Learning is A Good Thing ™

I’ve learned quite a bit over the past 4 months. It’s been four months since I left everything I know. Lots of life lessons, but I won’t bore you with those. However, I will bore you with the nerd lessons I’ve learned.

  • Credit Card Processing with PHP, CURL, and Authorize.net. Authorize’s AIM has a few quirks (only via SSL, transaction keys vs. passwords and usernames) but once you get past all of the red tape it’s fairly pleasant to use. The Authorize.net AIM Guide is a great place to start.
  • Servers! Server administration was the largest gap in my knowledge of the web. Previously, I’ve always relied on others to do the server setup for me. Currently, at work our department is charged with the task of managing four servers. The servers handle a variety of tasks including: Samba file-serving between Linux/Mac/Windows, email using qmail, DNS using TinyDNS, user account creation/authentication, instant messaging via jabber, LDAP with slapd, and a myriad of other services. I have also seen SSL certificate creation/signing. It’s interesting seeing the concert that happens once all of the components work together. Too much reading to go fetch the links.
  • Better programming practices. Object Oriented Design was my primary weakness leaving college. I didn’t understand how to approach it. Now that I’m seeing some more practical examples of it and having to deal with them from birth to inception it’s a completely different world. The Php Object Generator is a great place to start.
  • Hubris is a bad thing. Specialization is a good thing. Find something you’re good at and do it better than anyone else. It’s better to specialize than be a “Jack of All Trades”. I’m perfect okay with saying I suck at cutting hair. I’m not going to claim I can, it’s acceptible to say that I can’t. If you aren’t doing what you specialize in, let other people who are better than you do it! This goes for programming, data warehousing, roofing, cooking, and everything else.

Aside from those three, I would say I’ve just gotten better through practice. Perfect practice makes perfect. While I don’t think I’ll ever be able to obtain perfection while having to work at a breakneck pace, but it’s nice to have a dream.


About andyhillky
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One Response to Learning is A Good Thing ™

  1. rickp says:

    Hmm… yeah, the specialization thing is what I think kills me… and you just made me realize that. Like… not just kills me career-wise ’cause honestly, I have a decent career going. But passion-wise… there’s no one thing I’m passionate about in the tech industry. It used to be programming in general because it was so new. Then for a while it became 3d/game programming because it was new. For a short time I was hung up on how cool PDAs were/could be but that passed quickly. Now, I guess I’m pretty hardcore impressed with some of the FUNDAMENTAL software practices that companies just don’t follow. In big companies you’ll find all sorts of documentation (generally a good thing, imho, if used correctly) but unit tests? Automated testing? Task-level feature or test-driven development? Code reviews/walkthroughs? All of these things can very significantly affect the bottom-line and yet I think they’re some of the most oft-ignored practices.

    I’m interested/somewhat passionate about that stuff, but how do you sell “I specialize in finding all the bugs I write…”? heh… Anyway, just a thought. I think I need to do some soul-searching, find something I’m truly interested in within the tech market, and hopefully a niche that exists at my current company, and develop my abilities in that direction.

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