#DevYear – Creating time to grow

As shown by the frequency of updates to this blog my focus has been squarely elsewhere since the beginning of the year, but i’ve got a good excuse.  I promise.

At the start of this year I began working as a QA Engineer at an exciting start up in Portland and i’ve barely had a chance to stop and catch my breath since.  Rereading my last post I realize that I still have the same goals, but I need to be smarter about giving myself the room and prioritizing my time in order to be successful.  I’d like to have a killer #DevYear, but i’d also like to crush it at work as a QA Engineer.

How do you set aside time to grow?  It helps if you like what you do, and I do.  But beyond that simply saying that you’ll apply yourself when free time presents itself isn’t enough.

My goals are heavily anchored around projects, realistic and attainable projects that achieve things I want for myself and require me to grow in areas I desperately want to.  If I have a project as opposed to a learning goal I can schedule time and adhere to it much more strictly and quantifiably.

The culmination of that is in two large ongoing projects:  An online magazine and a web application.

By focusing my work around these projects instead of a nebulous goal like “I’d like to become proficient at [insert skill here]” I have created deliverables for myself.

I plan to really grow my skills in the following areas by executing on these projects:

  • Web development with Ruby and Javascript
  • Writing long and short form articles
  • Visual design (UX/UI)
  • Project Management
  • Time Management and estimates
  • Business planning
  • SEO, traffic creation, and online advertising

Just as i’m agile in the workplace I plan to be agile in my implementation of these personal projects.  An MVP for the web app and Magazine to be debuted sooner than later.  Watch this space.

Talk to you soon,


#DevYear – Building a better developer

Building a better developer one Johann at a time.

I’ve procrastinated for some time now (admittedly its been a busy year, career wise) on a plan for my continued education, but I think things are finally taking shape and a plan is forming.  In order to continue to grow from a Junior Developer into something more… I need a skeleton to put meat on and #DevYear will be my skeleton. Learning will be the meat on those bones.

What are my high level goals?

Become a better Rubyist

Become a better Javascript developer

Exhibit greater mastery over my developer tools

Learn enough UNIX to be dangerous

Build an ambitious Rails application that uses all of these skills

My toolbox so far:

7 Databases in 7 Weeks

Learn X the Hard Way

Javascript: The Good Parts

Eloquent Ruby


Khan Academy (I need math learnin’ somethin fierce, y’all)

Reddit (I know, I know, but there’s real meat there for my spooky skeleton)

/r/learnprogramming  –/r/dailyprogrammer   –/r/learnjavascript   –/r/vim

Building a plan:

I’ll be posting soon about how i’ll regiment my time in the coming months to try to achieve these goals and will hopefully be able to analyze how helpful each step was in growing my understanding and skill set.


Examine closely

There will be reading comprehension questions following this excerpt.

Project based testing versus question testing:

We’ve had both, but I think its more difficult to demonstrate mastery when you are just regurgitating memorized terms or not directly applying the concepts you are supposed to be demonstrating knowledge of.

An open ended project can quickly swallow you whole, but when you are given clear goals you can scale and plan a project that matches the scope of the guidelines.

I have definitely preferred the project based version of exams so far because they allow me to demonstrate to myself that I know the topics and have a work sample when i’m finished.  Whereas working on a much smaller code example won’t be as useful when its just sitting around by itself to show I can manage the syntax.  Project exams have the added benefit of grading doubling as a code review which means you get more valuable and applicable feedback.

In “Examine Closely” the author compared to different approaches to exams.  List the two methods and three key differences.

Discuss the effect of Plato’s Theory of Forms on testing in education.

Extra credit: In less than three tries and with no references spell the Author’s full name correctly.