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Prepping for Week Two

The weekend is drawing to a close. I spent about six hours at the Dojo working on my assignments and I made a lot of progress. I hit a wall however when my Sortable JQuery UI function didnt want to work properly. JQuery’s UI documentation is rather vast and equally frustrating. They document all the ways you can alter the item, but almost zero documentation on how the item works itself. Meh. I’ll figure it out on Monday.

The only real critique I have of Coding Dojo thus far is some of the instructional quality. The videos online are not as professional as I would like. Cest la vie.

All in all, I love it here and its a blast. I feel frustrated this weekend because I’ve (by and large) completed all the assignments for JQuery and I want to move on. But I’m not sure where they want to go next. Sooo yeah, I’m stuck waiting.

My roommates are pretty great and they are all great coders. Over the past week they’ve been working on a Google Chrome extension that allows you to play music like Pandora in a small pop-up-able window. And they’ve done it all in their free time. I just sit around and watch. They are all pretty young (I think some cant even buy a beer) and they all make me feel like such a noob. Its good fun.

Well, next week I anticipate working on some wireframs and jumping into PHP, the main backend server language. Should be pretty great. Stay tuned.

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Day 4 + 5, Thursday and Friday. Week One Complete.

Busy.

I finished up my CSS and Bootstrap assignments this week and I started on jQuery and jQuery UI today. The pace is pretty awesome when you think about it. I don’t feel the grueling craziness that I places like DevBootcamp talk about. But as far as I can tell, we’re operating on the exact same pace. Maybe I’m just blind to the fact that I spend (literally) an average of 15 hours a day banging on my keyboard.

This is probably a good spot for me to reflect upon the completion of the first week.

Honestly, I dont know how I got here already. It goes by VERY quickly. I show up on average around 7:30 am and, unless I dont eat breakfast, I usually dont realize its noon and lunch time until I see everyone else around me get up to go eat. Then the same thing happens during the second half of the day. I never, ever, catch myself clock watching. I usually only look at the clock to make sure I eat.

This is a blast.

Overall, I’d give Coding Dojo an 8 out of 10 on the Awesome Scale. They have a few issues that I would consider shortcomings but honestly, they are debatable points depending on your pedagogical intent. Regardless, I KNOW that at this pace, I’ll exit this program as a skilled web developer and I am more than confident that I’ll be able to find work.

I honestly love doing this. Its incredibly frustrating at times (especially since the air conditioning in our building died) and sometimes discouraging. But every day operates on a sine wave: you have your ups, and you will have your downs. But! You will come back up.

This was an investment well made. Do it.

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Day 3, Wednesday

    Sports day.

So we started the day off with a group assignment. We were given a picture of a web page and our group had to collaboratively recreate it. In one hour. Needless to say it was chaos because we have never worked together before. I snagged the conference room for our team right away so that was great, but we spent most of our time fighting with setting up an online collaborative environment.

After an hour (that went by amazingly fast) we stopped and headed out to the park for sports day. The industry has learned well that if you dont get out into the real world and enjoy the sun you’ll go crazy. There was a large group playing kickball (yes, I’m part of a generation that didnt go total wuss and ban kickball because some kid might get hurt or have his feelings bruised), another group tossing a football, and others just chatting in the shade. I was part of the chatting group. It was real nice to talk to some of the locals about California. I learned a lot about the duality of CA in terms of politics and the different climates and sub cultures. Its actually pretty wild. Its a microcosm of America.

Anyway, we came back and we had another hour to work on our group assignment. We only got about half way done. During that hour my computer crapped the bed. Somehow I had completely packed my hard drive with crap. Litterally. I had 0 kb left on my computer. I was totally stonewalled. I ended up forking over $40.00 for CleanMyMac2 and it was a pretty slick product. It cleaned up about 10 or 12 GB of space and I’m working again.

Anyway, our group project sucked compared to others. I figure its because we hit a lot of collaborative snags that really slowed us down. We’re like a race car using old coffee as motor oil. We just need to change our oil.

So I spent the rest of the day finishing my fourth assignment. I took all the feedback from the first three and applied it and it showed! I got my feedback on it this morning and the TA evaluating me only had one comment to make it better. Other than that he said it was perfect (literally).

So yeah, that was my day. I spent a good amount of time reading the documentation for Bootstrap and then fell asleep on the couch in the classroom. When I went home I sat and watched my roommates work on an extension for Chrome.

I’ve also begun my conversion to Google. My email address has henceforth changed from a .me account to a .gmail account. Google has won me over with Chrome. Sorry Apple, you just wernt cutting it for me.

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Day 2, Tuesday

Today we did nothing except code.

All.

Day.

Long.

It was pretty awesome. The assignments for today were to recreate the layout for four web pages. They give us pictures of homepages and we had to recreate it. Its a lot of HTML and CSS tinkering. Its incredibly tedious and time consuming. After about 200 lines of CSS and 100 lines of HTML code things start to blur together. I’ll have to improve my organization skills. My goal was to finish all four today so that I have all day tomorrow to intimately acquaint myself with Twitter Bootstrap. However I only finished three out of four. Not bad considering that there are people still working on the first.

It makes me wonder though, am I just awesome, or am I doing something wrong? Ha! We’ll see what my reviewer in the Philippines says. (BTW, the Dojo has employees in the Philippines that help us out in the evening. They also do other work for the Dojo as well. They are pretty cool guys and really good at what they do.)

A few things I’ve learned today: from a developer standpoint, Google Chrome is amazing. The ability to edit CSS and HTML tags IN the web browser is a game changer. Also, I’ve come to realize that Chrome is an excellent resource. Its much more organized and powerful when you take advantage of it. Sorry Apple, I’m betraying you on this.

Also, manually formatting in CSS sucks. Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It sucks. I’m excited to use Bootstrap and expedite this fun.

I’m starting to get to know others in the class and this should be a great summer!

Another update: after looking into it, I wont be able to attend the LinkedIn Hackathon because I’m not actually an intern. Well, since they wont let me play in their sandbox, I’ll go play in my own. I’m going to suggest to the powers-that-be here that we have our own Hackathon. Yeah, take that LinkedIn!

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Day 1

Boom.

So it has begun.

We began with a good long meet and greet that lasted a few hours. Yesterday one of the other students I met expressed how App Academy was a bit of a horror story and that already Coding Dojo is light years different. The demeanor of the instructors was great.

We had a signifiant road block right from the get go because the internet totally crapped out on us. The course is largely self paced. You are responsible for watching the videos and doing the assignments on your own. The instructors give a lecture in the morning along with a white boarding problem. Without internet we all just grind to a halt.

Anyway, we got it working. The videos hit or miss sometimes. Theres a lot they can improve in terms of educational quality. However, I’m willing to cut them some slack because we are only the fourth class and they are still ironing out the kinks.

I worked through the HTML course and ended the day by finishing the CSS lessons and now I just have the work to do. I basically have to recreate a simple website from a screenshot… four times.

One really neat thing we were exposed to today is Bootstrap. Its a CSS library developed by a couple of guys at Twitter. In short, its a shortcut to make your web site look great. In this world, if its open source, its free game.

All in all, I showed up sometime around 8:00 AM, and didnt leave till about 10:30 PM. It was a long day but great fun.

Lets bring on day two.

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The calm before the storm.

I’ve made it to Cali-Forn-EE-Ya! I’ve logged somewhere shy of 2,800 miles on my car in four days.

Yes, you can say it. I’m awesome.

The house I’m staying in is populated by a bunch of other coders (plus one venture capitalist) and its a pretty sweet deal. Clean. Right down the road from class. In a safe neighborhood. The downside being that its really expensive. I’ll deal with it though.

I also went to the church I found today. Its called Garden City Church (presumably because San Jose is called the “garden city”?) and its a two year old church plant connected with the Acts 29 Network. It was awesome! I’ve already made a few contacts (dare I say potential friends?) and I’m really excited. Its full of young professionals and a lot of them have little kids running around.

My kind of place 🙂

I’ve also been invited to my first hackathon with the guys in my house. LinkedIn has a yearly intern hackathon where teams get together and from 7pm to noon the next day they work non stop on a project of their choice. I wont have hardly any experience but it should be great to just watch and hang out. 🙂

So there you have it. Let the madness begin.

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