Pygrunn: Leveraging procedural knowledge - K Rain LeanderΒΆ

Tags: pygrunn, python, django

(One of the summaries of the 2015 Pygrunn conference )

K Rain Leander works at Red Hat and yes, she wore a bright red hat :-) She’s a python and django newbie. She knows how it is to be a newbie: there is so much in linux that there are always areas where you’re a complete newbie. So everyone is helpful there.

“Amsterdam is the capital of the netherlands” is declarative knowledge. Procedural knowledge is things like learning to ride a bike or a knew language. So: What versus How. You might know declaratively how to swim, but procedurally you might still drown: you need to practice and try.

Some background: she was a dancer in the USA. Unless you’re famous, you barely scrape by financially. So she started teaching herself new languages. Both real-life languages and computer languages. Css, html for starters. And she kept learning.

She got a job at Red Hat. You have to pass a RHCE certification test within 90 days of starting work there - or you’re fired. She made it. She

She has military background. In bootcamp, the purpose is not the pushups and the long runs. The goal is to break you down so that you jump when they say “jump”.

In the Red Hat bootcamp, the goal is not making the test. The goal is to figure out if you’re able to drink from the firehose. Which means if you get a support request, you say “I’ll figure it out for you” and you just dive in and try to figure it out. You have to be able to dive into a whole lot of new information without panicking. That’s drinking from the firehose.

She re-used existing knowledge and previous skills to learn everything. The important part was not being afraid to dive in.

She moved towards programming. Python, django. She was new to it. One of the first steps? “Set up a virtualenv and....”. It can frighten you, but it is just a question of RTFM. Just read the manual. Just read it and then start doing it.

She went to a Django Girls Workshop. (One of the results: http://leanderthalblog.herokuapp.com/). Django girls does a really good job of providing material and documentation. She had some problems installing it, but continued (and succeeded) anyway.

... and then someone challenged her to deploy it on openshift. http://django-leanderthal.rhcloud.com/ It hasn’t succeeded completely yet. But she’ll persevere and get it working.

She recommends http://learnpythonthehardway.org/ to learn python.

What’s next: she’ll practice, practice, practice. And she’ll contribute to the community. Probably build one or two apps. And she’ll be a coach at the upcoming Groningen django girls workshop (“as a coach. No, I’m not worried....”)

So: re-use your existing knowledge and build from there. Don’t be afraid. Just do it.

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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