Learning Django: Checking in 2019-02-17

Craig Maloney - Sun, 02/17/2019 - 21:40

This week I made some more progress learning Django using the REST APIs with Django book. The section of the book I'm currently in talks about using the Django REST plugin for handling permissions. I like some of the defaults that are in there, especially the "SAFE_METHODS" macro (which are the methods that don't change the data. A use of that would be:

if request.method in permissions.SAFE_METHODS: return True

That might not look like much, but it's one of those little "convenience" methods that makes me think that someone gave this some thought.

On a personal side I've been able to do this most days, and am happy to see the progress.

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Learning Django Checking in 2019-02-11

Craig Maloney - Mon, 02/11/2019 - 23:13

So, um, about that weekly check-in. :)

I skipped last week, and can't be bothered to figure out which week this is. But I've been steadily making progress with the REST APIs in Django book. I did my first taste of React, which was not quite as painful as I had imagined. Actually it wasn't too bad. I can see why folks would be interested in this framework.

I'm up to Chapter 5, working through the Blog API section of the book. I'm finding that most days I'm able to do 10 minutes before work without much difficulty (though today was a bit of a struggle as I had some troubles with a typo while setting up the tests. setupTestData is not the same as setUpTestData.

Will report more progress next week.

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The End of Google+

Craig Maloney - Fri, 02/01/2019 - 23:12

I promise this will be my last post here on Google. Yesterday I deleted what was left of my G+ account. Sure, I could wait out the remnants of what passes for G+ for another two months (the final shutdown date is April 2nd) but frankly I've never been one for removing the band-aid slowly. Why prolong checking in to something that isn't going to be there in two months? I can better use that time for other things. Things like working to build other communities and work on my own material. Why give the power to Google to keep folks in some state of limbo until the final curtain descends on their communities.

I listened a bit to the latest "This Week in Google", where they were lamenting about Google Inbox going away. Mike Elgan brought up a good point about Google Products. He said something to the effect that Google tends to punish the super-users and the early adopters. He's right. Early adopters and super-users made Google+ what it was, the same way they made Google Reader into a premiere news sharing site, and spent the time to learn the arcane ways of Google Voice, Google Hangouts, and other Google products. And it's these super-users and early adopters that seem to get punished for their exuberance. I know plenty of RPG folks who used G+ and Hangouts to host their games in new and exciting ways, and each one of them was punished for doing so by Google removing the capabilities from the product. It's the same with Twitter: the early adopters were the ones that made Twitter applications and found unique uses for Twitter, and now they're the ones getting shut out by Twitter's draconian API changes.

And so I bid adieu to Google+. There's 7+ years of good interactions with folks that I will never be able to replicate. And I'm OK with that. The can take the platforms away, but they can never take back memories.

But they sure as hell don't have my trust anymore.

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Designing a Well Lived Life: Checking In (January 2019)

Craig Maloney - Thu, 01/31/2019 - 20:47

Checking in for January, 2019 for my "Designing a Well-Lived Life" blogging. This is about making small changes during the year to make larger changes.

  • Administrative focus: I made some headway on this. I've been creating the configuration in Ansible for the web server that I want to deploy and I think it's mostly ready to take on its duty. All I need to do is fix up the mail system so it can communicate with the mail server and we're good to go. At least that's the plan. I'll be migrating these systems hopefully in the coming week.

  • Writing more: Been keeping up a bit with the monthly check-ins and the Django weekly check-in, but not much else. Also let my writing for my book lapse a bit. I've been trying to keep a journal which has had moments where I've been writing and moments where the writing just hasn't happened.

  • Design more: Haven't done much with this as of late.

  • Programming more: I've been rather pleased with my progress with the Django for Beginners book and have moved into the REST APIs in Django book. I've been keeping a morning practice for this as much as I can.

  • Getting out of debt: Still plugging way at this, but it's still going slower than I would like.

  • Physical Health: I'm going to take on a challenge for the month of February to do 10 minutes of exercise on the bike we have in the basement. Looking forward to this.

  • Mindfulness: My meditation really took it in the teeth in January. Part of that was the "Drop Deeper" challenge, which was supposed to be about dropping deeper into mindfulness meditation. What happened was just a cascade of failures, where I would miss a day and then feel like crap for it. I've been working slowly on getting this practice back and being more mindful during the day, but I still have some resentment at myself for not being able to meet the challenge.

  • Deeper work: I've been putting taking a cue from my unprocrastination sessions and allowing myself to just set the timer and see what happens. This has helped me get into states of focus, and has allowed me to take some of the weird windows of time that I have and turn them into areas where I can practice and focus. I know this isn't 100% what the Deep Work book suggests, but I have a hell of a time scheduling my day in advance, and I have a harder time taking any schedule like that seriously. So we go with what works and see where that leads us.

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Learning Django Checking in Week 8

Craig Maloney - Sun, 01/27/2019 - 21:17

Today I finished the last chapter of the Django for Beginners book. I feel really accomplished with this because before I would try hard to watch videos and other things, but nothing really stuck. By committing to do 10 minutes a day before work I managed to just do something small to make larger changes. That's huge for me, because most of the time I would try to find time in the evening to work on something. Worse, with videos I would try to allocate one hour and then feel like crap when I couldn't make that commitment stick.

When I finished the chapter it felt good but also bittersweet. How would I keep up the momentum? So I picked up the REST APIs in Django book. So I'm committing to continue this journey and keep playing with Django. Also I'm going to keep blogging every week along this journey.

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Learning Django Checking in Weeks 6-7

Craig Maloney - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 05:48

I've been slowly plugging away though the last chapters of the Django for Beginners book. Part of the struggle has been that my schedule changed again so I've been more likely to jump into my work rather than to pause and work on Django. But when I have been able to remember to do the habit it's been rather good. I'm starting to really understand some of Django's strengths. While I'm still not quite an expert I'm starting to see the patterns and how things are put together. I'm always grateful for this point because it means I'm starting to move from the valley of "none of this makes any damn sense" into the "some of this makes sense, and I can look up the bits that don't". I'd like to think every programmer goes through this phase so if you do then you're in good company.

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Learning Django Check-in - Week 5

Craig Maloney - Mon, 01/07/2019 - 09:27

Made some more progress in learning Django over the past week. Have noticed that my best work seems to happen in the morning, just before work. I'm on Chapter 11 now, which is about how Django uses passwords. Most of what I have learned is how to theme the bits that Django gives you for "free", which is helpful for me at the moment because I'm using some of this at work in semi-related projects.

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Designing a Well Lived Life: Checking In (December)

Craig Maloney - Mon, 12/31/2018 - 21:40

Making the last check-in for 2018 for my "Designing a Well-Lived Life" blogging. This is about making small changes during the year to make larger changes.

  • Writing more / designing more: December really felt like a lot of things were converging together at once, but I managed to do a little more editing. The designing piece unfortunately didn't get the attention that I wanted to give it.

  • Programming more: I've been putting my focus here with learning about Django (see earlier posts). Also been doing more programming at work.

  • Engage more with people, not things: I think I can call this more of a success. I have the weekly Coffee House Coders meetings, the monthly Michigan!/usr/group meetings, and have had some more time with folks outside of those events. Calling this a success.

  • Blogging more: Calling this a semi-success, as I've been doing at least once-a-month blogging.

  • Getting out of debt: Ah, the perennial issue. Still working on this and having some success with budgeting, but exploring more avenues for producing more income would be helpful.

  • Supporting creators in sustainable ways: I've had some mild success with this, but I haven't been able to find better ways to do this outside of Patreon, Liberapay, and Bandcamp. I wish there were better ways to do this.

  • Physical health: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  • Kindness: Calling this a success for this year.

  • Mindfulness: Had some success with using mindfulness this year.

For 2019 I'm going to keep doing this challenge (I kind of like it, and it helps with the whole blogging thing). I'm going to concentrate on the following:

  • Administrative focus: I've let a lot of administrative things go by the wayside this year. I have machines that are out of date, and other admin sorts of things that haven't been kept up. I need to give this more attention.

  • Writing more: I really liked writing, so I want to split this off. This can include things like blogging, journaling, and what-not, but I think building more of a writing habit will help me to uncork a lot of the ideas that are in my head.

  • Design more: I want to focus more on designing games, especially the Pepper&Carrot RPG. This sort of fits into the writing piece but I'm breaking it apart so it has its own focus.

  • Programming more: Adding more programming to the repertoire would really benefit both my career and the projects I want to take on.

  • Getting out of debt: The eternal struggle, but it still needs focus. Especially on the budgeting and income creation piece.

  • Physical Health: If the body is a temple then this temple needs some renovations.

  • Mindfulness: Still want to focus on mindfulness this year.

  • Deeper work: Some days I feel like I really can't focus on my work. I'm looking to do more deeper work in my days and not fall into traps of distraction.

I'll blog about my progress throughout the year.

Hoping to have an amazing 2019. And I hope you also have a great 2019 too.

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Django Check-in for Week 3 and 4

Craig Maloney - Sat, 12/29/2018 - 19:20

I've been working through the Django for Beginners book and I have to say I'm really impressed with the clarity of the book. There haven't been as many instances of me wondering what I should be doing, or where some code should go in this book. Kudos to the author for making a book that is really catered to getting folks up-to-speed.

Still making progress through the book. I've been allocating time before each workday (10 minutes) to read through the book and I've found it helpful. Unfortunately the holidays have really cut into some of that time, so I've had to be more creative with finding windows of time in order to practice.

I'm now on the section for the Custom User Model and am looking forward to learning more about how to extend the users for Django.

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Merry Christmas

Craig Maloney - Tue, 12/25/2018 - 08:20

Wishing you the best of the holiday season, and a very Merry Christmas.

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Django Training, check in weeks one and two

Craig Maloney - Tue, 12/18/2018 - 22:34

It's been a few weeks since the beginning of the month and I wanted to check in with the progress of my Django training. Unfortunately the first week was rather rough for me as I felt like everything had to be done all at once. I didn't make any time for learning, and I got more and more frustrated with myself for not making the time. So I figured the best way to make this a habit was to have a trigger. The best trigger I could come up with was to do a 10 minute learning container before I say down for work. This may seem silly, but it's been remarkable how much progress I've made. I'm working through the book "Django for Beginners" and have made it into the chapter on forms. I'm really pleased, not only with my progress, but that I've been able to stick with it and not let myself get down.

I'm learning that it's not enough just to have the intention to do something, but there also needs to be the space made for that intention to happen. By saying "there will be a 10 minute container before I work" I made the space for this to happen.

I'm wondering where else I can extend this way of thinking. I know this worked for me when I wrote and edited "The Mediocre Programmer" but I've managed to get out of that pattern. Perhaps I need to start that again.

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Designing a Well Lived Life: Checking In (November)

Craig Maloney - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 09:08

Checking in for November for my "Designing a Well-Lived Life" blogging. This is about making small changes during the year to make larger changes.

  • Writing more / designing more: I'm nearing the end of the editing pass for "The Mediocre Programmer" which is exciting for me. I'm in the process of getting someone to help me with chapter 7 (the chapter on burnout) to make sure that what I'm putting in there makes sense from perspectives that I don't have. I'm also starting work on writing more for the Pepper&Carrot RPG (which I'll be detailing in the coming month).

  • Programming more: Again my programming has been happening more at work than it has for myself. I haven't taken the time to really sit down and learn, but I hope to change that this next month by spending at least 10 minutes per day learning Django. I'll document that progress as well through weekly check-ins on this very blog.

  • Engage more with people, not things: The holidays provided many opportunities for this, but that's kind-of-cheating, wouldn't you agree? :)

  • Blogging more: I did a few blog posts in November. Expect more of this in December.

  • Getting out of debt: Still slowly chipping away at the mountain.

  • Supporting creators in sustainable ways: Patreon and Liberapay seem to be the way that I can move forward on this. I'm still trying to support musicians on Bandcamp as well. I'm sure there's more that I can do but I haven't taken more time to find them.

  • Physical health: I need to give this more attention. At the moment no progress to report.

  • Kindness: This past month we released a Code of Conduct for Pepper&Carrot. The discussions gave me some practice on trying to be kind. But this is definitely an area that needs more focus.

  • Mindfulness: I've been meditating every day this month, but once the meditation ends I'm not finding myself being terribly mindful. Part of that is just the stress of the day, and part of it is a feeling of falling behind in what I want / need to accomplish. I'm looking to allocate more time to do more deep work, and also commit myself to focused learning (Django) and writing (Pepper&Carrot RPG).

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The Any-Benefit

Craig Maloney - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 20:40

I've been re-reading to "Deep Work" lately and I've really taken to the idea of reducing the number of "Any Benefit" things that eat up my time. These are sites / services where the lure of them is that they provide some benefit that makes them attractive to keep around. What differentiates something that is "any benefit" vs. something that's important is that the site / service justifies its use by offering a possible or potential benefit for its use. This is often true of sites like Facebook or Twitter where folks believe that they need to have a presence in order to keep up with what their friends are doing, or because they feel they'll be missing out on something. The same is true for sites where the perceived value is higher than the actual value received. So I've been slowly pruning things in my day-to-day life. Things like Reddit got removed from my RSS feeds because I wasn't really checking it, and didn't see the benefit. There have been other sites that got the axe as well because the amount of effort that it took to maintain the interaction on those sites outweighed the potential benei received.

Slowly I'm implementing bits of this book into my daily life. Really finding this book helpful for getting myself back to a more focused state.

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Consistency is key

Craig Maloney - Mon, 11/05/2018 - 08:26

Some of you might know that I'm working on a book called "The Mediocre Programmer". I'm in the editing phases of the book now (cleaning up the language in the book and hopefully releasing something that isn't a confusing mess). One of the things that I've committed to is doing at least 10 minutes per day on the book. This has netted me a short book of about 26,000 words. I've been doing this since April 1st (The significance of the date is not lost on me), and have worked on a routine where I do at least 10 minutes of either writing or editing. I'm currently editing the last chapter now and it's been interesting to see how I've managed to go from "I can't possibly find time to write this" near the beginning of the year to "I'm about ready to open the beta to the rest of the world". All because I did a little bit each day (10 minutes isn't that much of my normal day).

This is in stark contrast to some of my other projects that I've worked on where I feel I need to clear off 30 minutes to 2 hours to even start on them. That gets me more into procrastinating about them than anything. But 10 minutes? That's easy enough.

The other secret is when the 10 minutes is up I sometimes want to keep going and keep the flow.

Building a habit where I'm consistently starting is paying off for me. I'm hoping to continue this trend.

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