Saturday Musings - Pushing Through Adversity

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This past week I’ve been wrestling with developing a number of graphs in Google Charts. Wrestling is more of a polite way of me thinking a bunch of four letter words combined with hitting my head against a brick wall. It’s been a lesson in frustration while a carrot dangled tantalizingly just out of reach.

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I hate giving up on anything…..it’s one of my strengths and is also one of my weaknesses. I’m like a dog with a bone. I’ll just keep on gnawing away at some problem until it’s fixed or in some cases redefined.

It all started when I decided to build a dashboard for some clients that displayed a few graphs on a webpage. How difficult could that be? After a few 3am working sessions, I figured out how to pull data from a database, convert it to JSON format, push it to Google charts and voila! Out popped a beautiful chart!

There was just one problem….I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to design, so I wanted to have the right colours. OK, solved that, tick! Then I thought, it would be nice if the clients could scroll through a date range……a few hours later, tick!

Now here’s the biggie. The graphs needed to be responsive so that no matter what size the screen or device they should display correctly. Seriously, this was a HUGE problem that after extensive reading eventually got a tick with only three lines of code.

Everything was looking awesome when I made a fatal mistake. I asked a question, “I wonder if….” This involved adding some interactivity to the charts with drop downs so a client could select what they wanted to view. This meant I had to go back to square one and start right from the beginning of my data structures…..gulp!

Programming, like many things in life is often a matter of perseverance. Breaking a problem down into steps and although pushing through each task may not be easy, it can be very rewarding. I’ve seen some people so overwhelmed by the job in front of them that they just don’t know where to start…..like I did with my dashboard, I recommend breaking the problem down into digestible chunks.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article I had some bouts of severe frustration…..in fact, I went completely bonkers at one stage. Seriously, Google, I just wanted to move the chart about 20 pixels to the left!!!! Don’t bury this bug somewhere ten levels deep in your docs!

Some people wonder why I still do coding…..I’d like to take a leaf out of Steve Jobs’ book. He said, don’t ever do business with a company where the CEO can’t do the demonstration. Despite the frustration, I actually think that it’s important to keep my hands on the “tools” so that I can relate to the ParkLogic team and clients at both the technical and business levels. It helps develop unique solutions to solve what are often quite complex problems.

If you keep an eye on your goal and keep on working then eventually you will push through the adversity. Let me assure you no one has done anything worthwhile without adversity. So don’t give up, keep on pushing and pulling until your particular goal is reached…..in the meantime, check out those charts baby!

Have a great weekend.

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Saturday, 18 November 2017