Week 1: Weekend challenge

Our first weekend challenge is writing an airport programme. The airport can make planes land and take off, when the weather is nice – but be careful when it’s stormy.

The whole week was all about learning Rspec and the test-driven approach. I have to admit, I’m not in love with Rspec. Not at all.

[rant start] I find it still very frustrating to spend ages on figuring out how to write a test, if I can write the actual method for my programme a lot quicker. I just trust in the system that is Maker’s to know best, and will hopefully get used to it (so I’ve been told by seniors – they actually had some kind words for Rspec … these won’t be found in the Feb cohort atm…).

Another thing, which doesn’t make writing the specs any easier, is that Rspec had the brilliant idea to update their syntax. While the new syntax is probably the latest jazz in writing specs, it is SO annoying because much of the resource material is now outdated. And their is so. much. outdated. stuff! Even seemingly great resources like code school, who made a rap song about Rspec, have now outdated should-syntax. An up-to-date resource is, apart from official docs, is betterspecs.org which has been suggested during on of our stand ups. [/rant end]

That felt good, sorrynotsorry about that.

Back to the actual topic: Weekend challenge! It is exactly that, a challenge! Naturally we can use a lot from material we covered during the week, but have to adapt it accordingly. I still find that I often overcomplicate things, and try to do more that I actually should or test things, that don’t need to be tested.. and there is this one test, I shouldn’t pass but get a green…oops. Still working on that. 😛

Tomorrow I think, we’ll get together with our seniors and discuss the code we’re written for the weekend challenge. We’ll see how that goes.

✈️

Week 1 day 4 – Starting all over again

I hadn’t been quite happy with my knowledge and understanding of the course materials this week, i.e. how rspec works. Therefore I asked my pair partner if we could start from scratch and redo the hole thing!

He had actually redone it the previous day and so I’m very grateful that he started a third time. 🙂 It was definitely a good decision for me as we went through the tasks slowly to make sure to know what every line meant.

The only downside was obviously that we were now behind. I think he’d stayed on after 6, which is what I should’ve done as well I think (oh hinesight)…

Week 1 day 3

The challenge on Wednesday for me were two things:

  1. Pairing with a new partner, who was more experience than me and therefore had a better and quicker grasp of the concepts we’ve been introduced to.
  2. Realising how I rushed through RSPEC/documentation the day before and not actually understanding it.

So most of the day I felt like even though we were pairing, and changing who was typing, I didn’t do as much thinking of my own as I would have liked. I probably should have stopped my partner more and just take the time to re-read the documentation, have a few more examples etc. That being said, he was very good as making his thoughts clear and explaining the processes, which was definitely very valuable.

I still felt a bit unsatisfied as I felt way behind my pair (not gonna lie: not an amazing feeling).

So Wednesday evening, after a quick half pint in the Maker’s local and a cheeky Japanese at home, I sat down and started re-reading rspec documentation.

RSPEC I WILL GET YOU!

Week 1 day 2

My second day at Maker’s was our first day of coding. Everyone was randomly assigned a partner and with them we were working through our weekly challenges. For most of us, it was the first time to actually code with a partner for this long. The difficulty with pair programming is to clearly communicate how you think the problem should be solved. However, there were a few cases where I wasn’t even sure how to solve it, let alone tell my partner what I thought is the best way.

We also did more TDD, where you write your tests first before you write an actual line of code. Technically this makes sense, however, sometimes it felt like the instructions and so the tests we were supposed to write, were taking so long, as the steps were so tiny that it could be a bit frustrating. I think I’m just too used to the process of getting stuff done the quickest way possible, and taking small steps isn’t usually the case then.

Week 1 day 1

This is actually being published on my second day, but I was so tired that I just feel asleep.

Yesterday was the first day of the main course of Maker’s Academy.  Even though we’ve seen each other on Slack, many of us hadn’t met yet and so we played some name games  (including spirit animals.. didn’t think the sloth would be so high up that list) to get to know each other.

After the game, those of us who had requested a laptop from MA, could go an pick it up and set up our dev environment. They provided us with the useful guide on http://www.preparetocode.io, to install programming essentials that we’ll need for the course, such as XCode, Homebrew, RVM & Ruby. My MacBook had been completely reset, like all of the borrowed ones, so I spent most of my time updating the OS to El Capitain and finished the rest of the setup at home.

When we broke for lunch many of my fellow students went to one of the plenty little food shops/markets. I’m trying to spend as little money as possible and since Makers has a kitchen area/ couple of microwaves I’m bringing in my own food (naturally forgot my food at home on the second day).

After lunch we had an interesting chat session on how to get the most out of Makers. One of the conclusions was that the course is only the precourse to the rest of our lives, as we will learn how to learn how to code—not just coding.

Another concept that stuck with me was, to aim for changing 1% every day at a time. Usually we (i.e. me) want to see results very quickly—obviously that’s because we do something, because we want something out of it. So when we don’t achieve our goal as quickly as desired, we can feel like we’ve reached a plateau or even failed the task and give up. And that’s when the 1% comes in: we need to keep going, we have to aim for only that 1% —even if the 1% improvement only means that that day we found out all the ways that don’t work to solve this or that problem. We now have this knowledge of what doesn’t work, which we didn’t have the day before and which gives us a head start for the next day.

The crucial aspect to keep in mind is to actually track what you’ve done each day, which is something that Makers encourage their students to do – and which is my reason for this blog as well.

I already regret not blogging daily during the precourse as I often felt like I’ve done or achieved nothing, but actually looking back now, I have learnt so much in the past four weeks already. It’s just so easy to forget as you think it’s natural and everyone knows it. (Memo to self: no it’s not, it been four bloody weeks of precourse work!)

So I will be trying to journal / blog as much as possible. I’m not a fan of my writing, so it takes ages for me to put something up (more often than not, I have about 5 million drafts…),  anyway I will actually try and use this brain dump. Be warned!

Precourse Week 3 – Summary

Here’s my summary of week three of the Maker’s Academy precourse.

Most Important Things I Learned:

  • Reading instructions carefully will save a lot of work
  • Arithmetic can often solve a tricky problem easily (instead of longwinded code)

Things I Struggled With The Most:

  • Time, time, time! and not working wifi at home 🙁
  • Some of the tests from the Chris Pine exercises

Changes I Plan to Make Next Week:

  • Do a lot more pairing
  • Recap what has been done so far
  • Getting started with TDD

Other Experiences This Week:

  • Meeting up with others is always beneficial
  • Difficult week due to limit amount of time, but glad to be off work starting precourse week 4

 

PreCourse Week 1 – Summary

All the Maker’s students have to fill out a weekly learning process. Throughout the course, the students use the agile methodology to reflect on their progress and their work in general.

So here’s what I’ve taken from the first week of Maker’s precourse!

Most Important Things I Learned:

  • It’s okay not to be the first to finish every exercise (note: especially if you’re working full time)
  • The command line can be understood! (even if it looks odd at first)

Things I Struggled With The Most:

  • From the material – understanding grep and regex
  • In general – working full time and doing all the prep work

Changes I Plan to Make Next Week:

  • Strict learning schedule (see you in 15 weeks, friends!)
  • Doing the optional exercises which I haven’t done yet
  • Get going with Ruby!

Other Experiences This Week:

  • Using Slack (our communication channel) makes me feel part of the community despite being unable to attend day-time learning groups
  • If you want to pass the challenges, you need to follow the instructions to the letter – things like different file names cause the tests to fail

Bottom line:

We covered a lot of material in the first week and looking back, it’s crazy to think it’s only been a week of studying – 6 days to be fair, since on the first day we didn’t get any material! I’m definitely enjoying it so far, despite my head hitting my desk occasionally. 🙂

Precourse week #2 here I come!

Source: http://guh-gifgarden.tumblr.com/post/49104576486

Your wish is my command (line)…

During the first week of the precourse, we’re focussing on learning about the command line and version control.

For the past few months I’ve been doing a series of courses on the website coursera.org about responsive web design. The courses talk about programming languages such as HTML, CSS and Javascript, and also uses the Meteor framework which runs on MongoDB. So during the courses I’ve learnt the mere basics about using the terminal/command line (‘cd’, ‘mkdir’, how to ‘add’/’remove’ packages to our meteor projects, view the db etc). As the course teaches quite a broad spectrum, they didn’t really go into the whys and hows of the command line, so I’m pleased to actually really focus on it now in the precourse.

I think the hardest thing for me is to see using the commands in the terminal like any other programming language. Just like in JS, we’ve got functions that take arguments, we can run them and we can get something in return, change something, etc. I know the terminal can do more, but me and my brain are taking one step at a time!

My favourite command is obviously ‘man’ – a saviour!

One of my fellow maker’s students has also told me he’s done the command line track on codecadamy.com. After I’ll finished the Maker’s material on the command line, I want to do this 2-hour track as well – having different types of learning input will definitely be helpful! (I believe they have also one on git – wahay 🙂 )

 

First day precourse: check!

First day of the precourse is done and I can’t wait to start! Today we, the February cohort, met up and had the change to get to know each other a little bit. The group is quite international which makes it an interesting bunch – I believe we cover 4 continents!

Other than that we we’re given more info about the schedule of the precourse. We will have learning material for every week to work through and then on Fridays we’ll be given a weekend challenge. They emphasised on working in pairs/groups for the exercises which will help us getting used to pair programming, a method we’ll be using throughout the course. The weekend challenges are designed to be done on our own, so we know we’re were at and, importantly, so the coaches know how we’re doing.

They also suggest to code everyday during the 4 weeks – so I’ll end this blog here and get on some codewars.

Source: http://cheezburger.com // I was told my blog lacks gifs … 🙂

 

Off to the precourse

Tomorrow is finally the day when the precourse will start. We will meet at the Makers Academy building and get to know each other and find out what we’ll be doing for the next 4 weeks.

I can’t wait to get started but I’m a little bit nervous as well, as I’ll be working full time alongside for the first three weeks of the precourse. During my interview with Makers they recommended giving yourself at least 15 hours a week for this precourse, so technically working should be fine. They also said, however, that having more time will be beneficial and someone even recommended taking time off work if possible.

On the other hand I see it as a good way of getting used to the busy and long schedule of the actual course.

So far the preparation for the precourse seemed well organised. We’ve been sent information on how to set up our machines for it, including which software/apps we need to stay in touch with other class members and staff. It’s nice to be able to feel prepared 🙂

Can’t wait!!!