Update (The One with the References)

Published by Ben on Feb 19, 2016 at 15:14pm

The Lone Wanderer

They say all good things must come to an end.  Unfortunately my previous partner in crime left the big brother house of Antelle not to long ago.  I was sad to see Joe leave, a good worker who had a good mind for the tasks we undertook.  Although, I know as well as anyone that when something is just not quite right that it’s better to walk away sooner rather than later.  I made a similar decision almost exactly a year ago that started a series of decisions that eventually and thankfully led to me typing out a blog post from the Antelle Academy.

 

Moving forward as a single person instead of as a pair is going to change a few things, good and bad.  Maybe I won’t have someone on the same track to bounce my crazier ideas off but, if I’m honest, I think the other workers will come to love such a charming personality spouting ridiculous ideas.

If you read this, best of luck Joe, the banter hasn’t quite been the same.

Passing Exams

On to more positive topics, I passed my first exam at the second try.  I am officially a Microsoft Certified Professional.  As nice as being able to say that to strangers and get a mute reaction or a raised eyebrow.  It’s just the start of a long journey to Developer-dom that is certainly helping fill me with determination to kick on with my current path.

 

Technically I walked out of that exam no more or less capable of working HTML/CSS/JS than I was going in, I just had a shiny badge saying I know what I’m doing to an extent.  One or two low profile websites later and maybe I also feel better about saying it too.

While that exam is the final step on a fast track course in web design as Antelle outlined.  I don’t think for one second that’s going to be the end of my learning in the area.  Working with combining web design with back-end operations as is the bread and butter of most web developers and is going to take more learning on my own as I move forward.

I’m definitely going to file Web Design away for the time being, I’ll talk about my current focus in just a second.  For a last word though, I think that HTML/CSS/JS is one of those things that anyone can learn, it’s up to me to invest the time not just in the future, but consistently for the rest of my career to be really good with it.

A long awaited SQL

I’m sorry (not sorry) for the pun, but it’s too good to pass up.  A second quarter comes around and it’s time to march on with Structured Query Language, but for the sake of sanity let’s keep it to SQL.

 

For people new to SQL, there are really two sides to what you have to learn.  It’s not just learning the language, the syntax or the little combinations that help you do amazing things in short little lines of code.  You have to forget everything you think you know about the storage of data.  Odds are, if you are anything like I was two months ago, you probably think all the data belongs to Microsoft Excel and it’s spreadsheets.

Oh boy, it’s a doozy to get your head around occasionally.

You must unlearn what you have learned

It’s not often I can drop this many references so I’m not going to apologise.  Anyway, data in the traditional sense (at least the way I thought about it before enlightenment) is stored as an object, a thing that has something about someone thought would be important and decided to measure it. So picture your spreadsheet,  at the top it’ll say “Thing” and down we’ll go, listing all the properties and we can know everything there is to know about “Thing”.

 

Great, right?  Why on Earth do we need anything else?

Because spreadsheets are like a complete SQL Query,  look at that nice dataset, it’s interesting.  However, what happens when you want to know more?

You go find a different query, one that’s going to give you the data you want.

Databases in SQL are built of tables, these tables are templates almost, if the dbo.Car table has an ID column, a name column and a colour column.  Then every single car in that table is going to have data on the car’s ID, Name and Colour.  What’s important about this is that when we request data, we can ask for cars that are only red to be displayed or cars with an ID higher than 64.

When data is stored in tables, you can be as specific as you want.  You can make broad statements and receive lots of data, you can really get specific and get only 1 or 2 entries.

So tables are pretty cool.  So what happens when you want to find out who has the car with ID of 6?

You join the tables together.

Literally, it’s called a join, it’s great.  For as complicated as SQL feels sometimes, it’s fairly good at doing exactly what it says on the tin.

Without diving too far into a rabbit hole that anyone new to SQL will be hopelessly lost in, the principle of a join is that any table that can share a common column will have data that will ‘slot’ together.  Again, that is a vast oversimplification and is ignoring so much but it’s not really necessary to go that far.

So we have our Car table, let’s get that extra data.  Let’s say there is another table, let’s call it dbo.Person, it has IDs, Names, many important things and most importantly, a column called CarID, perfect.  

We can ask SQL to do a join. It will line up that car with an ID of 6 to the Person with CarID of 6.  Now we can find out that Person with CarID of 6 was born in 1997 and that his favourite colour is purple.  Which definitely explains the ghastly colour of Car 6.

Joining Data together let’s us have more data together at once.  It’s not all there is to SQL, not by a long shot I’m afraid.

It is a good pain

Finally solving that problem that is, slaving away to find the best and most efficient way to find out the average age of everyone that drives a Fiat, or the average age of a car against people who were registered on the database last month.

 

It’s something I won’t explain to much, but I can attest to the elation of finding the right answer to a query that I’ve been asked to put together as a test of my progress.  If you want to have an outpour of excited, fidgety and clear explanations of a concept you don’t quite understand, just ask a developer who’s just finishing finishing up a big query in SQL involving that concept.  

 

Guaranteed.

 

Progress is coming along with SQL, most definitely.  I have an exam date pencilled in and it’s coming up quickly in the grand scheme of things.  Here’s hoping I’m ready.

 

A New Home

I thought I’d give the time to show some appreciation for the new digs, we’re now set up on the upper floor of a nice office. Which at the very least will give protection from a repeat flood performance if not the inevitable heat death of the universe.

 

Barring an occasionally temperamental heating system the new office is amazing.  Some upcoming time on crutches is going to make those stairs a bit more annoying but that is the price you pay for beauty.

 

Cosy and spacious at the same time, our current set-up allows us to communicate really easily while also preventing distractions all at once.  A hard balance to strike in my humble opinion.  Best of all it seems we’ve just got back to business thanks to the fanatical hard work of Tony to get us up and running again.

 

To be Continued…

There are a number of things happening soon that I could have written about here, instead I think I’ll make a promise to get a dedicated blog post up shortly after these things have been truly set in stone.

It’s been a odd period that began with me being knee deep in flood water and ends with me sitting here about to embark on a singular journey onward.  It’s been a long post but I think I could be writing for two, at least for the time being.

Thanks for reading, and have a good day.