Beyond the basket - my Software Development Journey

OK - I give up counting!!

Totally losing count of where I'm at in the real world here now.  A few weeks have passed since I last posted, and changes there have been a-plenty.  Worked on another 'story' similar to the previous one, both of which are delivered and almost out in the real world now.  Feels like I've learned SO much in the past couple of months, the journey has changed and so have I, I've got much more confidence in my understanding of the project, and in my ability to Google the right questions.

Major changes have been happening too, both the senior developer and product owner were contractors, their time with the Department came to an end last week.  It's sad to be without them, we had a good team dynamic.  We have a new senior developer who is a permanent member of staff, so a new dynamic is now starting to be created.  He's nice, and approachable, and up to now at least hasn't lost patience with my many questions.  Which is good...as they are many and varied.

Still no movement on the wider grading issue, but I'm trying not to worry about it too much.  Just simply loving the fact that this is my job, I get to do this every day, not as a hobby but as my JOB.  Still occasionally wonder if I will wake up and discover that it's been a year-long dream...?

WEEK 26 and 27 - all blurring into one now....

More good progress, feels like I am starting to get more of a grip of the structure of the project.  I've completed the majority of the 'story' I'm working on, with significant but minimal input from the senior developer.  Continuing to get really good feedback as to my progress, it's always good to get an outside view of things, as we're always much harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else.  Had a good catch up with the training group too, it's always good to know that other people are struggling with confidence out there in the big wide world too.


WEEK 25 -
Roller-coastery again this week, made some really good progress with the piece I am working on, and had good feedback from the senior developer.  Still stressing about the real-life issues such as the grading of the job against my real-life grade, there don't appear to be easy answers out there, which in a way is understandable - it's the first time that my grade had been allowed to apply for such things, and the emphasis on skills rather than grade is important.  Wednesday the senior dev was very involved with the pending release of a new batch of code, so I felt kind of in the way, I made a little progress on my own but then got stuck.  Now I've been trying to battle harder before asking for help, cos the senior dev is a contractor and won't be there for much longer, but I left on Wednesday not having made as much progress as I'd wanted to that day - which isn't my favourite place to leave things at the end of my working week.  Hoping for a better week next week.

WEEK 24 -
Up and down a bit this week. Made some real progress on something without having to ask for help on the Monday (took me a long time but I was SO proud of achieving it alone in the end).  Tuesday the senior developer was absent so I floundered a bit with some more complex tasks.  On his return on Wednesday it appeared that the task I was trying to do was more complex than I'd envisaged, so I didn't feel quite so bad about struggling with it.  And managed (after a couple of false starts) to make further progress on one of my pages.  Also made good plans for the week ahead, where I feel like I can see some of the steps I need to follow to achieve what we're going to need.  Not all of it will be things I can tackle alone, but that's OK too.  Finished off the week with a night out with a couple of my colleagues, it's nice to know that even someone who is out there doing the job at a higher grade than me still feels out of his depth at times.  These little things help the confidence when I am struggling.  Ended the week feeling smiley!

WEEK 23 - 

Week 23 was another good week, following on from last week's progress it feels like things are starting to make small amounts of sense, which is an awesome feeling.  More database queries and lots of front-end stuff which has been a more comfortable place to be.  Bring it on...

WEEK 22 -
Had a really positive experience this week.  For the first time, I went into a planning meeting without the presence of the senior developer, as he was required to be getting on with something different and the 'user story' we would be working on this time was a small piece.  And to my own amazement (and for the first time so far in this journey), I came out of the meeting with a clear idea of where to begin.  Having been working on database queries as part of both my OU and real-life work over the last week or so, I could visualise the query I would need to build to get me started, and the design of the page that would show this information.  Granted, I would still need a lot of help filling in the centre parts and how everything would connect up together, but this was the first time I felt like a real, honest-to-goodness developer and I just felt like shouting from the rooftops once I realised this a couple of days later (it finally having sunk in just what I'd achieved!!).

I'm learning to take my 'wins' in whatever format they appear, to own them and feel proud of them.  Sometimes they're tiny and sometimes they're massive like this week, but certainly this week's 'wins' filled me with so many smiles, and are fuelling a hopeful attitude towards the next week at work.

WEEK 21 -
The week off was much too soon after the Xmas break, never thought I would say that about work, but I'd only just got my head back in the zone.  This week was a bit odd too, as I was attending a Software Engineering Conference with lots of other colleagues.  It felt nice to be part of a wider community, and it was a good opportunity to catch up with some of my fellow trainees.  Work wise (as in the real part of the job not the networking part) -  I got involved in writing some database queries, felt like I made good progress, and whilst I didn't immediately get the right answer, I managed to ask sufficiently intelligent questions to get me there in the end.  So I'll consider that a win.  From discussions with colleagues from training, we all have our moments of 'what is going on?' as well as moments of clarity, so it's nice to know I'm not alone on my confidence rollercoaster.

But I have to admit, I am looking forward to a 'normal' week next week.

WEEK 20 -
This week came after a 2 and a half week absence, but it was SO nice to get back to coding in some fashion (although I'd gotten out the Raspberry Pi for a bit of non-work practice before the end of the time of, just so my brain didn't go 'argh code'!).  Had some planning sessions for the work that we didn't get done over the Xmas period (which to be fair we always knew wouldn't get done), its been nice to try and get back in the zone.  Unfortunately I am off again next week, so Week 21 in the real world will come again after a time of absence.

WEEK 19 -
Well - only one day at work this week - I had been planning to come in for 2 days this week and 2 after New Year, however as I have a mountain of time off that I haven't taken so far, and the senior developer is off (and out of the country) for all 3 weeks, I made the last minute decision to take the full period as leave, so I won't return now till 9th January.  (I'll be honest, I had a bit of a crisis of confidence in my understanding of the application and how it hangs together, there would be very little coding I could achieve on my own in that period, without the senior dev present to help me figure out what was going wrong.  In addition it's a 3 hour daily commute, which is a long way to travel to not provide real value to the team).  So I think the break will do me good, and I can go back with renewed energy and confidence.

WEEK  18 -
Again back after a week's break - planning for new sprints, sometimes it feels like it's a well oiled wheel, others it feels like wading through treacle - I think this week was a 'treacle' week.  Stuff is being planned for that will be unlikely to be achievable in the timescales given, which makes it more difficult to plan for.  The confidence rollercoaster is about as bumpy as ever, but I did get to catch up with one of my fellow lady-coders from the training group, which was great fun.

WEEK 17 -
I'll be honest - the blur has set in at this point - the OU assignment took over my entire life, I can barely remember what I worked on.  (From the memories I think the daytimes were easier than the study-nights, but that's about my limit - sorry - not the greatest of updates, I know!

WEEK 16 -
Wow - eyes opened this week!  We had a training course on application security, from a former professional hacker.  Suffice to say that we all went home to change our passwords...  Amazing how easily those with the right knowledge can do stuff.  So it will be back to work this coming week and looking at the security of our app, to totally get my head around what it all means in real life.

WEEK 15 -
Sprinting ahead again, this was a definite 'up' week, although there were still bits that I misunderstood, I could see why when it was explained where I was going wrong.  I have to remind myself that this is still very early in the journey, I know I've been learning the basics and the theory for such a long time that I give myself more of a hard time than I would anyone else.  Hoping for permanent grade vacancies to be advertised soon, I think that having that sense of security would help a lot with confidence, there's still a tiny part of me that worries about having the rug pulled away, that keeps me striving to be so much better - in one way that's quite motivating, but on the other side it's damn stressful!  Next week will be spent on a training course for my 3 days, looking forward to the brief change of pace and the chance to interact more with the other devs outside of our team

WEEK 14 -
A much better week, although still not without its ups and downs of confidence, it finished on a successful point at the Wednesday evening.  I think that seems to be a bit of a pattern, if I finish on a high point then I don't spend the weekend stressing about how little I know, if I struggle at the end of the week then I feel more pressure at the weekend and wonder if I'm 'getting it'.

Unfortunately ended the week with a cold, which coloured the weekend somewhat, with a cough irritating and loud enough to disturb me and the whole family and force me to sleep on the sofa.

A training get-together helped to reassure me that we're all suffering similar confidence lapses, we just seem to stagger them, one person will be riding a high while someone else is struggling.  As long as we can maintain our supportive network for each other, though, I will be happy that we are doing what we can to stay abreast of it.  Moving ahead to the new sprint next week, and looking forward to starting something fresh.


WEEK 13 -
Recovered my confidence a little after last week's foray into arrays, although 'real life' seemed to be catching up to me a bit this week (see Home).  However I got a massive confidence boost after a discussion with team managers, when I received a higher mark than expected regarding a 'performance appraisal', alongside some really positive feedback about my progress and my support for the rest of the team.  I think it was definitely the boost I'd been needing.

I know we're all naturally critical of our own work and skills anyway, but I think somehow I expect more of myself than I would of any of my training compatriots, just by virtue of the extra OU training.  And I forget to allow for the fact that a lot of the technologies I'm taking on now are just as new and complex to me as they would be to the rest of the group.  (and that I only get 3 days a week in which to assimilate this knowledge...)

Maybe it's a little bit of pride hitting in, I was used to working in environments (even during training to a certain extent) where I had the most experience, it's odd and hard work being back at what I perceive to be the 'bottom of the pile', experience-wise.  Couple that with a time where the OU stuff is also throwing up some entirely new technologies to master, and I think I've just been missing my 'A' game a bit.  So the great feedback and a couple of positive discussions with management leave me feeling a lot more confident in my working environment than at the end of last week.

PS - can't believe I've had 13 weeks 'on the ground' now?  That's a quarter of a year Out Of Training!!!



WEEK 12 -
An array of thoughts this week.  On the plus side there was lots of work to get into, on the negative side, it involved my 'arch-nemesis', arrays (and in particular arrays of objects).  Now, a bit like clutter in real life, I find arrays and collections hard work, that task of determining exactly what is being produced by each part of the code and managing to navigate to the bit I want is one of those things that still doesn't come easily.  I know I'll get there, and more practice will make this second nature, some days I just want a magic pill that will take me there sooner rather than later!  Onwards to the end of the sprint, time for 'ceremonies' again next Tuesday.

WEEK 11 -
Felt better about the sprint by the end of my working week (with a couple of days into the start of it), both unit and acceptance tests to write this week, which are starting to feel familiar now.  I'm starting to feel like my personal confidence grows the more I am in this Agile environment, the fact that we are all encouraged to speak up and play our part in a much more genuine way than other 'team meetings' from past jobs, where it's obvious the manager is 'in charge'.  The Agile environment works completely differently, regardless of grade or employment status - we all have important roles to play.  Don't get me wrong, it's not always sweetness and light, we do get on each others nerves occasionally, but it's by far the most supportive and inclusive environment I've ever worked in, one that allows me to be 'Roni' and not 'one of the AOs'.

WEEK 10 -
End of sprint again - wow - those fortnights go so quickly!  Mixed feelings this week, loved the development work that I got to do, lots of acceptance tests to write, both challenging and fulfilling, starting to feel like I am adding value to the team now and not just being someone to be looked after (although there's obviously still a lot of that).  On the downside this week, the planning for next sprint felt very 'woolly', not sure that we were any more planned by the final meeting than we'd been a week beforehand.  I know some of this is down to coming into the job 'halfway through the party' so to speak, but I think the feeling was shared throughout the team.  On the positive side, I was able to articulate this in meetings so we could move on from it and feel positive about the work ahead rather than stewing over something unsaid.   And we finished off the week with a night out for the training group, which was a great opportunity to natter and share stories.

WEEK 9 -
A stress-headed start to the week, the positive feelings about Vagrant & VirtualBox evaporated with the realisation that my ancient PC was not really up to the job of running them!  So lots of stress about do I buy a new PC etc, till the boss stepped in with a suggestion and saved the day.  On a further positive note, there will hopefully soon be permanent positions to apply for on the team, which will make me feel a whole lot more secure in my new life.  After those stresses were out of the way it was down to the business of the day-job, creating the front end pages and writing some automated tests for a new part of the application.  Interesting, challenging and successful - the holy triumvirate of dev-work!  Finished the week feeling really positive and ready for more next week (can't believe it's nearly the end of the 2 week sprint already though!!)


WEEK 8 -
A reasonable week this week - it was the start of the next sprint, which meant a series of meetings to discuss the work we'll be taking on this fortnight.  Starting to feel like a real part of the team now, more confident in estimating the amount of time things will take, and even a little more confident in what my part in delivering all that will be.  A frustrating end to the week with a 3rd presentation on something we already met twice during our training, but other than that I am raring to go and get started on the work for the next sprint, find out how much I have taken on board and understand.
On a personal note at home, the work stuff is having a positive impact on the OU studies, as I'm using Vagrant and VirtualBox in both locations.  Quite a nice feeling...more about that on the main blog post though.

WEEK 7 -
Came back after a week off on leave, so it felt a bit disjointed at times whilst I was getting my head back in the game.  At the beginning of the week I was having 'why does this not work and why don't I know this yet?' kind of qualms, by the end of the week...well, I felt like I understood a little step more of what I was doing, and even managed to fix a tiny bug by myself without any assistance, this felt like such a massive achievement even though it was a tiny bit of coding, ME, I DID IT!!  So a happy end to the working week, and an added 'moment' to share when I introduced myself at a party full of scientists and PHD students as a Software Developer for the civil service - that felt kind of awesome actually!!  It's the first real time that I have actually been proud to tell people about my job.

THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT JOURNEY - WEEK SIX OF REAL WORLD....
Well, it still hasn't disappeared in a puff of smoke, so it must have been 'real life', but I still find it all a bit surreal, that I get to actually do this for a living!  At the end of last week, I met up with the majority of our training group for a social catch-up, it was great to compare stories, to realise that we all feel a bit out of our depth most of the time, and that it's OK not to know stuff, as long as we're prepared to learn it.  This was a short bank holiday week, so just 2 days in for me, one of which I also had a night out with my new team, getting to know the folks on the team in a social setting was quite nice, the small barriers that are naturally up a little at work come down after a couple of drinks.
I'm off for a week now, so Week 7 will come after a break.  Normal service to be resumed as soon as possible!

THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT JOURNEY - WEEK FIVE OF REAL WORLD....
Starting to feel a bit of confidence in myself this week - had a good weekend of practice last weekend, which has helped a lot in my understanding of some of the software I'm using in the real world.  More writing of unit tests this week, and also finally coupled up the page I created earlier to the back end database.  Somehow it all makes more sense once I see an output page for it.

Loving the job, I'm still so excited to get to do this every day, it's a constant learning curve, but something where my confidence gets to grow a lot every time I finally get my head round something new in a way that makes sense to me.

I have to admit, I've mentally lowered my 'career path' ambitions for promotions a tad, having realised just how much is actually out there in the 'real world' that I don't yet know.  But I'm happy with that too, part of this journey is also about learning to be OK with not knowing it all and just not being afraid to ask for help.

THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT JOURNEY - WEEK FOUR OF REAL WORLD....
15/8/16 - All by myself....sing along now....
My entire team were out of the office for one reason or another, felt a little odd.  I've been looking at some online training that we've been given subscriptions to, so I didn't feel entirely out of things.  My senior developer also gave me a pointer towards something that needed investigating with the code I'd worked on already, which wasn't behaving the same way in all browsers.

16/8/16 - Feeling good, managed to sort out the issue from yesterday, some of the pieces are beginning to come together in my head a bit more, and I can start to work out what error messages are referring to and look at how to put things right.  Organising a get together for our training group too so we can see how we're all getting along in a social setting over food and drink.

17/8/16 Looking at some database queries today and how they fit together with the rest of the stuff, feeling a bit 'muddy' of brain but most of it is making some kind of sense and ringing some vague bells from our training times.  Still glad it's Wednesday though and I get to chill for a bit at the weekend!




THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT JOURNEY - WEEK THREE OF REAL WORLD....

8/8/16 - Today I'm looking at Test Driven Development (TDD) - where you write the code for tests before you write the functional code.  This has been my first insight into TDD and I think I kind of like it... there's a level of focus and breakdown that it allows you to achieve which should improve the quality of overall code.

9/8/16-10/8/16  - more tests, both unit testing and acceptance testing.  Every new thing seems like a new bit of the jigsaw puzzle, it's just odd to be doing a jigsaw without much of the box attached.


THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT JOURNEY - WEEK TWO OF REAL WORLD....

1/8/16 - wow - after only 3 days out in the real world they are letting me loose on real life code!  It's quite an amazing thought actually, will let you know how it goes...

3/8/16 - It went well on both Monday and today, although the realisation that we covered only small portions of what we need to know on the training is sinking in fast.  My background with the OU is very helpful though, having a deeper understanding of variable scope and such matters means that some of the more complex concepts are not as bad as they might have been.  Tonight I travelled off to London with a couple of colleagues to do a Unix training course tomorrow.

4/8/16 - Training course...hmm, well, parts of it were very useful, other bits seemed a lot more focused on specifics that people wanted to know and were either difficult to carry out or not really recommended given our security settings here, and that the Macbooks are not our own to play with.  Seems like it was a lot of travel time in proportion to the amount that we actually benefitted from the training.  But it was a good experience to spend time with other developers further along in the process than we are, so I won't count it as a loss.





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THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT JOURNEY - WEEK ONE OF REAL WORLD....



25/7/16 - And so the real life part of the journey begins - out in the real world as a real developer.  It still doesn't quite sink in that this is actually going to be my working life now, we've spent a while reinstalling stuff to our Macbooks to get them up to security requirements etc now that we're in a real world situation rather than a training room.

26/7/16 - Still ongoing with installations etc, but getting to attend some Scrum ceremonies today, kind of makes it feel more real somehow, being able to participate in even a small way with my new team mates.

27/7/16  Finally got some of the necessities installed and today I'm trying to get my head around the project that I'll be working on.  It's massive in comparison to anything we've done so far, but I think it can be broken down into modules so that it makes more sense along the way.  Been advised to concentrate less on the specifics of that project and more on the technologies that it uses, so that is my plan for the weekend, to get my head a little more around the general stuff we will be using, and to not worry too much yet about the massive overall picture.





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THE PROJECT WEEKS - PART 2


The Project weeks - they were an interesting time, putting it all together and creating a front end, back end and middleware that all talked to each other.  Successfully completed my project and helped out with a few others along the way, we were all very supportive and shared ideas/approaches where we could.
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THE JAVA WEEKS



Right - I will confess, during what will come to be known as 'The Java Weeks' I kind of lost the plot, what day was it, week was it etc?  Add in the excitement (shudder) of the exam and associated revision, and there wasn't a lot of me left to be able to blog successfully.  So I will draw a mental and physical line under it (over it?), we learned loads, there was stuff that was new to me too, Java Web Services, Spring, Hibernate, MySQL and MongoDB.  I may well elaborate at a later date but for right now that's all I can get in there



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THE CLASSROOM WEEKS - PART 2



Day 63 to ...still ongoing - Java!  For me it's been a happy return to something that I cut my programming 'teeth' on.  For most of the group it's been a nightmare, the materials for training are not filled with great examples, and the concepts covered too quickly.  As a consequence I have spent more of my time as a support worker, helping out the others and trying to translate the training into English for my colleagues to understand.  It's doing my own confidence in both my code and my people skills the world of good.  But I have to be honest I don't feel like I've really learned an awful lot myself.  Hoping it gets more complex soon for my own purposes, but kind of dreading it too from a 'trainer' point of view.

Day 59 to 62 - a short week focusing on Unix/Linux, working with command line stuff.  Bit of a mind bender (most of the stuff there was no real-life reason you would do it that way?) and very dry.  Was glad when this week was over, and looking forward to the next bits.

THE PLACEMENT WEEKS



Day 54 to 58 - week 3 in the real world.  Wow - what a week!  The product we were developing changed so much in the last week, feels like we've learned masses of stuff.   The end product is almost (but not quite) usable in the real world, only needs some kind of storage linking up at the back end to make it workable.  I do wish we'd had longer, would have loved to see it through to real completion like that.  I've made my feelings known with management on both sides, and let them know how keen I would be to be a part of the team again.  I guess it's in the hands of them all now, but I didn't get to the stage I am now by not letting people know what I wanted from life, my honesty and persistence in my approach to this is the reason I (and maybe a couple of others too) am on this journey at all.  So we shall see...Back into the training room tomorrow, looking forward to it and to seeing the team again, but it will be sad not to be working on our product again.

I think over the last week or so I have had a feeling of achievement, not just about the code, but about my own interpersonal skills and leadership 'stuff' - I felt like I took the lead in a few things this week, organising the team and lending some structure to the way we've been working.  For many folks this wouldn't be a big thing, but I think I'm almost as proud of those moments as I am of the coding 'fist-pumps' where things have gone exactly to plan (or finally worked after trying many different variations).   Looking forward immensely to seeing what the rest of the journey brings after we go back to training.

Day 49 to 53 (week 2 in the real world).  Another really intense week, with some back-pedalling of code as we started to get our heads around how the various parts of the language interact with each other.  Finished up with a presentation to senior managers and stakeholders, which went really well.  By the end of the week it really started to feel like we were getting somewhere with the code, having back-tracked and concentrated on the interface design, we moved ahead to getting some basic logic in there by the end of the week.  And having really enjoyed it, a couple of us asked to be allowed to stay on and continue a bit further into the project for another week.   So roll on the next 4 days, (it's Bank Holiday Monday today), hopefully we can get some good stuff in there before we have to leave it to the 'real developers' to take further.  The following week will be back into the training room, with a 'show and tell' presentation around our thoughts and experiences over the project period, before getting back down to brass tacks and taking on some more new information.

Day 44 to 48 (week 1 in the real world) - have to admit this week has been intense, our brains are constantly battered with information.  The OU study has given me a bit of background knowledge and my head is battered, I can only imagine how it feels without that.  Loving the 'mini-project', a bit of the job-shadowing stuff is kind of being naturally fed into that process, which is a less boring way of feeding it all in there, and probably will help us cement the Agile processes in our heads much better than if we'd just "sat with Nelly" and watched it from afar.  Looking forward to another week of it this week, and at the moment so enthused that I'm contemplating asking whether I can stay for a week longer!  (or at least continue to perch on a desk alongside that environment while I study a bit more).

Day 43 - out in the real world.  It was a lot less stressful and 'job-shadowy' than I had expected, which has got to be a bonus.  Looking forward to a bit of time sitting finding out what the real life developers do, but glad that we are also to be given some sort of project which we can test out our skills upon.  Feels like it will be beneficial, not just to get a feel of agile development in the real world, but to create links with people who may be our future teammates!

THE CLASSROOM WEEKS - PART 1



Day 42 - trainer review pretty much agreed with me on my weak points and I got lots of good feedback to go with it.  A bit of 'stop and think' before putting complex code to screen, refactor before I begin.  Nervous wait for the 'real life' project which awaits us tomorrow and for the next couple of weeks.

THE PROJECT WEEKS - PART 1


Day 39 - the projects are handed in, now to await the verdict of the trainer.  Feel like I got lots of good stuff in there, in my own usual perfectionist head though, there was still stuff I felt was lacking. (a certain level of missing creativeness on the 'landing page', felt a bit old-fashioned somehow, but in the time left there was nothing else to be done to change that.  And there were bits of the code that felt as though they'd been repeated unnecessarily, that I couldn't work out how to 'refactor' in the allotted time.  All in all though I guess pretty happy with the outcome.

We will soon be starting a period of 'real life' time on a project team.  Will we get to do any 'real life' code?  And if so, on what?  I'm really excited to find out, for the first time, what it's like out there in the big wide world of coding.



Days 32 to 38:

Project week (although it extends to next Monday really).  Time to put it all together and build a shopping website.  I alternate between very chuffed with how much I have got through to argh how much do I still need to do and why doesn't this work how I wanted it to?  The resulting article is looking good so far, and pretty responsive to different device sizes etc too, which is part of the brief.  Amongst this trying to cram in my annual report at work which to be honest, counts for naught, achieves naught but making me too darn stressed to think as it is 8.30 at night the night before my meeting.

Days errr...losing count...err...2 weeks anyway  (18 to 31?) - revision/leave fortnight - at home for all of it, and I have to admit to only getting a few bits of coding done, I really needed the break, sat down and coloured in pretty pictures and generally did more planning than actual code, although I did help out one of the others in some of her panicked moments.

Days 14 to 17 - Back to the 'office'.  It was good to get back to the 'team' - yes we're starting to feel like quite a close-knit band now.  This week was all about HTML5 - and some of the clever stuff that's new to this version.  We dealt with videos (including adding captions), graphics canvases (which didn't appeal to me any more this time round than it did in the OU stuff).  In addition we looked at the Bootstrap library (an easy way of making clever things happen automatically without such massive lines of code).  At the end of the week we were introduced to LayoutIt - a package which helps you structure webpages and gives you the building blocks of the code which you can then go away and amend.  Great stuff, and after an hour on that we created a website which looked more professional than stuff I'd spent over a week on at home - go figure...It does however explain why so many sites have a similar layout and look, more and more are being built from website building packages.  Very happy to see something looking good by the end of the week though.  The next couple of weeks are for time off/revision - hoping to get a bit of both in, and find a balance in preparation for the 'project', where we get to build a shopping website.


Day 13 - More revision - this time at home.  Made some good progress over the weekend and today, giving myself some bigger challenges than perhaps the current level of learning actually requires.  Moments of both elation and frustration, but happy with the levels of progress in general, and looking forward to being back with the whole team tomorrow.  We have four days in, and then a fortnight's consolidation period.  I'm inclined to stay at home for those days to be honest, rather than worry whether someone else is going to turn up or not, or spend a couple of hours on the train that could be spent in the computer room.

Day 11 & 12 - Revision days - in the office.  Hmm - well this was a mixed bag, really really enjoyed Thursday when I teamed up with another member of the team to work together on a project.  We worked well together and made some great progress, despite being at opposite ends of the spectrum, experience-wise.  Friday, my partner in crime wasn't in, and as only one other member of the team came into the office who did his own thing work-wise, I felt that I would have been better off at home.

Day 10 - JQuery and many other things  -  there was so much crammed into the Wednesday that I've quite lost track of everything we learned and when...time for a bit of revision.

Day 9 - Cookies!!  We've been learning about cookies today, how to create them on a website to move data from one page of a website to another.  It's been an intense day but really good fun actually.  I'm excitedly exhausted!

Day 8 - refreshed (ish) after a Mother's Day weekend, having done lots of playing with code at the weekend.  I'd forgotten just how much fun it was to work stuff out and get things happening.  Today's  been really interesting, and (for me at least) quite a confidence booster.  Today I've realised what a boon my OU studies have provided, I have a good level of familiarity with some of the concepts we're meeting at least, which has been SO helpful, particularly in those "why isn't this working?" moments.  So endeth the day on a smile, particularly as I got a tricky bit of code to work at home tonight.

Day 6 & 7 (Thursday/Friday) - odd for me to begin with as I've been working Monday to Wednesday for some time.  But finally we are starting to get into the nitty gritty of stuff, with a bit of HTML and CSS amongst all the paperwork filling and Mac-coping.  Plenty to take home with us and play over the weekend.

Day 5 - a strange kind of day, we met a past trainee and got her take on how things work in the real world.  The main thing I take from today though is a realisation that, for me at least, the journey is as much about the social skills (the daily stand up meetings etc) as it is about the coding - I need to develop my confidence in speaking out in meetings and formal situations, without resorting to either raving (about how fab this really really is) or ranting (about my own issues regarding job grade etc).  It's a massive part of the Agile development process so I think it's very important to work on it.  So maybe that's something I can take from colleagues who may not have the same experience of the coding side of stuff...


Day 4 - Today we meet our first trainer, and get our hands on a bit of coding work at last. We have an introduction to HTML5 and CSS today. (described as the text and pictures and stuff on the web page and the bits that make it pretty).  Lots more attempts to get familiar with our Macbooks, which, to be honest, are currently posing as much of a challenge as the code.  We had a visit from the current boss man, which, whilst peppered with a lot of techy talk, was infectious in enthusiasm.  And I found it somewhat comforting to know that my OU theoretical studies are not all in vain, as I actually managed to understand a fair amount of the terms he mentioned.

Day 3  - Induction Day - finally the team is all assembled, and raring to go.  Today was also the chance to ask the manager all of our burning questions.  Some of those questions still remain burning but I think we all feel reassured knowing that we're not the only ones asking them.  There are 3 of us at the lower grade, it appears that my persistence in hammering on the door has opened it for future applicants.  We also got introduced to our new computers - for many of us our first introduction to the strange world of Mac!  A bit of time to familiarise with them before home time, and to set up new email addresses so that we can contact the world.  Nearly time for the 'real thing' to begin and the nervous excitement is setting in!!

Day 1 & 2 - Tech Futures course
This marks the very start of our new lives as a Software Developer.  To be honest I wasn't sure what to expect of it, but it proved to be a very interesting introduction to the world of Agile, and the different phases of the software development lifecycle.  I've been learning about some of these concepts in my latest OU course, so it was nice that some of it felt familiar and gives me hope that the learning is not just theoretical.

I also got to meet 4 of my new colleagues, which was nice and made for a slightly less chaotic start on the 'Real Beginning' of our journey together, our first group could show the new folks around and there were only 6 new names to remember!!









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