a LOGO turtle manner, in 3D! - Anyway, I prepared for that talk, and I started to organise various CodeHub events. After I'd given the talk, I just continued studying and organising, saying I'd start looking for a job again soon. But it was so easy not to!

Okay, so much for justification for not having properly looked for a job. The thing is, tomorrow I am starting one. That is, I am starting on a project. And once more this came through somebody else, they mentioned me as a potential fit for a role. Unsurprisingly, it's PHP. But not only. Front-end work, too. I see a real challenge in it: To not work extra hours that I don't charge for, and not work till deep into the night, or even till the next morning, as I have so often done before. Either I can do it in an adequate time (and the thing is I have to allow myself enough time! I keep thinking I am to slow; but what a trap to then squeeze the last energy out of you by working through the night; how silly), or - well, I will just have to give the whole thing up! I mean, coding, running CodeHub, everything to do with that. It just wouldn't make sense anymore.

The last few weeks were stressful somehow. It seems like my body at some point decided to turn itself into a little Cortisol factory. I could feel it so strongly. Especially in my lower arms, they start to tingle like mad. And it is only slowly subsiding now. How did it even come about? - One thing was, I had started to build a new website for myself. I wanted to have something like a CV that I could show people, and I wanted to include all my volontary activities in it. Also, I'd pose myself the challenge to do this website with very simple means. But I would use JavaScript on it. In fact, I wanted it to run as a single-page-app. But if people did not have JavaScript enabled, I wanted it to be a site with several pages. I'd use PHP and JavaScript to render the same templates that I wrote in Mustache, and the data would be in JSON files. This all worked great and in the beginning I made good progress. Until I tried to build this slidey thing. Or more precisely, until I added event listeners to do the slidey thing. No jQuery, all vanilla JavaScript. I somehow managed that, although not quite the way I wanted to. And then the content! I had made a list of what I wanted to include, but it took so long to then properly write it! Now I have become so exasperated that I feel reluctant to touch the whole thing. But then, not very much is missing now, so fingers crossed I will finish it next weekend.

Next pain point: Code Club (not CodeHub!). The afterschool club I ran for the past two years, and which I'd wanted to give up now (wasn't coding part of the curriculum now, anyway? My son's reply: "If I play tennis at school, that doesn't mean I couldn't also join a tennis club". What can I say? Well played..) I knew this was going to be the one thing too much. And still I gave in to my children begging. "You can't stop Code Club." I really had not been aware that they liked it so much. So in the end I scheduled 6 weeks. The first week went brilliantly! But the next week already went a bit wrong, the computers started playing up, there were networking problems. Most of them showed a blue screen once they'd started up (a process which itself took absolutely ages) We were doing 3D games programming in the browser. This is a fantastic book for teaching children to code, I think. Alas, each week there seemed to be something wrong. First, the same network problems. Than the week after the IT person had re-installed windows from an old image. The networking problems didn't happen anymore. But Chrome was missing now, and we needed that or Firefox to run the Code Editor. So we painfully had to first install Chrome everywhere (I am surprised the system allowed it all). The amazing thing was that each time, even if I'd spent ages sorting out problems while the children had started to do all kinds of nonsense, once we got a few computers running, they did actually get down to coding. They were still interested. They did want to do it.

In any case this grated on my nerves, and hard as I tried to see it as a partial success, it did not feel great.

I could go on now, but it is getting too late. I can't turn up too sleepy tomorrow!

Tbc..


Tags: codehub / code_club /
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