SPN: 2nd week of Code School brings challenges, hoodies & ice cream

We’ve come a long way in the first two weeks.

We started out small, only coding in Ruby on the command line. Our first assignment was to write a small program to keep track of pets for a humane society. We used a concept called pair-programming, and I got to work with Cara Heacock on this assignment.

We read in pet information from the user and stored it in an array so we could search and update stored values. It was a good first program to recall the skills we had learned during our prework.

Wednesday, we hit our first wall. Instructor Sumeet Jain wanted us to score a game of bowling. Matt Hovanec and I had a really hard time figuring out what classes we needed. It was also the first program we tried to write using RSPEC and Test Driven Development, where you write a series of small tests and then write the code needed to pass those tests.

We ended up having such a hard time with the assignment that we had to skip testing and just try to get it working. This was by far the hardest program we had during the week, but we learned a lot even though we weren’t completely successful.

Then it clicked. Our homework on Thursday was to write a stock portfolio application. We continued our Test Driven Development, and this time it just made sense. I partnered with Kaitlyn Hovanec for this assignment. We were able to cruise through the assignment so quickly our instructor had to come up with more features for us to work on. It was an awesome feeling.

To wrap up the first week, we got a surprise lecture about how we should keep up our physical appearance. Sumeet informed us that we would be implementing a business casual dress code. The entire class had panicked looks on their faces.

Luckily, he was joking. He couldn’t even keep a straight face through the whole thing. We ended up getting our awesome new hoodies and eating some custom eCreamery ice cream the folks at Interface School sent over. All the flavors were named after development skills—it was pretty cool.

Omaha Code School students enjoy treats from eCreamery in their new OCS hoodies. 

Our second week brought many challenges. We switched from command line to web-based projects. To get our websites up and running, we used a gem called Sinatra. Figuring out routes and embedded ruby was difficult at first, but we’re getting the hang of it.

We also started to learn about APIs. If you’re unfamiliar with that term, it stands for Application Programming Interface. Essentially, some developers offer open communication channels to look up information online. Common APIs include stock quotes and weather information.

We used a service from themoviedb.org to build our own movie website. We built web pages on demand with the information retrieved through the API. This was the first project I could really show off to friends and family.

The prework we did before class really did help us get off on the right foot, even though we didn’t exactly know what we were doing at the time.

I think there is a pretty mixed bag as far as difficulty rating. I’m learning a lot of new things and it’s been fairly easy for me. But I am relying a lot on my experiences from coding in college to put the pieces together.

Classmates that don’t have that background take a little longer to get it, but Sumeet is really good about giving us opportunities to ask questions and get help.

Thursday night Sumeet decided that we needed a little break. We walked down to Saints Pub and grabbed some drinks and appetizers. It was a great opportunity to just talk and get to know each other. Fellow students Johnathon LuethLochlan HehrBrandon NorrisAbby Jones and I ended up staying pretty late. It was a good break from the grind of class and good to get to hear stories that we wouldn’t hear from each other in class.

Overall, the class is starting to wear on us a little bit, but we aren’t to the point of exhaustion. We are learning a lot very quickly and that eventually will overwhelm your brain. Not having class on weekends is going to save us mentally going forward.

On Friday from 4:30-7:30 p.m., Omaha Code School is hosting an open house in our space at Midtown Crossing—200 S. 31st Ave., Suite 4107. It is an opportunity for our school to introduce ourselves to the community and answer any questions that people have. I will be there and would love the chance to meet you.

The first two weeks have come and gone. We have learned a lot and the firehose isn’t letting up any time soon. Make sure you’re following along on my blog and feel free to ask me any questions you might have onTwitter.

Want to get in contact with Andy? Tweet at him at @andyvondohren.

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