Category Archives: Learning to Code

How to keep motivated while learning to be a coder online

I work full-time, have a family, and other responsibilities – I know it’s challenging to learn online, but not sure if I can dedicate 20 hours a week to study. I’m motivated, need to keep it written on a wall and keep reading, “I want to be a coder or software developer or software engineer” but that’s not the motivation, it’s the “why” do I want to learn this stuff.

guy looking at codeFor some people it’s to better themselves, to get a better job. For some it’s to improve their economic position in what they already know. For others it’s something to do while waiting and for other it’s to learn enough so they can create that “idea” that they can’t afford to hire a developer to make for them.

For me, it’s a little of everything. Jobs come and go and computers and software, websites, programming will continue to be a need. If I lose my job tomorrow, it’s not the type of job that can easily be duplicated and I don’t want to return to the type of work I did before – social work – too draining.

I need to review my list of what I like about programming and what it could do for me, be a back-up when that job ends or to move on and contribute to any area of society that I would want to contribute to. The numbers of need is staggering. Do I have the brains to do it, yes, but the brain-power when mentally exhausted – that’s what I need to push through.

Some of my challenges is my varied interest and so many distractions – both online and in-person. That means I need to stick to a schedule and get those around me to honor my study time. I’m still working on the precourse work and if I can’t do that, it doesn’t make sense to apply for an expensive bootcamp and become more overwhelmed. I can do the work but when I get stuck on a problem it’s too hard to get info and I end up not going back for days, sometimes weeks to figure out a problem, cause let’s face it – life gets in our way. If you find you can’t make the time to do a precourse (I’m on learn.co which is good but not great when you need help as the other students are guessing like you are and only repeat the questions you are asking) – Considering Flat Iron’s online course is $1000/month and seems to fit best with my entry level experience – I may need to go back to codeschool and treehouse as that fits my schedule best until I can make the time to invest in a course.

In addition, now I know my options should I need to find another field of employment, I can attend a local Iron Yard for 12 weeks and get a student loan, AND get a job – that’s still 12 weeks plus job search of no income. It would happen either way but at least I would have an option, better than I can come up with now.

My answer to the question, “write down the why” and it keeps me going. If you don’t have a good list of why you’re studying this, you won’t keep going. Even if I don’t do a full-stack developer course now, I know that I’ll keep learning how to code as there’s so many options.

 

 

Orlando Word Camp Introduces 2015 Speakers and New Kid’s Camp

This year the Orlando Word Camp heads back to downtown Orlando on November 13-15, 2015. Personally I liked last year’s location but then again I know that the planning for events like this takes lots of time and negotiation to keep prices down and to have it here in our fair city. Still cheaper than driving down to Miami which we did for a couple years while Orlando was building up on volunteers and willing organizers, thank you for all your hard work. That said, check out the website to read about the WP speakers here.  This year’s tickets are $55 a person for 3 days, you could get just the weekend tickets for $40 by clicking here.  In the past years, tickets have always sold out so don’t wait long. I’m looking forward to being inspired and keeping up with new things I’m not always able to keep up with throughout the year. This year I’ve also noticed a new Kid’s Camp which is exciting for parents who want to expose their kids to what the adults have been excited about all year. See ya!

Summer code learning can still be fun’ get motivated!

You can learn to code anywhere.image

It’s summer and if you went to a traditional school in the U.S., you spent the whole school year waiting for summer break. Then after 13 years of conditioning, you were thrown into a cold dark place, a reality of work life that required you to work 8 hour shifts and maybe 1-2 weeks of vacation. Or if you were fortunate enough to go to college, you got an additional 4 years to put off reality of a 9-5 life and still get summer unless you had a plan to finish college in three years like some and kept going to summer school. No matter what you chose, college life was still a nice break from reality because you weren’t stuck with classmates and teachers for longer than 16 weeks in most cases. Unlike the 9-5 which unless you take a temp job, a job asked for a life commitment of the same bosses and coworkers until one of you screamed ‘uncle’ with your arm twisted behind your back looking for the next big opportunity.

Or maybe you really like your job but there’s always that sick feeling you could always be replaced by someone with better credentials or cheaper labor or better yet, a machine.

That’s part of why I’m learning to code, so I have something more I can contribute to my job and I can have additional skills should I get that call to my local HR where they call you into a room and give you the big thank you for your service talk, but we have to let you go. Or a family or other situation could arise which may make life easier to work from home to help care for family. Or your spouse gets transferred, or, or, or.

Right now life is ok. I believe it’s best to be prepared and I’ve always wanted to learn more coding than I have gotten by with with simple WordPress websites and database work. Even when I’m not learning from a site or have no internet I listen to audio books, classes or get this, read a book! I love learning lots of things, but even if you’re not naturally curious you need to write down your motivations for learning to code so you can keep moving forward. Of course somedays I’m mentally beat so playing a game of Code Combat is always fun and challenging while still learning to code.

So, no excuses, keep learning to code!

Hour of Code: Can your kids get a coding job after playing video games?

It’s the Fourth of July in America and while most people are prepping for their annual picnic, bbq and fireworks – we’re just lazily waiting for the time to leave to join friends for a get together. (I cooked and prepped all yesterday so I’m good.)

angry birds codingAnyway, I’ve been lazy this past week and need to keep learning code so I’m turning to Hour of Code from Code Studio, which has fun ways to teach beginners at any age to learn to code. Sure it’s easier than taking some of the other code courses online but if you’re having a “slow brain” day and you want to keep the momentum of learning – take a mental break and do one of these tutorials. It’s fun, not very hard on the head and a good way for your kids to get involved in the process of learning.

By the way, how many hours does your kids sit and watch TV or play games on their electronic devices? Which is better, have your kids play mindless games with no results at the end? Or to have them learn that what they love doing (playing games) can teach them the building blocks of coding? Well, I’ll speak for myself, I like to keep moving forward so this makes for a good blog post too.

If you (or kids) don’t want to read the instructions there are short videos to watch of people like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates giving you info. Did you know that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer jobs and not enough people trained in computer science or programming? That gives more people without a CS degree but with experience an opportunity to get into the field of coding. Go on, give it a try, if anything it will help you think differently about what goes on behind your smart phone and that tablet them young’ins keep playing with. #

Free Code Camp is learning with a purpose to help non-profits and an opportunity to become a coder

Here’s another site I just learned about that is all FREE! Love that! Their goal is to teach you how to code to help non-profits and to help you learn enough to change careers and find a job as a software engineer. You can join other Free Code Campers on Facebook and learn locally by looking at this link. FCC is even listed on LinkedIn as an educational institution. Check them out and start learning along with other sites like CodeAcademy.

Free Code Camp

FreeCodeCamp

I’m going to Harvard to study CS50 – Computer Science

Well, actually NOT. CS50 is a popular intro course at Harvard, yes, “The Harvard” that has branched out to Miami and now can be taken online for free as an audit course, thanks to LauchCode. You can see the video of how the course is being taught at Miami and you can sign up at this link (cs50 Harvard) and take it yourself from your own computer.

Here’s a sample from the instructor here: 

Uh yeah, I’m getting side-tracked but then again, you gotta admit, this is a pretty cool opportunity. Go sign up and let me know how you like it!

Who’s Ruby? How to start learning Rails with little or no experience.

ruby_and_rails It’s been a while since I’ve updated this site, of course we all get side tracked with life, especially if you’re working another job that’s outside of what you’re trying to learn on the side. After watching a video on a school in New York called Flatirons School – I was inspired to learn more about the school and how they think they can teach anyone to learn to code in 12 weeks, have a 99% employment rate as a coder upon graduation, with no degree and no previous experience in computers and programming. You can watch the video here:

‘Fast track coding academies to good paying jobs.’

One of the things that I find repeated said online with wanna be coders is, “where do I start?” That’s been an ongoing issue for myself as well, even when I find a site that says, ‘this is how to do it.’ I come up with roadblocks in the program downloaded or the training is taught to Mac users (I use a PC, Win 7, 64 bit), or there are other issues where the instructor is not detailed enough and I get caught in a rabbit trail trying to figure out how to do what the tutorial is saying to do.

All that and there are so many choices, the one positive thing I can say is that there is a consensus that learning to code for a beginner with little or no experience, is to look at Rails. Even in the arena of Ruby and Rails followers, there is disagreement on learning Rails first without knowing Ruby first – and then you need to know why you want to learn to code in the first place.

MOTIVATION

Nothing is secure in this world and I’ve always wanted to work from home or remotely and have a flexible schedule. I enjoy my job right now and it offers me benefits and a regular paycheck. Plus, I have a responsibility to a ministry and staff that I can say makes a difference to thousand of people around the world and indirectly to reach millions for Christ. If I put it that way, I would say, “I’m somebody.” But in reality, I also know that I can always be replaced and I’m not taking it for granted that I will have a job tomorrow. With that said and with my interest in computers since I got my first Commodore 64 back in the 80s and had my first “home computer” hooked up to my old black and white TV set, I’ve always been interested in what’s behind the screen, not the hardware, but what makes it tick. My motivation is to be able to create, design, and have the opportunity that I don’t have right now, if I lost my job or relocated or needed time for family, or illness, I could still work if I needed to from my computer.

Others may be motivated to learn to code because they want to get their idea out and not to have to be subject to a coder taking their ideas and waiting for them to get it right. Money is always an issue when hiring a coder and then being subject to working with someone to make your vision a reality. Whatever your motivation, get started, do research and follow a plan.

WHO TO LEARN FROM

So, if you’ve been looking around doing research you’ve found the same online schools that I’ve found. Aren’t you glad you don’t need to spend 4 years in college to do this? Yes for me as I don’t have the time and money to go to college. When I was in college only the nerdy, mathematicians and science majors where looking at studying computer science and programming. Now, with the internet everyone can learn to code and learn enough to start businesses, and find jobs.

STARTING Where Flatiron Students Begin

There are a ton of schools and videos that you could start with so I went to the website for the Flatiron School and looked up where they start their students before they start their coursework. Applying to the Flatiron school is not an option for me at this time as they only do their 12 week programs in-person and in New York city. So, I’m doing the next best thing, I read that their students are required to go through 150 hours of online training from three online sites to get a good foundation. Since it’s so challenging to know where to start, this is where I am going to begin and try, try, try, not to get side tracked when I can’t figure out a piece of what I’m going through. This is where my blog will be going, on the journey to learn how to learn Ruby on Rails. Here’s a link to the prework for the Flatiron school.

Learning to Code using Treehouse and Code School

So I’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to learn more in-depth web coding. I’ve taken a few courses here and there and was always distracted by one thing or another. In addition, many of the sites that I’ve gone to have courses that weren’t as complete as I needed them to be. Finally I heard about Team Treehouse at the last WordCamp in Orlando. The speaker talked about not having enough time to go back to college for four years to learn how to be a programmer but needing and wanting to change his career. I’ve always wanted to learn to code and it can help benefit some of the work that I do in my present job and with the job market being the way it is, web design and development has always been attractive to me, so I checked it out and decided to use a link for a free first month. The basic program is only $25/month, I have a link here that you can get your first two weeks free: click on this link for a trial of Treehouse Learn to Code.treehouse via FB codes

That said, I decided to start with Front End Wed Development – the program is very comprehensive and manageable while working full-time and taking care of family responsibilities. After working a full day, and training for a 5k every-other day, when the day has winded down, I’ll sit at my laptop with an additional monitor (not needed but helpful). I’ll watch the video which each session is 6 to 10 minutes long (give or take) and I’ll have the text editor program open, this is also a built in program so I don’t have to download anything and I don’t get distracted like other courses, Treehouse is all inclusive for this particular course. This course is 21 hours long, I take about 30 to 90 minutes a day with a series of videos and short quizzes which help me to be sure I understand the content.

I also wanted to be sure I get some solid basics in WordPress; although I’ve been using both the dot com and the dot org version of WordPress, I felt like I didn’t have a systematic way of putting together websites if I wanted to self-host on a dot org site. My goal for a project at work will consist of putting together a Forum with instructional videos and text content. It’s a large project considering I’ve never tackled anything like it and I could try to do it without knowing code as I have in the past but I want to learn more and learning on Treehouse tracks are sort of addicting, I want to continue to learn more and figure out the code. I guess you could call me a geek but I feel as I have so much more to learn especially since I don’t have formal training in coding.

My ultimate goal is to be able to create websites using WordPress for organizations, businesses, ministries and myself so that I don’t need to be dependent on a programmer. I want to be able to use my new skills to work for myself if I need or want to earn extra money and I want to be able to help others (non-profits) have a web presence with basics so they can share whatever it is they wish to share.

It’s a big goal for myself but from what I’ve been reading and seeing around me, there are a lot of so-call “self-taught” coders – mainly learning online through various programs like Team Treehouse. For now I’m thinking I’d like to specialize in Web Design and Development and use WordPress to create most of it. I think if I learn the basics in the Front End course I’ll be able to offer clients more than if I only learn WordPress.

After that, there are courses in developing apps for iOs and Android, Ruby on Rails, PHP, Phthon and Starting a Business – which I’ll definitely take. There are a number of other courses that are offered and if you get the higher level of membership for $49 a month, you’ll have more options of learning. There’s even a section on Career Resources and a discount hosting site for you to work on your courses for only $25 a year, (don’t forget to input the discount code for an additional saving) that’s a steal, to work on course projects and not have to pay for the high prices other hosting sites have.

I’ll be writing more as I learn more and go through the programs. Later, after I’ve finished at least one of the courses all the way through, I’ll look at Code School’s online courses, I heard it’s for more advanced learning and they were also merged with another large online company. Looking forward to investing the time.