Rolling Up My Sleeves

Well I’m a week or two into my plan to be a master developer/hacker…designer…uh-oh…

So maybe I’ve got some big picture things to figure out. It’s hard to know what you’ll love or hate until you try it, after all. Luckily, I’m enough of a noob that I don’t really need to make any hard decisions about my end goal yet. I have some idea of the direction I want to head, and the shared topics across all those fields is still plenty big.

As such, I’m taking a dual approach for now. First, I’m carrying on with my CS50 course. I’m a few weeks into it (and working with my brother on it now!) and thus far it has served as an excellent refresher course for general programming while also giving me plenty of new tips and tricks (I’d never coded in old-fashioned C before!). Beyond this course I’ve got several excellent free and online courses to continue with.

I’m on the right track.

Second, I’m learning by doing with a VPS I recently set up. Starting from a fresh Ubuntu install that doesn’t even have nginx or Apache installed has been a tremendous learning experience so far. For this side of my education I’m not quite as worried about being so slow and methodical. I set a task (install WordPress, for example), find a good looking guide, and jump right in. Copy/pasting code is fine here, and as stuff breaks I’ll dive in deeper at that point. In a worst case scenario I nuke the VPS from orbit (i.e. reinstall the OS) and start fresh. Setting up a virtual hosts file gets easier every time.

I’m on the right track. How do I know? Several times already I’ve found myself so absorbed in a problem that I miss meals. I find myself itching to jump back to continue my DNS experiments, or to finish going through the thread on Github related to the error message I’m getting about user permissions. Reflecting back I realize entering this flow state has been a hallmark of whenever I’ve found myself dabbling at the command line. Similarly, I’ve realized that there are very few other things (if any) that lead to this same state for me.

This realization adds to the general sense of excitement I’m feeling. I’ve read/watched story after story where the person talks about missing food and sleep as they lose track of time while working on a problem. I knew education wasn’t inspiring this level of fervor, and I wondered if perhaps this level of passion/commitment wasn’t available to me. Maybe only the lucky few find a true passion, I thought. Sometimes being wrong feels great.

Biggest threats to my plans now: dipping during the fade. In other words, I know that there’s no high which lasts forever. At some point I won’t want to finish the next assignment, fix the next bug. It’s pushing through on those days that will be the make or break difference for me in the long run.

But for now, in the short run, I’ll enjoy this initial sprint and flurry of activity 😀 Now…back to that virtual hosts file…

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