What about Bob?

In the programing world, there are so many interesting topics that I’d like to study, it can be hard to know what to focus on learning. When you are able to pick a focus, it can then be hard to know where to start or to not get frustrated at being a complete n00b at the beginning.

When I was first starting to run, I felt like I’d never be able to run farther than a couple hundred feet at a time. Luckily, there is a great program called Couch to 5k. The way this program works is that it starts out easy and each workout is only slightly more difficult than the previous.

We’ve all heard the proverbs about the journey of 1000 miles starting with a single step or eating an elephant one bite at a time. My favorite example of this sentiment was the scene from the movie What about Bob? where Richard Dreyfuss teaches Bill Murray to take baby steps, out of the office and onto the elevator.

Because there isn’t a C25k program for each career or programming track out there, I’m having to try and map out a course of action myself. Without much sense of direction, I’ve been frustrated and have not felt like I’m making much progress in my career. Feeling stagnant is one of the worst feelings. Being stagnant in the programming world is almost like career suicide.

The remainder of this post is a summary of the baby steps I’ve taken and the ones I’m planning to take.

Gotta know where you’re going

My first baby step has been trying to decide what I want to focus on. There are so many areas, languages, and frameworks that interest me. But, for the moment, I’ve decide that I want to get better at data analysis, data visualization, and machine learning. These are still a vast learning space, and as I go forward a baby step might be further narrowing my focus.

What I’ve done

Once I decided what I wanted to focus on, I started looking for resources that would help me. The next baby step I took was attending a local d3.js meetup. This has been a great way to start learning more about data visualization, and one of the big tools in the data viz space. It’s also been a good way to do a little more networking, which is something I’m terrible at.

Next, I found a machine learning specialization on Coursera. I just finished the intro course of the specialization and will be starting the next course this week.

Next steps

It seems that python is one of the popular language choices for data analysis and machine learning, because of this, I want to get more practice with it. I found a dataset that has stats from the Spanish soccer league. My desire is to use python to examine and play with this dataset and get some familiarity with the data analysis tools that python has. I will have a post about my experiences with this.

After I’ve explored the dataset, I want to get some more d3.js experience and create some data visualizations for the soccer dataset. I plan to try out a d3 framework called koto.js that I learned about at the d3 meetup last month. I will also hopefully have a post about my experiences with koto.js.

Just need to execute

If my experience with running has taught me anything, it is this: consistent hard-work, over time leads to great results. Now, I have a game plan in place. I hope by having a course mapped out for myself, that I will be more focused and able to not get distracted or frustrated. We’ll see what happens.