Monday, 9 February 2015

the_simulation_game || theTheoryOfEverythingMakers

Inspiration and Tragedy

It’s awards season and this year has seen some great films. For me, Sir Alan Turing and The Imitation Game is the most inspiring tragedies that has ever happened.

It’s time for world leaders to stand together and support the LGBT community, just like they have for race and colour. Then at least this is one step towards equal rights for everyone, and labels such as ‘feminist’ should not exist because they should not have to.  In a human world, people are accepted. There is no need for further embellishment because this is the bottom line.

I sincerely hope Sir Alan Turing is recognised for his life and for what he has done, and that we apologise to his memory for how we treated him.

Incredible… Not only to formulate an idea, and unlike Da Vinci, he had the vision to make it… He had the resilience to stand firm behind his vision when everyone around him said it couldn’t be done, and to save a society which did not accept him and persecuted him. This is love, this is courage. He had the virtues of a human leader.  

So he broke a code, I’m learning to code…

Reading Week

Week 6 was a blessing, we were given an opportunity to catch up and absorb everything we have experienced at Makers.

For me, I took the opportunity to learn more javascript. I had become curious as to why this archaic language, which was written in 10 days, is emerging as the developers language of choice. It’s full of ‘functions’, prototypes and you dare not miss a ‘()’or ‘;’ because this may leave you frustrated for hours trying to find out as to why your code hasn’t worked.

Javascript is not as elegant as ruby, and it’s rather ‘chunky’. With all the ‘()’ and ‘;’ it looks like a sort of slithery animal traversing your screen (that’s if you have the indentation correct), but it is functional, and I like it. With new technology such as Node.js, you can be a javascript developer and be able to write front and back end code… To be a full stack developer using only one language? Wow!!! This is powerful.

Learning javascript has helped me understand ruby, and vice versa so when I revisited Ruby, a lot of things have just jumped out at me and I am much more confident with Ruby.

While I am on the topic about Ruby, I would like to recommend the following books if you are considering learning to code:

  1. Computer Science Programming Basics in Ruby by Frieder, Frieder and Grossman. (Stephen passed me his personal copy as this helped him when he joined Makers as a coach)
  2. Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby by Sandi Metz. (Highly Recommended once you are up and running in Ruby).


Week 7 was Node.js week. Node is a huge topic and we could spend 12 weeks learning Node and would not cover everything for it. Node modules, (NPM’s) are being created every day and the library is growing at a faster rate than ruby gem files.

Node is a new technology and is not as stable as other frameworks just yet, but it’s in favour with developers at the moment and is definitely worth investing time and knowledge into this technology.

I am not quite there yet with Node, I have not finished writing my Github api using node and javascript, but the one thing I have learned since being at Makers is that I will be able to, in my own time.

What has Week 8 got in store?

Well… It’s Valentines Day this Saturday, but before I can set my sights on romance, I have to make an app.

I said it… I HAVE TO MAKE AN APP… 

It’s MAKERTHON!!! It’s a dry run before our final projects at Makers.

This means I only have one more week of learning, that’s next week when we will be learning Rails.

My time at Makers is almost coming to an end as a student, but I will be welcome back as alumni and there are many alumni still around, helping, learning and coaching when they can.  They are invaluable.

So I gotta get back to it, make the most of my time at Makers J

Friday, 23 January 2015

End of Week 5... It's flying by

Hi everyone,

I’m taking sometime out on a beautiful winter Friday afternoon at Makers to let you know what’s been happening.  

I hope you are well, January seems to be flying by, or maybe its just me, encapsulated in a shell where there does not seem to be enough time to do everything I want to do.  There is so much to learn, and yet, I wish I could freeze time and be able to read and learn all that I want… I wish there was a matrix type plug where knowledge can be uploaded into my brain… The way things are progressing in the tech industry, this may be possible in our lifetime.

Makers is not just about Coding

It is cold outside, but a lunchtime game of football followed by a codejam will warm you up. There is a five-a-side football pitch belonging to a community centre next door to Makers, which we can book and forget about the coding for an hour. This is great and long may it continue.

Last night, Dana, our Chief Joy Officer, put on a games night for us with alcohol and pizza. She looks after our wellbeing, organising yoga and meditation sessions throughout the day. She is great!


Codejam is a fun and challenging 1hr every Friday, it started last week, and was co-created by our wonderful alumni helpers Denise and Nicci. We are put into teams of four, mixture of both cohorts, and we are set two Ruby kata’s which we have to solve in a TDD environment. We write the tests and write the code, under pressure from time and competing against the other teams.

I feel like my contribution in Codejam has been minimal thus far, I have been to both weeks. My confidence is low so I am more a spectator, but I will keep going and I will keep learning, and having fun. It’s a great idea.. So double hands up for Denise and Nicci!!! Whoop Whoop!!!

What we have been learning

This week, we’ have made a Thermostat using javascript and jquery which has buttons and changing colours corresponding to energy usage … It’s pretty cool. Now I just need to learn HTML and CSS to style my page. So that’s learning javascript, jquery, HTML and CSS, simultaneously.  My head hurts…

Last week we were making our own bookmark manager before being set our weekend challenge - create our own version of Twitter… We used Ruby, Sinatra, and capybara. I am struggling with this so I will have to go back and do it again.  Don’t worry, I am used to this J


I have been increasing my morning gym visits, I have been 3 times this week. I exercise for 30mins in the morning before I get into Makers, luckily there is a gym on the way, which is really convenient. My goal is to make it five days in a row next week… We shall see… Oh… And to change my diet… I am not so sure about that… A good friend from my last job, Curly Steve, told me the reason he goes to the gym is so that he can eat what he likes… I have taken this as my reason!

So, I better get back to learning how to code… What shall I do… Javascript? HTML? CSS? And now node? What??? Come on…

I would advise anyone who is thinking about doing this course to get some familiarity on all of the above… It certainly helps and you will get a lot more from the course.

Oh, and Makers has now started an online course, so you can do what I am doing in the comfort of your own home…

Something to think about…. S’later…

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Week 3 - The value of conversation and collaboration

Hi everyone...

I hope your first week back at work/school was not to bad. It's always tough this week, so I am gradually easing myself back into the routine starting with only one gym session... I might try 2 next week ;-)

First week back at Makers and it has flown by. We had been developing the front end for our back end battleships programme this week. The front end is the user interface and this is what you would see if you play my battleships game. This was fun, creating web pages and seeing the visualisations that I had created, be them very basic...

So what have we been learning this week?

This week has been about the web. I thought we were going to learn about Sinatra, which is a Ruby web application framework. Once we started delving into Sinatra, it became apparent that we would be also be using Cucumber and Capybara. I had set myself to focus on one technology, only to be ambushed by two more.

This is Makers and this is what they do!  (This is a good thing!)

Cucumber is a software tool that is used for testing other software. It runs automated acceptance tests written in a behaviour-driven development (BDD) style.

Capybara helps you test web applications by simulating how a real user would interact with your app.

Fortunately for me, I had dropped all the stress and anxiety I had over the holidays, just before the course re-started, otherwise I may have been in a bit of a pickle... This took a lot of work, and conversations with my fiancée and an incredibly special lady, Sian Morgan, who could be described as a psychologist, life coach, author, advisor and many more. I describe her as “someone you just have to talk to”.

My fiancée is in the process of launching her business, The Human Leaders, in which she is seeking to inspire a change of working culture to create sustainable business and promote the values she has highlighted on The Human Leaders manifesto.

Please check out the Facebook page

Together, they helped me understand the difference between “knowing” and “believing”. By believing, I let go of the stress and the negative thoughts that I was not learning, and instead, I just cracked on with it… I was able to find my flow-state… On Friday afternoon, I sat down at my desk at 1330hrs, put on some focus music and started the HTML & CSS course on Codeacademy while working on my weekend challenge simultaneously. I got up again at 2000hrs to go home.

I would not advise this, but sometimes, it happens, and you just gotta roll with it.

What a difference 24hrs can make!

Thursday was a bad day for me. I was knocked off my stride because I found myself working alone, working on the Battleships web app using technology that I had never used before. My pairing partner had decided to create his own version, staying up until 5am, and therefore he was in no state to pair program.

The previous two days were brilliant. Our collaboration creating our joint app was going really well and we had made great progress. Our conversations for our app design were extremely useful and are important in all app design.

I found the transition from pair programming, to working on my own with no one to bounce ideas back and forth very difficult, and not something I would recommend to any novice programmers.

The week had highlighted the incredible value and power of conversation and collaboration, and why Makers is so keen to promote Pair Programming.

What is a weekend?

I must confess… I am a Downton Abbey fan. Last night I watched episode 2 from the first series, and there was a line from the Dowager Countess of Grantham in which she asks the dinner table “What is a week-end?” I was in stitches, but I can relate to her question during my time at Makers.

I have created a “to-do” list that includes Ruby refresher, some pre-reading for next week and the weekend challenge - to create a Rock paper Scissors game for the web.

This is a rolling “to-do” list… Seems like I’ll be carrying this list with me for many years to come, I am, however, ready for next week… Something to do with databases… I genuinely can’t wait…

I’ll keep you posted J

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Happy New Year 2015

“So many of our dreams seem at first impossible. Then they seem improbable. And then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
Nelson Mandela

Happy New Year! I hope you have all had a great holiday season!

Christmas Party 2014

Our final day of term at Makers was like the last day of term at school, everyone was winding down and had thoughts set on the holiday season. The Makers Academy Christmas party was great, there were speeches from Sam and Evgeny highlighting how Makers has grown and to remind everyone the Makers ethos… In particular to become knowledge predators!

I was really glad to have two weeks to relax, reassess and move forward with my learning.  

I was set two challenges, to create a takeaway program and to redesign my own ‘inject’ method. I had already set my own goals to work my way through ‘The Well Grounded Rubyist. Then, as I was about to settle into the holidays, I received an email with five more tasks to work through over the two weeks… WHAT????? Panic set in…

I have not relaxed the last two weeks.

So what is it?

I could not figure out what was wrong. I tried to relax but my neck and shoulders have been so tense, I tried to code but my heart was not in it. It has taken me until now to work out what it is…

I am afraid that I have not been learning as much as I could have been.
I am afraid that I am falling behind everyone else.
I am afraid that I will not pick up coding.
I am afraid that I have left a secure job.
I am afraid I may have made an expensive mistake.
I am afraid of failing!!!!

How can I be in the right mindset to learn if I have all of this hanging over me?

I realise I have not learnt an important lesson.

Being Present!

My fiancée and I had planned a magical weekend in Pembrokeshire which, although I was there, I missed out because my mind was on coding so I did not appreciate the tranquil beauty of my surroundings. Furthermore, my worries have manifested into negative energies which, as much as I did not want it to, it has also affected my fiancée. It has been a tough two weeks for us.

During times that I did spend coding, my mind was wandering elsewhere and I would be easily distracted, for example buying bioethanol gel for our indoor burner, buying a new desk, hotels in Santorini, to name but a few.

A gentle reminder to myself…

The holiday served to remind me of this lesson… to be fully present, to be fully committed in what I am doing, and to live life in this way, and in so doing, my experiences would be richer.

The quote above from Nelson Mandela was brought to my attention at a time when I needed to be reminded. When I started this journey, I had my dreams of what I wanted to become. I had forgotten that vision, replacing the dreams with fears.

I have summoned the will to learn again and I am fully committed. I will go into 2015 with the mindset that there is no failure or success, only to experience life completely.

2015… Give it me with both barrels!!!!

I am back at Makers tomorrow when we will be creating a user interface for our Battleships game. This will be fun and this time next week I may have a game for you to play at home…