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First week on the job


2021-05-22


This week was my first week at the summer job. I gotta say that it was quite overwhelming all things considered and once again didn't really match my expectations.


I'm still pretty much lost. The first week consisted of a bunch of training, getting an access badge and a laptop. We've been bombarded with all of these systems that we are supposed to use and understand. Confluence, Jira, various corporate information and education hubs. VPNs and web proxies. Lab firewalls and VMs. Luckily Gitlab, Git and Linux terminal were already familiar to me, so no real need to learn anything there except the desired workflows. But still, it's a bunch of stuff to take in and I have to admit I haven't even properly looked at the Jira stuff. Apparently we'll get some additional training on that next week.


The good thing is that our group has been declared important enough to keep in the office, so we are primarily working on site. We were told that remote work is possible, but that the intention is to work locally. I'm guessing this is because we're basically a group of nearly 15 trainees of varying skill and experience, so they want to keep an eye on us and make sure it's easy for us to get help and for us to be helped.


The atmosphere in the team seems really encouraging though. Our boss seems to have a pretty flexible stance on work times and is encouraging us to take responsibility of our own work. We don't have a system to clock-in and the boss basically said that he doesn't care how long we work, just that we are efficient about it. So even though the contract says we should work about 7.5 hours (+ lunch) each day, in practice he's fine with us working less than that if it makes us more efficient. He mainly warned us of working too much and that he might interfere if he sees someone working all day and night. Both him and our scrum master have also been preaching to us about the importance of taking frequent breaks, so they are constantly organizing little games and we have access to plenty of entertainment. One new experience for me was Street Fighter. We've got that running in an emulator with two fight sticks at the office. One of our goals for the first week was to actually beat someone in it. It took me a few attempts but eventually I managed to do it. I still don't know the controls at all though, button mashing for the win.


The other trainees also seem nice to work with. I'm guessing that this was helped partially because there was basically a big group of us starting at the same time. The army taught me that when a bunch of people are thrown into an unknown situation at the same time, they bond really quickly. People act kinda like penguins, huddling together for warmth. Regardless, everybody has been acting nice and we've been making plenty of jokes and laughing together, and naturally also been helping each other out with various systems and procedures when someone hasn't been able to find something or figure something out. If things continue along this path, by the end of the summer we'll be quite the team.


My main annoyances over the week have been Windows related. This has been basically the first time in over 10 years that I've done any coding on Windows and it's been super painful. Windows as a whole seems totally unsuited for productivity with its horrible forced restarts and horrendous wait times. The process of setting my first development environment was an absolute slog. Since there is no package manager out of the box, I first had to hunt one down. Chocolatey wouldn't install because of some security policy and while Scoop eventually managed to install, it took me a while to get it working. Granted, this was actually a problem with an HTTP/HTTPS proxy that I had to configure, but it was still annoying. Eventually I got Scoop to work and installed Emacs and Node, so I could start doing basic coding exercises. But holy damn were these tools SOOOO SLOOOOOOW on Windows. Emacs (with Doom-Emacs) took nearly a minute to start, with various lazy-loaded tools taking even further. Even setting up a new React project with NPM took ages. At one point I started calculating the cost to the company when I had to stare at the reboot screen for 10 minutes. That's nearly 3€ the company paid me to just sit and do nothing productive while I was waiting for Windows to be usable again. I think we could probably save the economy by switching offices to Linux with just the efficiency improvement of not having to waste hours of cumulative daily time on Windows slowdowns. Some of these things were probably slow because of indexing and virus scans, but still.


Luckily things on that side are improving. Yesterday we got access to Linux VMs for development purposes. I immediately logged in via SSH and installed my Emacs configs there and it positively flies in comparison with the laptop. The main annoyance is that I have to either pick between running Emacs via SSH so that I can get at least one-way clipboard working or working graphically via VNC but without clipboard. The VNC application I used didn't seem to have clipboard integration at all. I could possibly configure the laptop to run an X11 server on Windows and then run Emacs via X11 forwarding to get clipboard to work nicely. I'll investigate that further down the line, but for now Emacs works well enough via SSH and I can do my dev in terminal just fine. I've apparently become a JS front-end developer, so as long as I can type some code into JS files and run some NPM commands and view the results in the browser via the network, it should be plenty for me. And the less I need to involve Windows in the process, the better.


But that is all for now. I'll probably write more about my experiences down the line to the degree that I'm allowed. For now things are still pretty confusing and overwhelming, but I imagine that will improve over time.


PS: Why do I get paid the same salary as nurses? I'm a trainee that makes computer do beep-boop and I'm definitely not responsible for any lives here. This economic system is a mystery to me.

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