Maintaining Your Skills

Happy New Year! 2019 has just kicked off, and so has another year of podcasts. In this episode we discuss maintaining your skills after long periods away from your desk. This is the perfect compliment to the recently completed holiday season as many of us are just now getting back to work.

Segment 1 - Keeping Things in Practice

  • Keep using the technology you deem valuable

    • The main way I stay on top of my skills is seemingly an obvious answer. By using them
    • This can be a little difficult though with so many technologies out there and as we’ve mentioned many times it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choice
    • What I try to do is choose projects that will incorporate the technology I value
    • Sometimes this requires convincing your employer and contractor to adopt something they are not familiar with. So it’s important to be knowledgeable of the positives and be very clear with the downsides right from the get go.
    • Recently I’ve been proposing using Vue.js for some contract projects
  • Keep up to date with updates
    • As technology evolves it usually get a wider feature set and perspective of when to use it can change
    • I try to stay on top of technologies such as node, Vue.js, react and read their change logs. If a new feature gets announced I try to figure out where I can use it and how to implement it (usually using the documentation). Even if I don’t implement it just by going through the exercise of figuring out how it works I retain a little bit of that knowledge and will more likely know to come back to it when a new project pops up.

Segment 2 - Combating the Loss of Knowledge

    • When you’re away from your desk for a long time, you’ll become rusty at your everyday tasks and may completely forget new things that you learned just before leaving
    • Furthermore, there are often times that certain snippets of code are used a single time per project and therefore don’t stay fresh in our minds because we rarely see them
    • It’s easy to stress over losing knowledge like this because we invested time in learning new skills and in a few short weeks they could be completely gone from our memory
    • There are a variety of ways to combat this, but it’s not something to stress over as it’s just a natural procedure that our brains do that is out of our control

 

  • Recording Snippets

 

      • Programmers of all kinds, whether it be web developers, game devs, or even hobbyists all have some sort of snippets manager
      • Often times these take the form of a snippets managing software, but it can be as simple as keeping old projects and files laying around in a folder somewhere
      • One key component to generating snippets is that your code is modularized rather than proprietary for each application, meaning you want to code up functions that can be used over and over again - If you have an application that uses AJAX for example, there should be an AJAX function that you can pass arguments into, rather than AJAX being done somewhere inside of another multipurpose function
      • Snippet managers are great when you code up something that you know you will use repeatedly, but rarely need to interact with directly
      • Example 1: You make functions that access and interact with an API once, then you focus on making the application using the data that comes from that API
      • Example 2: You make a collection of CSS buttons that you use on a variety of projects
      • Personally, I use a bunch of old projects and files inside of a folder because I always think of the project I did something in, in the past, rather than the name of a generic function. However, I’d like to build up a snippet library in a formal piece of software
      • There are a bunch of snippet managing software out there, I haven’t used any personally, but some of the ones that came up in a quick search include: Boostnote (https://boostnote.io/), Cacher (https://www.cacher.io/), and Bracket Snippets for Brackets (https://github.com/jrowny/brackets-snippets)

 

  • Letting Selective Knowledge Go

 

    • One of our programming teachers in college said that he would selectively let knowledge leave his brain once he had learned and implemented it
    • Specifically he was referring to a driver that he had written for a microcontroller that we were using in his lab class. He said that he only needed to learn the information for certain parts of the driver once, implement the driver they way he wanted based on his new knowledge, then he forgot about that specific piece of information he learned because he had already gotten from it what he needed
    • This might be a hard pill to swallow, especially since things take forever to learn when we’re new to them, but it’s a valid statement
    • If you think about it, if you were working at a company as a Ruby on Rails developer and suddenly got changed to a different team that exclusively uses jQuery for their projects, you’re going to forget Ruby on Rails pretty quickly if you don’t keep your practice up on your own time
    • I like to think of it as, I learned something to gain value in some way, expended that value to its fullest for my given situation, then moved on.

 

Web News - 2018 in Review, Road Ahead to 2019

  • 2018 Podcast Download Numbers

    • July - 72 downloads
    • August - 378 downloads
    • September - 973 downloads
    • October - 1234 downloads
    • November - 1683 downloads
    • December - 1569 downloads
    • 2018 total: 5909 downloads
  • 2018 Spotify Stream Numbers
    • July - 0 streams
    • August - 84 streams
    • September - 333 streams
    • October - 618 streams
    • November - 718 streams
    • December - 686 streams
    • 2018 total: 2439 streams
  • As of January 7, 2019
    • Instagram Followers - 448
    • Twitter Followers - 60
    • Facebook Page Likes - 57
  • 2018 in Review
    • Higher numbers than expected across the board
    • Podcast was supposed to be a side thing in comparison to templates, snippets, etc, but has become a staple of HATT
    • Learned a bunch of social media tips and tricks, with a focus on Instagram, secondary focus on Twitter
  • Goals for 2019
    • Over 2k Instagram followers
    • Monetization of HATT through multiple means
    • Create a developer community through HATT where people can meet other developers going through similar paths to them, finding people to work with
    • Mikes Goals
      • Go all in on vue.js
      • Get a youtube tutorial series up
      • Become comfortable with webpack and code splitting
    • Matt’s Goals
      • Master CSS Grid
      • Start something on YouTube (Webflow guide? Something else?)
      • Further my knowledge of social media
      • Amass to: Get a steady passive income stream setup and running

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