Category Archives: bootcamp

Personal Projects and Four Weeks To Go

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What I’ve been working on in class: learning Javascript, fiddling with JQuery, working with AJAX and Rails with Javascript. The first week with just Javascript and JQuery was a little too easy, this week has been the opposite.

What I’ve been doing outside of class: Working with SparkFun’s Starter Kit to teach myself how to use Arduino and send basic code to the board, poking at Johnny 5, and following Unity tutorials for 2D game making. While I actually think I prefer the backend stuff, I’m incredibly fascinated by Nodebots and seeing the ways that these .

Next week in class is our third project. This apparently is the open ended one, where they tell us to do whatever we want, as long as it involves Rails and AJAX. I’ve had an idea for a personal comic book library app for awhile now (I might have already started user stories *cough*), and might attempt that. For the final project, if we do get to choose to use other languages (which people have done in the past), I know I went to attempt MEAN Stack. Well, unless I really take off with the Nodebots and can do something with them.

Things I need to follow up on: If there is a job that mostly involves User Stories (laugh, but I’m apparently “textbook” at them and I kinda enjoy it now that I’ve gotten the hang of them), what would be the best to use for my game idea (mysterious sounding, but I’ve been talking about it off-line with tons of people, if I can actually manage it I think it will be great fun), and finally finish putting together my tech resume.

I can’t believe this is the end of Week 8. This has gone so quickly. But when I look back at my first-week coding, I think it’s obvious I’ve learned a ton.

UX and Web Design

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This week, we’re working on our second project. Not only are we teamed up with people from the other Web Development Immersive (WDI) class, but all the teams have someone from the User Experience Design Immersive, too. Our first day was almost entirely planning and UX, which was an interesting experience. On Saturday, I took an 8 hour intro to UX class, which had prepared me, at least. I knew what to expect and how one would make wireframes and how to do user research, I knew what basics to expect.

The process is supposed to prepare us for a potential job for a company with UX professionals, though it’s felt somewhat uneven. Most of the UXers aren’t really aware of the technical constraints on projects, and they also don’t know CSS or HTML. Since we don’t have separate front-end and back-end people, our group has separated with two people working on the back-end while I work on the front-end.

I finally have an excuse to use Foundation for something, but working on CSS for days on end can be trying. I miss just fiddling around with Rails and trying new things. I wish this project had been a few weeks later, so we had been learning Javascript and could make these apps even more interactive. And I wish there wasn’t outside-of-our-projects, school-related drama going on at the same time. Emotions are high and it feels like that’s stripped out most of the urgency that we had felt for our first project.

You may have possibly sunk a Battleship at some point

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Last week, Week 3, was our first project week. I was out sick with a bad cold on Tuesday, when they were assigned, and scrambled on Wednesday to catch up. Out of three projects, I was given Battleship. Or, creating a Ruby program for a command line Battleship game. It was generally accepted to be the hardest of the projects and just seeing the directions were overwhelming at first.

Deciding on what type of grid I would use for the board was my first step. It took way too long, but I felt that I had to have the board setup before I could hope to do anything else, since so much would rely on it. Finally, I decided on a one-dimensional array, which I would print out on the screen for people to view. I think it was the simplest method to use and it made finding the actual hits and misses very easy.

The grid printed out the coordinates, as well, and players could just type in the grid location, like you would say in a real life Battleship game, “A1,” “B2,”.

From there, I had to build up the game itself, using While loops and If/Elsif to go through the motions of every possibility that might come up. I created a game table in ActiveRecord, with ships, players, and turns as subtables. Since ActiveRecord isn’t the biggest fan of arrays, separating turns into their own rows and then turning them back into an array later on seemed like a better choice.

It was a harrowing experience, but after the fact it was a great learning opportunity. The fact there were so many ways to go about making the Battleship game meant that it was next to impossible to fall back on anyone else for help, unlike with many past homework experiences where we were able to work basically in a group. So, while it is very important for coding to have experience working with others, it was good to spread my wings and have to rely basically on myself.

(Coincidentally, on Thursday afternoon our class took a fieldtrip to USAToday and part of the presentation we were given involved slides where the person who created them used Battleship as a metaphor. Since most of us were desperate to get done by Friday morning, we shared a slightly hysterical chuckle.)


The necessity to use ActiveRecord to save game information–not just players and scores, but the actual ship locations and previous turns–so people could restart them made things unnecessarily difficult in my opinion. While it was necessary for what we were learning and trying to practice at the time, in a real life situation I feel it’s unlikely anyone would want to restart their Battleship game partway through, as opposed to just starting a new game each time.

Things I wish I’d gotten to:

Changing the places on the grid to reflect a hit or miss (I had started, but had to trash that code because I couldn’t get it to work). Making it look nicer (I had tried to design all my own text art, but realized after the fact I should have just used a website). Adding a two player option (again, something I started, but didn’t get to finish). Separating the game out into more methods, so it’s more compartmentalized and would be easier to switch between single player and two player games.

I also was wondering about how much time this would take in a larger app, how many bits I was taking up that might be a constraint with something else.

You can find my most recent work on the game on Github.




Week Two – SQL

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I’m on the second week of my web development immersive (week 2, day 4). We’ve covered various basics of Ruby and are now on database integration.

Yesterday we worked on SQL, which I actually found enjoyable. It was easy to work out what commands to do and how to move through our homework. I think the difference between the people who had an easy time doing the SQL work and those who struggled was the ability to understand just how much SQL was capable of. Some people in class were setting up entire new tables and performing the necessary actions to solve the homework problems in multiple steps, instead of just one line.

I found SQL such a relief after some of our other work that I feel it was easy to accept that everything we do could be done in one line. I was looking for temporary columns while others were making actual columns and then deleting them after they had finished. For once, I felt ahead of the class, explaining problems to others with confidence. I wish everyday in class could be this easy!

Having such a moment on a Wednesday was good, too, I think, it helped energize me to get over hump day. Hopefully every week from here on out will feature at least one day where I feel on top of things.

The Week Before

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Next week, on Monday, I’ll be starting a 12 week long Web Development bootcamp. I’m nervous, I’m anxious, I’m wondering how the hell I’ll get through it. But I’m also excited.

My very first exposure to computers was on DOS. I still remember learning a few commands alongside of my mother so I could go into the basic computer games and word processor that I loved. A few years later, AOL made it possible to get internet in our home and I branched out. I had websites at places like Geocities and Angelfire, coded by myself using internet tutorials and from studying the source code of other websites to figure out how to do things. In high school, I took a web design extracurricular, and one on C++.

But my main memory of technology from my teen years was in tenth grade, when I wanted to take the Robotics course my school offered. The guidance counselors had to approve our schedules and mine, an old white man, refused to approve that course. It was a “boy’s class.” I still remember sitting there, so angry but feeling absolutely helpless. He ended up adding me to a cooking class, instead.

Sexism in STEM is still around, but I, personally, am no longer scared of it. And while I didn’t have the chance to learn programming before, at this point, this exact place I’m at, I do have three months to take 450+ hours of class.

And even if I’m still a little burned out from undergrad, grad school, and that semester of law school I tried, I’m still going to do this. I have to.