How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 7

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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:  

Confidence:  I am a junior developer, which means that I have learned about 1% thus far of what there is to know about computer programming.  Still, there are several things that I can now contribute to a project!  Going from never having so much as written a simple HTML form to building apps (albeit simple ones) in the MEAN Stack within 8 week has been a bumpy, but satisfying ride.  Development in general is a field that requires constant learning to stay up to date.  This is one of the things I love about it and exactly what keeps me motivated to keep learning!  After all, not being able to do something is a lot better than not having the confidence to learn how to do it.

Refactoring:  We have been working on project as a group for a large telecommunications company that is due on Thursday to the client.  As one may assume, this requires a LOT of double-checking, error-hunting, and bug-fixing.  Programmers call this process ‘refactoring’ and it has been blessing for me in that it gives me the opportunity to review what we have done and make sure I understand it.  I’ve probably learned more while refactoring than I have in an actual lecture!

Getting Back into the World:  My isolation during my learning time has been very much self-imposed.  I did it because I needed to focus, and it isn’t a decision that I regret at all.  However, now that the core learning process (at this particular bootcamp, at least) is ending, its pretty nice to start breaking free of Stockholm Syndrome and getting back in touch with my friends and the outside world!  I’ve been talking to new people during the job search and am getting ready to go see more of the Bay Area!

 

3 Lows:  

Cover Letters:  Anybody who knows me knows that I love writing.  Blog articles, fiction, nonfiction – I write everything, and I really enjoy it.  Unfortunately this does not carry over to writing cover letters.  Traditional cover letters seem plastic and void of personality, but writing one with ‘too much personality’ looks unprofessional.  Getting the right tone down for the right company is basically a guessing game, and figuring out which companies want ‘buzzwords’ and which don’t is practically impossible.  So basically, the chances of winning at writing any given cover letter is very slim.  Being in the middle of a job search, however, I get to write several cover letters a day.  Yay…on the bright side, at least I get to write something every day!

Giving up the Marketing:  I moved into development after spending some time as a Digital Marketing Consultant, so pretty much all my work history and internships thus far (yes, I am fresh out of college so there isn’t a ton of it) is in business and marketing.  Getting rid of these things from my resume has been painful – almost like I’m erasing four years of hard work.  Luckily, I can retain a few things since several Digital Marketing skills are actually relevant to development – but the sheer amount work that must be deleted is awful!

Project Crunch Time: For those of your who have been reading this series for the past several weeks, you know that I have been working on several personal projects – including myCard.  You also know that I love working on my own on these projects and value this time as some of the best learning opportunities I’ve had.  However, being rushed to finish is never fun!  Fact is, I need to really begin building a portfolio and there isn’t much time left to get it done if I want a somewhat nice one before leaving the bootcamp, but rushing to get it done is still a frustrating process!  Check on me in two weeks to see if the final product was worth the hard work – hint: it probably will be!

 

The Immersion:  

Craigslist:  I come from the Midwest where Craigslist is not generally what one trusts to find an apartment or job.  Apparently, its perfectly trustworthy here in the Bay Area, though!  Several people have suggested I get on with my job search on Craigslist…which has been pretty awesome.  Learning something new every day!

Caffeine Overload:  I am overloaded on caffeine.  This is something I plan to completely get rid of after the end of my 9 Weeks here, so the process of detaching myself has begun.  Surprisingly enough, I’m not crankier or more tired than usual as a result – in fact, its amazing how much better I feel.  True, I get tired earlier, but I guess going to bed by midnight instead of 3 AM is more a good thing than a bad one.

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Be confident in whatever you do!  Not being able to do something is not nearly as bad as not having the confidence to learn how to do it.
  • Cover letters have always sucked and will continue to do so regardless of the industry in which you are applying for jobs.  Get used to it.
  • If you live in the Bay Area, Craiglist is awesome!  Make it your best friend!

Exploits in Education: Week 5

EIE 844

Welcome back!

Grab a tall, refreshing drink, sit back, relax and settle in for a read!  This week we are looking at leadership.  What is a leader?  What is the role of women in leadership?  These are tough topics…

Before we begin, let’s clarify a few points for the sake of transparency.  I am a woman.  I am a woman who has been in leadership roles in business, in various organizations and at home.  I can’t give you a straight answer on what a leader is, what makes a good leader or how to get more women in visible leadership roles

I hope you noticed the word “visible”.  It’s an important term and we will come back to it later on.

What is a leader?

Yikes!  This is a tough one.  What makes a good leader isn’t the same as what makes a good manager.  I can only share my personal views on this, so here goes.

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Sir Robert Baden-Powell who created the Scouting/Guiding movement that developed so many of our leaders today…

1) I don’t believe in the “Leaders are born, not created” mentality.  I think people become leaders when the situation requires it – for some, that may be daily, for others intermittently, and others still, next to never.  It’s those times we step outside of ourselves and our comfort zones to make sure that the right thing happens for the collective.

2) Charisma may come into play, but I think a sense of responsibility and fairness is more important.  An overly charismatic person comes across as slimy to me.  Confidence is important too.

3) A sense of common good and actually caring about the people around them.  Getting to know their team, their strengths and opportunities, finding ways to draw out the best in the people around them. Finding ways to develop a shared goal that creates win-win situations amongst the group. An interest in developing the people around them is key.

4) Position in a hierarchy may play a role, but isn’t the defining factor for me.  I’ve met new hires who were better able to rally the troops than the department manager.  One would hope that a manager would be a leader, but often promotions occur not because someone is a good leader or manager, but because they are good at doing a specific task.

Of course, these are just my opinions, please share yours in the comments below!

What is the role of women in leadership?

When I was a little girl, growing up in a small town on the east coast of Canada, my dream was to have a high powered executive job based in New York City or L.A. (Hey, it was the 80’s…big hair, big shoulder pads and Women’s Menswear…). I wanted the corner office with the good views, an assistant to bring me coffee and to make decisions for the multitudes.

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Then I grew up. The dreams toned down a little – I no longer wanted the big shoulder pads or to live in a mega city, but I still wanted a managerial position that would lead to a corner office with views et al. So I climbed aboard that train and started the journey down the track.  Somewhere along the way, I changed trains and ended up on another track heading in a different direction.  It wasn’t the wrong direction and along the way I decided I liked this journey better, but it wasn’t taking me to the C-Suite – or at the very least not directly.

What happened?  The best thing ever.  Hands down.  Bar none.

But it wasn’t my original plan.  I wasn’t becoming the leader in business that I thought I would be.

And then it hit me.

I had become a leader.  I am the founder and CEO of a delightful start up that features 2 distinct products.  I am the CMO of this enterprise, showcasing all the reasons why these products fit into your life.  I am the CFO of this company, responsibly managing the financial resources. I am the CTO, ensuring all systems are up-to-date, working to specifications and determining innovative ways to improve anything and everything.

The product? My children.  That’s right, I became a Mom.

A Mom – the invisible leader who shapes the next generation.  I commented on this in a forum

“I was thinking along this line myself – Mothers will stand up for their children (Assertive, Confrontational), teach their children everything from morals to tying their laces to setting the table (Gurus, Motivational, Inspirational), assign jobs and provide feedback (Delegate, Manage, Evaluate), kiss every boo-boo (Strong in a crisis, able to handle any challenge that comes their way) and still do it with sensitivity (negotiate win-win terms, confidence, make you feel good about yourself). (I’ve not forgotten the ability to budget, minimize cost overruns, time manage projects, apply cost saving measures without compromising quality, etc – wanted to keep this “short”).

People often say women aren’t in leadership roles. Perhaps they should stop and consider their own mothers and then apologize for not realizing that women take on important (but slightly more invisible) leadership roles everyday.”

(By the way – I did end up getting my corner office with the great views and two assistants who brings me coffee.  My corner office might be in my dining room, but I get the best views ever of the backyard.  My assistants who bring me coffee are super cute (and I can say that without the fear of a lawsuit since they are my kids). The measurement of ones success are subjective at best and I realized that what I do at home is just as important as I what I did in business…)

In Summary

Defining leadership is tough because it is hard to separate leadership from management skills. Leadership is more about personal characteristics (I think – would love to hear your thoughts).  Visible and Invisible leadership was an interesting concept, especially in terms of Women in Leadership.  I would hate for anyone to read my bit on mothers as anti-feminist as that is not my intent.  I believe we sometimes undervalue the role of mothers in developing the leaders of the next generation – and who better to learn leadership skills from than another leader?  Quiet, behind the scenes leadership is still leadership and still valuable.

Next week we will be looking at ethics.  This is bound to be an intriguing week with many different viewpoints.  If the ACCA Fruit Stand game teaches us anything, it taught us that we could make ethical mistakes – even with the best intentions…so if we can in a inconsequential instance, what happens when it really counts???

 

 

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 6

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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:  

Social Media:  I’ve never been hugely involved with social media, but my later years in college and now my time at this bootcamp convinced me very quickly of the importance of Twitter and LinkedIn to my career.  I really only got a Twitter account at the beginning of the summer and didn’t particularly do anything with LinkedIn until then either.  After realizing that ignoring my social media accounts was probably a mistake, I began to make a few updates here and there and started interacting with people a bit.  Still, my cyber-life was pretty lame until this past week.  I had a whole bunch of awesome conversations with successful people in the industry and even got to schedule a couple of pair programming sessions!  I’ll be honest – I am not a fan of networking with random people who have no desire or need to speak to me; but that was pretty awesome!

myCard:  I’ve tentatively started calling my business card project (See Week 4) myCard and its been moving very slowly.  Fortunately, I’m also learning a lot and getting better with the backend as a result.  Repetition is the best way to remember something, and that’s exactly what I’m getting from working on myCard and my other personal projects.

Interview Assessments:   Week 6 came with a few emails and LinkedIn messages from potential employers.  Problem was, I’m still vastly under qualified for most of these since they wanted at least 2-3 years of experience in development.  I don’t have 2-3  years of experience in any profession, let alone development.  Still, I somehow managed to land a couple of Interview Assessments that needed to be completed before an in-person interview.  A lot of what I saw was way over my head.  The great part, though, was that I was actually able to do some of it.  Being able to look as something I had done that would have looked like gibberish to me a mere few weeks ago was a fantastic feeling!

 

3 Lows:  

Ruby on Rails:  Okay, so Ruby on Rails is not a low, per se.  I’ve actually been really excited to learn it because so many companies use it (and look for it in potential employees!), but the learning curve has definitely gotten steeper and steeper as the amount of material has increased.  Imagine learning Algebra, Geometry, and Trig all at once in high school – yup, it can get pretty crazy no matter how cool the material itself is. 

The Home-Stretch Rush:  When I started the bootcamp, multiple people told me that the first half would rush by and I would feel like I have all the time in the world to learn the material and do my job hunting.  Then, the second half would come and it would hit me like a sack of potatoes that I’m running out of time – fast!  I have to say, these were some pretty intelligent people because what they said is very true.  Bootcamps are hard work, but they also fly past in a flash.  Before I knew it, I was already in the home stretch.  Time to find a job (‘nudge nudge‘ if you know someone hiring)!

Perpetual Fatigue:  Realizing I’m running out of time has put me into overdrive which means I get even less sleep and have to work harder because its difficult to focus when I’m tired.  As a result, I’m pretty much always ready for bed.  Luckily, I’m planning to make up for lost REM time for about three days straight after I finish!

 

The Immersion:  

Hijacking the Kitchen:  Ethnically Indian, I have grown up around Indian food my whole life – so suddenly not having access to it can be saddening.  Luckily, the bay area is overflowing with Indian stores so I’ve been able to get some groceries and have pretty much hijacked the kitchen with my Indian stuff.  Our Food Director, Sarah, is an amazing cook herself who’s always trying something new in the kitchen herself.  I try not to get in her way, but nobody stands in the way of me and my samosas!

Dusting off that Resume:  I’d forgotten how time consuming it could be to write a resume.  As a business major in college, I spent a lot of time learning to write a solid business resume.  It is a lot harder to organize a techie’s resume, though, because of all the little skills (different languages, frameworks, technologies) that need to be communicated without crowding the single piece of paper.  Basically, I have to relearn how to write my resume and it is taking a looong time.  I also happen to be one of those people who love building a resume, though, so its really not so bad!

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Even if you’re an introvert, don’t shy away from social media!  It is integral to making connections, especially if you have issues walking up to people and talking to them in person.
  • Starting your own project can be daunting, but all the mistakes you make will be your own and you will learn from them.  It is definitely worth the effort.
  • Not all resumes are made equal!  Make sure you learn about how to optimize your personal experiences on your personal resume.

Welcome Back Hockey! Four Must See Courses for Couch Coaches!

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“Hello, Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland.” – Foster Hewitt, Hockey Night in Canada.

Hello hockey fans around the world!  Welcome to the 2014-2015 NHL season – if you are a  fan, you are glued to the screen!  With four games scheduled for opening night, hopefully your favourite team is playing.

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http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyday.htm?navid=nav-sch-today

You’ve probably studied your team’s stats from last year, know the details on the key players on your team and have your favourite blogs bookmarked to prepare you for the water cooler conversations that will start tomorrow at 9AM (to be clear, the trash talk started today, opinions peppered with “facts” chats start tomorrow!).  Accredible is “lucky enough” to have four Canadians on the team – two of whom are big fans for opposing Canadian teams (Go Habs Go!).

But maybe you haven’t been converted into the “Hockey is life, the rest is just details” lifestyle.  Maybe you become a “hockey widow” from October until June.  Maybe you would like to know enough about hockey or sports in general to take part in “Couch Coaching” (The act of coaching your favourite team from the sofa while yelling at your TV; Warning: This may also include throwing the remote at the TV in frustration – the area between you and the TV needs to be a designated “No Walking Zone”).  Perhaps you would like to better understand why your spouse gets so frustrated with the sports broadcasters. Well, we are here to help!

Here are a few sports MOOCs you just might want to check out…

Sports Broadcasting

A fun, exciting inside look into the sports broadcasting industry. We explore the many aspects of sports broadcasting and teach you how you can improve. We give you the nuts and bolts of how to break into this industry and succeed! For sports fans, this course will give you an enjoyable look “behind the scenes” at the life of a sports broadcaster. You will enjoy the game more because you will truly understand what real-life sportscasting is all about!

Sports Coaching

Coaches play a central role in promoting sport participation and enhancing the performance of athletes and teams This sports coaching course teaches students how to become a coach in all sport settings. This course aims to deliver all aspects of coaching to build a coach as a whole. Whether you are a beginner local youth coach or an experienced elite coach. This course will aim to teach you everything you need to know to be a successful coach regardless of previous experience. You will develop a basic understanding of all aspects in being a coach regardless of what sport you choose.

Sports and Recreation Management

Take the first step to exploring a career in sport and recreation by gaining an understanding of the different job roles within this industry. Pick up leadership and management skills and learn how to manage risks appropriately. You will also learn to plan and deliver a simple sport and recreation session focussed on your clients’ needs.

Intro to Sports Psychology

This sport psychology course teaches students how to apply sport psychology tools on themselves or others. Everything you need for the course will be provided, including Powerpoint slides and video. Students could reasonably be expected to complete this course over 4-8 weeks if working on 1-2 topics per week. The course is structured to be undertaken sequentially. This course would suit people wanting to learn more about themselves as athletes or coaches, or to see how sport psychologists work with athletes and coaches. The course gives you information, and an opportunity to use this information on yourself or others, but does not include assessment.

For those looking for a Hockey specific MOOC, there doesn’t appear to be one…so here are a few resources for beginners or those used to IIHL rules who need to learn about the NHL.

Welcome to the best season of the year – hockey!  Hopefully, these resources will help you develop a love for the game – or a better understanding of the hockey fan in your life.  Don’t forget to update your Accredible Profile for any course you opt to take.

Exploits in Education: Week 4

EIE 844

Welcome back!

Congratulations on making it to the halfway point in the course!

This week we met David Boughey as we learned more about how large business functions, Rogue Traders and the Financial Crisis. Now, to clarify one point for any of us who grew up in the ’80s – we are learning from David Boughey not David Bowie – which to my Canadian ears sounds exactly the same…just saying (and yes, I did half wonder in a pre-coffee moment if I should be expecting eye-liner, wild hair and spandex and then I woke up…LOL).  Grab a beverage and let’s jump in…

Who Has The Biggest Business?

Time for more honesty…I started thinking about this solely based on brands and from a very North American outlook.  Walmart, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Apple were my top 4.  I wasn’t right.

And I’m glad of that.  It forces me to look at things differently.

Using the Forbes 500 list, I picked 4 of the top 18 (Apple #1, Coca-Cola #3, McDonald’s #6, and Walmart #18), but when using the UNCTAD by Foreign Assets report, I was very wrong (Apple #19, Walmart #31, Coca-Cola #90.  McDonald’s didn’t make the list).  While I recognized many of the company names, they were not companies that I talk about on a regular basis.  Six of the top 10 were petroleum explorers/refiners/distributors – other than to complain about the price of gas or to discuss the dismantling of a local refinery.

So what makes the “biggest business”?  Is it brand recognition?  Foreign Assets?  Number of employees located out of the home base country?  Global sales? Every report uses different methodology so no one answer is right.

But for me, I’ll stick with Brand Recognition!

Rogue Traders

This was a very well done video.  I actually had to just stop and listen the first time – no pencil in hand, no arguments forming in my head and really just listen. Then I watched again and took notes.

In the beginning of the video, Gary Abrahams talks about risk aversion/aversion to loss and that the way a question is worded influences our tolerances towards risks.  I suspect anyone who is “good” at scamming people (and by “good” I mean able to consistently perform and achieve his/her desired results) must have a fundamental understanding of the psychology at play and frame the scenarios in such a way as to maximize the potential gain and minimize the loss.

Add to that the reality that we (collectively) are lazy and don’t WANT to have to research the details make us likely to fall into the trap of available information and if we do any surface research, we look for what confirms our hopes. I’m not sure if it is “greed” as it is the belief we have that people will tell us the truth and not just what is in their best interest.

As I thought about it, it made more and more sense to me.  I often wonder why when playing poker, people will go all in and state they were “pot committed“.  That they “had” to take the chance to win big even though they could lose it all.   Their aversion to loss at that moment is more important than their risk aversion.  They just use their available info (their hand and the flop, maybe a River card) and jump in.

I saw the rogue trader as more of a Charlatan selling snake oil and the investors as the naive people who WANTED to believe in something so much that they failed to do their part, their responsibility in ensuring they were making smart, effective, reasonable decisions. But after finding this article, I’m left uncertain – while finding this article was not in the best interest of my arguments, I do like going beyond the “available information” and look for information that just agree with my hypothesis.

Technology, Business and Society

This week we had an assignment – to write a 300 word essay around a quote about technology, business and society.  Upon submission, we were assigned another essay to read and comment on.  I like peer assessments in online courses – I find it interesting to read and review and well as to be reviewed.

After thinking about it, I could have written it differently…but isn’t that always the way?  I thought I’d share it with you:

Jonathan Sacks once said, “Technology gives us power, but it does not and cannot tell us how to use that power. Thanks to technology, we can instantly communicate across the world, but it still doesn’t help us know what to say.”
Never has this been more true than today. Discussion forums, Twitter, blogs, instant messenger – each day there seems to be a new way to connect with people, new ways to connect with more people and build our networks, but for what? To have nothing to say?
In order to best take advantage of the communication technology available to us today, we need to put down said technology and open a book, our minds, our hearts and our mouths.
In order to have something to say, we need to have a topic to discuss, information on said topic and time to sort out our thoughts and feelings on a subject. We need to form opinions based on facts that we sometimes find while looking for something else. We need to stop worrying about having an unpopular opinion and use real facts and figures to back it up.
It takes courage to speak your mind and not the drivel that is spoon fed to us via editorials, talk radio and phone in talk shows like Nancy Grace. Whilst it is easy to jump on-board the latest thought train and agree with the message being spouted by the conductor, it is harder to point out that the train which should be travelling east, is actually travelling west.
And if they did point it out, would they use their mouth to say something or their fingers to tweet it?

In Summary

Well, I’ve shared my assignment (which will get uploaded to my Accredible profile soon!), we’ve talked about Rogue Traders, Poker, 80’s Rock Stars, and who has the biggest business and made it through the half way point!  Next week we are talking about Heroes, Villains and Leaders…now that sounds exciting!

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 5

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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:  

Angular.js:  I’ve been very interested in everything I’ve learned about the MEAN stack thus far, but with my focused interest in front-end development and how cool Angular is, it is definitely my favorite thus far.  There are just so many things that can be done with it and it makes my code dynamic without forcing me to really even think about it.

Autodidactism:  People in general learn in very different ways at very different speeds which can be frustrating at times – in fact, it was one of my lows last week.  This week, though, we switched gears a bit and had more freedom to break away from the group and learn on my own.  As anyone who reads my blog knows, I am very much an independent learner, so this was freeing for me.  I was able to slow down where I was confused and could speed through what I already knew, which resulted in a faster learning process.  I wish I had more time for this while learning Node, but am very glad to have had the opportunity with Angular; I have been learning it a lot faster and am able to use it pretty well in my projects as well.  Tip:  I also plan on putting all this stuff on my Accredible profile.  Employers definitely want to see what you have done, but if you’re new, it would also be nice to show them how you did it!

Individualized Projects:   Speaking of projects, working on my own idea and figuring out how to solve issues with the code without an instructor’s help can be frustrating, but for me it has been an amazing learning experience.  I am still working on the business card project I mentioned in last week’s update and have been incorporating Angular into it as I’ve been learning it.  As a result, the app is cooler and I’m much better at using the technology!  I figure having at least one major side project at all times will be my key to continuously learning the newest ‘hacks’ as a developer.

 

3 Lows:  

Cruise Control:  Learning and using a brand new skill has always been thrilling to me in some ways.  The process has its highs and lows, and I always end up on top when I have some new knowledge to show for it.  Unfortunately, sometimes I just fall into cruise control when I am really just practicing and the thrill disappears for a while.  This is an important part of mastering any skill, of course, but it is also a boring part.  Those side projects I’m working on still pack a pretty thrilling punch, though, so I’ve just been using that to balance things out a bit.

Editing Bootstrap:  Bootstrap provides customizable templates that make HTML and CSS much easier to use and as I have always said, it is one of my favorite development tools.  However, for someone new to programming, Bootstrap is awfully difficult to edit.  If it is in a minified file, it is pretty much impossible to find the right classes to append to the CSS file and even if it isn’t, BootStrap CSS is so big that finding the class one has been searching for is undeniably difficult.  As much as I love Bootstrap, it definitely has its own pain-in-the-neck moments.

No Time to Write:  Before I could write code, think about marketing strategy, or even use a computer properly, I was writing.  Writing everything – from nonfiction to fiction to blogs – has been not only a hobby, but also my way of learning something new.  Any time I want to learn a new concept, I write it down as a tutorial and end up teaching myself in the process.  Not having any time to do this has therefore been a bit disappointing and something I would like to get back to as soon as possible.  Needless to see, you guys will probably see a sudden flow of new blog posts after I’m done with these 9 weeks!

The Immersion:  

Living in the Bay Area:  is probably only a wise idea for a multi-millionaire.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration – but seriously, the hardest part of moving here to become a developer is trying to find a place to live after this bootcamp is over.  Apartments fly off listings literally hours after they are posted, everything of even decent quality is mind-bogglingly expensive, and I don’t have a car since I just moved here.   Solution?  I have no idea yet.

Weird Hours:  When I was in school, my average sleep schedule was 2-3 am to 7 am.  Then I jumped back to a more normal 12am to 8am when I was working as a Digital Marketing Consultant (and wasn’t studying day in and day out).  Then I decided to learn to code…and my average bedtime this week was 3:30 am.  Luckily, I know this will probably regulate when I have a job and a more regular work schedule, but the irregular sleep made me crave naps all week.  I actually made a mini-app that translates the word ‘nap’ into a whole bunch of different languages!

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Programming is not easy, but you will probably find some language or framework that you really love.  Keep at it until you get there!
  • Know how you learn best and don’t be afraid to create that ideal environment for yourself.  You aren’t in grade school anymore where you have to do what the rest of your class does.
  • Document your advances!  Of course, post your projects to GitHub, but also put them on your personal website, LinkedIn profile, and on Accredible (where you can also post any supplementary MOOCs that you took and project a more well rounded view of your autodidactic education!).

Exploits in Education: Week 3

EIE 844

Welcome back!

Last week we worked through the concept of companies (or corporations) as a person; rules, regulations and laws and ways they can help the economy; taxation of companies; and finally what Canada is doing to promote economic growth via taxation.  This week we are tackling Cattle Markets and the Stock Market. Grab a drink or a snack and let’s jump in!

How Much Should We Trust Business Leaders?

This topic was quite interesting – I’m always torn personally.  Frankly, we know there is a lack of transparency – just consider the Global Financial Crisis of 2008,  AIG (2009), or Enron (2001).  It’s relatively easy to hide sales, profits, loss, loans and improper depreciation of property and equipment apparently!  Considering that many companies run three sets of books (Financial, Tax and Managerial), it is easy to misrepresent finances…

If we consider adding in a layer of communication by having an external auditor examine the books and “publish the truth”, we may find we are disappointed!  According to my accounting notes, “Auditors are hired by the Board to “express an opinion” about whether the statements are prepared in conformity with GAAP”.  They don’t prepare the notes, they just examine the documents and “express an opinion”.

Obviously this needs to change – and change quickly.  If an informed market (i.e. everyone knows the process and has good information) works best, then an uninformed market (i.e. no or bad info) leads to failure (see American Bank Bailout).

An exciting list of Accounting Scandals can be found here – a word of advice, only read if you have time to spare!! It’s easy to get caught up in the intrigue!

Who Will Be the Next Economic Powerhouse?

This topic made me rethink a lot of things that I thought I knew.  Population density, urbanization and literacy rates had always been touted as key indicators for future success.  But they might not be what matters.

Predicting Comparative Advantages in something becoming increasingly valuable was interesting.  I loved the discussions around how changeable a country’s comparative advantage might be…it got me thinking about two countries who are doing VERY interesting things in education – India and Malaysia.  Both are developing free education via MOOCs to any citizen, regardless of background or location to access the best in education. How will this impact the economic situations in these countries?  Create a new, upcoming Comparative Advantage? Develop new skills and technologies?  As a fan of MOOCs, (self)education, and learning at every opportunity, I am looking forward to following India and Malaysia as they develop their most valuable asset – their people…and how it impacts their economy and their global leadership role.

Fruit Stall Game

ACCA fruit stall game

 

This week would not have been complete without the Fruit Stall Game from ACCA.  I don’t know about you, but I had a blast playing it – and learning on the go!  If you’ve not tried it, you should – it will help tie things together and teach you to read and analyse data, about ethics, determining costs and making a profit.  I’ve shared my second attempt below (and no, I won’t share my first!  How embarrassing!)

ACCA fruit stall game 2Don’t forget to share your results below – or on your Accredible profile!

In Summary

We’ve considered a lot this week – trust, transparency and truth.  We’ve reviewed past scandals, looked at what needs to change and tested our own resolve by playing the Fruit Stand Game.  There was so much more that we could have discussed and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!  Next week we look at Big Business and our behaviours; the organization, ownership and control; and the implications for decision-making…

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 4

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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:  

Lightbulb Moments:  I came into this bootcamp with nothing but a small amount of HTML/CSS knowledge.  I had no programming background whatsoever and although I was quick with math as a kid, my career as an adult (albeit short) mainly focused on creativity and marketing strategy.  While this means that I have to work harder and still fall behind members of the group with Engineering degrees or previous programming experience, it also means that I get to have more lightbulb moments where I just get something after spending hours trying to figure it out.  Those are definitely the best part of any learning process and I had a few of them this week, which has been fantastic.

Hack-a-thon!   We went to the Health 2.0 Code-A-Thon in downtown San Francisco this weekend.  My best contributions were mainly on the front-end with designing pages and using the Google Maps API, so I didn’t get as much of a look into the back-end as I would have liked, but the entire process was intensive and we ended up with a working app within 24 hours of coding.  Check it out on in my portfolio on my website!

New Project:  Being a fairly fresh graduate, I have spent a lot of time job hunting and networking over the past year.  Meeting people for the first time, the questions I’m generally asked is where I went to school, what I majored in, and who else I knew at the event or in the industry.  This formulaic interaction would be followed up with a business card request and a promise to follow up (which would never happen because nothing in those conversations could really make me stand out).  This process has always been irritating to me for two reasons: nothing is conveyed about my capabilities, experiences, or really anything important, and the concept of paper business cards seems inefficient.  They’re easy to loose and having too many can make them annoying to sort through.  As a solution, I’m working on an app that allows users to make an ‘electronic business card’ that lists nothing but a person’s name, contact info, and a few of their most coveted skills.  These skills will be displayed as buttons linking to some sort of proof of the skill in question.  For example, if someone states HTML as a coveted skill, they can link it to their (Accredible!) portfolio of projects that have relied heavily on HTML.  I am really excited about building this thing – not only because I think it will solve a legitimate issue that people regularly face, but also because it will be an amazing learning experience to figure out how to make it all work!

 

3 Lows:  

Time Flies:  It almost induces a feeling of panic when a person comes closer to a deadline they have set for themselves and doesn’t have their goal accomplished ahead of schedule.  Obviously, a person can’t actually go from zero experience to programming genius in a matter of 9 weeks – and that wasn’t my goal to begin with.  I just wanted to bring myself to a point where I could be considered a junior developer and had the basics I need to teach myself the rest on the the job.  Learning the basics of programming isn’t as basic as the phrase indicates, however.  It requires time, effort, and practice – so naturally, I’m working hard and (understandably) am having my moments of panic.

Learning Styles:  People come into programming course with different skill-levels and learning styles, which is why I have always believed it is so important to set realistic expectations for the outcome of the program.  What I am also learning now, though, is that it is equally essential to set realistic expectations for the learning process itself.  We generally have lectures for the majority of the day during which everyone does the same thing.  Due to varying experiences with computer science, some people simply move faster than others which sets the pace out of whack for nearly everyone.  I am personally a better independent learner anyway, so my solution has been to follow along lecture topics and then learn it on my own afterwards.  This causes more time to be eaten up by each topic, but I’m able to learn the material significantly better so the trade-off has been worth it for me.

Portfolio:  Frankly, my portfolio is not as meaty as I wanted it to be by now.  I have several projects in the works that I hope to have up and running on my website pretty soon, but they’re not quite there just yet.  Having a portfolio is a validation of the time I have spent learning, so not having a great one is disappointing.  Luckily, I have enough projects in the works to expect to have some cool stuff within the next couple of weeks.

 

The Immersion:  

Sunday Funday:  I love having Sundays to catch up and learn completely on my own.  Like I said before, I am a very independent learning.  I love working in a team on projects and pair programming, but learning the tools themselves that I need to build the products have always been better learned when its just me and my computer.  Sundays, therefore, are my ticket to Progress Wonderland!

The Cold Plague:  Everyone got sick this week!  Literally everyone.  This has been literally the only disadvantage of living with my cohort – if one person contracts something, everyone gets it.  So learning Node.js while hacking up a storm in my lungs was fun (note the sarcasm).

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Build stuff that gets you excited – it makes the learning process far less tedious when facing a tough concept.
  • Continuously reflect on your timetable and plans.  Things will take different amounts of time than you planned for and it is worth readjusting everything to make sure you still accomplish what you set out to do.
  • Try not to panic if you are at a different place and learn differently from your classmates.  Just be prepared to do whatever you need to in order to keep your progress on track – even if that means stepping away from lecture and learning on your own from time to time.

Featuring World Science U

World-Science-U-is-a-site-dedicated-to-making-science-education-open-and-accessible-to-all.

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World Science U is currently offering short courses (2-3 weeks in length), but with signs pointing to longer courses coming soon.  Using the best methods of classroom teaching and pushing them into the future, World Science U aims to make complex science understandable for all.  Check out their introduction video!

As mentioned, these courses are meant for anyone – from beginner to advanced learners.  The current courses are short and have no homework or exams but do  They provide non-technical explorations, which go beyond traditional science popularizations.  The first two courses are all about Einstein‘s Special Relativity as well as his theories on space, time and energies.  Designed for those with an interest in science – even those who don’t love math – anyone can walk away with a better understanding of

E=mc2-explication

 

Special Relativity
Self-paced — no deadlines free
Einstein’s Special Relativity upended our understanding of space time and energy. While the ideas are subtle they only require high school algebra so join this math-based introduction. For a conceptual introduction check out Space Time and Einstein.

 

Space Time and Einstein
Self-paced — no deadlines free
Join a visual and conceptual introduction to Einstein’s spectacular insights into space time and energy. For a mathematical introduction to Special Relativity check out Special Relativity.

Be sure to update your Accredible Learner’s Profile once you’ve selected your course and be sure to share your feedback on the course community page!

Coursera Courses Starting in October

Coursera Starting Soon

Once again Coursera has offered a wide array of courses.  Listed below are a sampling of the courses presented in English – with more available in other languages!  Whether you are looking for an education, business, science or social course, there is something for everyone!

 

October 1st – 4th

October 5th – 11th

October 12th – 18th

 

October 19th – 25th

 

 

October 26th – 31st

 

Whichever courses you opt to take, please remember to update them to your Accredible Learner’s Profile and to upload your supporting material as you work through the course!

If you are having trouble choosing, the Introduction to Marketing course is relevant to everyone who makes purchases – you can understand why you impulsively pick up certain items, why shampoo shelves are lined the way they are and why different colours effect your mood – among many other interesting topics (like being product or customer centric – would share more, but we can’t give the entire course away!).