Slowly But Surely.

“Why are you so eager to work? You’ll be working for the rest of your life and you’ll see exactly how exhausting it really is.”

–  Mom

Well mom, it’s been a week at Bizo. It’s not half bad!

On Day 1, I woke up feeling like I downed 5 Red Bulls. It went a little like this…

After about 20 or so handshakes from the Bizonians, brief introductions and warm welcomes, I found my way to the Dev team in the back of the office. I’ll be with them for 2 weeks working with Larry, the Director of Technology. We spent about 20 minutes setting up accounts on a Macbook Air, so that I was able access to all the trade secrets of Bizo the projects the Dev team was working on. Once everything was set up, Larry thought it would be interesting for me to sit in on a product development meeting.  Seeing as how I didn’t understand a thing from what was discussed, I realized pretty quickly that there was a great chunk of Bizo and business marketing that I had yet to learn about.

Google search definitely became my closest friends. Since the only programming experience I had was with MatLab, I felt extremely unprepared for what I was working on. I was assigned with the task of improving a web app that the team had built to visualize server metrics. It sounded simple enough, but there was so much I didn’t know, and I felt like I had to understand the basic concepts behind how a server worked and how the data was stored in order to have a better grasp of the code I was working with. I spent the rest of day 1 playing around with a Javascript plugin called Cubism.js that drew realtime graphs from a data source. Trying to understand what each line of code was supposed to do was a struggle, and I was far from being able to synch the data from the Bizo servers to the graph emulator—I wouldn’t have known where to begin! As 5PM creeped about and the office started to empty out, I presented my un-glorious findings. I was able to increase and decrease the rendered graph length and the callback rate. I could alter the intervals of the graph. Annnddd…that was about it.

If I wanted to teach myself something new, I would always play around with and figure out how to get it to work. That was how I learned, and it was great when I saw results with the effort that I put in. One could imagine my disappointment when I spent an entire day programming to no avail. My task was to rewrite Larry’s JavaScript code for the server metrics visualizer web app using a Javascript library called Angular.js. I broke the task down into tiny steps in my head. The first step was implementation; I needed to import the scripts to the HTML and initialize the page so that it knows to use the library and all the commands that came with it. The Angular.js tutorial made it easy enough, except there was one problem. The entire app was written in Scala, and what was supposed to be the HTML files were actually Scaml files that Scala used to convert into HTML. After rummaging through the Scala reference site I managed to guess and check my way into getting the Scaml file to do what I wanted it to and day 2 ended at that.

As I progressed (or more like flailed in place) my frustration with my inability to get anything to work or find any help that was substantial on the API references caused instances of sheer despair. Usually, when facing tough situations, I would talk myself through it, making sound effects and exaggerations in my head whenever appropriate to lighten up my mood.

Despite my efforts to amuse myself, thoughts about whether I was cut out to be a programmer still bubbled up to my sub-consciousness. Normally, I would lose interest in what I was doing. Normally, I would start thinking about how to fudge the work for the rest of the week so that I could quickly move to something different, perhaps design, something I was more familiar and comfortable with. Things were different this time. Despair, frustration and impatience told me that if I were a computer science super genius, I would’ve figured out how to work this thing and much more. I wasn’t a genius, so I wasn’t able to do that. But I believed that I was clever, clever enough to get this darn thing to work, and so I carried on.

By the end of the week, I had a better idea of how to interact with jQuery and Angular and I also managed to retrieve information from the server and load it into the a drop down box. I was getting there. Slowly, but surely.


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