2016.06.01 – Post, Post, Post PyCon Reflections

PyCon 2016 just ended….well for me anyway. Sprints are taking place over the next four days but I have a job I love and miss and can’t wait to get back to. This was my third PyCon having gone to the last two in Montreal. It was interesting to attend in my home city of Portland. We typically travel for conferences so we end up eating out usually with people we’ve just met and doing some touristy things each day after the talks. Attending in our own city means we can just go home and sleep in our own bed which is really nice but also kind of weird. This year we convinced our two oldest children to attend because they have never been to a conference and are both new Python programmers hoping to find a job in the tech industry.

Both of them were nervous and unsure of themselves. I repeatedly tried to reassure them that they were absolutely worthy to be among all of these other awesome Pythonistas but I could see they were still unsure. I was pretty much watching myself at my first PyCon and it made me reflect on various experiences, thoughts and emotions that I struggled with.

I had attended many conferences prior to PyCon 2014 but this was the first one intended for me. All of the others were conferences relating to Andrew’s interests. I enjoyed tagging along but rarely understood anything. Now we were at a conference for me and I sure didn’t feel like I belonged. I was a total imposter. Yeah I’d done many tutorials, finished a boot camp, created my own Django project, deployed it on Heroku, implemented continuous integration but what did I know? Surely everyone else knew a LOT more than me. I bet they all had awesome jobs programming in Python all day and were confident and sure of themselves. I wasn’t there yet. Not even close. I didn’t belong.

We showed up at our hotel and there was a lobby full of Python attendees hanging out, laughing, chatting, playing board games. I honestly don’t even remember how it came about but before I knew it people were talking to us. When someone would ask about us Andrew would defer to me saying, “She’s a Python programmer.” and I would immediately say that I was just learning and really didn’t know much about anything. I didn’t want people assuming I knew more than I did. I really didn’t want to look dumb in front of these smart people. They were all SO nice though. I felt incredibly welcomed and so did Andrew even after he divulged that he was a Perl developer!

We had an amazing time at the conference, loved so many of the talks and met a ton of great people. One late evening as Andrew and I were hanging out in the lobby a couple of really nice guys struck up a conversation. They asked me if I was staying for the sprints. I had heard mention of these sprint things but had no idea what they were and I said as much. They explained what the sprints were, pretty much implying they were as good if not better than the actual conference. One of the guys was even running one. I explained that I had no experience and wouldn’t be a good person to join one of these sprints even though they sounded amazing. “Oh but that’s great! I can help you! How would you like to fix a security bug?” encouraged my new friend. Well, wow that sounds cool and important. “I could do that?” I asked.  “Of course! Meet after closing remarks tomorrow and I’ll help you get started.” Well this was fantastic. I was going to work on a thing. A real thing. I was ridiculously excited.

The job fair was also the next day. I was definitely looking for a job but I knew there was no way any of these companies would want someone like me with no experience. I had an awful time working up the nerve to even talk to someone at a table and I walked away from each experience feeling even worse about myself. The whole thing was so awkward for me. Oh well, I had a security bug to fix during the sprints!

We went to a few more talks and then sat through the closing. I don’t know if it was my unfortunate experiences during the job fair or what but as I sat there I replayed the Security Bug Fix Invitation conversation over and over in my head. “Did he smile when he asked me if I wanted to fix a security bug? I think he may have. Of course he was smiling. He was just joking when he asked you that. What kind of beginner could possibly be trusted with, let alone fix, a security bug? Gah, Lisa how could you not see he was joking?! He probably thought you were smart enough to catch on to his joke but when you weren’t, he felt bad for you and was probably embarrassed and now he’ll want avoid you so he doesn’t have to let you down with the truth. You should probably just leave as soon as possible so you don’t have to cause any further embarrassment.”

Yeah I got WAY in my head on this one. It was ridiculous. I told Andrew we should probably just head back to the hotel but he was so excited about me trying out a sprint. I explained my worries to him and he was just as patient as always with me. He told me I was probably incorrect but that we could just go check out a different project if I really felt uncomfortable about the other. This seemed like an ok compromise so we wandered into a different room and I sat around having no idea what I was doing……and along came my friend. He’ll see me and avoid eye contact until he can escape. It’s cool. I unders..”Hey! I was looking for you! I thought you were going to come and work on this security bug I have picked out.” Oh, why yes, Yes I am!

And this year I watched my daughter get in that same head space. It’s not enough that I try and talk her out of it. She knows I go there too. She and her brother are off to the sprints tomorrow without Andrew and I and of course I worry that things won’t fall into place like they did for me. I worry that as unlikely as it is, nobody will take them under their wing. I worry but in reality I know that they will be in great hands. I’m excited for them!

2016.02.24 – Some Days….

I still love my job. I love my office, my desk by the window, my boss, coworkers, everything. It’s such a great place to be. I don’t love when I don’t know what the hell I’m doing though and wow, there are sure days like that. I’m getting used to it more and more since that’s just kind of the nature of programming.

Last week I was asked to add a feature to a product but I was not really familiar with the code base nor the workings of the technology I was working with. I floundered and struggled, spent a ton of time searching the internet for answers and asking for help. I was so lost but I learned SO much. It just took me days when I’m sure my boss could have had it done in a couple of hours. I got it done though!

Yesterday I had to add a feature to the code base I’ve been pretty much working in since I started here and what a difference! I knew what I needed to do, where I needed to make the changes/additions and how it would all work. I got it done super fast, my first PR was approved and it was deployed to staging by the end of the day. It felt SO good to know how to do something and it reminded me that I really do know stuff. Sure I’m going to struggle and be a bit slow with things that are new but I eventually figure them out and I learn something while I struggle. It’s all good.

2016.01.01 – Hello 2016!

Let’s do this! Yeah it’s an arbitrary date but it’s as good a time as any to reflect on the past and plan for the future. I already know that there is going to be at least one really awful thing ahead in 2016. Sort of a giant train wreck I can watch but not stop unfortunately. I have no idea the impact this will have on me, my family, life in general but here we are. I’m in action mode at this point and haven’t really accepted the reality of the situation. I’m just thankful for my wonderful family and friends who I know will stand by through it all.

I think there will also be lots of good in 2016. I have some goals to work toward and I’m looking forward to getting started. One of them is to start blogging more often. It won’t be daily but hopefully it will be more than once ever several months.

Anyway, here we go…..


2015.10.31 – It’s Been a While

Wow, time sure flies when one is ridiculously busy trying to get up to speed at a new job. I definitely won’t be getting back to daily blogging any time soon but I’d like to blog more than every four months.

I’ve been at Urban Airship since the beginning of June and I absolutely love it. I feel like the luckiest person ever. I have an excellent boss who seems to believe in me even when I’m doubting myself. He’s helpful but gives me plenty of time to figure stuff out on my own and there is a lot for me to figure out. I’ve broken a few things and learned a ton from fixing my errors. One day I completely took out our production servers and watched helplessly as the Ops team tried to figure out how to fix it. I have to say, watching them struggle a bit made me feel a lot better about myself. It reminded me that we are all just figuring stuff out.

We get to work on some really interesting projects. We build solutions to help our customers quickly and easily integrate with UA so we never really know what we may be doing from project to project. I’ve done some code refactoring, adding integration of one product with another, database backfill (to fix a mistake I made), code reviews and many small bug fixes. I’ve learned how to deploy changes to staging and production, how to customize my development environment for various tasks, and how to use a Python debugger to effectively track down errors. I’ve touched on regular expressions and test mocking. I love how much I get to learn. My job is the best!

Today I learned how dedicated Portland parents are. It’s dumping rain and we’ve had more trick-or-treaters than ever.

2015.06.23 – 2015.07.04 – Something Had to Give

And it ended up being my daily blog! But that’s ok because I’m busy, busy learning so freakin’ much at work. Some days I feel like I jump around from one thing to another and some days I feel like I get in some good, solid time working through a particular project. There are just so many things to know and digging into one thing often leads to digging into many other things that first thing touches. Good thing I love learning!

Last Thursday Amanda came and sat next to me and helped me get started on some logs training. As one can imagine UA monitors and logs pretty much everything. If something goes sideways it would be nice if I knew how to track down the issue. They have some cool internal tools to make this job a bit easier but I also need to know what I’m looking at once I find it. It’s pretty fascinating. I hope this is a skill I’ll be needing. I’m still winging it since my boss is still on vacation. He’s back on Monday though and hopefully he’s happy with my progress. We’ll see!

Today I learned that scientists have created a hologram that a person can touch!


2015.06.23 – I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

I was working away this morning trying to finally work on a ticket. I would love to actually accomplish something while John is gone. I was reading about Named Users and trying to figure out how I add that audience type to the Uploader app. The day went along and it was getting well past lunchtime so Wayne and I decided to walk down to Market Square and see what we could eat. We were going to walk to a place about a mile and a half away but I didn’t want lunch to take too long.

We ended up at Chipotle since it’s quick and it’s good. Wayne ordered while I talked to Lauren for a bit. I noticed everyone’s phones making emergency notices though so when I hung up I checked mine and it said there was a flash flood warning for our area. Well we weren’t driving and we were in the middle of the city so no worries. It did not however occur to me that this most definitely meant rain. Yeah. While we were eating I got a message in Slack about an issue with the Uploader app. I am so new that I have no idea how to fix anything but I said I would take a look at it as soon as I got back from lunch. What the heck was I going to do? I guess try not to panic.

Now it was starting to rain so Wayne and I finished up as fast as we could and ran the several blocks back to our hotel and we were drenched! It was awful! I was even having an ok hair day. So much for that. But we made it back, I changed into PJs, grabbed my hot tea and settled in to work some more and try and figure out why Uploader reports weren’t being generated. I sent a test push and sure enough no reports. Had I understood how things completely worked before I would have noticed the lack of reports a lot sooner. There haven’t been any since June 17th. Meanwhile Misty figured out that the pushes had been scheduled and sent in spite of no report so that part is good at least. Now to figure out how to figure this out!

Andrew showed up at around 18:00 and it was time to go to the employee social at the new office space. Grant Street has leased the entire 14th floor including the rooftop patio areas and this would be most people’s first time seeing it. It’s SO nice! So, so nice. We mingled and had a really nice time and then headed to Proper Brick Oven with Daniel, Mary, Nolan and Brett. The pizza was fantastic as always and we had a nice time talking with everyone.

Today I learned that we have some really strange names for things at work.

2015.06.22 – Working from Hotel

Today I was up and at it since I’m working from the hotel this week. I wanted to destroy and rebuild the automated reports environments and make sure I had all of the file paths set up properly. I didn’t. I worked on that for a while and finally figured out how things should be. Yay! I did a lot of reading and exploring for the rest of the day.

Wayne and I did meet Mary for lunch. First we did the Allegheny Jail Tour that I have been trying to do for three years now. If not today it would be another year before I had a chance again. It was…underwhelming. But I can cross that off my list! We headed down to the Strip District to eat at our favorite Vietnamese place and of course they were closed. Mary suggested a Thai place she had heard about and it was nearby so we headed there and I am glad we did. It was great. Lots of vegan options. I even got a Thai tea with coconut milk. Yum!

We met John and Josh for dinner and decided on an Italian place nearby. The food was pretty good and we had a nice time. We all walked back to the hotel. John was meeting someone and Josh was going to call his family. We went up to the room and our friends Daniel and Mary let Andrew know they were on the rooftop of the place we had just left! They have a nice bar up there I guess. The three of us headed back down and hung out with them for a while.

I finished reading The Martian and it was great!

Today I learned that way back in the day the warden’s wife helped two murderer’s escape the jail. She was in love with one of them and they were to be hanged. I bet the warden wasn’t very happy about that. Apparently a movie was made about it.

2015.06.21 – GSG Summer Picnic 2015

None of us wanted to get up this morning so we took our time. We definitely wanted to get some breakfast before heading to the picnic though since food would be served as a late lunch or early dinner. Andrew messaged Tom Christiansen to see if he wanted to join us at Zenith. Andrew and I ate there on our trip here in January and it was great. Tom is vegetarian so it would be perfect. We met in the lobby and ran into several other GSGrs. The new DBA Brandon joined us and since we still had our rental car we drove everyone over. We got seated right away and had a great brunch. I got Tom and Brandon talking about unicode since I need more help understanding it. Fascinating.

After brunch we dropped off Tom and Brandon and drove out to Avis to return the car. Andrew summoned a Lyft to bring us back and he showed up in like three minutes. Always a great experience using Lyft.

We met up with more of Andrew’s co-workers in the lobby and then made our way out to where the buses were picking us up. We piled on and off we went to the usual venue for the picnic. It was nice to see everyone and to see all of the kids a year older. The food was pretty good and this year they had vegan cupcakes! Two kinds! My mind was blown 🙂

Lauren messaged me to let me know that Sean had crashed on his practice run and messed his leg up pretty badly. She was scared about the race and he was unsure if he was going to race. She messaged me a while later to let me know he did in fact race, crashed again and possibly broke his wrist. Ugh! She was taking him to urgent care. She messaged me even later to let me know it was definitely fractured and that he would have to see a specialist. He might be out of this race circuit for the year. Bummer. On a positive note he came in 7th!

After the picnic we headed back and the three of us were going to just take a short little nap but we ended up sleeping until nearly 23:00. So much for dinner or socializing. I thought we’d all have trouble sleeping after such long naps but we didn’t.

Today I learned that some languages don’t use spaces between words. Wha?!?

2015.06.20 – What an Adventure!

Well today didn’t go quite as planned. We were up early and Taylor was nice enough to drive us to the airport. Our flight was at 07:00 so he dropped us off about an hour early. Security was a breeze as usual and our flight was uneventful. We had a connection at Dulles so we landed and grabbed some lunch. We went back to the same burger place we ate at last week but this time I forgot to tell them we wanted black bean patties! Well we had so-so ‘burgers’ with no burger. Oooops! It was fine though because we’d be landing at PGH in time to go get dinner. We decided on some wood fired pizza from Proper Brick Oven. They always do a great job with vegan pizza for us. Our next flight boarded and we taxied out to the tarmac where we were informed that there was some sort of delay. No problem. This happened last week and we were only a little bit late getting home.

Weeeeeell it didn’t quite work out the same way.  We sat in the plane for an hour and a half before they took us back to the terminal. We sat there for a bit and then were informed that the flight was canceled! Oh, they rebooked us for 22:30 the next day! This was not going to work at all. Lots of other flights were getting canceled due to weather. It was pouring rain, lightning was intense, flash flood and tornado warnings. Soooo we decided to rent a car and drive the four hours to Pittsburgh. We found our bags, scooped up a car and hit the road. The radio was going nuts telling us to take cover and stay off the roads but we were headed west and the storm was moving east. We should be good right? It was awful! Poor Wayne drove and did a fantastic job.

We finally got to some clear weather and decided we should find some food before everything was closed. I had no idea where we were but I found a place on Yelp that sounded good and was open late. We ended up at Pistarro’s in Frederick Maryland. Funny we still got our vegan wood fired pizza and it was excellent! Too bad we’ll never find reason to be back in that city because I’d totally eat there again.

After we were sufficiently fed and Wayne filled up on caffeine we hit the road. It was a ridiculous drive with lots of torrential downpours along the way but we made it and rolled into town at about 02:00. Bleh!

Today I learned that plan b can be both fun and terrifying.

2015.06.19 – Completing My First Full Week at UA

Well I did it! I’ve worked a full week at Urban Airship and managed to survive without my boss. There weren’t any fires to put out though so It’s not a huge accomplishment. Will was out today so I couldn’t tell him what I was able to do with Vagrant and automated reports but that would keep. I had a nice lunch with Lisa and Julia. We went to a yummy place I hadn’t heard of before called Verde Cocina. It was great! I had to get home as soon as possible though because Wayne, Andrew, and I are catching a plane to Pittsburgh tomorrow for the summer picnic/work week. I hadn’t packed at all.

Today I learned a bit more about Redis