I’ve been working now as the Assistant Systems Librarian for about a month, and I can safely say I’ve never had a job as challenging, occasionally frustrating, and sometimes satisfying as this one. I should preface that by saying I’ve never had a job that involved work I didn’t already know how to do, and so far, this job is almost entirely things I don’t know how to do.
My boss started me working on a Rails application on day one, and told me to just jump right in and start doing stuff. I have NEVER done any programming before this job. Well, I think I learned PASCAL in seventh grade, but my friends, that was a long time ago. And see, I’m the kind of person who really likes to understand what I’m doing before I start doing it. I like to do lots of background reading, and to feel that I have a nice, solid foundation under me before I start attempting to build. And in this job, I didn’t really have a lot of time to do that.
Before I even started the job, I got myself a copy of Learning Ruby by Michael Fitzpatrick. And I tried to read it, I really tried. But this book was definitely written for someone with some serious programming background. I mean, he was throwing out terms like code block and hashes and iteration like I was supposed to know what was what. And I really didn’t.
So I started looking for tutorials online, because everyone knows the internets are the best place to look for computer information. And I found some great stuff, including one verrrry funny comic/book/tutorial by the (apparently) famous why the lucky stiff. But as funny as the Poignant Guide is, I was still just not…quite…getting it.
Until I found Peter Cooper’s excellent Beginning Ruby: From Novice to Professional. I know, you’re thinking “Is she seriously talking about a computer book right now?” But this book is like a handy dandy paper-and-glue lifesaver. It’s the first guide I’ve seen aimed at people who are new to programming that is ACTUALLY useful for people new to programming. These concepts are sinking in. I am starting to see the light. I’m starting to feel like maybe I will know what I’m doing eventually, after all. I feel like that Stupid Cloud that has been sinking over my head for the past few weeks is starting to lift. It is quite a relief, as I really don’t like the Stupid Cloud.
So I’m still having good days and not-so-good days at work. When I can figure things out and make things work, I have a feeling of satisfaction that is kind of unparalleled, because I never thought that I would be able to make computers do things. And I have to heap some praise on the person who can write a programming book for non-programming people like me.