Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Why you should learn RPA or What I would do if I was learning to code today

NOTE: I’ve been informed by my lawyer that when talking about sensitive subjects like the following I need a disclaimer, here goes:

Everything you are about to read is merely hypothetical, and shouldn’t be taken as fact.

6 years ago I was desperate to get a job to provide for my wife and 2 little kids. My strategy was to figure out the hottest web development language and learn it.

My thinking was if the new hot framework had only been around a few years and didn’t have many people with much experience, they might give me a shot despite my lack of credentials.

Turns out my logic was solid and I learned Ruby on Rails and landed a junior dev job. Now though Javascript has eaten up the world, it’s what everyone is learning.

Richard Branson says: “Never do a business that you don’t love.” 

I don’t enjoy JavaScript it changes so fast and a new JS framework is created every 5 minutes.

What to do???

I saw the market shifting in early 2014, I tried learning JavaScript and found it frustrating for many reasons and just not fun.

After the front end team got laid off from my first job, I had 8 final interviews each time they said they loved me but my JavaScript skills were too weak.  They suggested I apply for their QA job.

With my severance running out I decided if I was offered a QA job again I would hop on it.  My 9th final interview the same thing happened, this time I answered that I would absolutely LOVE to try a QA role! 😜

Long story short, I ended up liking the QA role as it was really a Test Automation role. It was the first time I learned about Selenium and how cool Automation was!

Where am I going with this?

Learn to code yes, but don’t limit yourself to only being a developer. Most people who reach out to me want to be cool and have hip stickers on their Mac while drinking coffee.

The truth is learning to code and being a professional developer are worlds apart. They are as different as your grandma’s computer skills are to yours.

Yes, THAT different!

My common sense and strategic thinking is strong and I’ve found the next big thing, and I think you should check it out as another possible alternative to being a full-blown developer.

I have learned the basics of pen testing ( ethical hacking ), started learning data science but didn’t fall in love with them.

I loved outsmarting websites and scraping data and automating ways to win free things online. I always used Selenium or a headless version like phantomJS ( Poltergeist ) to be faster.

I would use some of my hacking skills to change the user agents and try to automate stuff that I probably technically shouldn’t have 😬 - that was the hacker in me, I thought it was fun.

Enter LinkedIn, they have one of THE hardest sites to automate, they change elements and totally disorients Selenium, Selenium acts like it's drunk and had no idea what is going on.

I spent a week in my free time trying all different types of tricks and ways to automate LinkedIn. Nothing worked. I stalked people on Quora who used to work at LinkedIn and read posts and learned some of the things they do to try and prevent automation and web scraping. I came back to my script and tried for 2 more days, no luck.

I love automation, I love web scraping and have done it at many companies for them professionally, but this defeat really discouraged me. I focused on my side businesses and left it alone for a month. 

I looked into OCR and tools like Kantu and Sikuli. I got them to kind of work but they weren’t fun to use and felt brittle.

Fast forward 1 month.

Through luck and chance, I heard about RPA ( Robotic Process Automation ). I started Googling and started learning one of the top RPA tools who shall be nameless. Long story short I didn’t think tihe tool was very modern it felt old and clunky.

The ability to automate virtually anything was cool though! A friend told me to try out UiPath as he thought it was WAY better than the other RPA tool I had been using.

Oh, my gosh guys... BOOM! UiPath is AMAZING! It can automate literally anything without even breaking a sweat! I won’t say exactly WHAT I’ve automated, but where Selenium would fall over and get crushed, UiPath breezes through!

I use it for so many things that used to be hard and take a lot of skill to automate, now it’s actually easy.

I’m not paid to say any of this.

Guess what?

RPA is a hot new technology that I think will literally change the world. The barrier to entry is set really low and you don’t have to be a full-blown developer to use it.  You just need to know the basics of coding!

Oh, and its income potential is on par or better than a developer. I absolutely love UiPath and am moving towards doing it full time.  I suggest you check it, even if only to help automate tricky workflows.

People email me and want to know what I would do if I was starting today.  Well, now you know.  I never do what everyone else is doing or thinks is cool.

Learn RPA, it already has some AI being integrated into it. I recommend UiPath, but any tool is better than none.

Always be learning something new, never slow down always be hustling, and turn off Netflix 😜👊💥

Thursday, January 25, 2018

9 things I have learned with using only Windows for a year

I took a position as a QA / Test Automation Consultant at a Windows shop for the express reason of giving Windows a shot. Up until then I had always worked on Macs and absolutely love them. I took the job because I wanted to better my skill set, be strong on both Mac and Windows. Forcing myself to only use Windows products seemed like a good way to do that.

I like Mac better than Windows. However, I have come to appreciate somethings about Windows that are better than Mac. Overall I am so glad I put myself out there and used Windows straight for a year.  I still have a Mac at home and prefer it.

9 things I've learned

1. Windows has better file searching.  Mac's Finder sucks everyone knows that, yes you can add Alfred ( which I do to make it better ).

2. Windows has these 2 apps that are simply amazing.
"Search Everything" - you can find files at lightning fast speeds it is unbelievable, I wish Mac had this.
"GrepWin" - You can find text in a file at astonishing speeds. Yes, you can use the command line Grep with Mac. ( Which I do, but this is far better in my opinion )

3. There are more apps for Windows, simply because Windows is more prevalent. I can find an app I like on Windows and then I can't find it for Mac.

4. Windows has greatly improved from when I used them in 2008 - 2010.  Back then they were "dog slow" and constantly broke or had the "blue screen of death". I remember I had an 18-month stretch having to buy 3 Windows machines because they broke for various reasons.

5. Windows have touch screens. I don't use it that much but it is nice to have the option.

6. Windows has become more "Mac like". The icons are slicker and I can set it up to look more like a Mac by docking the apps that I want to use.

7. Windows are cheaper. I always knew that but with Apple not being on it's "A Game" the past 2 years, it's nice to know you can easily pick up a new Windows machine for pretty cheap.

8. Windows is getting better year over year. I don't see that with Mac right now. Also, Windows came out with Visual Studio Code which is simply amazing!  So amazing in fact that I stopped using Sublime Text editor which I swore I never would.

9. C#. I learned C# this past year and it has some pretty amazing automation frameworks better than Ruby ( my favorite language ). I think overall Windows has closed the gap between Mac.

Why I still love my Mac better

1. Mac "just works". Mac's solutions are usually easier to set up than Windows.  If you download an app on Windows it will be easier to use on Mac.

2. Mac has Unix shell! Windows command line is a joke, in fact, when I use Windows I install the Unix command line so I can use it instead.

3. Mac is more developer friendly. You can easily create and change PATHS. Also, I can very easily create Aliases in Mac. For Windows, you have to sell your soul to the devil to figure it out.

4. I like open source. I feel open source software is far easier to use with Mac. I love that Mac comes with Ruby pre-installed on it.

5. Macs are faster and generally don't simply crash on you. Windows is far more buggy and almost every day I have to use "Task Manager" to kill an app that is acting buggy.

6. I like how nice Macs are. They are sexy with their slick Aluminum bodies. Windows machines feel like they are made out of melted Legos. :-)

7. Macs are typically newer. What I mean is when you work at a company on the engineering team you are assigned a computer. If you work on a Mac team you typically get a brand new Mac. When you work with a Windows team you will usually get an old "brick" sized laptop that is super slow
and cries a lot. :-)

All in all, I can't do too much bashing, pun intended. I am super grateful I took the plunge and learned Windows. In a perfect world, I would have one of each. I think the moral of this story is always keep an open mind, try new things out and be willing to change your opinion when you are wrong.

Also whenever you do hard things you will see growth in your life. For me, it's a better appreciation for Windows.

Whatever machine you have, you can learn to code! Start where you are with what you have, there is no reason not to learn to code and every reason to learn, You can do this!