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Day … I’ve lost count. Next to last

So I’ve fallen off the blogging map.

I’ve been spending all my time working on my final project and all of my other disciplines and good habits fell to the wayside.

First my partner and I wanted to create a simple HTML5 game but after four days of no traction we realized that we were looking at a mountain we had no time to climb. So we scaled it back to an implementation of Texas Hold’em.

We actually achieved about 60% functionality. My partner spent his time working through a very in-depth tutorial on how to create a deck of cards using only HTML , CSS, and JavaScript. Its actually pretty awesome. I spent my time making the layout of the game as well as getting the connectivity with Firebase. Separate, our two pieces were awesome. But alas, we were not able to put them together in time.

In oder to effectively display and access all the different pieces of data we needed we would have to completely rewrite all of my partner’s code. The way it constructed cards just would not work for the way Firebase and our App operated. And I’m not talking about swapping around a few functions. I’m talking about a complete reboot.

If we had two, maybe three more days we could totally do it. But we dont. Ugh. We worked really hard on it today and we’ve logged more than 16 hours today alone. I had to accept defeat.

I guess this is time for me to reflect upon this course:

Overall, this was the best educational decision I think I’ve ever made. Its a legitimate trade skill that I love and I know I will excel at. There are a lot of rough edges, but I see the work that the staff puts in and I respect them for it. This school will be an excellent program one day. As it stands, I’d probably give it a 7.5 out of 10. Good, and on its way to awesome.

As far as my own skills go: I have learned so much so fast that my head is starting to spin. At this point, I really just want to pick one thing and dominate it. I was really comfortable with PHP and CodeIgniter and I probably would be very comfortable with Ruby and Rails. I think one of my problems with this course is that instead of focusing on what I was really comfortable with I chose to tackle something very ambitious for someone at my experience level: Node.js.

Node.js sucked my coding soul dry. JavaScript is the future of much of the web and it’s extremely powerful. However, theres so much about JavaScript that just makes it effing screwy and a pain to deal with. JavaScript, as a language, doesnt operate as other languages do. It really has to be dealt with as its own monster.

I really want to spend a good amount of time in the future dedicating myself to studying JavaScript and all the connected emerging tech (such as Node.js, Express.js, Angular.js).

However, I feel like I’m ending this course on a very low note. I have two half finished projects to show for my 9 weeks here. I believe that the reason is that I have a sort of foolish optimism and I’m very ambitious. I never realized how hard it would be for me to learn Node.js at this level. I had no idea there were so many things that go into creating a simple HTML5 game. I didnt realize how long and how hard it would be to overcome certain subjects or aspects of a tech.

Yet, as they say, through struggle, comes strength.

I really have covered and learned a lot. I cant even quantify it. I absolutely love this.

Demo day is tomorrow. At this point in the course’s life cycle, its really unnecessary. Demo day has really been more about introducing recruiters to what the students can do. Once they understand where we are at then they can better judge whether or not they can put is into positions. By now, most recruiters know the business model and they know what kind of people come out of these courses. Nobody gets hired at demo day. Thats not what its for.

At this point it would be more useful for Demo Day to just be a fun last hurrah party where the senior class shows off their projects to the junior class. And we drink beer. Lots of beer…

Thats it. Thats all Demo Day should really be. The problem is that most students coming into these bootcamps expect Demo Day to be a really big hiring speed dating activity. Its not. It never was and never is in any boot camp.

Oh well, I dont know what I’ll do tomorrow.

However, I think I have decided that starting tomorrow, I’m going to rewrite everything in our code and complete this Texas Hold’em game. When complete it will actually be really cool. That is my mission.

And I always complete my mission (sooner or later).

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Day 31 and 32, Monday and Tuesday

I didnt accomplish much this weekend. I spent about 10ish hours at the dojo on Saturday and probably only did about two hours worth of work. The rest of the time was spent watching half of Hell on Wheels season 2 (AMAZING!), taking a nap, going out to lunch, and hanging out. Sunday wasnt much better but it was good to go relax at church.

The long and short of it is that we didnt finish our project with node.js. We really only had about three or four days of actual work because the rest of the time was spent learning the language. Something that proved to be particularly hard for us. I especially poured myself into learning the language in as fast a time frame as possible. I put in 16ish hour days every day for a week and a half. And I think I blew a fuse in a bad way. I was on a high from being good with PHP and CodeIgniter and I was knocked on my tuff by some serious Javascript. One of my roommates is really good with Node.js but lo and behold it was the first web technology he really ever learned. I guess when you dont know any better its easier to handle!

On Monday I started Ruby and I started on the Models section of the Rails course. First impressions: Ruby is pretty neat. You can do some wild things with it and the documentation is actually really great and intuitive. Rails is a beast. Extremely powerful and is NOT for beginners (I wonder if I technically classify?). Dealing with their method of Active Reccord for generating models from the command line is both awesome and freakishly frustrating. You can create a lot of stuff really fast… and you can screw it up just as quickly. Thats the power of the command line. It may be antiquated and basic, but it is powerful.

Its currently a bit frustrating but I’ll get the hang of it.

I need to get the hang of it quickly though because on Thursday I start project numero two. More details to come.

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Day 24, Thursday

Ok, I’m finally done with that annoying CodeIgniter assignment. I have banged my head in this framework so much that I feel like we’ve grown pretty intimate. I managed to achieve full functionality for what we were instructed to do but I still have some Ajax buggs that stop stuff. However, I have said enough is enough and its time to move on. I’ve passed it to my TA in the Philippines to look over and fill in the gaps.

Now, its on to the cool stuff.

Node.JS!

For our first project week I and two others are going to work in a group to create an online version of Settlers of Catan! We plan on using Node.JS due to its ability to keep things fast and live. Our first goal (appart from learning Node) is to create a Go Fish game. We figure we can scale it up from there 🙂

Onwards!

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Day 22, Tuesday

Progress, at last.

I’ve finally achieved functionality on my CodeIgniter assignment. The message board part is now up and working. I’ve put together all the UI/UX for the rest of the assignment, I just now need to connect it to the database. That might take awhile and there are a few different ways I could pull it off.

Therefore, I left it for tomorrow. Time to take a good break.

As I theorized, because of my bush-whacking / forge a new path through the forest mentality, I’ve started to have a good grasp of how CodeIgniter works. There are a lot of really awesome tools and tricks that make it very useful. I’m interested to begin playing with Ruby and Rails. They say that its a big difference.

Apparently, in Rails, you just have to trust that a particular function or tool works. You dont necessarily need to know how it works. This has its benefits and disadvantages. You can develop a lot of applications very quickly. But it doesnt lend itself to customization and you can have a lot of people who are really good at rails, but in truth, terrible programers. I believe that is a distinct advantage of attending Coding Dojo. They knowingly force you to learn the basics and “the hard way” of doing things so that you not only understand but also appreciate the more advanced tools.

I also admit that I am 100% absolutely comfortable with having to learn a new language for my job. I have a solid grasp of the foundations and after that its just a matter of syntax.

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Day 21, Monday

Today rather sucked. Multiple people told me I had this frustrated look of defeat on my face. I threw myself at my CodeIgniter assignment only to find out I was doing it wrong. It felt like I had spent hours swinging a pick axe at a boulder when someone sheepishly comes up and tells me that I’m swinging the wrong end of the axe. Lllaammmeeee

I understand OOP. I sorta understand CodeIgniter. Combining the two seems to present more of a challenge than I thought. And its slowing my progress.

All said and done though, I think I’m starting to make some headway. Yesterday after dinner I went with a classmate and got a margarita to decompress before I dove back into the maelstrom. On my way there I found out that, despite all odds, I actually passed my Green Belt exam! Wooo!!

So there was a glimmer of good news in a day of turds.

Lets us continue.

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Day 20, Friday + the weekend

Time flies considerably fast around here. Week four is over. Technically, in a few day’s I’ll be at the halfway mark. On Friday the senior class had their Demo Day and graduated. It was pretty neat to see everyone showing off their projects. There were quite a lof of people there, including recruiters and business owners. We’ve been told not to expect Demo Day to be a hiring event. Its more for business and recruiters to see the kind of students the Dojo produces. From there confidence is built in our abilities and the likelihood of us getting a job faster increases.

Honestly, I dont really plan on pursuing a job in this part of the country. Here in a few weeks I’ll begin to spam potential employers on the East coast. I’ll particularly focus on the areas around Pittsburgh, PA, the Shenandoah Valley, VA, and North Carolina.

Another awesome factor that plays into my decision: I have no fear in taking on anther company’s stack of technologies. Two of the students that graduated a month ago have spent the last three weeks learning the stack for a company called Boomtrain (they basically do online video analytics). Literally everything they use was not taught at the Dojo. However, they just smiled and said “Sure, we can do it.” I cant remember all the different products they use its pretty extensive. Here soon they should be offered full time positions.

Other than that, I’ve been plugging away at my CodeIgniter assignment. On Friday I got so fed up with Bootstrap not working that I decided to ditch it altogether and go with Foundation by Zurb. Zurb is a professional web design company that developed Foundation for their own work and decided to make it freely available.

Its much more stable and easy to use. Bugs are a lot less frequent and they are easy to work around. Foundation is also highly customizable so that every site made with Foundation doesnt look like every other site made with Foundation. Needless to say, I’m happy 🙂

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