The Firehose Project Week 1

I have been trying to learn to code on and off for years. Since creating my first website from html in 2006 whilst at university I have had ideas for sites I want to create. I have tried many different tutorials and many different languages to try and implement the ideas I had. I never really got anywhere. Over the years I understood more and more about what I was doing and even managed to get a rough prototype of one of the features I wanted to implement. I just didn’t really understand what I had done. If something went wrong I just kept trying things until it worked. The online tutorials helped but I kept getting stuck. I knew to be able to to move forward I needed to understand what I was doing.

What I wanted from an online bootcamp

I was going to need some help. I looked at several online paid courses but I decided I really needed the help of a mentor. Someone who would not only be able to help me when I got stuck but would know the best ways to build off of what I already knew and personalize the curriculum to focus on my weaknesses. I researched programs that offered mentors like crazy. I narrowed it down to a couple but The Firehose Project quickly ended up in the lead. One of the main factors was the fact that the curriculum could be customized and the friendly and helpful but non pressurized responses I got from my emails answering all of my questions.

I also really wanted a course where lots of the materials were text based rather than videos. Since I am going to be doing most of my coding at work I need to be able to do it discretely rather than watching videos. I am lucky that I work for my brother on a reception and appart from greeting patients and answering the phone and a few admin jobs I can do my own thing. I can’t really sit on reception watching videos but I can work away on my laptop working through the materials. The Firehose Project has a big win in this area.

Reflection on my first week in the program

One week in I have completed two of the three apps. I am loving the design tips and tricks to make our websites look really professional without the need to be a designer, which I am certainly not. I have been working through the Ruby Monks Primer course to try and get the basics of Ruby in my head. The trouble I am having is that I understand what is happening on the screen and can explain it, I am just having trouble in applying all the concepts I have learnt to new problems. This is something which I need to work on.

Although I have finished two apps this week on reflection I feel like I need to go back and reread the materials to make sure I fully understand what is going on. I have had lots of practice following tutorials and tend to get in the habit of copying and pasting code without understanding it. I feel like flying through the materials gives the impression of making great progress when in reality you are not understanding all of what you are doing. I need to get out of this habbit.

I have been amazed this week at just how helpful and friendly everyone is on the slack channel. I think it is going to be an invaluable resource in the coming weeks.

What I have learnt this week

  • How to use an alternative database to the rails default one (postgres)
  • That there are various CSS online resources where you can get ideas for cool styling.
  • How to send automated emails. I think I have sort of set this up in the past but had no clue what was going on.

what I want to focus on next week

  • The coding challenges both on The Firehose Project and alternative sites such as Codewars are definitely one of my weaknesses. I thought I was fairly good at logical problems but I think I need to work on understanding how to use the methods I am learning to solve them.
  • Really getting the basics of Ruby understood as I feel this is one of the fundamentals I really need to understand to make everything else easier.
  • Slowing down when moving through the curriculum and actually read what is written whether I think I know it or not.