Starting the MEAN Stack With Javascript

Looking Back – Starting MEAN – First Up – Javascript

Algorithms:

This week we’re doing morning algorithms with Stacks and Queues and boy is it excited! J/K, not really.

I think once I get past the LIFO and the FIFO principles to decide how to retrieve values from a linked list or an array, I’ll feel much better about these guys.

I finally received my results back from the retake of my exam and I earned a 9/10 which I knew I where I had issues and I talk my instructor about it when I returned to the Dojo so there was no surprise on that part. I accumulated enough points to receive my Red Belt! It’s definitely not the black belt I was hoping for BUT I certainly have come along way these past 4 weeks than I ever did on my own so I am happy about that.

Javascript:

We started Javascript  on Monday going through the fundamentals, Tuesday we went through object oriented principles and then Wednesday we complete the Advanced topics of Javascript. Since, we’ve been doing all our morning algorithms in Javascript and have already conquered one stack, I was feeling pretty confident about the Javascript assignments.

My favorite was the Deck of Cards Assignment where you create a deck of 52 cards, shuffle them and deal then to a player all outputting into the console. I was pretty proud of myself for getting that far with the assignment. This project can be found here: https://github.com/tthompson899/deck_of_cardsJS, currently it only shuffles and deals to a player. In our last stack we had the same assignment in LAMP, unfortunately, I was too behind to even try to attempt it, this time, the MEAN stack was unlocked on Sunday when I’ve been working for the past weeks so I was able to look at the material and do the first assignment which definitely boasted my confidence.

I managed to tackle the assignment creating the Fibonacci numbers in the Advanced Javascript section, it was the last mandatory assignment and it took me a pencil/paper, lots of thinking and about an hour or so to figure out but I managed to get it working by creating a temp variable to hold my sum value in for my else statement. I played with the temp a little bit until I ran it and figured out that it had finally executed correctly. Felt great, to get the spend so much time racking my brain and then to finally come up with a solution! I put this on github, check it out here: https://github.com/tthompson899/Fib-Nacci_JS

Looking Back April 28, 2016- April 29, 2016

Looking Back:

Thursday April 28, 2016:

The next day, we took our belt exams, I didn’t pass but I went in knowing I probably wasn’t going to but instead, knowing the exam would be great practice for my retake. In turns out, I wasn’t the only person who did poorly, majority of the cohort with the exception of 3 had to retake the exam. We spent the day after the exam taking turns going up completing part of the exam as a group as we did as a smaller group the days before but this time using github to collaborate. This process again took much of the day so I didn’t do much additional practice on my own. I spent my weekend catching up on assignments and starting to go back over the exam on my own so I was comfortable with the entire process from creating an ERD in MySQL workbench to deploying on Amazon Web Services.

It was project week and since I had to retake my exam, I spent the week preparing for the test by redoing the exam we just took but on my own this time. This process to much of my time as I wanted to make sure I understood what was going on at each point so I wouldn’t make the same mistakes when I finally took the exam. The rest of the week was filled with algorithms featuring linked lists, folks doing their projects and others studying for their exam retake.

I decided to not go into the Dojo on Thursday so I could have some quiet to take my test. Many times, I need to talk things out and am not able to hear myself think with others having their own conversations so I stayed at home and started my test at about 8am. The whole test takes 4 1/2 hours and I know I needed to deploy my project as well, which I needed to watch the video that was prerecorded by our instructor, even though I’ve watched it in the past, I wanted to follow it step by step and knew I hadn’t learnt the instructions by heart as of yet.

I was working on a tough query when I had about an hour left, I felt confident on everything else but was unable to execute this query to get the information I had knowing that it would take me longer than I had available so I bit the bullet and decided to work on deploying since I knew it from taking the test last time that it was worth a healthy portion of our scores. I was doing well until I ran into an error with my SQL table – For Amazon Web Services, you have to change the localhost and password in order for it to work on Ubuntu server. Before I noticed this, I remember putting my files into another folder, by doing so caused the changes I had made to the database file to not take place in my current folder. Thus in such, causing the demise of me getting a black belt in the LAMP stack. I researched, couldn’t find anything and time was running out so I decided to go ahead and turn in what I had along with the ip address where my project was supposed to running on AWS. While turning in it, the exam platform didn’t recognize the zipped file I had uploaded so I rushed to e-mail it to the instructor also sending him a message on Slack explaining the situation.

I was pretty frustrated so I took a step back from the computer after the test and came back after a while to redeploy my project…I was going to get it up and running one way or another. I was able to deploy but it was under a different ip address than my instructor had so I knew it didn’t count but it did allow me to see where I made my mistakes and to ensure I did not do that again.

FRIDAY – April 29, 2016:

It was the last day of project week and I was pretty anxious considering I didn’t have a project and we didn’t have access to our next stack yet so my instructor suggested I look at AJAX, so I did. In the afternoon, there were 2 project presentations and afterwards I called it an evening.

Looking Back – Finishing up the LAMP Stack

Looking Back – Finishing up the LAMP Stack

Thursday April 28, 2016:

The next day, we took our belt exams, I didn’t pass but I went in knowing I probably wasn’t going to but instead, knowing the exam would be great practice for my retake. In turns out, I wasn’t the only person who did poorly, majority of the cohort with the exception of 3 had to retake the exam. We spent the day after the exam taking turns going up completing part of the exam as a group as we did as a smaller group the days before but this time using github to collaborate. This process again took much of the day so I didn’t do much additional practice on my own. I spent my weekend catching up on assignments and starting to go back over the exam on my own so I was comfortable with the entire process from creating an ERD in MySQL workbench to deploying on Amazon Web Services.

It was project week and since I had to retake my exam, I spent the week preparing for the test by redoing the exam we just took but on my own this time. This process to much of my time as I wanted to make sure I understood what was going on at each point so I wouldn’t make the same mistakes when I finally took the exam. The rest of the week was filled with algorithms featuring linked lists, folks doing their projects and others studying for their exam retake.

I decided to not go into the Dojo on Thursday so I could have some quiet to take my test. Many times, I need to talk things out and am not able to hear myself think with others having their own conversations so I stayed at home and started my test at about 8am. The whole test takes 4 1/2 hours and I know I needed to deploy my project as well, which I needed to watch the video that was prerecorded by our instructor, even though I’ve watched it in the past, I wanted to follow it step by step and knew I hadn’t learnt the instructions by heart as of yet.

I was working on a tough query when I had about an hour left, I felt confident on everything else but was unable to execute this query to get the information I had knowing that it would take me longer than I had available so I bit the bullet and decided to work on deploying since I knew it from taking the test last time that it was worth a healthy portion of our scores. I was doing well until I ran into an error with my SQL table – For Amazon Web Services, you have to change the localhost and password in order for it to work on Ubuntu server. Before I noticed this, I remember putting my files into another folder, by doing so caused the changes I had made to the database file to not take place in my current folder. Thus in such, causing the demise of me getting a black belt in the LAMP stack. I researched, couldn’t find anything and time was running out so I decided to go ahead and turn in what I had along with the ip address where my project was supposed to running on AWS. While turning in it, the exam platform didn’t recognize the zipped file I had uploaded so I rushed to e-mail it to the instructor also sending him a message on Slack explaining the situation.

I was pretty frustrated so I took a step back from the computer after the test and came back after a while to redeploy my project…I was going to get it up and running one way or another. I was able to deploy but it was under a different ip address than my instructor had so I knew it didn’t count but it did allow me to see where I made my mistakes and to ensure I did not do that again.

FRIDAY – April 29, 2016:

It was the last day of project week and I was pretty anxious considering I didn’t have a project and we didn’t have access to our next stack yet so my instructor suggested I look at AJAX, so I did. In the afternoon, there were 2 project presentations and afterwards I called it an evening.

An Update 6 Weeks Into Bootcamp

Looking Back:

It’s been an exhausting 6 weeks full of learning and constant ‘Aha’ moments at the Coding Dojo.

I joined the cohort on March 21st, along with 12 others hoping to delve deep into coding in hopes of finding work in the end. Along the way, 12 turned into 10, turned into 9…There’s only 9 faithful people left as we enter the 7th week of the program. I’m not going to lie, it’s been pretty tough, I’ve thought about giving up a few times myself but the alternative would be not having anything to go back to. You see, I quit my job of being an Analyst on March 18th so, this is really my only option; I don’t have any regrets though, I would do it all over it again in a heartbeat and wish I would have done it sooner.

At the Dojo, I am constantly challenged, there’s many things I don’t know and few that I actually do. I came into the program with some knowledge of HTML/CSS, PHP and MySQL but couldn’t fit all the pieces together into a program that actually made sense.

The Format:

My schedule for the past 6 weeks has been waking up at 5:15am (which I don’t mind, I’m more productive in the mornings), catching the train out to Downtown Dallas at 7:14am, arriving at the Dojo at 7:55am, settling in, morning algorithms at 8:30am, lecture at 10am, lunch at 12/12:30pm, group project in the afternoon and catch the train at 6:59pm. I get home about 7:45pm, eat and am back on my computer by 8:30pm and usually don’t get off until 10:30-11pm after which, I go to bed and repeat the next day. I’m glad I get to stay busy, I get anxious/restless when there’s nothing to do.

With a program that’s 14 weeks long and 3 stacks to learn, I’ve learned to do my best, grasp the basics and feel comfortable with it and not sweat about the things I don’t know right now. There’s so much to learn in programming there’s no way you can learn everything. We have belt exams for every stack to take everything we learn and build a site or application with it to grade our skill level.

First 2 Weeks – Web Fundamentals:

We started the first 2 weeks with web fundamentals – HTML/CSS, thinking back on it, everything we did seems so easy to execute now although at the time, it was kind of frustrating to make everything centered on the page and all the divs line up correctly…those were the good ‘ol days. In web fundamentals, you earn a yellow belt if you pass the exam. I had to take the exam a second time in the second week because of the aforementioned statement (couldn’t get my divs to line up)…I got it right the second try though; Practice does indeed make almost perfect 😉 (I got a 9.5 out of 10).

Our first stack – LAMP:

The 3rd week we started out with MySQL, I was fairly comfortable with CRUD statements so it was breeze until we started joining, not that I never heard of it, it just took more brain power to figure out which joins needed to happen when to get the data you wanted. We also started on PHP which was pretty good, I enjoyed that part. The following week we moved on toward Object oriented Programming and boy did that throw me for a loop at first only because I was still fuzzy for the marrying of PHP and MySQL together. After many group activities and assignments in the Coding Dojo platform, I understood the purpose of it. Then we moved on to using the MVC framework CodeIgniter and boy was that a bully at first. Again, I’ve heard of MVC but wasn’t sure how to the flow worked. After understanding, that the controller does most of the bossing around and model and view can never speak to one another, the only thing left to do was insert your code and make things appear on the screen. The week of our belt exam for PHP/MySQL/CodeIgniter: the instructor gathered the people who weren’t so confident in the framework to work on a project together – there ended up being 5 of us total working on a project from the platform which included: displaying a list of products, adding a product and removing the product. We all decided it was great practice to help us prepare for the exam so we gathered together the next day to work on an larger project which would take up most of the day with the instructor being available to help when needed. This project resembled the old Facebook platform in which you login, you can post messages, others can post replies to your messages and you can post messages on their page. It was pretty tough when we had to get the messages from other users to post on the person that’s logged in (the queries had to be just right to get the information you needed). It was definitely well worth taking the time out to complete as a group.

I’m going to wrap this post up here and continue on another post – Don’t want it to be too long. I hope to post more frequently since we’re starting a new stack this Monday.

My Decision to Attend a Bootcamp

I’ve been saying for a couple years now that if I just quit my job and work diligently, I would be able to get a job as a Developer. Well, I never had to guts to quit until January 2016.

My journey to attend a bootcamp starts in January 2016 when I got rejected from yet another Entry Level Developer job. I was fed up and believed that I had the experience to get the job considering I went to college and studied some coding (in PHP, MySQL, HTML/CSS) and have been focused on Web Development for a year and half but nonetheless, I was looked over.

At the end of January 2016, I fasted with my church (The Daniel Fast) and focused my fast on finding the direction for my career because the job I was at just wasn’t cutting it for me (there was no creativity being a Data Analyst and my job was tedious and redundant). I was looking on Course Report one day and a bootcamp called Coding Dojo appeared on my screen (it was listed on the site, it stood out to me so I clicked on their website). I believe it was only God that lead me to the site because to this day, I have no idea how or why I was even on coursereport.com.

I liked what I saw on the site, individuals expressing how excited they were about code and how confident they’d become in learning to code and this spoke to me. I applied after a couple days of lingering around their site; I scheduled an interview the very next day with little time to prepare for the coding portion. During the interview, I showed my reservations about my confidence in code and was encouraged by the interviewer to talk it out and surprisingly I was able to come up with conclusions to find the answers in the code. On Monday, I received in an e-mail congratulating me on being accepted into the bootcamp.

WOW! I thought, I have to quit my job now, there’s no turning back. From the time I signed up to the interview, I started putting more of my Faith in God and watching Him work in my life, I mean, I couldn’t forget that He’s the one that brought me this far. I began applying for loans through my banks, through the loan companies provided on their site and received a ‘No’ from every one of them. It was disappointing to say the least but I kept praying for answers. By Friday (5 days after being accepting into the bootcamp), I ran out of places to apply and sent an e-mail to the Dojo explaining to them I was unable to afford the bootcamp. I was answered back with another suggested loan company earnest.com – I applied that day, they needed more information from me by that evening so I responded immediately. From reading their reviews, the process took most 7 -10 business days so I kept checking in with customer service a couple times and finally on the 10th day when my hope was wavering, I received confirmation that my loan had been approved.

I notified the Dojo after the acceptance of the loan terms and began getting excited to learn with like-minded individuals who just want to code!

I am nervous, excited and scared – I’m quitting my job, using my savings (Thanks Dad for teaching me how to save at an early age :] ) and starting a new journey with what I hope to be some awesome people.

Social Good + Technology = Happiness for All

I recently went to a Holiday Meetup Mashup sponsored by ThoughtWorks in Dallas that was centered around the idea of bringing social good and technology together to create helpful solutions to issues.

The event began with you signing in and grabbing your pre printed name tag if you RSVP’d, they also suggested everyone put a star sticker on their name tag with a color to indicate if you are a non profit in need of help (red), a technologist who can offer help (green) or whether you were there to enjoy the event (gold). I thought the process made it easier for everyone to be identified.

There was an hour of social/networking time before the eight lightning talks began. The talks varied from specific non profits speaking on how they needed help to developers who have helped non profits and continue to do so.

I especially enjoyed the talks given about The Texas Parks and Wildlife and <Bold Idea>. The parks and wildlife talk wanted to bring together technology and the outdoors since most kids are on their electronic devices. The speaker wanted to marry to two ideas together. <Bold Idea> needed volunteers and developers to help mentor kids who enjoy tech. The idea is to hone in on their skills while they are young so they have a healthy exposure to it at an early stage in their life.

After the lightning talks, it was networking time. I also had a chance to speak to the organizer of the event and give feedback and connect with some people in the non profit industry who needed tech help. They also had a wall where you can add your contact info to a post-it note and tag it on the wall and those who needed help can put there info as well so we could connect. I thought it was brilliant, especially if you were in a hurry.

The event ended when you put your name tag into one of three buckets to indicate how you enjoyed the event: Enjoyed it, somewhat liked it or hated it. I sneaked a peek and found that most enjoyed the event.

I plan to get involved with mentoring in the <Bold Idea> project and see if I can come up with some ideas for the Texas Parks and Wildlife. Oh, and organizer mentioned they wanted to schedule a hackathon in the near future, can’t wait for that!

All and all, the event was awesome and I look forward to many more!

My Web Developer Story

In the beginning, I had a Macintosh Apple computer when I was elementary school, I played games on it mostly until we got dial up internet. I was enamored by the fact that I could talk to people that were around the globe and utilize the web. Further along in life, while in college, I was trying to figure out what to major in and decided to go along with Business Management based on the fact that since my parents owned their own business that I should at least know how to manage one for the future.

While taking one of my business classes, an intro MIS course, which consisted of learning Microsoft Excel, Access and Powerpoint, I was introduced to the idea that I could major in MIS, at the time I had no idea what it was and I was not really interested in changing my major. About a year later, I was apart the Relay for Life organization at my university where one of our members was in charge of updating the website…I was intrigued and she told me more about what she was majoring in, which was MIS. Her advice was to talk to the head of the department and find out if I was interested. During my visit with the head of the department, I was advised to take a summer course at a local community college to see if the field would be of interest to me. I did so and took my first Visual Basic C++ course; I loved the fact that I could see instant results of what I created. Most of my projects where arithmetic related but it was awesome to see that there was a language I could program on a computer with to make these results appear. I returned the following fall semester ready to change my major to MIS and in doing so was required to take a mix of Computer Science and business courses.

I struggled along in my data structures course, but managed to make it through. I was beginning to wonder if I should throw in the towel; in the end, I liked the industry as a whole enough that I would muddle through it until I figured it out.

In the following semester, I was taking several courses in PHP and MySQL and I thoroughly enjoyed the information presented and doing projects in those courses.

Query from ProjectI believe it had something to do with the fact that I was able to print data from a database onto a webpage. At any rate, I also took a course which introduced me to Microsoft Frontpage which I used to make a web site for my parents business (newly updated at tandtenterprises.net).

As my college days were winding down, I took a course in HTML/CSS which was I found really refreshing because I could open up a blank text document and start writing HTML/CSS that would eventually be available for the world to see.

First HTML/CSS Site

My senior year, I took my final MIS course which consisted of our class learning ASP.Net to build a website for a nonprofit organization that needed a website to showcase the steps a high school student should complete in order to get into college. I enjoyed the entire process: creating themes on poster board and sharing it with the team, helping to create the CSS and finally each of us coded a page for the site; we shared our results with a couple reps from the nonprofit organization. The project was meant to be sort of like a mockup; we started it and other people would continue to build on what was started with.

Plan for AJX Non Profit Site Senior Project

All in all, I enjoyed my journey into web development, after college, I assumed I would just get a job in tech and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, the jobs I did land, had nothing to do with me programming and I figured out that I need more experience than I had in order to be in the career I wanted. In 2014, I decided I would turn things around for myself: I joined meetups geared towards web development, I setup and created my own website and towards the end of the year, I had a couple interviews but sadly received no offer. This year, I decided to give my website a face lift going through the design and development process and after taking breaks from meetups, I decided to start back up again and am thoroughly enjoying it.

I’m currently enhancing my bootstrap skills; I am going through the book called Step By Step Bootstrap to develop using a framework. I plan on using the skills I learn to redo the Kerala Association website (a nonprofit I created a mockup site for).

I’ve also been delving into the design process more and have been going through some Photoshop lessons to challenge myself to take a PSD to HTML.

All in all, things are looking up for me and I hope to join the many in the tech industry as a Web Developer soon!

Fear

Fear: Where does it come from? For me fear starts when I think I’m about to become great at something. I get into the task and get to a point where I can say “Hey, I can do this” then ‘fear’ takes over. What is the fear that I speak of? Fear of myself and my thoughts and more than most likely failing because I thought I would do so well.

Instead of being afraid, we should see fears as a challenge to overcome. We’re normally afraid because we haven’t conquered a certain fear yet or we’re afraid of what others might think. If we instead think of fear as a challenge and dive right in then there won’t be any regrets later, doing so, we may even find out another strength about ourselves.

So instead of cowering in a corner, be bold and conquer the challenge!

Fear my friends is yourself. Stop fearing and face it!