Monday, January 13, 2014

gSchool Prep

It's time to prep!  gSchool has sent out the list of things to accomplish prior to the first day, and here's what it's looking like:

  • Watch a 1-minute video by a master coder/typist {complete}
  • Spend 20-30 minutes/day on
  • Extreme Programming Explained by Kent Beck
  • How to Count by Steven Frank
  • The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger
  • Codecademy Web Fundamentals {complete}
  • Codecademy JavaScript
  • Codecademy Ruby {complete}
Not so bad, eh?  The only thing I'm dreading is doing the JavaScript lessons and lesson.  I've been avoiding it, but as this list gets closer and closer to completion... the more I have to do it.  Ughhh. is a pretty cool web app.  I was pleasantly surprised at my typing (code) ability.  My average over ~22,500 is 52 WPM, though lately I've been consistently in the 60's and even in the low 70's.  What's even more cool is that it shows you the amount of useless keystrokes (10% currently), and your total time spent practicing.  The biggest issue I'm having now is finding out how to effectively reach for the special characters and get back to the home row.  That's been killing my accuracy and speed.  I should add, these stats are mostly for Ruby.  When I do JavaScript lessons, my WPM drops like a rock, somewhere in the low 40's.

On another note, I've tweeted with a few soon-to-be fellow students.  Interestingly, two of the four I've connected with have also lived in Japan and one seems to speak fairly fluently.  This should be an interesting class!  gSchool just opened up the Google Group for the incoming class, so I'm really looking forward to connecting with the others. :)

Completely off the topic of gSchool, I met with another person who recently finished DevBootCamp - one of San Francisco's oldest and most respected code bootcamps - and picked his brain about his experience.  He said that it was a great program, but because of how short it was and the hours required (~80hrs/wk), he felt like the biggest downfall was that you didn't have time to work on your own projects.  He said that's important because when you're interviewing, it helps a ton to have stuff on GitHub that you've done from start to finish.  That little bit of feedback has caused me to set a goal for myself:  while in gSchool, have a personal project that I can complete by the end of the course.  I've already got one in mind, but I'm not sure if it's too complicated to do on my own and with the little time I will have over the next 6 months.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Brick Wall

So I've been knocking out's tutorials... I've finished Web Fundamentals and Ruby, and am now working on JavaScript.  I really enjoyed Web Fundamentals (HTML5/CSS3) and Ruby, but have found JavaScript to be a like a nagging girlfriend (luckily I haven't a nagging girlfriend in years).  Uhhhh! It's so picky and forces my attention to detail to be nothing but perfect.  I've been working on a rock, paper, scissors game that's been kicking my butt, all these curly braces and semi-colons are driving me nuts!

I read another person's blog that talked about the brick walls we hit while learning programming, and how overcoming those brick walls is what makes the difference between someone who will succeed in programming and someone who will ultimately give up or fail.  That's what keeps me trudging away... the obstacle of JavaScript will be overcome!  But I must say, I am not a huge fan of JavaScript, the syntax is nowhere near as enjoyable as Ruby.

On another note, I dropped off my $1,000 deposit at gSchool!  I'm in... now all I have to do is come up with another $4,000 before the start of class.  I took some money out of my Roth IRA and am driving for Lyft in my spare time to come up with it.  And, my parents offered to co-sign on a loan if I need more money to make this happen.  According to my interviewers, the problem most students have at gSchool is living expenses for the 6 months of school, since you can't work outside of school.  Luckily one of my companies makes money with minimal time investment on my part.  Things are well on their way!  Hopefully by September of this year I will be a Junior Developer at some awesome startup.