Barclays Internship – Half Way Point

So I’ve been down here for just over 5 weeks now and I’m definitely settling in to the busy London life and getting to grips with all the finer details of living independently with no support. It’s been tough but it’s certainly been very rewarding and I’m incredibly excited to see if some of the trials and tribulations will pay off with an offer of a graduate position at the end of my time down here.

This will be quite a short and sweet post of some of the pictures I’ve taken in my last week down here as well as some of the photos from the previous weekend out with my girlfriend.

Hopefully I’ll have updates on some of my more technical projects some time soon.

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Moving to London – What I’ve Learned Over My First 3 Weeks

It’s been almost 3 weeks now since I made the huge jump of moving from my old home town of Glasgow down to London and I’ve definitely learned a lot over the past few weeks and picked up a few skills that will definitely come in handy through the years.

Domestic God – The Evolution

It’s been a huge change of pace for me over the last few weeks as I’ve been learning everything it takes to successfully run your own household and making sure everything runs smoothly so I can concentrate on my internship. During our short time here we’ve had to learn a bit of plumbing due to a blocked kitchen sink as well as a bit of sewing for all the buttons that I keep losing from my shirts and trousers (not because I’ve been eating too much).

I’m going to be honest and say that before I moved down here I had never actually washed my own clothes before. Learning how to do all this has been challenging and I’m now secretly worried my mum will have me doing the washing when I get back up to Glasgow…

The Internship

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The internship has been incredible so far and I’m really enjoying all of the people I’ve met during my time down here as well as the work that my managers have lined up for me. I’ve got a pretty sizeable amount of people I’d now consider my friends down here and it’s been incredible being able to just chill out with them after work for a drink or two. It’s been incredible how easy it’s felt to adjust to the way of life down here, although I am missing a lot of faces from back in Scotland. On the bright side, my girlfriend will be coming down this Thursday for a long weekend down here so I’ll be able to explore the sights and sounds of London with her whilst having a nice wee break from work for a couple of days.

The Work

My working day usually consists of me learning the intricacies of how the banking system works as well as getting to grips with SQL and the huge systems they have in place to support the incredible amount of data and transactions that passes through their systems every day.

From the start I’ve felt like I’ve been thrown in at the deep end due to the fact I knew a very minimal amount of SQL and even less about the current underlying systems supporting the software I’m working on. That’s not to say it hasn’t been fun though, I’ve been incredibly pleased with how far I’ve been able to come over the past few weeks as a developer and learning the ins and outs of what my chosen career path will entail. Although because I’ve had to spend so much time learning the intricacies of a new language, this has meant I’ve not actually been able to contribute the same amount of work that I would have ideally thought I could have. But I was pleased to learn that I can still quite easily attain a 5/5 for all my objectives should I finish the tasks that I’ve been working on in the next 2 weeks and this will put me on track for getting that incredible graduate offer at the end of my time down here.

Extra-Curricular Activities

At Barclays there is an incredible selection of activities that you can take part in outside of work with your new colleagues and I’ve really enjoyed trying to take on as many of these as possible.

JPMorgan Corporate Challenge – 5.6k Battersea Park Race

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This was an incredible event that I was incredibly lucky to take part in and I honestly can’t wait to try and get involved in more of these races both down here and up in Glasgow. The Chase Challenge was basically a 5.6k Race around Battersea park that thousands of people from the corporate world were taking part in.

I had honestly not expected to take part in this at all as me and a few others had tried to sign up for the event a few months prior to the Internship and been told only a select few would get to take part. It wasn’t until the day of the race, approximately 3 hours before it started, that I was told there was a free space and that someone had pulled out.

I wasn’t the fastest there but having had 3 hours race preparation I wasn’t expecting to be. I’d been running the night before and wasn’t fully rested but still managed to run a sub-30 minute 5k which was my quickly set goal.

5/7/11-a-side Football

On top of the running I’ve been doing recently I’ve also managed to work my way into 5, 7 and 11 a side weekly games of football and have already had my first taste of the 5 a side. Work has incredible changing/shower rooms which are brilliant if you are wanting to refrain from smelling like sweaty socks after a game of football.

Overall

It’s been an incredible learning experience so far and it’s almost felt like a holiday staying in a new city and being able to explore every weekend. It’s been incredible working down here and it’s weird that I’m now going into my 4th week as it seems like time is flying by. I’m going to start using this as a base for updating everyone as best I can whilst I’m down here.

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My Goals for 2014

2013 has been an absolutely phenomenal year for me so far and I am incredibly excited about what’s to come in 2014 if the current trend stays the same.

In terms of what I accomplished there isn’t much in the way of definitive achievements which is exactly what I expected of this year. While that may be the case I did happen to learn an absolute tonne of new stuff which will hopefully steer me in good stead for what 2014 should hopefully bring!

So what did I accomplish in 2013:

  • I was awarded a Barclays Summer Internship for 2014
  • Joint winners of the Barclays/ Openminds Hackathon
  • Attained my first clients as a budding freelancer
  • Gained my first hosting clients
  • Moved all my existing sites over to my own dedicated servers and learned the basics of server administration

So what are my goals that I’m looking to achieve in 2014?

  • Firstly I am going to be concentrating on my studies at the start of the year and continuing to grow and develop at the phenomenal rate that I’ve been developing over the last few months.
  • Get my grades up to that of a first and hopefully get on the Dean’s list.
  • Hopefully attain my first 100 web hosting clients and set up my own automated web hosting system
  • See at least 2 big commercial projects through to the ends and market them like there is no tomorrow.
  • Increase the traffic to this site and hopefully start to build a good reputation for myself as a decent web developer
  • Hopefully register my own company name and start building that up
  • Achieve an A grade as an Intern at Barclays during the summer internship program and subsequently get offered a graduate position!
  • Learn Spanish – I’m constantly getting better at it everyday but I’m going to make sure that I see it through until I can talk to my Spanish friends fluently.
  • Enjoy my 21st in style!

So as you can see it’s quite a big list of goals that I’ve set myself for 2014 and I reckon most of them are very doable and if I do achieve most of them then I will be delighted. If I continue to grow at the rate that I’m currently growing and make sure that I keep the growth going then in a years time I’ll hopefully be looking back at these posts and be delighted at the growth.

Anyway Happy Holidays!

Brilliant Posts That Every Budding Freelancer Should Read!

So with my latest foray into the world of freelance development I’ve been reading up a lot of different articles on how to improve myself as a freelancer and acquire more clients and thus become more successful! Whilst I’ve read a few brilliant articles(and some not so brilliant), I’ve found that what seems to be missing is a list of brilliant articles that I feel every budding freelancer (like myself) should read.

So what I thought I would do because I’m so kind (read: looking to gain exposure) is build an incredible list of posts that I’ve thought have helped me the most and thus the posts that I feel would be most beneficial to other budding freelancers.

So to begin:

Acquiring New Clients

  1. How to Land More Clients With Persuasive Fees
  2. Stop Freelancing
  3. How to guarantee more clients for your freelance business
  4. How to avoid problem clients
  5. Hacking Elance -The Step by Step Guide to How I Made $23,700 in 4 Weeks

General Freelance Articles

  1.  How to become a freelance web developer
  2. 6 Not-So-Obvious Mistakes Freelance Web Developers Make
  3. 10 Resources to Help you become more attractive in the web design community
  4. How to become a successful freelance web developer (and not kill your career)
  5. Making the Leap to Freelancing

Essential Web Developer Tools

Long gone are the days where you could just throw up a new website and watch the traffic roll in with little to no other work needed. These days generating traffic from the likes of Google and Bing takes a bit of hard graft and elbow grease in order to get your website ranking high up on the search engine rankings.

This list of essential web developer tools will hopefully help make that elbow grease and hard graft that little bit easier. These tools will hopefully help you revolutionise the way you do your work and help you towards success.

Google Analytics

Of course this is going to be at the top of my list. Google analytics is an analytical tool that has become the corner stone of every web developers arsenal thanks to the power that it bestows upon the user! Not to mention the fact that it is, in fact, 100% free and nothing can really get better than that!

Use Google Analytics to analyse how traffic is currently being directed to your websites and use this information to better optimize for these keywords. Discover keywords that you have ranked for and have gained a little bit of traffic from and then optimize your web page or post to try and boost your rankings for that keyword and gain yet more traffic.

Google and Bing Webmaster Tools

Another set of invaluable tools courtesy of our friends Google and Bing! Google and Bing’s Webmaster tools are a great way to see how the two giants see your website and they both allow you to submit sitemaps that help the two search engines index your web pages quicker. This is definitely a great tool if you are just starting a new site and are wanting to get your site visible online as soon as possible.

Another great thing about both of these tools is that they, like Google Analytics are completely free. So you can enjoy the benefits of utilizing such powerful tools without spending a penny!

WordPress

This has got to be one of the best content management systems out when it comes to creating arrays of different websites then using WordPress means that you can get your sites up and running in a matter of minutes. It handles absolutely everything so all you have to do is find a theme or build your own custom theme in order to make your site look individual.

The learning curve for WordPress is minimal as it hides most of the complexities of running a website and handles pretty much everything for you whilst still giving you the option to start working on the more complex side of things at your own pace.

Coupling a WordPress site with a decent SEO plugin can pretty much guarantee you that your on-page SEO performance will be almost as good as it can get! All you would have to worry about after that is making sure the content you put up on your sites is up to scratch and that you constantly keep working on your off-page SEO!

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 WooRank Site Analysis

This is an excellent tool for tightening up your websites performance and can show you numerous areas in which you can improve upon. Site analysis tools are excellent for testing whether everything on your site is in check and WooRank is one of the best free ones on the market right now.

Testing my own blog I was able to see several different things that could be improved upon and I have already taken action against as many of the faults as possible in order to make this blog as fast as possible!woorank

 

Inform.ly

This isn’t exactly a great web developer tool but it’s certainly a great tool that all web developers should know about. This is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to keeping clients updated with monthly reports about how well their site is doing. The reports are generated from all sorts of sources and the cost of using it is roughly $1/month per client. If this makes you seem even a little bit more professional when dealing with clients and it keeps the client that wee bit happier with your services then it is most definitely worth it.

Google Webmaster Help Videos

The collection of Google webmaster videos on Youtube is an incredible resource which all web developer should take a look at if they are wanting their websites to fully comply with Google’s white hat techniques and thus rank highly.

 JsFiddle.com

Javascript is one of the biggest languages in web development and JsFiddle is one of the best simple and free tool to help you with your javascript development. If you haven’t already used it then I would definitely guarantee checking it out.

 WhatFontIs.com

This is an absolutely excellent site for finding out what font is used in images for things like logo images etc. This is perfect if you are looking to find the name of a good looking font for one of your newest projects or maybe even a redesign.

Installing Python Modules onto a Dedicated Server

So I’ve been doing a bit of Python recently on my server and noticed there wasn’t really a definitive tutorial on installing new Python modules onto a server!

Create a Directory + Download the Module

Create a directory somewhere on your server where you can download all the modules you require by using the following commands:

mkdir devfiles

Once you have this done you’ll want to download the source files into your new directory and the command to do this is:

wget http://location.com/ofthesource/code/latest.tar.gz

After you have done this you’ll want to extract the files by using this command:

tar -zxvf latest.tar.gz

Installing the Python SetupTools

After you have extracted the files you should see the folder for that module, cd into that module and then perform the following command:

sudo apt-get install python-setuptools

This will install the necessary components you need to install the modules on your server.

Finally, Installing the Module

After you have done everything else installing the module is pretty easy! Make sure you are in the modules directory and when you run ls you can see setup.py and then just run:

python setup.py build

python setup.py install

And after that is done that should be everything installed and ready to use!

 

OpenMinds Hackathon and the Barclay’s Internship

So this weeks big event was the Barclays/Unicef OpenMinds hackathon which was held on the 39th floor of one of the Barclay’s buildings found on Canary Wharf. The competition featured 4 challenges and we were given 24 hours and an absolute tonne of energy drinks and snacks to keep us going. At the end of the 24 hours every team was given the opportunity to give a presentation of their finished product to the rest of the groups that also participated in that challenge alongside a panel of judges. The best two teams of each challenge were moved forward to the finals and each team in the finals had to demo their product to everybody that took part in the competition plus all the supporting staff.

Challenges included helping improve education in South Sudan, and Electronic Stock Exchange, Visualization of big Data and finally Server Shepherding. For this task we chose to do the Electronic Stock Exchange seeing as one of our team members had been developing an in house engine for a similar project for the past 6 months.

The final system was roughly 40,000 lines of code all in all and under stress tests it was able to comply to 437 demands per second or roughly 38 million requests per day. The final system looked clean and simple and worked an absolute charm!

Usually there is only one winner of the competition although this year they made the exception and our team was lucky enough to have placed second overall and everyone in the group has been honoured with an internship down in London next summer. Now this is absolutely huge for me and I am incredibly delighted that I will be working with some of the best minds in the investment banking world and I’ll get to develop cutting edge software as well as my own personal skills along side these people.

Excited is an understatement and after having never spent more than a week away from my parents this will be a big challenge not only in terms of the work I’ll be doing for Barclays but also in the fact that I’ll have to adapt to a new way of life in a city that has a population bigger than the entirety of Scotland. Having never spent longer than a week living away from my parents, the whole living on my own thing should also pose a big challenge.

I now am one of the very lucky few who doesn’t have to worry about finding an internship for next summer so I can essentially focus on personal development more than anything right now. I can sure as hell tell you that I will be spending every free minute of my time trying to improve on my coding skills so that I’ll not only be adequate for the job, but also in the hopes that I’ll be able to blow them away and show them that I’ve got what it takes to qualify for their graduate program!

Over the next few months I shall be working tirelessly on learning the in’s and outs of server management, scripting and web development with the hope that I’ll be covering all the bases before I head down south.

Anyway, time to go I’ve got a lot to do!

WordPress Plugin FTP Problem And How to Fix It

Recently I have been developing a few new WordPress sites on a new dedicated server and I came up to the following problem when trying to install plugins or themes.

Wordpress FTP Plugins Problem

So I thought I would help other people out and have this as my very own personal reminder.

Open up your SSH client of choice and connect to your server after you have done this you are then going to want to input the following snippet of code:

chown -R www-data /path/to/example.com/public

Here the chown command changes the ownership of your websites’s public folder so that changes can be made to these files from the www-data group.

And that’s all folks! You should now be free to install as many plugins and themes as you require through your WordPress backend.

 

The First Of Many

This personal website has been a long time in the making and I’m glad I’m finally getting round to setting it up as it will hopefully be my canvas on which I am able to express my thoughts and keep you updated with all my projects!

A little about me:

Currently I’m in the third year of my Computer Science course and I’ve been developing websites since I was roughly 15. The websites right at the start were a great testament to the kind of designs you would see circa the creation of the interwebs and I’m hoping that along the years I’ve gotten slightly better at it!

I’ll be honest with you when I say that over the last two years I’ve not been pushing myself as academically far as I should have been and whilst I’ve maintained good grades during my time at University, I’ve not really progressed myself as much as I would have liked. So my main goals until I finish Uni are to create some, hopefully incredible, pieces of portfolio work that will showcase some great technical skill and hopefully help me get a great job!