“How Are You Guys?”

A friend reached out and whatsapp’d me this morning, “How are you guys?” and I replied:

“Riding the roller coaster that is traveling and working and living “abroad”.

I’d rather be home for Sasha’s sake, but there are aspects that are more productive for me here; like I’ve coded more in the past two weeks than I have in the past year. And when I have an idea, I can reach out more easily, even if it’s with a distributed colleague, because I’m sitting in their time zone.

But I also want to be back home cause I want to re-arrange the house a bit; move the master bedroom to the middle floor and the guest room / office to the top floor.”

I recognize that I’m more productive here and there are so many ideas that need to be written down, organized, published, implemented, messed up, eaten, spit out, eaten again, digested.

I might’ve skipped breakfast.

Continue reading ““How Are You Guys?””

Careful, Leander, You’re Posting Daily Again

just-the-owlThe thing about travelling for work and going to conferences is that it puts me in a certain daily routine with a lot of quiet time in places and while I could ramble on and on about the whys and wherefores, the end result is that I’m able to write here more regularly.


This week I’m in Buffalo New York for Code Daze, a conference with the kickass tagline, “Reviving The Art Of Code & Building Community”. I had no idea that I knew one of the organizers when I applied with The ABCs of Being a RDO OoO ATC talk, but it’s a small small world.

Continue reading “Careful, Leander, You’re Posting Daily Again”

It Was Supposed To Be PyGrunn 2016 Debriefing

pygrunnAt the beginning of today’s talk I was introduced by the guy managing the room and he introduced me with his own story.

About me.

Last year I talked about Leveraging Procedural Knowledge and he was in the audience. One of my points was that you must put aside time to code every month, every week, every day, so that the knowledge becomes procedural.

And he asked, but what if I have a newborn and work full time and no free time whatsoever.

My response was something like, “Do it anyway. If you want it, you’ll make time.”


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Starbucks Medium Signature Hot Chocolate with a Shot of Espresso

starbucksHello, birthday month!

Mmhm, that’s right, I’m turning FORTY this month and I am just as much in shock as you. When did this happen? How did we get here? Where’s my cake? Extra frosting, of course.

When I turned thirty, I threw a party in three different states – North Carolina, where we were living at the time, in Georgia, where we had just moved FROM and had lots of friends still living, and Maryland, where Pontus’ parents live.

And it was GLORIOUS.

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Django Girls Groningen on 23 April!

djangogirlsI am super stoked to announce that the FOURTH Groningen Django Girls workshop will take place on the 23rd of April 2016. Our goal is to introduce women to the wonderful world of programming.

We believe that the IT industry will greatly benefit from bringing more women into technology. We want to give you an opportunity to learn how to program!

And, as always, workshops are free of charge. Continue reading “Django Girls Groningen on 23 April!”

Change is Terrifying. Do it Anyway.

1743566_10101043400404271_1932748396_nOn Saturday, 05 March, I am one of the keynote speakers for Django Girls den Haag.

Hi. My name is Rain Leander. Welcome to Django Girls den Haag. Today I’m going to talk about programming – what it is, why you should do it, what you can do with it. I’m going to tell you my programming story including how I got the job I have now. And I’m going to give you a little programming advice.

First, what IS programming? Ashley Gavin gave a great TEDxNYU talk where she defines computer science as a medium for problem solving and self expression. Just like a dancer will solve a problem or express themselves with movement in space, a programmer uses technology.

But then why should you learn to program? There are so many reasons. Steve Jobs said, “Everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” And code.org is putting out some great you-tube videos of “code super stars” saying that everyone should learn to program. Paraphrased, some of the reasons include:

Whether you’re trying to make a lot of money or change the world, programming is an empowering skill to learn. Software is about humanity, helping people by using technology. To come up with an idea and see it and make it, then press a button, and it’s in millions of people’s hands is amazing. The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future. You’re going to look like you have magic powers compared to everyone else. Great coders are today’s rock stars.

Basically, you should learn to code because it pays really well. Because if you prioritize happiness, programmers are ranked second in job satisfaction in the United States. Because of job security. Based on growth projection, there will be one point four million jobs in 2020 and not enough people qualified to do them. And because almost everything that teenagers use is a product of computer science – video games, wikipedia, the selfie.

And you don’t have to use programming to be a developer, there are lots of opportunities out there for people with programming skills. Mikey Ariel has a presentation where she shows some of the major career paths for code monkeys: developers, designers, support engineers, testers, project managers, and writers. Just to name a few options.

Learning to program is intimidating at first, but I promise, it becomes easier over time. Just like learning to play an instrument or play a sport, you have to start small and practice and break problems down into smaller tasks. You don’t need to be a genius to learn to code, you need to be determined. You should probably know your multiplication tables.

I am an OpenStack TripleO RDO software engineer with Red Hat. Specifically, I am a developer evangelist which means I am an active technical contributor to the OpenStack TripleO RDO projects and also I travel around talking about those projects and asking people to join me as active technical contributors.

You might think that this means i am really smart and have a computer science degree and tons of experience programming.



I am a DjangoGirl. I attended a DjangoGirls workshop last year in March, but that’s not where my code story begins.

I had an entire dance career before I “retired” to program full time. I taught myself HTML, CSS, and PHP many many (many) years ago when I was dancing full time. How did I know I could do that? I met a woman who was an amazing web developer and asked her how she got started. “I taught myself.” Well, if she could do it, I could do it.

I taught myself to code and I used it as a bartering tool to pay for goods and services for my dance career. Rehearsal and performance space, costumes and make up – I didn’t have money, but I could code. “Would you like a new website?” At the end of my dance career, the next step was obvious – time to code FULL TIME. I joined Red Hat as a support engineer and absolutely loved it.

Years later, I gave birth to my kickass son, Sasha. And decided to go part time. My job wasn’t allowed to be part time, so my job became looking for a new position within Red Hat. At first I applied to everything, but then I took a DjangoGirls workshop in Groningen.

And I remembered how much I loved to code.

Sure, because of my current job, a few of the chapters from the tutorial were refreshers, like the git, command line, code editor, and HTML chapters, but a few were completely new like the python and django chapters and I had never deployed to heroku (the previous deployment platform, now we use PythonAnywhere).

From then on, I applied only to developer jobs. And here’s part of how I got my job that I do now.

I answered a job opening for a ‘Junior Application Developer’ and when they saw my resume, they sent me the following request:

I would like you to try the following 2 assignments, both preparing for a position as application developer: 1. Make a function which accepts a string and returns the Google-results for this string. You can use Python and the requests-module. 2. Also make a function which accepts a string and returns the Google results. This time do it with a different method: use Python and Selenium, which controls a browser (default: Firefox). For both I would like to receive your solution before we have our conversation, if it is possible.

The first thing I did when I got this email was panic.


Then I calmed down and rewrote the problem:

  1. Make a function
    • accepts a string
    • returns the Google-results
    • use Python and the requests-module
  2. make a function
    • accepts a string
    • returns the Google results
    • use Python and Selenium
      • which controls a browser (default: Firefox)

Writing the sentences like this helped me see the parts of the problem that I needed to google, making it much easier to digest. You might find that you need to write it out another way, but you’ll find it as you practice and learn.

Once I googled and found the information I needed, I tested it locally and then uploaded the information onto github. Now, don’t just throw your code up there, but document it.


Yes, I received a job offer.

Finally, I have a few pieces of advice for new programmers, but if you don’t remember any of these, please remember that you can visit My Django Story where the DjangoGirls people have been interviewing programmers for years and one of the questions that they ask every single person is “What advice do you have for new programmers?”

Ola Sitarska, one of the co-founders of DjangoGirls says:

If you like doing this, then stick to it. Programming can sometimes be frustrating or boring, but it will get better. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you shouldn’t be programming. Ask for help often and help others.

And Ola Sendecka, the other co-founder of DjangoGirls says:

“It is very hard at the beginning when we know almost nothing. The worst thing is that it is hard to ask good questions. We don’t know what we don’t know :). All answers are there – you will find them on the Internet, books, you can ask people around you. But knowing what you want to know is crucial. So you don’t need to be perfect at the beginning. You will make many, many mistakes and that’s ok. You will improve. The best thing you could do is learning how to ask questions and how not to be afraid of asking them.

And my advice is twofold:

First, learn to google. Finding your own answer is key to being a successful developer, imho. Although, figuring out when to ask others for help is also very important. But, still, learn to google. Second, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. One of the reasons why children are so good at learning things is that they aren’t embarrassed when they make mistakes, they just get back up and try again. Adults have a stumbling block of “feeling embarrassed” or “looking silly”. Give yourself permission to make a mess, learn from it, and progress.

Now let’s get coding!

So I spoke at PyGrunn

b4mUbtAwAnd I just now found the video which has been up since June 2 this year by looking for “K Rain Leander” results via images.google.com. If I search for the same phrase on google.com it doesn’t show on the first page, which is not ideal.

I’m so bored with that previous paragraph that I fell asleep.