Two weeks deep in Rails_

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After two weeks of jumping head first into Ruby on Rails, I am slowly starting to get a hold of it. At the beginning it felt like real chaos, so much information and literally EVERYTHING was new to me. No surprise, as I have absolutely no prior experience in backend programming, and in the front-end I am only sandboxing since half a year. So naturally, the start was a rough one.

The thing with Rails is, that you don’t have the big picture when you start, and that it’s  picture really is BIG, but you need to understand it in order to understand what Rails is doing at all. Following only the written lectures of my CareerFoundry course was not enough. Even though I was able to follow along, and get my exercises approved, I noticed that nothing was really getting into my head. It was like the information was creating a new instance, saved in short term memory, but not creating an entry in the database of my brain, so that I could access it later on (some geek talk here, sorry). I needed a different approach.  I needed to find a way to store data.

Literally.

What helps me most when learning are Video Tutorials.  I actually need someone to speak out loud to me, nice and slow, and when I do text lecture, in order to really follow along, I often need to read out loud as well. So I decided to start Mashrur Hossain’s popular Ruby on Rails course on Udemy.  At the same time, I use Kevin Skoglund’s 10+ hour video course “Ruby on Rails 5 Essential Training” on Lynda.com.

Thanks to both of these resources, I have the feeling that the information does actually get stored somewhere in the database of my brain now. If you hear 4 different resources speaking on how to create CRUD methods and views, or parameters, or models and controllers, or database migrations, and each one explains it to you from a slightly different angle, this just works wonders. What I like about Mashrur’s course, is that it is really step-by-step. Nothing gets generated or scaffolded, everything is written manually wherever possible. This way you really learn what is actually happening behind the scenes. I can highly recommended to any Rails or programming newbie.

Skoglund’s course is fantastic as an additional resource. I wouldn’t be able to use it alone, because it is quite advanced and very thorough, and maybe not providing the baby steps that I need, but if you want to know about Strong Parameters, or Associations, or Routing, and you don’t want to read through an eternal textbook guide, Kevin is your man. Well organized information, clearly explained.

I also use the “Evernote” app to quickly store information that I find somewhere and want to remember later. I realize now how important it is to find your own rhythm, know how it is you learn best and be organized with your material.

I have by now started at least 5 new Apps, and it really is the thing you need to be doing when starting Rails. I certainly don’t have the knowledge stored in a way that I could create a new app from scratch without following a guide, as there is so much to remember and quite a few different ways to do something, but I can feel some fertile ground is being laid in my database-brain-garden.

It takes time, I know, it would be weird if it didn’t. But it starts to be fun. And that’s what’s most important.

Eliane ♥

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var coding = “Awesome!”

I am just here because I want to say: CODING ROCKS!

I actually can’t believe this is really happening. Not even 2 months after deciding to start to learn HTML (and up until last friday I still had a full time job), here I am coding the s%*[ out of my editor.

I just created a function in javascript that assigns a random color to a circle and randomly shapes it to be a square when clicked. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the fact that I was able to find out how to do it all by myself without having done anything similar in JavaScript before – is a small miracle to me.

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I really have to send a huge thanks to Rob Percival, whose course “The complete Web Developer Course 2.0” on Udemy has helped me not only to understand loops, functions and statements in JavaScript, but he has given me the ability and confidence to built stuff on my own.

On a little sidenote: I am very happy with my decision to become a full-time coding student/autodidact. For the moment I am using 100% of my time to do what I love.

What else could be better? I am really, really grateful.

Eliane ♥

Reclaiming my freedom_

It’s something I have been counscious of for a while now: Me and Full Time Jobs, we are not a good match. I am really just forcing myself through the week, day after day, and compromising both health and precious time. Now that I am for real starting to learn actual web development, I realize that I need a lot of time, time, time. One hour coding per day is great, but it is not enough. I already struggle to keep up with studying on lynda.com, on udemy and freeCodeCamp, but additionally I really want to keep my projects going: My little “Hello World” website bohemiancodes.com, this blog, and my “Iarthar” project about Western Ireland which is still in dev mode and has not been looked at for a while.

But I am not writing here to merely complain. I had an idea. It came to me Thursday morning before work, and caused me to arrive half an hour late.

My wish was (and still is, of course) to have as much time of my days and weeks as possible to study and code, as well as to be in nature – because my time in nature nurtures my sense of freedom and happiness, without which  I could not do anything. I was considering taking a part time job somewhere in Ireland, but there are absolutely no part-time jobs available in the whole country. So I had to throw that idea off.

All I need is a desk, a bed and some food. And then it came to me: Why not go back to volunteering on workaway? Maybe someone could use my freshly learnt development skills and would give me a bed and some food in exchange?

I have a workaway.info profile since years, I think it costs 29€ p.a., but it is well worth it. It works like this: As a volunteer you offer your help for around 20-30 hours a week in exchange for a bed (monstly shared room, sometimes private room) and food, but it all depends on the host, the location, availability and so on. I have worked in Costa Rica and Mexico through workaway, and had great experiences!

Alright, let’s have a look. I hopped on the website, entered some keywords and the first profile that came up I wrote a message to – and got a prompt reply. The host owns a traveling business (international trekking) and lives in North-West Ireland. He’d offer me a bed and food in exchange for updating content and cleaning his wordpress.org traveling business blog.

Since that morning, I can breathe better. I don’t feel like I am suffocating anymore. The host said he is in touch with some other workawayers, but I seem perfect. We seem to have a similar way of life as well. It always is a good sign, when both sides have a good feeling about it immediately. It felt like I did not have to make a decision. It seems like the decision had already been taken. My part was just to accept.

It may seem crazy to some people. But life isn’t about security, or smart moves, or even having good plans. It is about being open to the infinity of possibilities, and just about having trust in life. I realized that I had lost some of my trust in life lately, and that is when you start worrying and making yourself miserable. Time to let go of that.

Now, it seems like a leap into the unknown cold waters of the wild is going to be happening in my life (not for the first time). I will give up my apparent security and steady (more or less) income, but will reclaim my freedom, and drive out into the north to study and code, code, code…. and I absolutely love Donegal.

That’s what I am changing my career for in the first place, anyway. That’s what this life is all about: freedom!

Eliane ♥

Udemy’s Complete Web Developer Course 2.0

Coming home today from my full time call center job, (and after a shocking look at my bank account, jeez, when am I actually going to have any of the money I earn?) I took a couple of hours for my studies.

Quick conclusion of the day: Now that I am quite comfortable with HTML & CSS, and I want to move on, things get very complex.

I am currently enrolled in a number of courses at the same time, and the possibilities to learn just from these tutorials are truly immense – but it can be quite overwhelming. I feel I am starting to lose track. I thought I’d first get started with Responsive Design, which basically means to begin to use and understand Bootstrap. Bootstrap however entails certain knowledge of JavaScript. JavaScript entails jQuery and all these other tech terms I am still very much unfamiliar with. Everything seems to explode into this huge cloud of information.

I realize I need some real structure. Rather than jumping from one course to another, I want to follow one hands-on course that helps me to become familiar with the most important languages and concepts. So I started to google again to look up some of the best (& affordable) web development courses available online – and I found Udemy’s “The Complete Web Developer Course 2.0” by Rob Percival. It even includes one year of unlimited webhosting on ecowebhosting.co.uk (which means I will be able to upload my own wordpress site soon – this one is already bugging me) – both for just 10€! Now I don’t know how these things are even possible – but I won’t complain. And, after all the American teachers, I am happy to listen to some British accent for a change 😉

Recap: I need to give my path substance, and structure. How about this little to-do-list:

  1. Complete freeCodeCamp‘s Front-End Developer Coding Challenge
  2. Complete the “Web Developer Course 2.0” on Udemy.com
    (those two alone should keep me busy for several months)
  3. Begin building my Portfolio

I have to keep this plan open and flexible, though. I may feel the need for more direct mentoring and personal guidance one day, so I might want to go for a course like Skillcrush.com later on, but for the moment my bank account does not allow any of this luxury.

By the way, my general goal is simple: to become a freelancer!

Wish me luck!

freeCodeCamp & my first webdev book_

This morning I was randomly browsing some coding girl’s instagram and found a photo of her “free code camp” certificate. I looked it up: It is entirely free & online, serves a good cause and you can start the coding challenges immediately. Against all my expectations, the freeCodeCamp’s resources are so in-depth, that earning the front-end developer certificate means you will have completed 400 hours of coding challenges, back-end another 400, visual designer another 400 hours and finally you build 4 full stack websites for non-profits to a sum of 800 hours.

Challenge accepted!!

I can recommend having a look at it: https://www.freecodecamp.com/

Also, today I received this beautiful one:

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Can’t wait to jump into it! 🙂

The first 3 weeks_

3 weeks ago, on April 16th, 2017 I signed up for lynda.com on a 30-day free trial, knowing there are many online courses of all kinds. I signed up for “HTML Essential Training” and “Web Developer: Full Stack vs. Front End”. I did not even realize it fully back then:  it was the birth of my new career!

I just had been back from six beautiful weeks in India, and returned with no money to my underpaid, yet very demanding full time customer service job in West Ireland. I had been toying with the idea of changing the track of my career for around 6 months, but until then I had considered subjects like “Geomancy” or creative writing. I had skipped the web designer pages in my distance learning catalogue but still considered well paid business studies like project or content management.

Then, after India, the obvious just was suddenly there. And after some research, i knew what I feared before: I am not too old or have too little experience for a job in tech. Actually, the demand for developers is higher than ever. And I am smart. It was sealed.

In only 3 weeks, my knowledge and understanding of the industry exploded. I finished courses on HTML and CSS, as well as wordpress on lynda.com, signed up for free courses on Udacity (who have a great way of explaining the box model), then Codecademy, then Coursera.

After only a few days, I started to design my own website from scratch without a mockup from a tutorial and decided to continue learning without frameworks first. I could not believe how easy it was to create sidebar navigation with simple css and make it look professional and clean. I also tried different text editors like brackets, atom, and sublime text 3.

After I was happy with the design, I uploaded my little website to a subdomain of my father’s shared server which he uses for his clients.

At the same time I started another project called “Iarthar” on a desktop server with wordpress.org (that site is still in dev) – that is also why I decided for a simple wordpress.com site for this purpose here.

My excitement grew and for a while I stuck to my lynda.com tutorials, updated my website and researched online bootcamps (after I found out about their existence, of course).

I was curious about skillcrush.com for its female orientation, it’s afforadble prices and interesting career focus. I signed up for a free 10 day introduction, but at that stage I was looking to find one bootcamp / online course that gave me some structure and a timeframe as to when I could start working as a web developer.

I discovered edX and enrolled in a couple of free courses by Microsoft. I was amazed how much free online resources are available for this subject and I was by now more than sure I could become professional right from my bed in the middle of nowhere in West Ireland. If I found a job here was another question, but hey,  step by step!

On weekend of week 3 I offered my first portfolio project to a friend from New York who runs a Nonprofit in Romania with the local Romani people (his current website: http://tzigania.com) a wonderful project, which imho does need some professional help to become more accessible.


In week 4 I still have no money.

Actually, I don’t even have a desk. I work on the floor, or in my bed. My laptop is an outdated Acer Extensa whose speed is that of an old dachshund, and it’s tab key is broken. I use mobile internet from Three.ie on my iPhone 4s that I connect to my laptop.

But I will make it!