Part 1: Getting create-react-native-app working

(Please note: Some people like stories, others just want to know what to do. If you are in a “Just cut to the chase and tell me what to do” mood, you can skip to the EVEN SIMPLER SUMMARY at the end. You’ll miss some cool stuff and extra hints, but hey, I understand sometimes you just want to get on with it!)

In 2012 a highly publicized series of rapes in Delhi left many people saying the city was simply too dangerous for women. But Anandana Kapur saw a very different reality. …

Getting Clickable Buttons Working

The folks at Facebook (who created React and React Native) actually provided a great basic tutorial that you can find at It won’t take you long to get through it, and you will discover that

  • It tells you how to create clickable buttons, which you will need for this app, and
  • It does NOT tell you how to play videos on your AmazingApp.

First, I made myself a couple of buttons, and so can you.

Let’s make sure the buttons actually do something when we click them. THEN we can make them play videos.

You’ll see that the tutorial suggests you have the buttons flash an alert on the screen when they’re clicked.

Import the Right Components

Everything you need to do…

Getting a video player working with react and expo

Unfortunately, the react-native-app tutorial does NOT tell us how to play a video.

Remembering my mentor’s mantra, “Google is my friend,” I searched for “React Native Play Video. I found a bunch of links, including several about using a component called “react-native-video.”

THE GOOD NEWS: One of the links even led me to an example, and when I copied the code and ran it on the ios simulator as suggested, it worked!

THE BAD NEWS: I wanted to use it with expo so I could see it on my phone. But when I tried just copying and pasting the code…

Adding a forward and a back button to step through a whole sequence of videos

We realized that simply having a list of videos with a button next to each would break up the flow of the story we wanted to tell, so wedecided to use the buttons in another way: When the viewer reached the end of one video, she would be able to simply click a single button to go right on to the next “chapter.” If she wanted to revisit the previous video, she could click another button to go back.

How could we most easily accomplish this? Well, part of the strength of React and React Native is how they keep…


I love the next section of my portfolio. It lists all the applications I will have actually written by the time I’m through with the Firehose program. A quote generator. A Yelp clone. And a bunch of others including a program I will write as part of a software development team, using the same process (it’s called “agile”) real — that is, employed! — software developers use. My tech daughter Shira has even talked about agile “sprints” in her job. What will we be creating together? Right — a chess game! Now THAT will be a real sign that I’ve…

WEEK 22: Already?!

It kind of snuck up on me. I was so busy doing Katas from Interview Cake and finishing Firehose Lessons and getting things working on the Wookie chess app that I could hardly believe it when all at once we were having our last agile team meeting.

I’d solved some cool problems — like how to make castling work as soon as the person moving had let go of his king (Since this is the only time the king moves two spaces at once I told the program to check that the move was legal and then if it was…


This week I began to review what I’ve learned about JavaScript — most notably, the first 2 chapters of You don’t Know JavaScript — FABULOUS! — and once again felt more like I actually UNDERSTAND some of this stuff.

Then I went ahead and applied to Stelligent (see above). And got letters back from them saying that actually they’re currently looking only for a mid-level developer and I don’t fill the bill. But maybe later…

Well, at least I’m in the game.

The BEST thing that happened this week was that (folowing up on a hint in the job prep…


Now that I’ve finished the regular Firehose App-building lessons, it’s time to divide my time between the Agile team building our Wookie chess-playing app and various forms of job prep.

An enjoyable part of that has been updating my portfolio to show pictures of and links to all the apps I’ve been building. I’ve also updated the writeups, including my opening statement.

By the time I got it done, I really FELT how much I’ve truly become a software engineer. If you like, you can check out my gorgeous new portfolio by clicking here.


To dip my toe in the…


Working on the Wookie chess app this week, I was working on the welcome page and thought it would be cool to put basic instructions on how to play the game into a modal, returning people after they’d read it to a less cluttered page.

Then I realized I could put the form people will use to offer a new game into a modal as well (actually a different modal if they want to play a game as White from the one they’ll use to offer a game in which they play Black).

And it occurred to me that thinking…

Kalen Hammann

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