June 25

Second Project Down…

They liked my Android project enough to let me tackle the iOS version. Not that I have any background for iOS. I don’t think I’ve even made a phone call on a borrowed iPhone. But in the last couple weeks I’ve built and iPhone/iPad app that I’m pretty pleased with. (Hope everyone else will be too…)

So in two weeks I’ve learned Xcode, Objective-C, and a healthy amount of Swift. The original project was written in Objective-C and worked. There was an update to Swift – but it would not compile.

Neither one was built for any kind of modification. Continue reading

Category: Career Change, Consulting, iOS, Mobile Development | Comments Off on Second Project Down…
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…)
November 12

Goodbye JavaScript, Hello Android!

One more class down and only one more to go!

This week I had a really successful team project. I’m really glad that it went so well after that project at the Hackathon. I think I learned a lot from the experience.

One thing that is different is that at school I’m usually the team lead. In lots of my past experiences in work and school that has been the case as well. I’d really like to think I could follow as well, but it probably depends on the leader.

I set out at the beginning with the idea that we were here to have fun and not to worry about having the best project in the room. I did not want to be that stressed out over the team project because they don’t really grade them or anything. So I picked my teammates with that goal in mind, because they seemed okay with the lower expectations to begin with.

Over the course of the week we did manage to keep it fun for the most part. I think we kept things pretty well balanced between everyone on the group. Everyone did get to contribute something significant. I was pleased with that part, and it’s the main reason I call the project a success.

We had some features that we didn’t get implemented, but we had a pretty solid set of features that were working well for our demonstration. We had a major setback on the first day trying to get Angular to talk to Firebase and revised our project to use Ember instead. That left us with 2 days to complete the project and so I don’t think anyone feels bad about the missing features. It was a nice project for 2 days…

screenshotWe could sign up users and log foods and activities for our demo. All 3 categories had full CRUD implemented. We also had some very solid design. Dean and Garrett did most of the design. Garrett made our custom Octocat with the weights and carrot as a logo. Alex got us some category icons and a drop-down menu (much harder than it should have been…but a good tool to have for future reference). He worked on an API that we didn’t get around to adding and did a significant amount of research about using a date/time picker, which we also did not have time to implement. I handled the database functions with some help from Garrett. And Dean did the bulk of the presentation on Thursday as well as some last minute CSS fixes Thursday morning.

It was nice to feel like we had a balanced group. Doing all the work can be fun and rewarding, but it sucks to sit around watching other people do all the work. I’m going to try harder to make future projects more like this one, even if it means a few less features at the end. At least while I’m in school…

Work is another matter. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Maybe I will just work solo, right? Or the teams will be the kind where everyone gets a keyboard and tasks that match their skills…

JavaScript was difficult.

I wasn’t expecting it to be as hard as it was. And I can’t say why it was so hard. I think it was partly timing. We were all getting kind of burned out about half-way through the class (at least me and the people I eat lunch with seemed to be there). Most were really happy about this weekend being a 3-day weekend because of the holiday. AND we get a week off during the next class for Thanksgiving. Very happy about that as well.

The bootcamp experience is intense. There is plenty of work, and lots of new stuff to learn. I think it’s the new stuff to learn that makes the JavaScript class particularly challenging. I felt like I got it at the end of week 1 and was really happy with my project. But then week 2 introduced a whole new framework and so you start out the week lost again. By the end of the week I felt good about that framework, but then the beginning of week 3 was another new framework…

The constant “lost” feeling has to be part of what makes it seem so hard. I wish we had a whole 5 week class on all 3 of the frameworks, but we didn’t. (And it’s a good thing, because who needs to pay for another 2-3 months of training, right?) I think we are all anxious to get into paying jobs and catch up on some bills, or start growing the savings again. I know I am. Some of the personal stress in the past few weeks has been money related – or related to the lack of money and the need to pinch pennies all the time. I am looking forward to having a regular paycheck again and eliminating that stress from my life!

And Android.  They called us all aside for a special standup where they told us how hard Android was and how much time it was going to take… and by the end of the standup I was wondering if I should have switched to the PHP/Drupal track when I had a chance…

But I’m doing the homework this weekend and it doesn’t seem that bad.

I got started on it Thursday afternoon at school. It’s not at all bad there. The computers all have Android Studio pre-installed and it runs fine there. My laptop is another story.

I’ve been downloading MORE stuff for Android Studio in hopes that maybe it’s what I need to be able to actually RUN the programs I’ve written on my phone, if not on the emulator. If it doesn’t work then I guess I can write the code out on my laptop and debug it at school. But I really would like to be able to develop full apps at home.

Chris says it must be a sign I need a “dev box”… but I don’t know where we would put another computer, especially one that wanted a desk to sit on! I might try installing Android Studio on HIS desktop machine though. I bet he’d be happy enough to be able to watch some TV in the evenings while I do my homework downstairs.

I’m really excited about this last class. I wish they had more internships for Java/Android. I know they don’t expect to have enough for everyone and some of us will be doing more JavaScript instead of Android development. I’ve seen a few interesting JavaScript postings, but I sill hope to get some real experience with Android when that time comes.

Category: Android, Angular.js, Ember.js, Epicodus, JavaScript, Mobile Development | Comments Off on Goodbye JavaScript, Hello Android!