Week 15: I Survived!

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I like to compare coding today to the craft of medieval blacksmithing. It is a skill set that takes time to develop. You cannot be a master blacksmith overnight and neither can one become a master coder overnight. Many days the journey seemed tough, but at the end of each week you can measure how much better you have become. If you work on it everyday you can become better quicker.

This week was the final week in the program for my cohort. Time went by so fast. We knew it would, but could not have anticipated the returns we got by participating in this boot camp with maximum effort. I feel that I was very fortunate to meet such an awesome diverse group of people with various backgrounds all uniting under one roof to do something different with themselves that they were interested in. Throughout the time I have spent in the dojo, it was very clear to me everyday that we all wanted to be there to learn and build things. We did not let any of the difficulties we may have come across stop us in our tracks. I remember during our first stack how long a single error could get us stuck for, sometimes more than an hour. Now today I have seen my fellow peers including myself, ask for help on a problem only to discover the solution themselves.

For the past few months I have dedicated myself to the art of programming. Today I am proud to say that I am a Coding Dojo Triple Black Belt.

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The road was not easy. I could not have done it without the help of my fellow cohort members. I also understand that just because I got a few stickers it doesn’t make me an expert at anything. I find that these achievements symbolize the preparation towards becoming a journeyman programmer. There is still much to learn and this is now just the beginning of an even bigger journey. A few weeks of the residency program and we will soon be off into the developer world to see which path we shall follow.

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The Road to Double Black Belt at the Coding Dojo

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Everyday we have to make the decision as to which of the pains we want to go through for that day. Most days I try to pick the pain of discipline, but since I’m not a robot, sometimes I end up picking the pain of regret by default. As long as I keep improving these disciplines I will eventually get better at not picking the pain of regret.

What does the black belt mean to me?
It is a sign of accomplishment. It shows me that I have put in my maximum effort to download all the information put in front of us during the 4 weeks we have in each stack. Its almost like a tattoo that reflects the pain we endured in order to make it this far. To me it means I have achieved a level of discipline.

My journey so far
The road was definitely rough for me, but at the end of the day its only as rough as you choose to see it. I remember a story my mentor told me about his experiences teaching programming to children. He said that in some aspects it was easier than training adults. The reason behind it is because children don’t have these mental blocks that we develop as we grow up. Children are still testing the world around them to see how far they can go. The don’t have the idea that programming is difficult but rather something that they can learn.

It wasn’t easy mentally and physically. I spent a lot of time before and after hours downloading as much information as I could into my brain. I have been specifically trying to ensure that I have had adequate sleep and physical exercise.

Repetition
In both stacks I had to to take the exam twice. I wasn’t satisfied with my performance on the first try so I did my best to complete the belt prep and 1st exam before taking the exams for a 2nd time. Don’t forget you can take it again anytime after the first.

What it felt like
It felt like the roller coaster I talked about in my previous post. Some days things just clicked in my brain, other days it scrambled my brain to think about some of the algorithms, syntax and so on. I remember the first time I took my exam I was really nervous because I wanted to do really well on it the first time around. I quickly realized that wasn’t going to work for me. I also felt a little stressed about it. Some advice about stressing on the test, don’t do it! This isn’t school. These test are design to show us our progress in this taxing environment. So don’t let your emotions distract you.

What I did
Here are some habits that I have developed that I believed help me during these past two stacks.

Podcast – Developer Tea
I found this podcast because I really wanted to fully immerse myself in the world of computer programming and came across this little gem.(The host is a ruby developer, but most of the topics aren’t technical.)

Reading – Apprenticeships Patters / The Pragmatic Programmer
More supplementary material for my brain. I chose to read books about the craftsmanship or art of programming. These are generally less technical and more about the mindset and journey to becoming a master craftsman.

Organizing – Notes
With all this information given to us during each week, I spend time in the afternoon after each day or on the weekend to organize my notes. I find this very important because I usually end up going back to my notes for reference.

Solid projects – Complete, functioning and all the features implemented
Whenever I start on a new project I usually have another project easily accessible that I can use for reference. These solid projects are usually improved and sometimes built with the help of my peers.

Pair Programming – My favorite way to learn
I’m not a fan of reading a ton of information I find myself getting very sleepy when I read too long … about 30 minutes in then I’m falling asleep. I really enjoy pair programming and hope that people do it more often. I feel like it really accelerates my learning and understanding.

Time – Invest it
Every time the survey pops up asking me how much time I put into the programing I always select 60-70 hours a week. I usually come in early to save time from sitting in traffic and stay late to avoid the evening traffic. During my commute I listen to my podcast. I read my book in the morning and in the evening. It comes down to what you choose to spend your time doing everyday.

Understanding – Don’t just copy and paste
I make an effort be sure I understand most of what is happening in front of me. I’ll be honest though, some days I have no idea what is happening on my computer whether it worked or not. If something is really confusing to me I’ll ask someone next to me to explain it. I remember hearing on the podcast that the best people to learn from are the ones that are just a little a head of you.

Future – Triple / Quadruple Black Belt
Goals:
– Black Belt MEAN Stack
– Black Belt iOS Stack

Hope you enjoyed this little insight into my experiences at the Coding Dojo!

If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to message me.

Happy Coding!

LAMP Stack Black Belt!

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It’s official, I am a black belt in LAMP Stack! After a nervous few days waiting for my exam results, I am glad to say that I have officially become a beginner in LAMP. One would think that by having this prestigious sticker I have moved up higher in the ranks and that I would see myself more than just a beginner. But I don’t.

On the exam I scored a 9.5/10 which is the minimum score needed to gain the rank of black belt. When I saw my score I became relieved that I had passed, because for some unknown reason beyond my control, I really wanted the sticker and the rank. It might be because of my past childhood experiences with Karate. After the excitement had settled I realized that I was not satisfied with my performance. I want to be better. I want to be able to create these projects as accurately and efficiently as possible. I am still and always will be a beginner/apprentice in my craft. I promise to myself to always be hungry and never stay satisfied for too long with my accomplishments. I will challenge myself to create great things.

I plan to retake the exam near the end of the bootcamp to reinforce my knowledge in the subject. Apparently I can also get more stickers by taking the exam and scoring well again. The next time around I aim to get a 10/10! It’s the little incentives that keep me going toward the bigger goals. It was an awesome feeling to be able to take the knowledge I have gained in the past few months and be able to create something that I can share with the world.

More challenges to come!

 

Week 6: Conclusion to LAMP stack

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This week, marked the end of my 1st stack of web development and start of another. My next stack is Ruby On Rails. On Saturday I took my LAMP exam for the second time to much greater success than the first time. I was able to complete the exam within the allotted time. I believe I crushed that exam! I won’t get the results until later in the week but I believe I am a LAMP stack red belt at the Coding Dojo, and possibly a black belt!

I felt so accomplished after the exam I am going start building my portfolio and working on small projects to put more of my new found skills to practice. Time to learn more front end design because thats going to be the first thing people notice about the website. Although from what I have learned in LAMP, back end work comes as a first priority to make sure the website functions as its suppose to.

The exam requirements were as follow:

  • Build a website with the following features and deploy it, to make it live
  • User log in and registration (with validation)
  • The wireframe contains 2 views for the user
  • Users can view friends on their welcome page
  • Add friends
  • Delete friends
  • View people that are not their friends
  • View users profile

The toughest part of the exam for me was running the SQL query for people that are not the users friend. I spend about 1 entire hour of the exam reading about how to write the query and was able to do so! I have to say that out of all the skills I have learned during the LAMP stack I enjoy database and querying the most.

Project Week Presentations

Friday was project presentation day. The presentation were presented in a way were the more recently added cohorts (such as myself) presented first. Then as we progressed through the groups the next cohort presented and so forth. By the end of the presentations it was clear to me how each stack that the individual cohorts completed, their projects became better and better. Some of the groups even claimed to have completed their projects in a matter of a day or two, while I spend most of the week working on mine with my group. It was an awesome experience to work together with new developers to try to build something. I am excited see what more experiences are ahead as we begin our Ruby On Rails track tomorrow!

I wanted to give a shout out and special thanks to all the wonderful people at the dojo! I couldn’t have made it this far without their support throughout the program. There are many days were sometimes it feels as though my progress comes to halt, only to find out the next day that I did learn something no matter how difficult it can be sometimes.

Looking forward to the firehose of learning again!

In the beginning I remember an instructor saying what learning felt like at the dojo. First they turn on a small water source, then at some point in the program they open up the firehose and just douse us with knowledge. They weren’t joking! Until next time!

Happy Coding!

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Its official! I got my Yellow Belt in web fundamentals!

It was such a relief to know that I have learned so much in these past weeks. The main goal of the exam was to clone a webpage that we were given within 4 hours. I forget the exact score I got, but I was very close to replicating the image we were giving. Can’t wait for the next belt!

It took my a long time to decide but I will be putting this on my computer. I am not very fond of putting stickers on my computer but I feel that the Coding Dojo stickers have earned a spot!