Masha Reko - Apprenticeship Blog

What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing. (Aristotle)

Day 33: Riding The Productivity Wave

Even though we had a plan to team up today and tackle the library design challenge together, scheduling conflicts forced us to postpone that for tomorrow. I suddenly found myself with a lot of time on my hands - but then again, my backlog was also quite full, so I had other tasks to fill that time with.

As there were no katas this morning, the apprentices came up with a different group activity to kick off the day, which was watching a talk on YouTube. The topic was Software Craftsmanship, which we felt was useful for us - the aspiring software crafters, but also not too heavy, since it was still early in the morning and our brain cells were only just starting to wake up. The talk was given by Sandro Mancuso, who was also the author of the book The Software Crafter, which we all got as an onboarding gift here at HolidayCheck. It was funny listening to him speak and recognizing parts from the book; there were times when he would say a sentence and one of us would shout: “That’s chapter 4!” or “Oh, that’s the part where he talks about working at a telecom company!” or anything else in similar fashion. Honestly, stuff like that never ceases to make me smile. It feels so great to be surrounded by people who are as nerdy as me! :)

Anyways, the talk didn’t really give me any new information that I haven’t read in the book already (I’ve just finished reading it yesterday, so everything is still fresh in my mind). But there were two things I took away from it regardless.

Firstly, I really liked the way Sandro talked and engaged the audience in the process. I am currently trying to work on my public speaking skills, and the way he handled it is something I aspire to. He seemed so relaxed and calm, all the while giving the impression that he was truly having fun out there. It was as if he walked into his own living room, and not on a stage in front of hundreds of people. There were a couple of instances when I thought to myself: God, I wish I was more like him. But then again, I do try my best with what I have, and I am constantly trying to find ways to improve. That’s something to be proud of, too.

Secondly, today I got reminded how awesome group activities are. Even if we just sat in a room together and watched YouTube. I am a team player by nature, even though I was forced to rely mostly on myself for the last couple of years. I suppose that’s why I missed it so much, after all - and why I found it so enjoyable. Commenting on the stuff Sandro talked about, pausing the video to discuss, making jokes and laughing together - it all made this one hour as delightful as it gets. I think activities like this bring us closer and make us feel more like a team. And I’m loving it. I’m sick of being the lone wolf all the time. Being a part of the pack is so much more fun.

I was wondering if I should stay true to the topic and write a bit more about Software Craftsmanship in today’s post, but after some consideration I decided against it. The main reason is that everything about it is still rather fresh in my mind, and I am having difficulties with sorting out my numerous thoughts and questions. Overall, I love the idea it introduces, even though there are a few aspects of it that I would maybe try to challenge. Anyways, I would still give it a few days for everything to properly sink in, before dedicating a nice long blog post to it. Until then, you can check out Sandro’s talk here.

A nice start to the morning gave me a boost for the rest of the day, so I managed to do a useful thing or two. Or five.

To start of, I wrote some more property-based tests, and talked a bit about it with other apprentices. I suppose that’s a good way to check whether you really understood something; if you can explain what you’re doing to someone else, than that most probably means that you’re on the right track. Or at least I hope so.

I also attended a couple of meetings, booked a hotel in Helsinki and finally got everything settled for the Finland conference. January can’t come soon enough!

Then I started skimming through the book Building Microservices by Sam Newman. I’m not planning to read the whole thing cover to cover (even though it seems like a nicely written and useful book, but I also have other things to dedicate my time to). The goal is to basically challenge what I already know about microservices (or at least what I think I know). Not sure yet if I’ll give a talk about it afterwards (maybe, possibly, who knows), or I’ll just write a post about it. We’ll see.

And finally, I started preparing for the next talk that I’m planning to give next week, which will be a demo of the Visual Regression Testing tools. I’ll try to focus more on the mental part of it this time, rather than the technical one. Basically see how I can get rid of my own uncomfort related to public speaking and make it easier to deal with on a regular basis. This is definitely a soft skill I wish to have in my arsenal sooner or later (but hopefully sooner).

All in all, this was a rather relaxing and enjoyable day, but also quite productive. I am expecting that tomorrow things will get a bit harder, once we finally face the issue of designing purely functional libraries. But hey, at least I won’t be facing it alone :)