An Open Letter to the #c4l16 Program Committee

Thank you.

As I’ve begun the processing period of what a Code4Lib conference does to you, there has been but one thing that has remained the same, working with you all has been one of my best conference experiences. All the hours spent in analyzing proposals, drafting up many many potential programs setups, it was worth it.

Thank you for the support and willingness to try something new. I’ve been on a few conference committees and none of them, have made it feel like we could try something new, until now. Ideas were not shot down, they were taken into consideration. As an outsider looking in, this is a place where if I’m going to put in large quantities of energy, it would not be wasted. I’d willingly do it again.

Thank you for providing a space where I felt less intimidated to say something. For a space where, if I did decide to say something, you were listening to understand and not to respond. As someone who felt like they didn’t belong at Code4Lib — you’ve helped me find my place.

We tried something new, we did not fail, and in fact in my eyes we succeeded. The program was strong and broad reaching. This was something we wanted to happen and worried (given our excitement when the panel came together) that maybe we were overreaching, but what matters most is that we were given the power to try – that says something about the Code4Lib community in general. Thank you to those who helped in paving the pathway so we could do this.

I want to apologize for my falling short on delivering the lightning talk we all envisioned, but thank you for making it an opportunity to be delivered. For standing behind me, in person and by live stream, so I wasn’t up there alone. Thank you for the constant encouragement.

It’s been an honor to be a part of this but most importantly, it’s been a pleasure. Hard work is less hard when you’re on a supportive team and a team that carries the burden together. Because of my experience working with you all this year, you’ve secured my buy in to Code4Lib, for this I am grateful. Thank you for restoring my faith that we can actually be the change we want to see in an organization.

Me, a very lucky volunteer.

PS Thank you Ben for the extra nudge to join the committee & for putting my name on the list and for your constant encouragement to speak up.

How unemployment took up all my time

Prior to February of this year I worked full-time as an ILS coordinator at the University of California, Riverside, I went to school full time to get my MLIS with San Jose State University – School of Library and Information Science and I worked part time as a graduate assistant. Between August 2013-Dec 2013 I was a full-time graduate student, full-time employee, part-time employee (20hr/wk) and an intern….yet somehow when I was provided with 40hrs/wk of ‘free’ time, I am busier now than ever. Why?

Because I got involved. I took the moment to grab lunch with friends. I applied myself in every aspect of life (professional development, scholarships, publications, building connections & relationships, exercise, applying to jobs that I wanted to do in places I wanted to live, we eat out less and the laundry is done more often.)

I still go to school full-time (but only really for about 6 more days), I’m now graduated. I work part-time and I train for marathons/half-marathons/5ks. Being unemployed is hard work. I cannot sit around collecting a small paycheck and doing nothing with myself to improve my situation.

I have attended a handful of workshops. When you have the time to look for them you will see that there are local workshops/meet-ups just about every week sometime multiple times a week.

I continue the intensive job search but am fortunate enough to actually have plenty of jobs to apply for.

But most importantly I do not stop learning. I took it to myself to get involved in Treehouse tracks and learn or hone my skills. I started following repos I’m curious about on Github. I freshen up on my language skills (Spanish and American Sign Language) you never know when these can come in handy. I take the time and I work more with committees and groups and volunteer. I got involved and did the things I wanted to do but couldn’t because I didn’t have time.

Unemployment can be stressful, and usually is. However, you can’t change your situation without moving forward. Put your full effort into a job you want. Take the time to reassess your goals (personal and professional) and take a breather and refresh. Spend quality time with family and friends. Have fun, it is good for the mind and the soul.

Building from scratch: Is it worth the hair pulling?

Recently I have installed and set up a web portfolio for potential employers to view. It is very simple and does the basics of what I want it to do. As I continue my journey in learning coding and venture further down PHP, MySQL and JS, I find myself regretting not just installing an OpenSource CMS like Drupal, Joomla or WordPress.

I convinced myself in the beginning that building this from scratch (my own blood, sweat & tears) that I would be a better “coder” in the end. Albeit that may be true because of the mass amounts of trial/error and learning involved, but is it worth it? By the end I may be so tired of figuring it out that I toss the entire venture in the trash. Most likely not but it is a potential outcome.

I learned CSS & HTML first. Incorporated a simple contact form with PHP and a fancy box with JS. (To be honest I didn’t write the JS, that was already existent I just modified it to suit my needs. I’ll get back to this later) and now I am at wits end jumping into Python or Ruby… I haven’t decided yet. All I know it I am still sitting on the basics and it’s driving me nuts. My grasp of the language is mediocre at best and I’m starting to lose patience. So my question I ask is, is it worth it?

With the internet resources to learn are abundant and you know what’s even more abundant? Templates & pre-written code. If I know how to piece it together then I don’t even need to know how to write the stuff. With CMS like Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress I have access to applications, modules and tools galore where I do not need to know how to code to get something to work.

So why bother with scratch? Understanding the basics. Knowing this, knowing how the web of code intertwines and works together takes you from being a webpage user to knowing how the webpage came to be. Is that enough reason to code from scratch?

For me the reason is: I now have full control on what my page looks like, what it can do and if it fails it is my code that failed. My pages are not piece-worked together, they are mine, all mine. (Queue Gollum “And then we take the precious… and we be the master!”)