Practicing For Technical Interviews

Life on the farm isn’t always easy. I had a backhoe break down this week in freezing temperatures (-10C/14F). I really wanted it running so that I could clear snow. Plus it is in a location where it blocks me from getting another tractor out for the task.

I spent hours outside in the cold working on it. 2 hours in the morning before work. 3 hours in the evening after the kids are in bed. A few days of that is draining. Touching freezing cold metal outdoors is not fun.

It obliterated my daily practice and my evening reading/thinking time.

Finally after I exhausted myself I called a heavy duty mechanic. He came on Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday morning I got back on the path.

Today is Saturday and the machine still isn’t fixed.

Welcome. This is my own personal sprint retrospective. I use the scrum questions to reflect on my week and make notes as a developer journal entry. It is one form of working in public.

What worked well?

Getting up at 6:30am. Even on Saturday. Most days it is tough. My alarm goes off across the room. I get up, shut it off, stand there for a few minutes and think about going back to bed. I decide to light the wood stove then go back to bed. I go downstairs and check the thermostat. It is 57F inside the house. I get the wood furnace going, go back upstairs and stop in the bathroom. My clothes are laid out. I’m cold. I decide to have a shower to warm up. When I get out of the shower I’m on the path.

Unit Testing Refresher. I went through some basics on unit testing with xunit. I set up some simple projects in Visual Studio, Jetbrains Rider, and with the command line and added unit tests. Found an cool way to structure unit tests. Working on a big code base every day I don’t often get to start something from scratch.

James Clear ebook. I listened to most of it (within 30 minutes of the end). I will finish it today. There are a lot of good strategies in there. To me it seems like a menu of things to try rather than a howto manual. I will listen to it again to improve my retention.

Exercise. I went swimming yesterday at lunch time. It was Friday and the roads were snowy. I wanted to stay in the house very badly. I went for the soul reason that I said I would in my developer journal entry last week.

What could be improved?

Job interviewing. I’ve had a few opportunities pop up in the last couple of weeks and I’m open to a new project although not actively searching. However, I haven’t done a job interview in 5 years. It has changed. There is a whole new industry out there of testing services that rank your solution and pass it to a a prospective employer as a score out of 100. In my professional life I don’t often program how many candies Alice (the teacher) is going to share with each student in her class based on merit. So although my experience is good and I present myself well I need some practice on solving these tricky little problems.

Working in public. As much as I want to share what I’m doing it isn’t natural for me. For example, I don’t think of tweets to send out every day. It is not that I don’t have something technical to share. Twitter just isn’t on my mind. Most of the time it isn’t open on my developer workstation.

What will I commit to doing in the next sprint?

Practice HackerRank Problems. I will solve one problem per day on HackerRank. Specifically from the 69 Interview Preparation problem set.

Post to Github. I will put each of my HackerRank solutions on Github for the world to see.

Go swimming again. Honestly, I would have counted it a victory just making to the swimming pool (so would James Clear). But I got changed and went in the pool. Swimming was really tiring. I did 12 lengths in poor form then went and sat in the hottub for 10 minutes. But I felt really good afterwards. Worth repeating.