Extracting advise from my two year old.

“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
— A.A. Milne

Last month I turned 40 and had a rare chance to spend some time by myself in Madrid. A city I left exactly 10 years ago and that I absolute love as I grew up tons there.

As my friends all were unavailable during the day I spent most of my time walking around the city, reading, and thinking.

I kept coming back to the fact that I sometimes spend too much time thinking about the past or worrying about the future. This means that somedays I miss focussing on today, the only thing that matters.

As a parent of a young child I get reminded of that everyday as I see my daughter focus on what’s in front of her and care only about that for as longs as whatever that is holds her attention before moving on. I should do more of that.

I should use my daughter’s behaviour as a constant reminder that the present is all we have. By living the best present possible I can have an influence on my future without having to worry about it.

2015: My year in music according to Spotify

The year’s almost over and most of the big “Best of 2015” list are already out. I’m I sucker for a few of them as they help me discover music I would have otherwise missed.

One of my absolute favourites is the one put together by the guys at The Quietus the amount of interesting stuff always blows my mind.

A new favourite though is Spotify’s Year in Music as it shows the music I had heavy on rotation.

The music I actually listened to. Not the one I wanted to listen to.

And that was rock and metal. I remember when I was thirteen or so and got hold of a copy of Thrash Zone by D.R.I. My parents were hoping this was all a phase. A enjoyable 25 year old phase.

Here’s to another year filled with music. Maybe a little less metal so I get to listen to the new Kendrick Lamar that’s on top of everyone’s list?. We’ll see.

Music is the answer

Somewhere between 1983 and 1985 I attended a concert in Altos de Chavon’s amphitheatre. Carlos Piantini conducted the Caracas Philharmonic to perform among other pieces, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

I remember the day well because as a child, the opportunity to stay up late was rare.

Although excited, I dozed off towards the end only to be awakened by the cannon fire in the grand finale. I loved it, and since then I’ve been obsessed with music.

Thinking about the impact music has had in my life I started putting together a playlist of songs I’m absolutely crazy about.

These songs take me to a different place, they me feel better the second I hear them. They feel like “home” to me and I love them for it.

Enjoy

On productivity

“Do less. But do what you do with complete and hard focus. Then when you’re done be done, and go enjoy the rest of the day.” Cal Newport

Recently I have been thinking a lot about how to be more productive.

Like many of you I want to do a hundred different things every day. Some days I do get a lot done, some days it just doesn’t happen. How can I be more consistent?

I’ve been paying attention to people around me that get stuff done and they have one thing in common. They can get into the zone and focus wherever they happen to be.

A friend once shared what her trick to always be on top of everything. Focus on one thing at a time and keep at it until it’s done.

Sounds easy right?. I get distracted quite easily so I’m always on the lookout for ways to help me focus quicker and stay focussed for longer. Enough time to allow great stuff to happen.

What I’ve come to realise is that Mindfulness Meditation can help.

I’ve been dabbling with it for months, but lately I’ve been doing it every day and it’s helping.

The whole thing started not as a way of transcending my ego or as a way to be more productive. It all started because I wanted to be a better dad.

I want to make sure I see things from my daughter’s point of view instead of mine when she’s frustrated.

Toddlers can lose their patience in a nanosecond, but you just can’t. You need to be there for them. There’s no escaping it, you’re all they have. This, of course is easier said than done.

But meditation is helping. It’s helping me realise when I’m getting frustrated about something my daughter’s doing. With that information I find it easier to act.

Dan Harris explains the meditation process here in this awesome animated video.

So while meditating, the whole point is to notice when your mind wanders and just start over and focus again.

If I know I need to get stuff done and I notice I’m in Spotify looking for a playlist I just acknowledge it and go back to what I need to get done.

It’s a never ending cycle: trying to work, failing and getting distracted, noticing it and then starting again. And again. And again…

Not reading enough?

I love reading. Recently I’ve found myself spending most of my time reading through technical documentation. Both for work and for personal development.  This gives me the impression that I am reading a lot.

What I am not doing enough is sitting down and enjoying a solid book read. Which is why I loved this article.

Why can’t we read anymore

On writing again

Initially, this space was going to be a place to document the time spent while going through a coding bootcamp.

While on it though I felt like I had no real time for blogging. All my time was spent coding.

On those days where I did sit in front of the laptop to write, I really enjoyed it though.

It now sounds too obvious to me but I believe that thinking about a specific set of experiences and phrasing them in a way that other people could understand helped me make better decisions, specially once the bootcamp was over and I needed to decide on what to do.

With this in mind I want to start writing again, see if I still feel the same way about it and if I can continue to benefit from it.

For now, I leave you with this album I just discovered, It’s from the band Klone and I’m loving it.

Hope you enjoy it too.


I’ve just finished a Web Development bootcamp. What now?

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We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.
Marcel Proust

I’m writing this post four weeks after finishing the bootcamp at Makers Academy. With a bit of distance I can now leave a final post on the subject in the hope that it might help anyone considering it.

For me it has been a great experience. I struggled with the course, especially with the fact that sometimes, it just takes time to understand a concept. All you can do is keep working on it. It took weeks for me to get into the apprentice mindset and just get on with learning and stop worrying about the speed in which I was doing it.

If you can put up with this without losing hope or quitting when things don’t do your way, you’re in the right place. My only recommendation is that you check as many online tutorials as you can to get a feel for it and make sure this is something you enjoy doing.

Once in it you will be working your ass off and there’s not much time to sit back and think about anything else. At the same time, you’re also having fun working with awesome people. Clever people. From all ages and all walks of life. It was my favourite thing about the experience.

What now?

Since finishing I’ve been coding every day. Solidifying what I learned, and working on what didn’t click first time around. I’m also cleaning up my Github profile and finishing some of the projects I didn’t finish due to the breakneck speed of the course. I’ve also started researching companies for interesting roles, either as a Junior web developer or roles in which I can utilise my experience and the newly gained skills. At the end of the day, that was the idea behind going through the course, of course.

Anyway, back to work.

On parenting while on a Web Development bootcamp

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– So, how much time will I be able to spend with my family while at Makers Academy?

– “To be honest?… not much”

One of the most important things to consider is that as a parent, your schedule doesn’t revolve around you.

This program assumes that you have put your life on hold for the duration of it. Most people do. But as the majority of students don’t have kids, they might be able to adjust their schedules according to what happens at Makers. Stayed working until 3 am? maybe arrive a bit late the next day.

You might not be able to do this. It doesn’t matter at what time I go to bed, I’m always awake at 6:30 because that’s when the little one wakes up.

Weekends? You need them to work on your Friday assignments and general catch up.

On a typical Saturday and Sunday for example, I leave the house as soon as I can. The reason being that I cannot get as much done if I stay in the house as the little one will want to hang out if I’m within sight. You could make your partner and kids leave the house but it is not fair on them. So it is you who have to find a new place if you don’t have a spare room.

If you don’t have a library nearby, your best bet is a coffee shop. Budget for it.

I feel that although tricky, this is totally doable. The course will end and after that, your body (and your partner) will want you to take the foot off the pedal a bit and lead a more balanced life.

You will now have every weekday to focus on your coding, prepare for interviews and for reading all the books that you came across while doing the course. This will also include time with the family. So hang in there. Three months will go by in no time.

Whatever you do, just make sure you’re present when hanging out with your kids. Don’t think about code. Leave the other 18 hours of the day for it.

Cucumbers and Sinatra: week five at Makers Academy

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I almost titled this post “OMG what the fuck have I done?!”. Week five has been the hardest one for me so far.

We had to take the work we had done with the battleships project from the previous week and using Sinatra, take it to the web.

I pretty much spent the whole week stunned by the amount of information we had to digest and did not make much of a dent on the project, as I was busy reading the documentation and fiddling with basic exercises that would help my current state, but the fact that we’re now working to put work online is awesome.

Sinatra is lightweight and flexible. So I’m enjoying working with it. We can have simple “Hello World” applications live within minutes and for a newbie this is very encouraging.

We will be working with Rails in the next couple of weeks, so it’ll be interesting to see their differences first hand.

From what I’ve been reading, there seems to be a consensus that Sinatra is for smaller projects and Rails for bigger ones, but it would be great to be able to know the distinctions and to be able to assess that myself.

Alongside Sinatra, we used Cucumber to help us describe our tests in a more functional way. All should start making more sense soon.

There have been a few moments during these past five weeks where I have doubted myself, thinking: Am I in the right place or did I make a mistake? There have been moments where I’ve felt disappointed because I’m not learning quick enough.

I try not to stay in that frame of mind for long, because if I do, I start thinking about what life after Makers will be and that is still weeks away. Will it be easy for me to get an interview?, Will those interviews lead to job offers? and most importantly, will I enjoy the work once/if I make the transition?.

So yeah, best leave that for now and focus on today and just learn as much as I can.

Luckily the support is great, if you open your mouth there’s always someone around to help. The two teacher assistants both took the course via Makers Academy and are well aware of the struggles and can point you in the right direction. Enrique, the head of education has always been available to talk, same with all the other instructors. Our Chief Joy Officer,Dana is also always available to listen, plus she runs the yoga class and the daily guided meditation. All this makes it harder for me to stay inside my head whenever I’m starting to worry.

I’ll finish off with a link to this video that has helped me stay focused throughout these weeks.

It’s Henry Rolling talking about the pillars of his success:

“application, discipline, focus, repetition”.

What I love about it is that you are in control of them all.

Enjoy.

Bikes, planes and battleships

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“It does not matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop.” (Confucius)

So far things are going well, I seem to be making progress. Nothing to get super excited about but progress nonetheless.

We have been busy, continuing our previous week’s work on a model of the bike rental scheme for London. We call it ‘Boris Bikes’. This led to a final exercise of modelling an airport, making sure planes could only land when the weather conditions were favourable.

The great thing about these exercises is that they are flexible. We have different levels of newbie-ness, with some of the students being quite advanced so our teachers built the exercises in a way that we can all get the most out of them.

I’m still struggling to finish my airport though. There’s a “grand finale” scenario, where all the planes have to land and depart at the same time (I know, a pretty crazy airport) and I haven’t found a way to make it work just yet.

We spent week four learning to work in groups. The actual goal of the week was to work on a version of the game Battleships with colleagues and survive the week. It sounds simple, but people find this week challenging for many reasons.

For me the fact that I was not able to contribute as much as I would have wanted to my team made some days uncomfortable. Luckily my colleagues were always keen to explain anything I didn’t understand so I could stay in the loop.

Things are going to get even more complicated now with new frameworks that’ll help us finally create web apps. But that’s ok. For now, working hard everyday seems to be paying off. Even if it doesn’t seem fast enough.

I’ll continue to track my progress.