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redsquirrelsnuts:

Over the past few years I’ve realized that I want to be an active participant in the coming revolution in education. My journey toward this realization has been unexpected and surprising. Over the past 16 years, I’ve worked in group homes of disenfranchised youth, counseled children and…

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Code Academy moves to 1871 in the Spring! #newChicago

I had to have this headline because this is huuge news! Code Academy will be moving to 1871 in the coming spring. Together, 1871 and Code Academy will be “heart of Chicago’s startup ecosystem”, as most eloquently stated in this blog post on Built In Chicago. (I just threw a bunch of links at you. Click on ‘em all!)

My mind was literally blown and joy-induced profanity spewed from my mouth when this news broke on the twittersphere earlier today. This is such great news for all former, current, and future Code Academy students who are all passionate and capable of building Chicago into an even greater innovator. —- he says as he bangs his chest with pride —- :)

That’s right, I’m blogging again! And it only been about a day since the last one. 

Today was an amazingly productive day thanks to @JaretManuel. We went to Alliance Bakery on Division and stayed there from about 930am till about 630pm. I have found it to be extremely motivating to work next to a fellow programmer since we can always ask each other whenever we get stuck. We don’t even have to be working on the same thing but sometimes just phrasing your issues into a succinct question or explanation is all that is required to resolve it.

Finally, what helped make today most productive was the use of User Stories to guide development. I began the day writing a bunch of user stories that became by goals for the day and tackled them one by one. It can be chaos trying to tackle an entire application all at once and user stories helps you structure that chaos.

Speaking of chaos, I attended an enlightening talk by Adrian Holovaty (one of the creators of the Django framework) at Refresh Chicago last night. He preached a seemingly obvious idea of taking existing chaotic data, recognizing patterns, and structuring that data. But Adrian made this key point that a lot of journalism and online content (including this blog post) is unstructured. I’m putting in a lot of data into this post (and a lot of fluff) and it’s not being used anywhere. I’m not a good example but, just think, there a lot of online content creators who are entering their text content into a large text box and all that data is being lost. Adrian suggested a novel idea where writers would have to embed tags into their content to enrich it even more. I think this is a brilliant idea and makes a stronger case for everyone who writes (or just everyone) to learn a programming language.

 Congratulations to Code Academy founders and faculty for today’s big news! You guys are awesome! 

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BOOM…And all of a sudden, it’s the end of Week 6!

Wow, it seems like it was last week that I had started Code Academy. At the same time, it is insane to think about how far I have come in terms of understanding the foundations of the web, ruby, and rails. I began Code Academy with a promise that I would try to blog often and clearly I have not followed through with it. It is definitely disappointing but it’s never too late to start. And so I start now with a quick summary of some important things that have happened in the past 6 weeks (can’t believe it’s been that long).

As much as I gushed over the amazing teaching techniques of our instructor, Jeff Cohen, in the Week 1 blog post, I have only more great things to say about him…but for now I shall stick to blog about what he has taught me.

Let’s start with demystifying the web. For every website that I go to (amazon, yahoo sports, tumblr, etc), I take notice of its url. And how that link can be processed as a route to a particular controller and action with an “:id” or query-string parameters that can be accessed in the controller to help find exactly the right data to be displayed in the view page. Long run-on sentence! The fact that I can mentally map out the process that undertakes when I go to a website like amazon.com lifts a huge veil off of my eyes. And it is a big deal for my generation because we spend a great deal of our lives online. Everyone should know at least the basics of how it all works!

I will work on that problem soon enough but, for now, back to the code. At the end of week 3, I built a simple TO-DO list application (TaskApp) to test my understanding of Rails foundations. It was a very gratifying experience and definitely an eye-opener to the holes in my understanding of the concepts covered in class. It was clear that simply “understanding” a concept at the end of a class did NOT mean that I knew it. In this case, I struggled with domain modeling, mapping the needs of my application. It was particularly tough to decide whether a certain piece of data in my application required a model of its own or would suffice as simple an attribute of a particular model. On top of that, I realized that there was a lot of code in my controller and in my view that performed logic on the data being processed. And Jeff, our instructor, had specifically told us that that was the job of the model. Pretty soon, during Code Academy’s Startup Weekend, I heard the phrase “skinny controllers and fat models” and have been attempting implement this ever since. In weeks 5 and especially week 6, it became clearer why this is crucial to MVC architecture and to making sure that your database only saves valid data.

Code Academy’s Startup Weekend took place February 11-13th and it was a blast. Friday evening, a lot of people pitched their ideas and we voted them down to 6 ideas. I had many ideas but I was really interested in focusing on the building/coding aspect of it. I really liked Dan Lavin's (@danlavin) idea, he aims to tackle the problem of information overload (a problem I live with everyday) and he calls it InfoGraphic.ly. On sunday, after about 40 hours of work, we finished a very MVP of which I was very proud. More than the product though, it was an amazing learning experience. Our team owes a lot to @benjreinhart, a Groupon developer and Code Academy mentor, who spent a lot of the weekend explaining some key concepts in proper Github collaboration workflow. We must have spend 15 hours on understanding how to collaborate properly on Github. And, although we didn't fully get it to work, by the end of the weekend I could see the benefits of using it correctly and couldn't wait to start using it on my next project. ALSO —- we BUILT something! It wasn't just a discussion on big ideas and the market potential and blah blah. It was in fact about distilling the idea into its simplest form and understanding exactly what customer need it solves and what exactly is absolutely necessary to solve that need. It was beautiful. (tear)

Ok, this blog post has gone on long enough. I’ll be back tomorrow talking about an awesome Chicago Ruby Hack Night, Code Academy’s Code Cloud, why blogging is so hard for me and how it parallels some challenges I have with coding.

Phew…done with this long overdue post…PUBLISH!

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Week 1: Stop Dreamin’, Start Doin’

Sometimes I think it’s all a dream. Then I realize, no it’s not, it’s reality. About half way through week 1 of Code Academy (CA), I had to pinch myself to make sure it’s not all a “dream within a dream”. Okay, enough Inception references. 

Week 1 of Code Academy is in the books and it was an amazing week. My friends have already called me out on using the word “awesome” too much this past week so I will try to diversify my vocabulary when recapping my experience.

The first couple classes of CA have been an inspiring introduction to interesting and passionate people from very diverse backgrounds (including the CA staff itself). Don’t get me wrong, we are all here to become developers. To learn and to build. But, there is so much to learn from each others’ paths in life and there are many opportunities to build together. The Code Academy staff certainly establishes a collaborative environment and pushes students to work together on all occasions. Personally, working and learning along side each of my fellow CA classmates is what I am really looking forward to in the coming weeks. Pair programming with a different classmate every day adds an entirely new dimension to the material that I’m learning. Each pair tackles problems and communicates a little differently. In doing so, the material that I’ve learned and the way in which I’ve learned it is different and interesting every day.

Tip: Pair program with everyone!

BUT WAIT — did I mention Jeff yet?? 

Jeff Cohen, our instructor, is the one who makes a lot of it possible. On top of being incredibly patient and approachable, Jeff has this uncanny ability to explain core programming concepts in plain, relatable ENGLISH!! In writing this post, I now wonder if Jeff has access to some kind of universal translator - like the one in that all-time classic movie Men In Black. I must also give credit to my classmates because everyone asks a lot of questions, which is extremely important to the whole learning process. In addition, Jeff seems to have no qualms about answering any number of questions about the concepts he is laying out. And I don’t know if there is anyone else you’d rather have explain a tough concept to you other than Jeff.

Tip: Don’t hesitate to ask questions!

There’s lots more to say and I will make it a habit of chronicling events and experiences as they happen. But right now, there’s a lot to read, people to meet, and practice..practice..practice. 

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danharmon:

From the room in which Remedial Chaos Theory was broken by Chris McKenna and writers.  I’m sorry, that’s not accurate.  The room in which Chris McKenna and writers were broken by Remedial Chaos Theory.  Thank you so much for your patience and sacrifices, guys.

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bgeblog:

4G, besides not existing outside the USA, isn’t ready inside it. 

bgeblog:

4G, besides not existing outside the USA, isn’t ready inside it. 

(via benedictevans)

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jmak:

Thanks, Steve.
Posting designs like this one makes me paranoid, because I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not original. I enjoyed the process regardless, but please let me know if somebody else beat me to the idea!
Thoughts?

jmak:

Thanks, Steve.

Posting designs like this one makes me paranoid, because I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not original. I enjoyed the process regardless, but please let me know if somebody else beat me to the idea!

Thoughts?

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jeremydwill:

How to Work Better

jeremydwill:

How to Work Better

(via jeremydwill)

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pieratt:

You have an inherent need to solve problems, visually and conceptually. There is enormous value in this, but you may be misplacing your talents.

The internet, at this time in history, is the greatest client assignment of all time. The Western world is porting itself over to the web in mind and…

(Source: pieratt)

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What makes turntable.fm better than Pandora is that I’m not being fed music from an algorithm that has precalculated my preferences based on some choices I made in a few minutes. I’m hearing someone else’s taste. I’m breaking out of the content bubble.

What makes turntable.fm better than Pandora is that I’m not being fed music from an algorithm that has precalculated my preferences based on some choices I made in a few minutes. I’m hearing someone else’s taste. I’m breaking out of the content bubble.

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Floating Girl

THE FIRST OF MANY GREAT PIECES FROM THE INKSLINGER!

inkslingerkartha:


Let’s go out tonight

wash away in waves of light

in a sea of arms, I get the mood

Forget all the things I couldn’t do 

Forget all the things I didn’t even try to do 


Catch a guy’s eye my body is substantiated

my number, a lie my life has dissipated

Scraps of approval gone astray 

Keeping my productivity at bay

 I’m floating away


Floating away to who the hell knows

Who do I owe

for these currents that don’t need me to row

I reap what others sow



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thedailywhat:

This Is Funny, You Should Watch It of the Day: ONN’s morning talk show Today Now! scores an exclusive interview with five-year-old Chris Morgan, the acclaimed Hollywood scribe responsible for the latest installment in the Fast and the Furious film series, Fast Five.

[onn / ifc.]

(via thedailywhat)

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(Source: icanread)

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thedailywhat:

Science Experiment of the Day: Toppenish High School student Gaby Rodriguez spent nearly her entire senior year faking a pregnancy for a school project.
Only her mother, her boyfriend, a few friends, and the school’s principal were in on the ruse — her teachers, classmates, and six of her seven siblings were none-the-wiser. The point she was trying to make? “Teenagers tend to live in the shadows of [stereotypes, rumors and statistics],” Gaby told an all-school assembly at Wednesday’s grand reveal of her presentation, aptly titled “stereotypes, rumors and statistics.”
“Many things were said about me. Many things traveled all the way back to me,” she told the room, before asking students and teachers to read aloud statements made during the course of her experiment criticizing her and blaming the pregnancy. “Her attitude is changing, and it might be because of the baby or she was always this annoying and I never realized it,” read one such statement. “I’m fighting against those stereotypes and rumors because the reality is I’m not pregnant,” Gaby said before exposing a baby bump made of wire mesh and cotton quilt batting.
“She sacrificed her senior year to find out what it would be like to be a potential teen mom,” principal Trevor Greene told the Yakima Herald. “I admire her courage. I admire her preparation. I give her mother a lot of credit for backing her up on this.”
[herald / obscurestore.]

thedailywhat:

Science Experiment of the Day: Toppenish High School student Gaby Rodriguez spent nearly her entire senior year faking a pregnancy for a school project.

Only her mother, her boyfriend, a few friends, and the school’s principal were in on the ruse — her teachers, classmates, and six of her seven siblings were none-the-wiser. The point she was trying to make? “Teenagers tend to live in the shadows of [stereotypes, rumors and statistics],” Gaby told an all-school assembly at Wednesday’s grand reveal of her presentation, aptly titled “stereotypes, rumors and statistics.”

“Many things were said about me. Many things traveled all the way back to me,” she told the room, before asking students and teachers to read aloud statements made during the course of her experiment criticizing her and blaming the pregnancy. “Her attitude is changing, and it might be because of the baby or she was always this annoying and I never realized it,” read one such statement. “I’m fighting against those stereotypes and rumors because the reality is I’m not pregnant,” Gaby said before exposing a baby bump made of wire mesh and cotton quilt batting.

“She sacrificed her senior year to find out what it would be like to be a potential teen mom,” principal Trevor Greene told the Yakima Herald. “I admire her courage. I admire her preparation. I give her mother a lot of credit for backing her up on this.”

[herald / obscurestore.]

(Source: thedailywhat)

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theatlantic:

Now that the New York Times pay wall is live, you only get 20 free clicks a month. For those worried about hitting their limit, we’re taking a look through the paper each morning to find the stories that can make your clicks count.

On the top of the Times this morning is a don’t-miss story about gay students at Christian colleges. Skip the story on Standard & Poor’s wake-up call to the administration—it’s on every front page today. The paper’s coverage of Libya continues to be outstanding and this media rich reporton refugees humanizes the conflict. There are a number of oil spill stories as it’s a day shy of the one-year anniversary—conserve your clicks and just read this one.

World: Depending on your mood, you should start either with this piece about the region’s reaction to the continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan or this piece on Camilla at the Royal Wedding. You might also find this memo from Havana detailing the status quo in Cuba interesting. This look at Robert Mugabe’s intimidation tactics is also interesting.

U.S.: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s two vetoes—one killing a birther bill, the other a controversial gun law—will be covered by everyone. Instead, check out this well-done story of the recent Southern storms or this report about the ongoing campaign to keep online poker (and the lobbyists waging it). And if you’re at all like us, you just can’t get enough of the Francis Ford Coppola-like epic unfolding at the mob trials in New York.

Read more at The Atlantic Wire and make the most of your clicks.

Very cool utility to hurdle the nytimes pay wall