December 23

School’s Out!!!

It’s been like a marathon and I’m so ready for a break. We get a really long one too. I will probably be bored before it’s over. Well, maybe…

We have a week for Christmas – and a second (bonus) week before the internship places will be ready to interview us, then a week for interviews and a week for prep (like learning a new language or framework if the place we intern at uses something different than we have been studying). The internship list has filled up to about 30 companies, which I’ve been told provides enough open slots for all 75 students that have made it this far. (I think we started with 80 on the first day, some have dropped out and started over, others have dropped in from other classes. It’s not exactly the same group we started with, but most of us seem to have made it through – and a few are still working on it, but in the next group now.)

I’m exhausted. Mentally especially, but also physically.

I’ve learned a LOT of new things. I started out with what I thought was a lot of knowledge and it got me through the INTRO class easy enough. I really started learning some new stuff (testing mostly) in the second class – and that was a nice pace. But by the 3rd class I was not so sure I could even keep up. We learned a new framework each week! The last class, Android, I thought I was not going to make it. But we had a couple snow days where I was able to catch up and now I feel good about the material. But also like I have so much more to learn that I didn’t even know existed before I came to school.

I’m taking a day off, away from the computer to try to sort out some priorities about what missing gaps to fill first. After that, I’m going to see if I can’t get as much mileage out of the next 4 weeks “off” as I got out of those snow days.

My Capstone Project:

The 5th week of our final class we got to work independently on a “capstone” project. This was anything we wanted. Most of us stuck with the tools from our most recent class, but we had the option of doing other things as well. I heard rumors of a React.js project and saw a couple demos for Android with Unity and one VR as well. I stuck with Android and didn’t get too fancy with adding new stuff outside what we had learned.

Here’s some screenshots…

So “NewsWorthy” is a flashcard type app that shows random pictures of world and US leaders. You have to try to match the photos with the name of the person. The app is getting more difficult as I add more people to choose from.

I would still like to add some kind of “levels” to the game so that it will get progressively more challenging as you learn. I’m also thinking that this system would work well with other topics from computer programming (like data structures or design patterns) to foreign languages, and who knows what else. Any topic where memorization plays a key role seems like a likely candidate.

I’m planning to put in about 800 people and get those levels working and then put the app up on the play store.

I didn’t learn a LOT of new stuff. But I did figure out how to make some rounded buttons and text boxes, which was cool.

And I made a custom adapter for the high scores display. Very simple…it just adds a name before and a % sign after the scores. But I was really excited by it because I felt like I actually understood how the adapter was working, unlike the Firebase adapter and recycler adapters we had used on our class projects.  For those there was a lot of copy and paste and just trust “it works” without knowing why. With my simple “High Score Adapter” I know exactly what it’s doing – and that’s a good feeling!

GitHub Challenge:

My other big project was a 4 week long independent project that I worked on each Friday. We had some specific guidelines and required tasks to “pass” each of the 4 week code reviews so there was not as much variety in what people did for this project as we all had to use an API of some kind and store stuff in a database, etc.

My project was to create a “Github Battle” app for Android. I was inspired by this video I saw in my Twitter feed:

I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out and expect to demo it in February when our class does it’s “Demo Day” for the tech community here in Portland.

The app will let you find people on Github in a variety of ways. After you pick your two people you can “battle” them and see who wins. You can also save players in a favorites list for future battles.

I plan to improve the “battle” logic. At the moment it is “who joined Github first?” and I’d like to add something that takes into consideration what you’ve done since the day you joined – with the idea it could encourage players to stay active and make more contributions so they can win more battles.

I also am thinking it would be cool to make the game multi-player so that you can battle against your friends – as yourself, or using your saved favorites.  If I can get this feature working I think I’ll put this one up on the play store too.

Category: Learning | Comments Off on School’s Out!!!
December 3

To Be, Or Not To Be? (An Intern…)

So we have our internship list. There were a couple companies that looked interesting, but they weren’t marked as Java/Android. I am still waiting for that exciting Java/Android opportunity to show up, and it’s still missing.

Meanwhile, I’ve been asking myself if I wouldn’t be better off to just look for work, you know a REAL job instead of a short-term internship? Worst thing that could happen is the real job doesn’t show up over Christmas break and I get into an internship that is not exactly what I hope to be doing. I can learn some new things and continue the real job search later, right?

I suppose that it feels like a step in the wrong direction is just – moving in the wrong direction.

I saw a great article today about the most important job interview question you can ask.

THE QUESTION: “If you were to land your ideal job this week, what would be the top three traits of this position?”

So I’m thinking about that answer:

  1. Android. I just spent $5000 and 6 months to learn about mobile development, specifically Android development and that is what I really want to do. Anything else feels like “the wrong direction” no matter how much I might like or be good at or have the opportunity to make good money doing, what I really want is Android – and it’s one of the things I might leave any other job to get.
  2. Best Practices. (I’m cheating because this is really more than one…TDD/BDD and Agile/Scrum) I’ve read about them, taken classes, gotten a little practice in school. Now I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want a job where they don’t just say “we should do that” – but where they are really, already, making it work. I want to see it in action and get into that habit and get to know those practices so well that I can take them with me to the next job whether the next company has any experience making them work or not.
  3. Open Source. I would like to not just consume open source software, but have a chance to contribute something back to the OS community and learn to put in those PRs and stuff. I’d love a job where that was part of the culture and my mentor would help me sort through all those open issues and figure out which ones I could work on and do some virtual hand-holding while I make the first few happen.
  4. (Yeah, I know… that’s why some of these questions are so hard…) Data Visualization. I’d like to learn how to turn raw data into pretty graphs and charts.
  5. New stuff in general. I like learning, but we are getting into the “nice to haves” now. The “I’ll settle for learning React because you don’t actually do Android” territory. But I’d be happier to learn react if you are an Agile team or if you are building something open source with it…

Overall, I’m not too optimistic about the internships. So I went ahead and applied for a real Android job that has 2 of my top 3. And I wonder if I will hear back from them when I don’t have their preferred number of years experience with Android? I wonder how you get the experience if you can’t find a job doing it to begin with?

First step, probably, is to quit writing about it and get down to actually doing my homework. 2 more weeks of class to go…

Category: Android, Career Change, Java | Comments Off on To Be, Or Not To Be? (An Intern…)