Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Programming for Everyone #PR4E

Last weekend, I did Goodie Hack ATL and found another project to work on: STE(A)M Truck. I like this project. My team is coming up with a technology solution to interact with the students, maximize the time at each school, and organize mentors; this is something that I plan to work on over the next few months, at least. We're going to start with a Ruby on Rails web app and an Android mobile app; it should be a pretty neat project to work on.

I really got back into Ruby on Rails, in earnest, this week. I restarted the Michael Hartl's Rails Tutorial, and I'm currently on Chapter 4. I'm finding that I'm able to complete a lot of the sample_app without using the code in the book for anything more than comparison. It's amazing how much more I understand what's going on in this tutorial the second time. I think that my biggest take away from learning to program, so far, is that no matter how enigmatic and mystifying something may seem when you first start, as long as you stick with it and do the work, it will eventually become clear to you. I was confident that I would be able to pick this up, but that doesn't mean that I'm not impressed by the difference in where I was when I started, and where I am now.

Dr. Chuck with one of his sweet tattoos

I also finished my first MOOC this week on Cousera: Programming for Everyone(Python) with Dr. Charles Severance. If you are interested in learning Python, or if you are interested in learning to program and you don't have a language in mind, then I highly recommend this course. The course was better than any of the other Coursera Python courses that I have taken because:

  • It was real world programming: there were no virtual environments. You set up Python on your computer and used it like you would in the real world. I have taken other Python courses that were based in controlled environments and didn't like it. In fact, I was taking one when this course started and I un-enrolled and concentrated on this course.
  • The assignments were appropriate: the assignments for this course were challenging and helpful without being so hard that they required an inordinate amount of time to finish. I only completed two exercises easily; one of them was the homework for week one.

  • Dr. Chuck is awesome: I enjoyed the lectures. He wasn't going over the top attempting to entertain the class, but he kept the videos pretty light and very informative. I also feel like he used the appropriate amount of time covering each topic, I'm not a fan of courses that go too slow and I have dropped courses for that reason. He also wasn't moving through so fast that the average person couldn't keep up [imo]. Another thing that I liked is that Dr. Chuck travels a lot and has office hours with the students in the cities that he visits. Although he didn't visit my city, I enjoyed the suspense of whether he would. If he had come to Atlanta, I definitely would have been there. [He travelled all over the would during this session]
Anyway, I finished the course, did all of the homework, and got 100 on my final. So I'm pretty stoked about the whole experience. The only draw back of the course is that there isn't a part two. If you are interested in taking this class, the next one starts on October 6th. 


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