How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 8

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Recap: Follow Me from HTML Illiterate to Professional Programmer

In case you haven’t read Week 0 (about my preparation), I am currently a student at a programming bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay Area. I finished college a few months ago, but decided my business degree wasn’t going to let me do what I really wanted: to build rather than manage. This realization and my love for startups (and California) led me to begin working toward a career in software development.


3 Highs:  

The Wonders of Firebase:  Before I build (or rebuild without the bugs!) the backend of myCard, I have been reworking the front-end and using Firebase to post and get my data.  Google recently acquired Firebase, and for very good reason – the product is amazing!  I understood how to use it easily and setting it up hasn’t been too difficult either.  Usually, the back-end has so many details and busy-work involved that its never my favorite thing to set up, but Firebase makes the storing-data-thing easy enough to leave me no excuse to stall on working on the app.

The Beauty of Yeoman:  Now, it isn’t that I’m completely obsessed with shortcuts.  Its just that starting a new project requires so much attention to detail in order to prepare for neat and organized code that it can be very tedious.  Yeoman works beautifully with what I’ve already written in Angular and essentially generates a template of files for me to work in.  It is pre-organized and ready for code – which is perfect for junior programmers who really just need to practice their programming!

Independence:  The past week or so have been pretty chilled out for us in terms of structure.  We have been working on this huge team project, of course, but outside of that, there has been full freedom to learn on our own.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m an incredibly independent learner and feel strongly that self-reliant learning is the most sustainable kind.  As a result, I have been more productive than usual this week and looking back at my checklist of completed tasks gives me warm fuzzies…which are, of course, attacked by ice pellets when I look at the rest of the list…


3 Lows:  

Buggy Back-ends:  Back to myCard – buggy code sucks.  It quits working randomly without any apparent reason and takes way too long to get going again.  As a result, I’ve had to make the difficult decision of scrapping my entire back-end code as it is and will be using Firebase instead to optimize the front end before messing with Node (or maybe Rails) again.  It was definitely a difficult decision considering the work that went into it all, but I also think its the right decision for the project!

Cold Emails:  Well, emails are a bit better than cold calling, but only marginally.  I do understand these emails are important to my job search, but sending busy start-up heads yet another email they have to sort through from someone they’ve never spoken to just hits a level of awkwardness that I’m not a fan of.  Lets just say there have been several cold emails this week sent from my address and I haven’t loved sending any of them…except for when I get an enthusiastic response.  I only email companies I really love, and getting a response that is just as excited about my excitement is great!

Issues with Terminal:  This has been a low throughout the bootcamp, but I’ve had more issues than normal with terminal this past week, which has made working on our group project difficult for me since I spend all my time working on figuring out why I’m getting a hundred lines of error messages.  Luckily, I have Samer to help me debug – but I definitely need to find a solid tutorial on best practices when using the terminal.

The Immersion:  

Hacking Spaces:  After the bootcamp ends, I need a place to continue to work on my projects and network.  I’ve been looking for a place where I can talk to other developers, but also have time to myself to work silently.  There are actually hacking spaces nearby like Hacker Dojo, but I have to keep the monthly fees in mind and the fact that I don’t have a car yet.  Any work space deserves some thought and consideration, so I’ve been spending some time each day finding the ideal place to set up shoppe!

Call for Nonprofits:  I’ve been heavily involved with nonprofits and my community my whole life, and have been able to bring this into my career as a developer as well.  Several nonprofits in my hometown have asked me to build them a simple, single page website that can get across the message of who they are and what they do without overwhelming the visitor with text.  This is great practice for me since I can practice with basic front-end development and build my portfolio and it doesn’t generally take more than a day’s work.  So I’ve decided to continue with this at least once a month on a Sunday, when I will dedicate the day to building something for a nonprofit organization.  Send me a message if you’re interested for your nonprofit!


Takeaway Advice

  • Try new things – you’ll find invaluable shortcuts that will make your life infinitely easier!
  • Make writing clean code a goal from the very beginning, otherwise you will end up with buggy code that needs to be re-written from scratch anyway.
  • Take on personal projects and do them for free!  You will have a great way to give back to the community, build your portfolio, and get some great practice along the way!

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Online Learning Beyond MOOCs

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Massive Open Online Courses are fantastic ways to get a structured education without the typical associated costs, but they often take a long time to get through.  A MOOC could take anywhere from a few days to a few months.  There are other ways to learn something new online within 60 minutes, though.


TED Talks

TED Talks might not give you a thorough understanding of Design or Accounting, but many can help you develop a opinion by taking a new spin on things.  They are generally pretty short (some even as short as 5 minutes) and send a message, whether it may be to inform you about an issue, explain a new way of thinking about an existing topic, or inspire you to take a stand or some sort of action.  There are tons of them on Netflix and all over the internet.  Here are a couple great ones to check out.




YouTube Tutorials

Can’t remember how to use a specific feature on Excel?  Or maybe you need to learn how to apply heavy makeup for an awesome costume party.  YouTube has all sorts of awesome vloggers who put up interesting tutorials covering all sorts of topics.  The advantage here is that you can even make requests for something you need to quickly learn to complete a project.  Here are a couple of extremely popular YouTubers!




Helpouts by Google

YouTube tutorials are awesome, but what if its going too fast or you don’t understand a part of it?  Some people just learn better from a live teacher.  For them, Google Helpouts saves the day.  Helpouts lets teachers post their expertise, the duration they are willing to devote to a video, and price (although many are free).  Some Helpouts are pre-recorded and work largely like any other video tutorial, but others allow you to set up a time to meet with a live tutor who can walk you through a task or even teach you about a particular topic like a school teacher or college professor would.  Curious to learn more?  Check out this intro video.



A lot of fantastic learning happens in a classroom setting (in person or through open online courses), but even more happens just by picking up on what is going on around you and by immersing yourself into a project that you need to look up information in order to complete.


ryanlerch_Green_-_Query_IconCareer Tip:  You can add achievements to your Accredible profile that aren’t courses your registered for through our course finder feature!  Just click on the ‘add course’ button on your profile and select the wrench to customize your entry and add your projects and courses completed outside of MOOCs.  Then remember to link your Accredible profile to your LinkedIn page so your connections can check out all your accomplishments!

MOOC News and Views Roundup (Week of 6/23-6/29)


New Courses

Udacity announced 4 more classes in their partnership with Google. In addition to the mini-class Web Performance Optimization (covered by Accredible here), there are 3 full-length classes: 

Accredible covered all 4 of these last week here.
Here is the list of Canvas classes that started last week (there’s still time to catch up!) and Coursera classes starting this month.

What is Team Accredible learning?

Our blog editor Elizabeth continues OpenLearning’s Gamification class and she just finished Week 4, which covered the use of scenarios as levellers. If you want to catch up on the previous weeks, here is Week 3Week 2, and Week 1.


Udacity now has an Android app. It includes everything Udacians have come to expect with the iOS ones, with offline video viewing capability coming in the near future. Download it on the Google Play store.

Google and Carnegie Mellon are working on combating the high attrition rate for MOOCs. As Venture Beat reports,  the project “overhaul the way people perceive MOOCs.” CM researches have argued that MOOCs fail to keep students interested because they lack the traditional systems that in-person ones use. It’ll be interesting to see what this research reveals, so stay tuned. 

Coursera is holding the “Coursera Cup” which is a leaderboard ranking countries with the most active Courserans per capita. Right now Singapore is in the lead. Check where your country stands, and then start learning!

OpenLearning participated in Australia’s annual CEO Sleepout, a fundraiser in which business leaders sleep in the streets to raise money and awareness for homelessness. Read about his experience on the OpenLearning blog.

edX’s first partner university from France, Sorbonne Universités, has joined the platform. Classes will be offered starting Spring of next year, and will include each of the universities in the Sorbonne.

Udacity + Google = Awesome courses & Android app!


Today Udacity had two new announcements relating to Google: a new app and new classes.

The App


Two months ago Udacity released an iOS app, and today they’re releasing their Android app. Other than the ability to download videos for off-line learning, everything learners have come to expect on the iOS app is available on the Android one.

The Classes

Udacity recently added a few more classes to their collection of ones developed in partnership with Google. The original ones were HTML5 Game Development and Mobile Web Development. Here are the new ones:

udacityshortWebsite Performance Optimization is a mini-class that the Accredible Blog covered last week. Learn how to make your website load quickly and efficiently, leading to happier users, customers and/or visitors. No experience is necessary other than knowledge of HTML, CSS and Javascript.




Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 7.44.20 PMLearn how to best use Google App Engine to build applications that scale well in Developing Scalable Apps. The class will encompass a final project, building a tool similar to All the frontend will be provided; your job will be to build the scalable backend. Prior experience programming and working with databases is necessary.



uxAre you a developer with rusty design chops? Then UX Design for Mobile
 is the class for you! The difference between User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) will be covered, and the class is designed to give you the most useful and applicable design techniques. There are no prerequisites for this class.




The last class, Developing Android Apps, is still being created, but you can see a sneak preview (Lesson 1) right now. The class will guide you to develop a cloud-connected Android app, as well as learn the principles and tools used in Android development. Prerequisites are knowledge of an object-oriented programming language.
Let us know on Twitter or Facebook which class you’re most excited about, and happy learning!


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