How I'd Teach Computer Science

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I think this is an interesting idea, but it’s a bit short sited. I can’t emphasize this enough, but Computer Science != software development. There is definitely overlap between the two, however, it is certainly possible to have one without the other. I have met many software developers who were excellent at writing software that didn’t know the first thing about the time complexity of a given algorithm. I feel that distilling computer science down to what equates as process training is a disservice to the Computer Science field (says someone with a Masters of Engineering in Computer Engineering and Computer Science).

I do think offering courses with development methodologies in the curriculum is a worthwhile goal for college course work. I’m embarrassed to admit that fresh out of my college course work, I was fairly unfamiliar with source control. I had classes that taught us how to create UML diagrams to map model relationships for our OOD assignments, but I had not learned how to properly use source control, or how to plan a project, or what constitutes a good bug report. Shortly after landing my first job, I felt shame in what I didn’t know. I felt like a failure because I was unfamiliar with some of the technology stack. I felt inadequate around coworkers even though I held the highest degree. I remember being bitter towards my education.

Over time, my bitterness faded. I learned the different methodologies, different languages, and different tools of the trade. These came easy to me with a little patience. I still wish I would have had professors who had pushed us to use some of these tools/methodologies in our projects, but I eventually forgave them. I learned to be proud of my Computer Science background and it eventually set me apart from others in my field. It alone does not make me a better developer, but it’s an extra tool in my toolbox that others may not possess. I think this appreciation for my education has turned me off toward some of the formal education bashing that resides in my profession. There are many developers who tend to negatively view a traditional education. That’s okay. It’s their right. I just want to point out that those things are not equal, but they also don’t have to be mutually exclusive either.

How'd That Get in There?

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A few weeks ago, Ashley and I were watching John Oliver’s piece on the state of Puerto Rico’s economy. One of the contributing factors in Puerto Rico’s current state is the limbo in which the territory finds itself. It’s not quite a state and it’s not quite a sovereign nation.

One of the more interesting revelations in the piece is that there were laws passed that hurt Puerto Rico that were buried in a larger bill. This intrigued me. My initial thought was, “Why would congress allow seemingly unrelated proposed laws in a larger bill?” I then immediately thought of all the terrible commits I’ve had in projects where I bury some seemingly innocuous change in a patch for a completely unrelated issue and it comes back to bite me on the ass. Suck.

Prince Rogers Nelson

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Prince

I was generally aware of Prince and some of his music in high school. It wasn’t something that I listened to, but I was aware of his more well known music. At an impressionable time of my life, my brother and I made a playlist of Prince songs. He was much more of a fan than I was and he set me up with a playlist of what he considered to be Prince’s best work. That playlist blew my mind. The CD I burned that playlist to didn’t leave my CD player for months. I listened to it for many hours. I loved the sound. I thought the lyrics were clever and very smart.

I don’t really care if anyone reads this. This is for my own self-therapy. I came across Prince’s work at a very important time in my life and it influenced my musical tastes for the rest of my life. I never met you. I never had the good fortune of seeing one of your shows. I enjoyed your work and it had a huge impact on me. Thank you.

Sleeves

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Sleeves

Relocated

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I recently relocated for a job to the Bay Area. I’m not going to mention the name of the company, but if you’re clever enough you’ll figure it out. This post is not about my job or company. I’m quite happy with both of these things. This post is about my struggles coping with the move to a new location and the stress that has been placed on my family.

Picking up your roots and moving somewhere else is difficult. Now add a wife, a kid, and two dogs. I was fortunate enough to have movers pack up our belongings and our belongings were shipped across the country. Our vehicle was shipped on a trailer. We were able to just hop on a plane and arrive at our new residence. Despite being afforded many luxuries during the move, it’s been very stressful on us. This is the farthest that we have ever been from western Kentucky (where my wife and I grew up). One of the biggest pain points has been food (believe it or not).

Moving somewhere completely new leaves some of your favorite restaurants behind (unless you’re a restaurant chain only connoisseur, in which case I’m sorry for you). I was somewhat prepared for this eventuality as someone I had interviewed with mentioned that being one of his hardest things to overcome. No matter where you live, there are always a few restaurants that are comforting to you. If that restaurant happens to be a chain, you might be in luck (however, you might not: one of my comfort restaurants is Qdoba and the closest Qdoba is a two hour commute), but more often than not you will lose a staple in your diet. With a heavy population of Asian descendants, there are many of what I consider to be Asian style restaurants. I’m largely okay with this, but it’s difficult in finding one that I like, seeing as how I’m accustomed to the fake American/Chinese food commonly found in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Another large stressor has been the cost of living. I tried, in vain, to prepare myself for this. I created a spreadsheet to try to map out our income and our expenses. I knew that my income tax would increase when moving from a state with no state income tax to a state with state income tax. I came up with an estimate based on some information I could find online. My estimate was wrong, by hundreds of dollars per pay period. Take that with the huge increase in housing (again, I wasn’t blind to this) and you have a recipe for stress. I keep updating that spreadsheet and I’m doing all I can to stay on top of our expenses. We’ll be okay, but the cost of living adjustment has been larger than I planned for and it’s something that’s difficult to wrap your head around.

Then you have the small things that just add up: my vehicle’s registration expired the month we moved, finding a daycare for our son, registering our vehicle, applying for a new license (which also happened to be expiring this December). It was nearly overwhelming. Did you know that if you have purchased a vehicle in the same year you move to California that California will demand a payment based on the taxes of that vehicle you purchased? I did not. I suppose this measure is to crack down on people buying vehicles out of state and bringing them in, but for someone who purchased a vehicle in March/April without any intention of moving to California at that time, it was a pain in the ass (and the wallet).

The one thing I didn’t believe I would experience has been the overwhelming amount of homesickness I have had. I’ve never thought of myself as being attached to the area where I was born and raised or the area where I have lived for the past six years. I’m not sure if I miss the places so much as I miss the people (family and friends), but I have found myself wishing to visit or to call more frequently. We FaceTime with family so they can see Max. I feel as though I actually talk to my family more due to our FaceTime schedule. We have allotted days to particular family members so that everyone has a chance to talk to us and see him. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best of a bad situation. Before we left Nashville, I rarely used FaceTime with family members (some of this was just due to the fact that my dad did not have a smartphone and my grandmother did not have a device capable of FaceTime). After we broke the news to them and after the necessary setup, we started to FaceTime with them and it has been a blessing.

This is not meant to be a complete written capture of my feelings over the past few months. This is me, capturing some of my thoughts.