Meetups: The First Encounter

Sometime last week I decided that I’d like to make JavaScript my “thing” within the next few months. A lofty goal, even for seasoned developers, but I’ve always loved a good challenge. JavaScript seems to be an area of development that’s showing a lot of potential (not that it ever wasn’t, but there are tons of new frameworks like Angular, Ember, and Yeoman emerging, which is super exciting).

One thing that’s particularly of interest to me is Node.js – a server-side programming language written in JavaScript. Pretty much every front-end web developer’s dream come true. I’ve been pining to go to these meet-ups that I’ve been hearing a lot about from some of my other dev friends. So when I saw that Nodeschool.io would be hosting their own meet-up in town, I jumped on the chance. The meet-up was advertised as accessible for all skill levels, which seemed right up my alley, as I had no experience with Node, and have very limited experience with JavaScript.

So, thinking that I might have a shot at understanding some of the material, I went to the meet-up with a few pals in tow – Wisam (programming whiz, and awesome dude) , Burger Boy Matty M, and Jonny James (handsomest man this side of Yonge St).

The task assigned to us (“us” being the “total beginner table” – shoutout to our table-mates Connie and Tobi, you guys were awesome!) was to complete four tasks, and then collectively come up with some kind of project using Node between the 6 of us. Seems easy enough, right?

Well, the tasks jumped from “wow this is not as hard as I thought it would be,” to “… I don’t even know what these words mean”. Jonny and I paired up and tried to tackle the problems, which was my first time doing a paired-programming exercise, and I’ve gotta say that I really enjoyed it. We ended up only completing two of the four problems, but it was a really great process of brainstorming, coding, troubleshooting, repeat, and eventually triumph. Many fist-bumps were had. I even got to explain for loops using my nacho analogy (ask me and I’ll go into more depth. Also, I want it to be publicly known that I love nachos).

After exhausting all my smarticles by learning about JavaScript functions, arrays, and objects all day at HackerYou, and then going to the meet-up and having my mind bended in ways I didn’t know were possible, my brain was feeling like mush and Jonny and I decided to head out.

So, considering that I only got two of the four problems solved and I left with more questions than answers, would I say it was a success?  Yes and no. Did I get a lot out of it? Absolutely. Did I wish that it was a little more guided and there was some more direction? Absolutely. I still don’t really know the potential, syntax, or simple implementations of Node.js, which is a little disappointing. Will I go to future meet-ups? Of course! I wouldn’t say that I had a bad experience, just not the experience that I was expecting. Such is life. Either way, it was a good exercise in trying something new, meeting a few new people, and really pushing the limits of what I know about JavaScript, which is exactly what I should be doing if I want it to be my “thing”.

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