Friday, 16 September 2016

Weeks 1-2 at QA Consulting: Java, DevOps, Manchester

The view from my kitchen window. (Other television studios are available.)

From my kitchen window I can see both the BBC offices in the adjacent building and the ITV offices across the canal (the giant Coronation St. sign is quite hard to miss). There are two different museums less than ten minutes’ walking away, and a Costa right outside my front door. The nearby plaza is populated, in the mornings at least, by people walking determinedly while wearing lanyards. In the evening, these same people sip beer against a backdrop of city lights. It is my first week in Manchester’s MediaCityUK, the first time I’ve lived outside my home city of Nottingham and, more to the point, my first week of training at a new IT consultancy job.

The QA Consulting offices are a short walk from my apartment complex, at the far end of one of the many canals in the area. I’ve been trying to find the ideal music for my morning walk – the current best candidate is Tunnel of Love by Dire Straits, which leaves a few extra minutes for going up and down lifts.

But enough waffle about everything outside work — what have I actually been doing in training? Well, so far the introduction has been a fairly gentle one, at least from my perspective. The first couple of days were spent alternating between filling in vast amounts of paperwork and desperately trying to get various pieces of software running properly, but once that was (mostly) done the rest of the week was spent (re)learning Java. It’s a subject I’m very much familiar with, but it’s always handy to get some practice on those annoyingly difficult tasks (personal favourite: reading in both an integer and a string from user input in a way that doesn’t crash the program). Other highlights included implementing algorithms to find prime numbers and creating a version of Battleships that you can play entirely through the command line (read: I wasn't brave enough to try making a GUI for it). Also, implementing a longest common subsequence algorithm using dynamic programming brought back memories of my final year of university, although admittedly I would have been totally lost had I not done it before.

As of this writing we are halfway through the second week of training, and have moved on to DevOps and continuous integration. Things are a little more demanding now, but the tasks we've been set are more confusing and time-consuming than genuinely difficult (the problem of trying to get software to work has increased drastically). The whole process seems reasonably straightforward once everything's working, but I'm not sure I enjoy it as much as coding. My one reassurance is that everyone else seems just as baffled as me.

Once work is over for the day, things tend to be fairly relaxed. Friday afternoons are company social hours, wherein I discovered how awful I really am at pool (then again, I hadn’t played in over a decade). I’ve only ventured into the heart of Manchester once so far, which was to test the waters of the local swing dancing scene. Some advice for other people who might try this: the city centre has a lot of very tall buildings that block GPS signals, so make sure you have an idea of where you’re going before you set out.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say for this week. There should be at least another 7 weeks of posts, and if I'm lucky I might even getter better at writing these rather than worse. Next week: the first of four posts on a technical subject. The name of this blog may or may not provide a clue as to the topic. Watch this space.

- Sam

No comments:

Post a Comment