Study Habits

9/20/17

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. When 3:30am rolled around I made the decision to send an email to work to let them know I wouldn’t be coming in today. So there I was sitting in front of a bright computer screen, feeling very tired, but I knew if I went back to bed I would be staring at the ceiling again.

What’s on my mind? I thought you would never ask.

I’m working on a big school project. This thing is a beast! It’s the final project for the server-side curriculum. I need to build a full CRUD API with JWT authentication and securely store user credentials in MongoDB. It’s consuming all of my time and thoughts. When I go to bed, I’m thinking about code. When I wake up, the first thing I think about is code. Don’t get the wrong idea though. I’m not complaining. It’s just a ton of work and it’s very difficult to prioritize a project that size while also working full time and trying to get daily life stuff done. My apartment is a mess and I have dishes piling up and there are things I’ve been putting off that should get done. I’m assuming if you talk to any other coding bootcamp students they would tell a similar story. I just need to vent sometimes. Really though, I’m enjoying this journey immensely!

Real quick, before moving on, back to 3:30am. What would any developer- of any skillset- do in that position? I opened VS Code and got back to work! I decided to tackle the JWT auth part of my app. Well actually, I have been trying to figure that out for several days but I was close to a breakthrough. I could feel it! As it turns out, I was right. I managed to get my login page to work! I was ssoo excited! That work took me to 7am… and my room was filled with daylight.

Fast forward to 2:22pm. My eyes pop open and my first waking thought is- “whats the next step?” I got out of bed and made some coffee and a snack and here I am back at my computer. I’ll be tackling my user registration page and session today.

But the real motivation for posting today: I want to talk about study habits. My study habits, and things I’ve learned about myself during this journey.

Not comprehensive, and in no particular order because in my opinion they are all equally important; these are four ideas that I try to keep in the forefront:

  • Don’t get ahead of myself.
  • Stay focused.
  • Keep going.
  • Just try it.

Don’t get ahead of myself. I’m a daydreamer. I can stare out of my window into the backyard for hours. Just observing nature and thinking about random things. Often times those random thoughts turn into ideas. Those ideas turn into notepad scrawlings and in-depth research- if I’m not careful. Hours later I realize I have not been productive. That leads me to the next bullet.

Stay focused. Through this coding journey I have become quite good at catching myself right as I start to zone out. Just before I hit the rabbit hole. My focus has improved a lot over the past six to seven months!

Keep going. I run into roadblocks regularly. It’s expected when learning something new. But I think it takes me longer to recover from a roadblock than the average student. I have learned that when I don’t know how to do something, and we’re talking about coding here, I will procrastinate ffooorrreevvvveer. I’ve actually been able to zero in on this study habit and take effort into correcting it. Usually, the procrastination starts the day after, or a couple days after, a major roadblock. Let’s use JWT authentication as an example. For close to a week I have been trying to get it to work. There was a day where I realized that I hadn’t touched a line of code and it was almost 6pm. What had I been doing all day? Nothing! I watched random youtube videos about abandoned ghost towns and Vice videos. It’s weird because I don’t explicitly acknowledge the reason for procrastinating. It turns into an elephant in the room and it takes me facing the reality head on to get back on task. Hence the “keep going” idea. I need to make myself get back to work and try again. I have learned that if I keep going, and I keep researching, and I keep trying, I will eventually figure it out! Which again leads me to the next bullet.

Just try it. I have learned that I can read about a topic and grasp the concepts fairly easily, but then I get stuck when it comes time to actually write some code. “Just try it” has become a mantra. When I get stuck I often say it out loud to myself. I need to remind myself that I’m not going to break anything. Of course, in a live production environment that’s a different story, but I’m just in my local dev environment. I can write some code and refresh the page to see what happens. If nothing happens, or if I get an error, it’s not a big deal. In fact, if I get an error that is probably a learning opportunity. So, just try it has got me through a lot of roadblocks.

As I’ve often done, I’ll leave you with a video. This is a link to a YouTube series about JWT Authentication.

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Home Stretch! …almost

8/24/17

I made it to the final project of the server-side course! After this, only one more unit to go- which is React.

Also, I just made my first comment on Stackoverflow tonight! That’s an exciting moment for a new developer! Look for username: bprdev.

Not much else to share tonight. Just getting started on my final project. I dont have anything to show yet. It’s all prep stuff so far. I’m planning on making a job posting site using Node, Express, MongoDB, and API CRUD methods. I’ll post a link when I get it finished.

db.bprdev.insertOne(blogPost)

8/14/17

About two weeks ago I got my first intro to MongoDB. I picked up on it really fast. My past SQL experienced helped. Even though it is different commands, and I’m dealing with an object instead of tables, it’s still the same concept. So I cruised through my MongoDB school lessons with out any issues. I like working with MongoDB a lot. I’ve always liked working with databases actually. Many years ago I took a class that was supposed to prepare me for the MCDBA cert, but I never ended up taking the test. But anyways, back to school stuff.

Then I learned how to deploy to Heroku with a DbaaS via mLab. It’s fun to think about how far I’ve come in these past five months. If I read that first sentence five months ago I wouldn’t have any idea what it all meant. But now it’s no big deal. Heroku and mLab are cloud based services for developers to deploy their apps and data to. And DbaaS stands for Database As A Service, AKA a cloud based database.

So after that, I moved on to Mongoose and learning how to create schemas, and data models.

While trying to juggle school and work, I also managed to go to a few JavaScript meetups. It’s been a fun and rewarding experience! I met a few devs in the area and another dev who works remotely. He was just passing through Seattle and heard about a JS meet so he stopped by. I’ve learned way more than I expected, just by chatting with fellow devs in the community. I am generally a shy person, but when it comes to something I enjoy and something that I am very interested in, I can get pretty talkative. I had a good time, but I don’t expect to go to a lot more meetups in the near future. I have a lot of school work to catch up on. When it comes time to start looking for work I will definitely get out to more meetups.

Today, I finished my last Mongoose lesson. I’m moving on to authentication and access control using JWT now. It’s about 9:30pm right now. I’m gonna hit the books for another couple hours and then crash, and then wake up and hit it again. Honestly, I dont even know what JWT stands for or what it’s about. I know nothing about it. I’m just glancing over at my lesson itinerary as I type this. So hopefully in my next post I’ll be able to explain what it is.