August Schau has been working with us at Accelebrate for many years and is licensed professional engineer and a senior instructor of software development tools including Microsoft .NET and SQL Server. August holds certifications from Microsoft as MCTS SQL, MCAD for .NET, MCSD for Visual C++ as well as CTT+. He is a certified Toastmaster and enjoys playing piano as well as snowshoeing when the weather cooperates.
We asked August to share more about his background, experience, and overall thoughts about the life of a trainer. Here's what we found.
For the entire video interview, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3f_sUSqO3E&t=47s
Accelebrate: Tell us about yourself.
Augie: I started off as a mechanical engineer. I got into computers when I went into the navy. I was in the navy for seven years. I arrived at my first assignment along with a bunch of computers and discovered the joy of what to do with these things. We ended up running a little database system, so I got invoiced with database and business application development. I like that a lot, so when I got out of the navy, that is the direction I took my career in. Then, about 23 years ago, I started teaching. I have been on the road except for one year ever since. When I switched to IT I think I affected the whole family; my wife, who was a mechanical engineer, became a database developer, and my daughter who was also a mechanical engineer is now a liaison with her IT department.
Accelebrate: Tell us a little bit more about the technologies that you are working with these days?
Accelebrate: Do you have any database tips and tricks for people?
Augie: I picked one up because of C#. C# added a feature called Linq, which integrated queries. One of the things with Linq is that you name the table first. When I went back to my SQL Server, I discovered that if you type in the name of the table, I said Where, From, and gave the name of the table, I could go back to my Where statement, and I would get IntelliSense – it would tell me the names of the columns that were available and I didn't have to remember them.
Accelebrate: Do you have any favorite technical blogs or articles you recommend reading?
Augie: My technical blogs tend to be more general, so, sites like LifeHacker are a good resource. I'll usually point out to my students the Packt website, they give away a free electronic technology book, that you can read on a Kindle or eBook.
Accelebrate: What do you like most about being a technical trainer?
Augie: There are so many things I like about being a technical trainer. One is getting to work with a new group of people every so often. And it's even more fun when I get to go back to teach the same group of people again. As a trainer, I get to be involved in all sorts of new things. Whereas is I were a full-time employee working as a developer, there is usually a focus of using specific technologies or tools. But because I work with so many different organizations, there is always some question coming out of left field that gives me another research topic for the evening to work into the demonstration on the next day.
Accelebrate: Do you have any favorite learning methods, such as reading or watching videos or tutorials?
Augie: I tend to like to read as my primary source. Videos are nice, and I use them a lot. YouTube, Pluralsight, as well as the Accelebrate blog have lots of videos and online resources. I really like all of my books though.
Accelebrate: What are some of the most frequently asked questions in your Python classes?
Augie: I've been doing quite a bit of work on ASP.NET and ASP.NET Core. A common request which I find interesting is that people ask to build an application where the user's interface is something that can be read out of a database. I don't think any of the tools are promoting that. The other frequent request I get is when I am working with Windows Presentation Foundation is to stick the animation section. I usually explain that I understand why they're asking this, because they are using the tool as a business application and are not building a game, so you really don't need an animation. So, we get into the discussion about how you want the user to have a pleasant experience, and the simple action of something changing in your application, like something changing from one color to another, or something changing in size. If that happens too quickly, that will cause the user some discomfort. You need to have it happen over a certain amount of time, which is basically the definition of animation. We focus not on chasing your mouse around the screen, but instead on writing user-friendly functionalities.
Accelebrate: Are there any big no-no's with the technologies you are teaching, such as .NET technologies or databases?
Augie: In an old technology one of the biggest issues that can come up is that all of us believe that our particular situation is unique, so we are always looking to customize. The customization can be the least stable portion of the application, since everything else has been used dover and over by other people and different organizations. We don't always need to reinvent the wheel.
Accelebrate: What advice do you have for kids or teenagers who want to get into the technology sector when they grow up?
Augie: That makes me think back to a colleague of mine, who said to his daughters "Don't do it". His theory was that by the time his daughters get old enough where they get to the point where they start their careers, IT would change. And I think it is in the process of changing all the time. It is much more focused on aligning the tools to the business to do what they need to do. That would be advice to anyone wanting to get into IT – remember what the purpose of the technology is for; it is not because it is cool, although it is. But you need to be contributing to the bottom line by helping the business make money, helping to serve customers better, and be more efficient. That would be something I highly recommend. If you are still in school, be sure to take some business courses and see how they think. That way you will be able to describe what your technology can do for them.
And, not just for young people, but for everyone, I would recommend remembering that technology is changing so fast. We are in the business of learning. We have to stay on top of what is coming next, what is changing with the tools that I am already using, and what might be replacing the tools that I am using. I've had classes with COBOL developers who are transitioning into C# and ASP.NET Core developers so that they can keep up with the way their organizations are moving forward.
Accelebrate: What do you like to do outside of work?
Augie: I used to play the piano. Now I stick with things that I can take with me on the road. I have been doing lots of sketching. For the last two years, I try to do a sketch at least every day. I am also doing fiction writing, just for the fun of it and to tell stories.
Accelebrate: Thank you so much for joining us for this call today, Augie. It was a pleasure. From all of us at Accelebrate, we really enjoy working with you.
Augie: Thank you. I always enjoy working with everyone at Accelebrate – you're my favorite team!
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