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


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.


Day 1


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.


The Future and The Dojo

Time to catch up a wee bit.

The last few weeks have been a flurry of activity in applying to a number of “coding bootcamps.” (9 – 12 week long intensive programs designed to train you to be junior developers). I applied to App Academy first, took both their coding challenges, and I was rejected.

I was contacted by another group however called Coding Dojo. They are based out of San Francisco (by area) and are a newer program. They’ve had a few test classes, a part time program, and this last February started their first full time bootcamp class. The class recently graduated so its too early to have stats on job placement, but its promising. The program is growing quickly it appears because they are already overlapping classes.

To be accepted I had to fill out an application and create a video that explained a bit about myself as well as answer a few questions. I then interviewed with one of their head guys last Thursday and today (Monday) I received my acceptance!


So here’s more of the skinny on the Dojo: yes, its a bit of a silly name. However, when you look at other similar programs its not that far out there. The course is nine weeks long, and I will attend from June 24 to August 23. Schedule wise, this works out pretty wild because I will get back from some military commitments a week prior to the start, and my sister gets married a week after. In short, my summer is going to be packed.

A few things stuck out to me about Coding Dojo that I liked: First off, they feed you! And the food looks pretty great. They provide lunch and dinner as well as healthy snacks (fruits, veggies, etc). This may sound silly but its a big deal when you think about how much money I would spend on food alone over the course of nine weeks. Second, where other programs focus heavialy on Ruby on Rails and largely only that (because its the hot tech right now) Coding Dojo’s focus is to train you how to learn any programing language. Their philosophy is to train you for a great lifelong career, not just a great decade as a Ruby on Rails developer who panics when its no longer the hot item. They also structure their demo days with employers differently. They have more than one demo day (to my knowledge) so that prospective employers can snag students early and have them start focusing on a particular technology that they use. A sort of pre job placement. They also have guest speakers come in a lot from the industry and talk about various aspects of what they do. They build relationships and reputability.

The other side of the coin is that its a huge gamble for my family and I. The price tag of $8750 is pretty rough but its actually cheaper than many other similar programs. We still have to save up the full amount somehow, sell off half our stuff, put the other half into storage, the wife and kids will probably move in with my parents in AK, I have to drive to Cali, and find a place to stay that is within budget.

This is going to be very difficult.

But the wife and I have prayed about it. We asked God for an opportunity for us to change our stars. We found these programs and it all just seemed to click and fall into place. At this point, we are truly trusting God for his provision, protection, and guidance.

More will follow…


P.S. heres a link to the program: http://codingdojo.co


Dev Bootcamp and App Academy

So I’ve been a bit remiss about my wee blog this past week. Reason being that I’ve been throwing myself into studying Ruby in order to take a coding challenge for App Academy.

What is App Academy or Dev Bootcamp you ask?

Well in short, they are both nine week intensive courses designed to train you to effectively code Ruby on Rails. The intent is that you graduate with enough skills to be “a world class beginner” and a successful member of a development team. In short, they both are freaking awesome. The only real difference between them that I can tell is their pricing structure. Dev Bootcamp requires payment upfront, App Academy only requires payment once you get a job. Either way, both are truly exceptional programs.

I’ve been in the process of applying to both of them this week. Dev Bootcamp requires a video submission where you tell a bit about yourself and you also teach them how to do something. I’m teetering between changing a diaper or making a fire (I lean towards making a fire for somewhat obvious reasons…). I plan on completing this during the weekend.

App Academy requires you to take a coding challenge in Ruby. They provide prep materials via Ruby Monk (www.rubmonk.com) and Code Academy (www.codeacademy.org). I went the Code Academy route and I thought the instruction rocked. They also provide practice problems.

I did really well on the practice problems and when I compared them with their suggested answers I walked away really confident. My answers were well more developed than what they were looking for. Supposedly this was to prepare me for the actual challenge.

It sorta did…

The challenge was harder than I expected probably due to the time limit and the “HOLY CRAP I CANT FAIL! I NEED TO SUCCEED IN THIS FOR MY FAMILY’S SAKE!” So I get nervous once in a while. But over all I think I did well.

After that there was a second challenge. This one sucked. Hard.

Honestly, the prep material didnt cover this level of work. However, I pieced together as much as I could and submitted answers to 2 / 4 problems. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that this was a test to see what I could do when faced with a “OMG, WTF do I do now?” scenario.

All in all, I’m rather confident. I know that I can do this very well if given the training and the time. I also know that I LOVE learning this stuff. I truly find it fascinating and wonderful (in the literal sense of the word). I WANT to have a career as a programmer, I NEED to have a career as a programmer. The next step in the App Academy application process is a Skype interview. I just hope I can convince them that I fit the profile of the guys they are looking for.

We’ll see where this all leads. Its in the Lords hands now.