Burnt Cookies and APIs

Making Mistakes is Awesome

When did I enjoy eating burnt cookies?

When they were the first ones I baked on my own.

As a teenager I got a hold of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. The one that grandma used to make for me when I was a kid. I read the instructions, assembled the ingredients, mixed up a batch, and baked them in the oven. Solo!

Of course I burned the bottoms.

Burnt cookies weren’t a failure or a mistake - they were part of my education. I learned a lot that day and my first cookies tasted delicious! I still make them, I've gotten much better at baking, and they're fantastic.

Listening is Good and Making is Better

I know people in the software industry enjoy taking online classes, attending trainings, getting certificates, and sitting in on conferences. I do too, and I read dozens of books a year.

Studying theory is great.

Don’t be afraid to just jump into a fresh subject and try making something. Your first attempts will be less than what you want, and that’s okay. Life as a human being is often disappointing.

Have faith that practice is perfect!

You might worry that people will find out about the mistakes you make. What will people think when they see your blunders? Do people really care? They're dealing with their own mistakes and agonizing over whether they should even try something new.

Don't Overesteem Great People

There are loads of experts online demonstrating how excellent they are - don’t let their high standards stop you from being an active beginner. Who knows how long it took them to earn competence in a subject?

I understand - it can be intimidating following in the footsteps of experts. Don't stand aside letting experts in a field do all of the leading. Listen to them, watch what they do, but take your own action!

Digging deeper, when did the tech heroes whom we admire become experts? What would we find if we looked past their shiny now? Would we find their burnt cookies? Yes - probably!

It seems to me that successful people are the ordinary people who start working hard and never stop.

Some people will call you crazy for starting to work on something. Look for the ones who encourage you with unconditional support. They're your true friends.

Give yourself the gift of quiet time. Exercise your brain. Build a thing just because you want it to exist in the world. Go be more awesome!

It's okay to get started without knowing all the things up front. Commit to a purpose, trust in the hard work, be open to new experience, and you'll master the necessary skills exactly when you need to.

Fresh Baked APIs

Here’s my (metaphorically) freshly baked batch of cookies.

It’s an API returning a list of some of my favorite things. You can test my API in your web browser because it’s a read action. (Bonus-points for using Postman if you never have before.)

https://6qbecj3pd1.execute-api.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/test/getkenfavorites

I have some free time on my hands and I wanted to keep training. So I learned how to build an API in the Amazon network using NodeJS + Lambda Functions + API Gateway to deliver JSON over HTTP GET.

JSON allows my simple API to respond with attribute values stored as: strings, numbers, booleans, arrays, and objects. I could have chosen to send back XML in my API, but I prefer JSON for a few reasons:

  • Its cleaner style is easier for human beings to read
  • Its light-weight structure is more efficient for mobile apps on cellphone networks
  • Its JavaScript-based syntax allows web-apps to easily consume

Get a Little Bit Better

I feel learning how to build an API like this was a great joy. Because I did it, I’m glad to report that I’m a little less inept than I was yesterday. Sweet!

If I do a little bit of work like this every day who knows how much better I can get. One day I'll realize that I'm competent, and from there, maybe even an expert.

You're the best you that's ever been. I truly believe that with a little bit of effort each day, you can be even better than you thought you could. In whatever subject you choose.

I hope you take a chance to burn some cookies too!

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