September 24

Java – Week 3: PostgreSQL

Screenshot of 3rd week, 2nd class independent project
1150 lines of Java (360 of which are tests), 280 lines of HTML, and 13 lines of CSS later…my final project for the week has been turned in.

We can finally persist data!

Kinda… on the computers at school, not on the internet.  We don’t always get the same computer. But I have a backup file and can carry the data between school and home for when I re-run the program.

This project took me ALL day, and then some. Maybe 9-10 hours. I came in early, took a short lunch, stayed late. REALLY would have preferred to stick around another hour or two to get those appointments working too – but dinner and my boyfriend decided to drag me away.

I’m exploring the possibilities on Heroku today. I may have it somewhere it could actually be used by the end of the weekend. I got one app up on Heroku and working (from the week before – my dictionary minus the partially finished scrabble game). It would be much better with a database – but I’m not sure how to make all the connections on Heroku yet. I got a database setup, and I have applications… but I feel like there is some missing documentation keeping me from making them talk to each other.

I did NOT pass my code review for the dictionary project. I’m a little bent out of shape over that. I failed because I had a test that was not passing. The test was for passing out tiles to players in the scrabble game. It was EXTRA… which is why it bothers me that it didn’t pass. I resubmitted a version of the dictionary that does NOT have the scrabble game on it that should meet all the standards and be fine.

It’s not the only thing that has me upset this week. I also got marked as “left early” on Monday because I (apparently) forgot to sign out. I left at 6:30 – an hour and a half LATE, not early. But still, I get the penalty.

I’m feeling less motivated than usual. I hate being penalized for putting in extra effort, and that’s what it feels like.

On the other hand, the “all tests passing” was a requirement, and mine were not all passing. So that part I do get. This week I saved my end result to a new branch and then deleted all the non-functioning appointment stuff on the master branch, so that should not be a problem this time around.

As for Monday, I was a little sleep deprived to begin with – so maybe I did forget. Maybe I fell asleep at my desk and DREAMED that I signed out? Who knows. I’ll just have to hope none of these internship places really care about 100% attendance that much.

I was about to complain that we did not have any lessons for homework this weekend (or anything at all for next week) but I see that they have finally posted the weekend homework. I suppose they will post the lessons day-by-day like they have been doing this whole class. This too is disturbing.

And we had a teacher quit (our Java teacher) and the founder left us to some new CEO. (I met her this week, possibly after class on Monday…she seems nice.)

It’s just a lot of change and uncertainty and I don’t like it.

I still think that Epicodus is the best coding bootcamp in Portland (and the best value for you money anywhere – sorry Hack Reactor).  But being the best does not mean there is no room for improvement. Part of me really cares and wants to make things better, but another part of me realizes that it’s too late to make things better for ME… and so is it really worth the effort to offer feedback? I mean, they are going to get these lessons done eventually, and the next class won’t be flying by the seat of their pants anyway, right?

I’m hoping to recover my better attitude over the weekend. I wish I could look ahead to see what we are learning next week, because being excited about what is coming next usually helps the attitude thing. Oh, well…

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September 17

Spark Framework

This week we learned all about how to use the Spark framework with our projects. I love it! I really like having that web-page front end on my projects and don’t miss the days of terminal programs at all.

The only thing is that Spark “isn’t used in the real world” and so I wonder why are we learning it instead of, say, Spring… which IS used out there in real jobs. There are courses on Treehouse for Spring, so I’m going to make sure I know how to use that framework as well.

The week was uneventful. Everything seemed to line up just right and run smooth. I feel like I’m not working hard enough. The end of the week project was a dictionary with two objects: words & definitions. We were supposed to make it so that each word could have one or more definition. I had that done in about an hour and had to find a way to entertain myself for the rest of the day. It all just seemed too easy.

Continue reading

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September 10

TDD and BDD

Here I am at the end of the first week of Java. I survived! I was a little worried about how to get through a whole week with no front-end stuff to keep me busy.

They decided to rewrite this course and take the front-end stuff out of the first week so that we could focus on the fundamentals of Java and of “Behavior Driven Development”. (AKA BDD, or TDD in some circles). Continue reading

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September 5

And a Lovely, LONG Weekend after Week 5

So the first class is over. I thought I knew everything going into it, but I feel like I know even more coming out. I’m really happy that I have improved my skills as well as survived.

It’s a lot of work.

I’m not talking about HARD work, just work. You learn something and then practice it over and over and over until it’s automatic. Even if you aren’t learning new things, the practice takes time – a lot of time, most of the time.

Fridays were the best day for me. I did get most of the individual projects done early and so had time to play around all afternoon. (We were required to stay the full 8 hours whether we were done or not, so I tried to find extra stuff to do on all the projects that filled the time.) I learned about graphics and animation, did some cool advanced CSS stuff on my portfolio, and tried out local storage to make my pizza page more interesting.

I also had an extra hour after class waiting for my ride most days to do a little extra on some of the projects to get them closer to “portfolio ready”. I’m always thinking about that portfolio and the job I hope to get next spring.

I also think about the people who jumped into this course 5 weeks ago with little or no experience. Most of them are doing great too. I think two of them dropped out, which isn’t too bad. The rest have managed to keep up and probably know this stuff better than I did starting out. And I have been playing around with web pages one way or another for about 20 years. I’m impressed by how good my classmates are after only a month’s training.

I’m also finding that the whole class is open and friendly.  My fears about not fitting in because of my age are size have all been groundless.  Pair programming has been a great thing most of the time.  I’ve learned from all my partners and found it’s not that hard to get through the material even if we go at their pace (when they are slower). The pairs that were more on my level ended up being the more challenging ones to work with…because we both want to do cool stuff, but it’s not always the SAME cool stuff. I’ve heard some negative things about working in a pair where both are struggling too, because then there is no one to explain how things work and keep things moving on track. That’s too bad… but sometimes it seems like that struggle to learn is what helps you remember it better later.

All-in-all, I think the course is genius and I’m really glad I took it. There is a night class that goes through this same material, without the 4-course long track. Even that would give a person some really solid job skills. I can’t say enough good about Epicocus. If you are wondering if you should go there – just do it. You won’t be sorry.

After the first 5 weeks, here are some of the group projects our class came up with:

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August 28

Week 4!

After 4 intense weeks of learning, I’m pretty impressed with how much my websites have improved since the beginning of the class. One more week for this intro course – the team week – with ONE BIG project to do.

We will be creating a web-based version of Risk. There was a last minute change of plans with our project and I find myself worried about another sudden change, but I think we will be doing Risk.  I hope it turns out good.

This week’s project was a pizza order form and I added too many features – then got sick half-way though the day on Friday. I JUST finished it, and it’s not really “done” to the point I’d like it to be. I’m not sure when I might find time to finish it up.

I’m almost glad I got sick though. Lots of sleep this weekend. And I feel like I really needed it. I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to catch up on my sleep like that again either.

One month down, 5 to go…

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