Thoughtful Thursday and Full Stack Talks - Jan 14th Meetup Recap

Good morning! 

I'm in much better spirits after yesterday's events, which included my first attendance to "Thoughtful Thursday" and last night's Full Stack Talks meetup!

As always, I am here to give you a little run down and I'll try to be brief:

  • THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY w/ Learn-verified - 

As stated, yesterday was the first time that I was available to attend a web chat called Thoughtful Thursday. The purpose of it is to provide a platform for students to share their progress and experiences, good and/or bad. Even though I decided to just listen in this time, I left reassured that all my "debbie-downer" emotions I've been having along this programming journey are absolutely NORMAL! The frustrations, the feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness... it seems that the majority expressed at least one or all of these concerns. It turns out that I'm WAYYYY too hard on myself and need to practice patience! The reality is, I've learned A LOT and I know WAY MORE than I did only a short time ago! I'm no longer an aspiring programmer, I am actually a programmer. I'm programming! I'm building web apps as we speak, look at me go! 

I liked the analogy Avi presented after one student mentioned that everything she is currently learning always seems to be the hardest lesson she's done. (I can SO relate!) But looking back at all the previous lessons, those lessons suddenly don't seem so bad anymore. (yup.) He compared this to a mountain. When you are at the base looking up, it seems nearly impossible to reach the top. But as soon as you start climbing, stop and take a look back down, you'll see that that trek wasn't so bad after all and look at how high up you are! 

  • Full Stack Talks

I've been meaning to attend this meetup for ages now, mainly due to its high recommendation from my trusted source, Bobbilee Hartman :) By the way, you should definitely click on her name to read an awesome article about her being a nomad developer! So inspiring! 

Even though this group is quite "out the way" in terms of distance (1hr drive w/ traffic), this is one of the best meetups I've ever been to and I'm definitely coming back. Alex and I went together and we actually arrived WAY too early, which ended up being a good thing because I was hangry when I got there. There was a great vibe in the building which included food, drinks, lounge areas, a stage with a podium,  and even foosball tables. I am very grateful for those who noticed we were new and introduced themselves to us. If you are reading this, THANKYOU for making us feel welcome! It was also great to see some familiar faces from previous meetups and events I've attended. I even saw some rubyconf backpacks floating around (I had mine too!) #twinning

Both of the speakers were great! They were employees of Planning Center, which is where the event was held. The talks started at 7:30PM, and the following were presented: 

Static Typing in Dynamic Languages by Daniel Ma - Daniel spoke about his experiences working with C#, pointing out the perks of having to use a compiler before pushing out your code. The compiler will alert you when something is wrong before your code even has a chance to see the light of day. But his day to day job requires writing code in Ruby and Javascript, where no compiler is required. Sometimes the code can make it through, "error free" especially if you don't write tests, but you won't know about it until your program blows up. Even then, you may not even know where the broken piece is. So Daniel introduced four projects to us that help to emulate the perks of working with a compiler for Ruby and/or Javascript. The Ruby projects included: Contracts.ruby, and Crystal. The Javascript projects were Babel, and Typescript. He included a live demonstration too, which kind of reminded me of Matz's "Did you mean?" feature that he'll be debuting in the next version of Ruby. Basically, as you code, you will be alerted of type errors or misspellings, and be offered solutions plus inline documentation to reference. Since learning how to program, I've learned to embrace error codes however they can still be quite cryptic at times, so it was great to hear about these valuable tools. It was also great to see live code and 100% understand it!

Function with Form – A Delightful UX by William Dos Santos - Will has a knack for using metaphors to explain his concepts. He started out by explaining how he views the web as real life, one that contains objects, relationships and experiences. For example, he showed a picture of a house and explained how its structure is HTML, it's design is CSS, and its functionality is JS, Ruby, Node, etc. As simple as that sounds, I LOVED it. He went on to explain how inside of a house, we have expectations of experiences with certain objects. For example, when you need to cook, you'll likely walk into a kitchen, not a bathroom. In the kitchen, you'll expect to find a cooking source (stove, oven, microwave) with utensils (pots, pans, silverware) and even a fridge/cabinets with food to prepare your meal. This is so second nature that we take these experiences for granted. But haven't you seen that one show about hoarders, with stack of piles upon piles of paper and junk all in their "kitchen", deeming it to no longer safe or functional! This is called "Experience Rot" (term coined by Jared Spool) and can be applied to designing the web as well. The more features you have/offer, the more complex your site will be, which will ultimately decrease your user's experience. Will then went on to explore solutions to combat Experience Rot, and posed the question "Are you designing just to make things look pretty, or designing to make things work?"

Both speakers and subjects were fantastic! What's even more fantastic is that if you are unable to attend, they live stream the talks! Be sure to subscribe to their youtube channel! I believe they are recorded as well. 

Lastly there was an opportunity for job seekers & employers to give a plug on themselves. My little speech was awful but I'll definitely be better prepared next time! I got quite nervous as I wasn't expecting to speak at all, let alone with a microphone in a room full of people staring at me! Next time I'll practice what I want to say, and even make business cards with my contact info., to pass out to anyone interested.