Friday, 28 October 2016

Personal Blog 4

This post cover my 7th and 8th weeks at the QA Academy. At this point I am deep into my DevOps training. I have spent the last two weeks working with Docker primarily, this is a container management system which functions a bit like Puppet but better. We began the first week covering the basics of the Docker with the aim of doing a group project where we would continue the trend of installing a software suite automatically using the new program. I was excited for this as I was set to be the project manager and everything, we even had a team name (Team Blubber). Sadly is was not to be as it was decided that this would work better as an individual project. This proved to be even more of a problem for me personally as I was away for the Wednesday and Thursday of that week to attend my graduation which was when the project began.

Graduation was an interesting break from work, I ended up going down to London on the Tuesday evening and stayed at the house of a group of friends still studying for their Masters degrees. It was a great opportunity to catch up with people even if the guy who I had originally asked to stay with had disappeared off that day without telling anyone so I had to wander around Soho looking for another person to let me in. The actual ceremony was rather tedious due to the number of babies in the audience but wandering around in a gown all day was fun. Unfortunately that night I picked up a cold which has plagued me even up to now at the end of the two weeks.

So then I returned to QA full of cold, coughing my lungs out and two days behind on the docker project. So all in all it was not the best Friday of my life. We then spent the next week continuing to work on the project, with multiple deadline extensions being applied which allowed me to catch up well enough. We also began working on our interview technique for when we are ready to be deployed. We had some lectures and some sessions in which we practiced simply having a conversation. We have also been given an indication as to where we may be heading after our training is finished. I am being sent off to Ipswich to do AWS  cloud things for a company called Kcom. This is a pretty unique opportunity as everyone else is going to London for various roles. I may even be able to live with my uncle in Colchester for cheap accommodation. All in all I would say that I am excited to move forward into the world of cloud technology.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Personal Blog 3

This post comes at the end of week 6 of studying at the QA academy. 2 weeks ago I was informed of my specialisation within the academy. This was chosen by a dark and mysterious process which seems to have little to do with our personal preferences and probably more to do with some kind of dice rolling. That is not to say I am disappointed with the selection, for whilst I had initially pushed for DevOps, I was selected for AWS Cloud which I am quite happy with. So there I was thinking about all of the cool cloud things I will be doing, when it turns out the cloud people are basically doing DevOps anyway for the first 4 weeks. So ultimately I ended up getting what I originally wanted anyway.

The past two weeks have primarily been spent working on a group project based around using puppet to do what we did in the original CI module back in week 2. That project was completed in two days individually. This time we had a group of 5 people and two weeks to do basically the same thing. Turns out that puppet is a bit more complicated than just using bash scripts (not that there weren't a lot of bash scripts to be written anyway. So after large numbers of setbacks errors, red text etc. we finally managed to produce a working automated installation through vagrant and puppet. Then we upgraded to puppet enterprise which broke everything and set us back to square one on most of the modules.

I feel like this has been a highly educational module in the value of knowing what is going on. I personally spent a day and a half trying to install Zabbix from a .iso file only to conclude that it was basically impossible to automate the procedure. At which point we mentioned this to the instructor who told us to download a completely different file and start from the beginning. Equally it turns out that files consisting of nothing but text can apparently contain additional information which they don't tell you about until you are 15 minutes into a test installation and a syntax error is called. We then had 3 different people combing a file for an invisible question mark for about 3 hours. It didn't show up until we copied and pasted the text into another text editor...

So in conclusion DevOps is a slow and painful process fraught with errors and I look forward to continuing to watch copious amounts of green and red text flow past on a screen.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Personal Blog 2

The second week of the QA program has seen a move away from technical subjects into the weird and wonderful world of Enterprise Architecture. Normally the academy runs this course first to give context to the more technical aspects. However, due to us being moved down to the local art gallery due to overcrowding at QA, we only began EA in our third week having been thrown in at the technical deep end of Java. It turns out this is because the Hexagon room at the Lowry where we were working does not have any computers unlike the work rooms at QA. This meant that for each group of 8 people we were given a single laptop to do the project, which would have made doing the java course somewhat impractical.

The highlight of the EA course has to be the interview stage where we had to plan and perform interviews with a variety of colourful characters played by the academy training staff. From the easily intimidated Ben Back to the rather clueless Kitty Food the characters were designed to teach us to deal with extreme characters in an interview scenario and left many memorable impressions on our team. Notably due to staff holidays we had to perform these interviews a day later in the process than normal leaving us in a situation where Thursday of the first week was a little on the unproductive side to say the least, whilst Friday was incredibly hectic in preparation for the mid-project report as the interviews contained all the information required to move forward with the project.

Apart from the project itself which is where most of the time is spent during EA, there is also a lot of theory presented in interview form. This course contains far more acronyms than I have ever had to learn before. With some of them even containing acronyms within acronyms. Needless to say I expect the exam to be 90% regurgitation of lecture material that would normally be memorized the night before. Unfortunately from that perspective, Thursday night (which is tonight as I write this post) is the welcome drinks event. This is a regular event held every 6 weeks to welcome people to the academy with free drinks down at the Dockyard. I do not expect to get much revision done.

Next week we have been told is the start of the actual QA program. After this week we are no longer allowed to drop out (and they are also not able to just get rid of us), things are expected to ramp up in intensity. This is part of our specialization into one of the high paced technologies offered by QA. Currently this is Cloud, Pega, DevOPS and MuleSoft. we were each told to select our preference for one of these techs (those of us who havn't already been plucked form the group and assigned to other specializations), as every one shuffled about into groups to decide, not a single person went to MuleSoft, seemingly because no one actually knew what it was. We are eagerly awaiting the announcement about who gets assigned to their preference and who is pushed into the dark and mysterious world of MuleSoft. Personally I don't mind where I end up as I don't really know anything about any of the softwares, I chose DevOPS because I have technically done some of it earlier in the course.
Ultimately these two weeks mark the end of the beginning of the overall academy course and I am looking forward to progressing further.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Personal Blog 1

The first week of QA training has been a fun and interesting start to my first proper job. Living way out in Stretford I have had to be getting up as early as 6.45am in order to get ready and walk in to the offices. This is a significant change to the student lifestyle of barely getting up at all most days. In spite of this initial challenge the walks have proven highly productive in allowing me to get through a large back catalog of assorted podcasts. I have also found walking in to be a better way of waking up in the morning than the standard cup of coffee which more often than not leads to me crashing by about 11 so being less than optimal from a productivity perspective.

Whilst the early morning feel like a departure from student life I have found myself thinking of much of the work being more reminiscent of the past three years of my life. We started with Java rather than enterprise architecture unlike most of the trainees here, and the first week has been spent observing lectures and working through Java tasks. This has proven to be fairly easy going and actually quite enjoyable. Being someone who loves logic puzzles I felt very at home working out how to achieve various tasks through assorted programming techniques. It felt a lot like the programming lectures at university but on a much faster timeline. I feel like I learned more about Java in the first day at QA than I had in a three month long course in C++. So a week in I feel like I can program anything.

The most notable event  in the week was of course the Friday evening social time. Where I expected a single beer to be handed out to each person as a fairly token gesture and for people to be heading home by about 5.30. This proved to be far from the case. Everyone who attended was really friendly and I had a great time whittling away the hours chatting to people from all the trainee groups and also the permanent academy staff. One of the most amusing things I have found about interacting with the other groups around QA is how much more experienced they seem than myself and my fellow group mates. You can always tell who has been here longer which is interesting given there is only a month between the groups and yet they feel as far ahead as third years seem to freshers in the first week at university. They are all incredibly supportive and informative as well, I look forward to continuing the incredible pace of learning that this course appears to offer throughout the coming weeks.

Week two began with a flying start when I was so enthusiastic I turned up to work an hour early, forgetting that on Mondays we start at 10 rather than 9. So after an hour spent in the local coffee shop with a few other over-enthusiastic trainees I was ready to start working on Dev-Ops and continuous integration which is more interesting than the name suggests, although that is not particularly difficult. So after a few more lectures and a lot of typing commands and then retyping them with “sudo” at the start, I continue to feel high spirited about the coming months of training.