Sunday, April 15, 2012

Code Academy Week 1

Back to blogging on a weekly basis.  I tried to keep up with it before, but kind of came to a point where I was too busy to sit down and type my thoughts out.  Neil, Mike, and the other members of the Code Academy team encourage weekly blogging.  I am going to be totally honest and share what I find to have been easy, hard, and even stupid mistakes.  I know sometimes I am afraid to admit stupid mistakes, especially when it seems I am the only one that is making them.  It is also hard sometimes to reach out for help when you feel the area you struggle with is something that everyone else has mastered already.  By sharing these experiences on my blog, I hope it encourages others to feel free to admit when they need help.

Week 1 went by in a flash.  Only ten more weeks until demo day.  This week was pretty laid back.  Tuesday was consumed with introductions, general info, and some playing around with html and css.  We also created our first ever ruby file.  Thursday ramped up a bit.  We started learning more about some of the ruby methods and how to create our own methods.  We were also introduced to lists and how to create and extract data from an array or hash.  I can see that we will be building upon concepts pretty quickly.  I am trying to create a habit of immediately after class trying out all the examples we worked on in class to see if I can complete them by memory.  I was actually surprised at how much I had to revert back to notes when going through these problems only 1 hour after class ended.  This is a pretty good indication that I need to practice more, so that is what I did this weekend.  We were assigned a simple shopping cart exercise to work on over the weekend, and I decided to sit down last night and take a stab at it.  I was able to get about 90% of it completed on my own.  I struggled to complete the last part of the exercise which was make the code change the quantity of one of the items in my shopping cart.  I knew exactly what to do, but I kept getting an error.  After trying to figure out what was going on for nearly an hour, I cracked and took a peek at the answer.  I had typed the following statement:

shopping_cart[1[:quantity]] = 3
print_total(shopping_cart, sales_tax, params)
My mistake was that I thought ":quantity" needed to be included within the array item number's "[ ]".  After looking at the correct solution, I found out that it should look like:

shopping_cart[1][:quantity] = 3
print_total(shopping_cart, sales_tax, params)
I guess this is my first taste of pulling my hair out for an hour.  I was trying to debug something that is such an obvious oversight to me after the fact.  I guess that is all part of the learning process.

Another interesting thing that happened this week was that I met my mentor Don Bora.  I think this was the most exciting part of my week.   Don is one of three owners of Eight Bit Studios in Chicago.  Come to find out, Don has a passion for transforming education in the same way that I do.  He has worked on many projects in the past that are focused on education.  I think this is going to be an awesome fit for me as I look to build Reading Glue during the next 3 months.  I am not sure if this pairing was intentional or not.  If it was intentional, then bravo to Dave Hoover or whoever put this pairing together.

Today I am working on Chapter 2 of the Hartl Ruby on Rails Tutorial and also chapter 7 of Learn to Program by Chris Pine.  It is only one week and I know a lot more then what I ever had before.  I am so pumped about the exciting atmosphere of Code Academy.  My classmates are all very inspiring.  I said it before, and I will say it again.  This quarter we are going to see some magic happen in Chicago.

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