First Week at Ada

Learning

It’s Sunday.  I’ve spent a week studying software development.  Day in and day out, I’m learning about programming.  I love it.  When life is challenging, it’s more interesting.  The projects that are given make coding fun.

As my first week at Ada Developer’s Academy comes to an end, I look back and realize how much I’ve taken in throughout the week.  Currently I’m laying the foundation of what will come in the future.  I’m fully committed to the task.  Being a novice, I find it both frustrating and exhilarating.  I’m frustrated at my lack of knowledge and exhilarated when I can manage to find a solution to my homework problems.

Right now, we’re delving into the world of Ruby.  It’s a user-friendly object oriented language written by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto.  Discovering new methods in Ruby is my mission for the next week.  I plan on going through the documentation and taking notes.  Recently, I found that the regex method is helpful with finding parts of a string.  The notation is slightly difficult but rubular.com is extremely helpful.

Other than class, I’ve been going to meetups.  Seattle.rb is a friendly group that I plan on frequenting.  I learned a lot of fantastic information at the Mozilla Dev Roadshow.  At times I felt that I was in over my head, but the people presenting brought things to a manageable level.    Today I studied with people from “Girl Develop It.”  We shared our experiences and our code.  I’m grateful to be a part of the Seattle tech community.

First Day of Class

Learning

I wake up at 4:30 AM and stare at the ceiling of my school bus which has been my dwelling for almost a month now.  It’s parked on the side of the road in the suburbs of Seattle so that I won’t get any tickets or undue attention.  Zac (my partner), and Mr. Tickles (the cat), and I have gone on an epic journey in this school bus named Odysseus.  We’ve crossed every major mountain range in the United States.  I learned how to drive a manual.  Friends and family made for welcoming pit stops along the way and we drank in the beauty of nature.  Odysseus is starting to feel like home and that thought scares me a little bit.  Although I know that I have an application submitted for an apartment, for the moment I am technically….. homeless. The thoughts of how the day would play out streamed in my head like some dramatic Netflix show.  Will they pile on an overwhelming amount of work right away?  Will the Adies be friendly?  Will I find out if I will be sleeping under a roof soon?  Will I fall asleep because I’ve gotten up so ungodly early? After the usual scrambling around in the morning, Zac fought his way through traffic and navigates to the Ada Developers Academy Headquarters.  Stepping out of the car, I realize that I desperately need caffeine.  The Starbucks had a line out of the door, but the Cafe Migliore in the financial building where the headquarters is located looks inviting.  With my coffee in hand, I head to the elevator to the tenth floor.  Inside the doors is my cohort.  I’ve never met a lovelier group of people.  Everyone is a new story with unique experience.  Everyone feels as I feel: apprehensive, excited, ready.  Introductions are made and we go through our first day in class.  Near lunch time, I get a text letting me know that my apartment lease is ready to sign.  Success.

As I lay down on my air mattress in the bus for a final time, the buzzing and whirring of vehicles passing on the highway was a comfort, because I know that tomorrow is a new day and opportunity is knocking.

Scholarly Developments

Learning

I’ve been a bit apprehensive when it comes to writing this announcement.  There are some great things on the horizon for me, but I still feel as though it may be a dream.   I have been accepted into the Ada Developers Academy.  There, I said it.  Does that make it any more real to me?

In February, I submitted my application for cohort 8 of the program.  It’s a selective program, but I was optimistic.  The essays that I had written were read and reread until I was satisfied that they were perfect.  Then I got invited for the code challenge of phase II and interview in phase III.  My confidence was slowly growing.  I found that my biggest obstacle in most things was my overwhelming doubt.  By completing the challenges, teaching myself to learn, and utilizing my resources, I could accomplish almost anything.  I told a few close friends at work that being accepted into the Ada Developers Academy was a possibility and kept my plans to myself for the most part.

Finally, I got the notification that I had been accepted.  I bought the mandatory Apple Macbook and am learning to use it day by day. I’ve got to move to the other coast of the country in a month and I couldn’t be happier.

Why You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Learning

As uncomfortable as it is, we need to get out there and learn from people. There are several resources readily available to anyone who wants to use them. Where I live, there’s a free newspaper that lists the local groups that get together. Meetup.com is a fantastic way to go to a number of tech or coding meetups. When you go to one of these meetings, there are people that see things from a different perspective and may offer some insight into how to learn more efficiently. Generally, they are helpful, polite, and friendly.
Through Meetup.com, I have recently attended a front end developers crash course from The Iron Yard in Greenville. Although fast-paced, I found it easy to follow. It was an experience that I would not have had on my own.
When I arrived (slightly late) I was ushered into an open seat and had to ask the person next to me for the internet password. The teacher from the Iron Yard had us download Atom as well as a folder from the Iron Yard‘s website. The goal of the class was to get the students to take a shabby looking website that was provided and add graphics, edit text, and make the website give a better user experience. The main languages used were CSS, HTML and JavaScript. Since I did not have any experience with these languages, I had to raise my hand several times to ask questions. There was always someone close by to answer and help facilitate the learning process.
Had it not been for the crash course, I would not have any experience with front end development. I’m grateful to the Iron Yard for holding these classes and contributing to my learning experience.

If you want to become a great learner, networker, and developer, get out there.  It doesn’t have to be every day, but make an attempt to interact with the community.  There are so many things you haven’t learned yet and people you haven’t met.  Possibly, you could become a mentor or help someone with a problem that you already know how to solve.

The instructor demonstrates HTML and CSS code

 

 

The Importance of Documentation

Documentation

You need to know yourself. Always. Especially, know what you don’t know.  When getting into the journey of coding, it can feel so cumbersome.  Luckily, anything that may seem confusing can be easily searched for and code libraries are easily found.

There is a phrase, “standing on the shoulders of giants.”  This means that everything you can do on the journey of coding has been built on the work of others.  It’s comforting to know that I can find definitions of modules fairly easily.

For the Udemy Course, Programming Foundations with Python, there is a project where you have to learn to draw a flower using the turtle module. I am comfortable enough in my knowledge that I know that I don’t know how to draw a flower with the turtle module as well as I would like.  Possibly, I could draw something that might resemble a flower abstractly, but that wasn’t good enough for me.

I decided that I needed to learn how to draw flower in Python that could conceivably be considered a flower on paper.  In this pursuit, I utilized Google.  Through the list of lackluster flowers, I stumbled upon something that suited my idea of the visual interpretation.

I could read the Python script, but I didn’t quite understand it.  This is where the Python Standard Library comes in handy.  After figuring out what the code meant, I modified it to fit my idea of a flower.  As it turns out, things get simpler when you break them down.

While I was earning my undergraduate degree in chemistry at Loyola University of Chicago, I came across many great teachers. One in particular was Dr. Daniel Graham. He had the ability to elicit interest in a variety of subjects seemingly unrelated to chemistry. While taking his course, “Physical Chemistry Lab,” I was introduced to an old version of Python. He gave our lab group a fundamental manual of Python code, an ancient computer, and told us to make the computer into a calculator using code. By putting together the ideas contained in the manual and slightly winging it, we managed to create a program that would output correct calculations when numbers were input. This was my first taste of coding. I learned that computers are amazing things and can do what you want when you know how to talk to them.

This was several years ago and I hadn’t thought much about coding since then. Although I was able to complete the small task my teacher had placed before me, I thought of coding as something monumentally difficult. I don’t know why coding had this connotation, but it did. I felt as though it was a wall that was impossible to scale. Things started to change about a year ago. I started looking into learning some type of code; but what type? There are so many languages that it’s a bit daunting to find a place to start. The need to take control of my future impelled me forward, so here I am. I’ve started “Programming Foundations with Python” from Udacity and couldn’t be more excited. I don’t know where this journey may take me, but I’m glad I started.

Learning