Getting to Know the Command Line

There’s so much to know, and scratching the surface was very much like a bad date. But instead of glancing to my phone waiting for a miracle to get me out of the situation, I was glancing to and from tutorials typing carefully as I was learning how the command line likes to speak.

The Command Line was the topic I met with the most resistance in my coding journey thus far. After all, why learn the Command Line when all of the tasks can be done manually (queue nails on a chalk board)? The user interface is bland, you can’t “build” anything with it, and memorizing commands sounds so boring to me. However, while I was building my first project, I faced the resistance head on and began getting comfortable with some commands that have smoothed out my workflow and I now use every day.

Command Line Basics

The Terminal application on the Mac is where you can have some command line fun. Basically the terminal is an interface you can interact with and displays information about your computer— the files, folders, users etc.

Creating folders from the command line is important because it helps you stay organized. When I began working on my project, I had to create a path to store it that would make sense. From my Home folder on my user account for my mac, I created a folder called Development by typing:

mkdir Development

This is where all my code will be stored.

Then, I went into the folder I had just created by typing:

cd Development

In order to create two more folders, because not all code will be for projects:

mkdir projects; mkdir labs 

I’m going to have several projects and many labs, so it’s best to keep these separate. Also, this is how you can type several commands on one line separating each with a ; so you don’t have to press enter each time you want to run a task!

Bonus:

I didn’t have to do this while I was building my project, but here is how to add a file, remove a file, and remove a directory:

touch kittens.rb; rm kittens.rb; rmdir all-the-kittens 

Back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Next, I had to figure out how to interact with my GitHub account through the command line so my project could go from being stored locally to the interwebs for the world to see (and so I could also download later should anything happen to my local files or if I needed to retract to a previous version of my project…. anyways…)!

First I created a new repository on GitHub which I named after my local project, yay naming convention!

Then, I went back to my terminal to initialize my local directory as a GitHub repository:

git init

I then made sure my new local repository had all the files from my project:

git add .

Next, I had to commit (think prepare to publish) the files I’ve staged in my local repository:

git commit -m"First commit"

Then, I had to set up the path where my local repository will be “published” or pushed. It will be pushed to the repository url I just created on GitHub. I copied and pasted “git@github.com:mccarronmollye/codenewbiepod.git” per guidance from GitHub, where they explained how to connect your local repository to GitHub if you have started the project locally.

(Note: The breakdown of the path was essentially “git@github.com:username/project.git”)

git remote add origin git@github.com:mccarronmollye/codenewbiepod.git

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for, I get to push my project to GitHub!

git push -u origin master

Bonus:

Say I wanted to work on my project from my friend’s laptop. All I would have to do is go to my repository on my GitHub account, click ‘Clone or Download’, make sure I’m using SSH key, and click the clipboard symbol in order to copy the repository path.

Then, in my terminal I would type:

git clone 'git@github.com:mccarronmollye/codenewbiepod.git'

In order to get the project onto my machine so I could work on it! Voila!

When I’m finished I would run through the following (explained above) in order to have the most up to date version on GitHub:

git add .
git commit -m 'list out some updates you have made'
git push

Note: adding a descriptive message is very important so you can know at a high level what kind of changes you’ve made or features you built.

I can now say I know the Command Line a bit better now, and will continue to make the effort to learn its features! What are some commands you use on a daily basis that aren’t mentioned above? I’d love to know!

I Completed My First Coding (Bootcamp) Project!

The training wheels have been removed…

Building my first project for my coding bootcamp was quite the experience. The challenge was to build a CLI gem and use Ruby to scrape data from a website. I decided to scrape https://www.codenewbie.org/podcast. The Codenewbie Podcast is my go-to resource to learn about different topics and different roles in the tech industry. It’s also my #1 resource for coding inspiration when I feel like giving up. Often times guests on the show are career changers and self taught developers I can relate to.

My program lists all of Codenewbie’s podcast episodes with each episode’s relevant information such as the episode’s title, guest, and air date. Additionally, a user can interact with my program through their terminal and retrieve the url link for any episode in order to listen to the interview.

The due date of the project coincided with the holidays, so I had a lot of friends and family checking in and asking me how school was. I repeatedly went back to my bicycle analogy.

I am swerving heavily and am wobbly yet defiant as I ride my two wheeler.

The training wheels which were removed:

  • Using learn.co as an editor. Learn.co is Flatiron’s built in house code editor and is extremely helpful. The platform runs tests and submits pull requests to GitHub using human friendly commands such as learn and learn submit, respectively. However, I used this project as an opportunity to work with building a program locally in order to replicate a more authentic developer experience. I successfully installed Atom and connected my local files to Github using the command line. Getting comfortable with the command line was not easy, as I was following Youtube tutorials and was memorizing what to do. I had to repeat the process several times to truly understand what was happening.
  • RubyGem setup. Prior to starting my project, I never had to set up a RubyGem. Our labs already had a neatly organized library to work off of. Also, we didn’t have a lab to practice how to fill out the relevant info needed to create a gem, but I followed this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrAOlk6qoiM which proved to be very helpful! However, like I previously mentioned, the issue with recorded videos is that I tend to go through the motions- copying the instructor without truly understanding what’s going on. I had to watch the video 3 times before I felt like it seeped in.
  • Labs. Before this project, I had a neat container to learn in. Most labs are heavily focused on just a few topics with clearly written tests. However, when I went to plan out my project, I felt overwhelmed thinking about all of the concepts my project had to include. I knew I needed a different strategy. I followed along with Avi’s method on how to build a CLI Gem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lDExWIhYKI, and I really liked his method of tackling a project. Avi stresses the importance of only focusing on the task at hand (1 or 2 objectives), completing the task, and then the next step will reveal itself. It was a playful approach to a lofty project, and I was able to make steady progress. It was fun to react to the quick decisions I was making.

I have alluded to this, but the toughest part about this project was everything besides the coding. The coding was a process I was familiar with. Strategy and setup are new and less straightforward topics for me. I was able to talk over my struggles with RubyGem setup with my Cohort Lead in our 1:1, and the strategy to tackle the project with my classmates. Although this was a solo project, having help and support from my cohort made me feel like I wasn’t in this alone. Overall I’m proud of the work I did and am excited that this is just the beginning!

P.S. Here’s a walkthrough of the app!

Beginner’s Tips for Excelling at Flatiron’s Coding Bootcamp

I’ve completed 4 weeks of a coding bootcamp, and although this may seem like a short time, I have learned some valuable lessons which improved my overall strategy for success for Flatiron’s Online Full-time Software Engineering Immersion. See below for some tips I wish I had before starting the program!

Additional resources are recommended!

I enrolled in Flatiron’s Software Engineering program because of the structure it offered, among other things, for my ambitious trek to learn how to code. However, I realized that Flatiron’s content, although very helpful, is not the end all be all for my uphill battle to learn how to code. This makes sense, when learning any type of skill, it’s best to have a portfolio of resources to gain different perspectives or to fill in the gaps.

Not only will Google be your friend, but books will be too. I opted for “Head First Ruby”, although another classmate of mine is reading “Eloquent Ruby”. Both seem accessible to beginners, and cover content that may educate the more seasoned Ruby developer.

Focus on 1 test at a time: learn –f-f.

Labs! A big part of Flatiron’s teaching style seems to be learning by doing, doing many labs! In order to complete a lab you have to pass the tests by writing code. Some labs have a few tests while others have many. I learned that it’s best to tackle one test at a time. This sounds like a no brainer, but it’s hard to work on one test at a time if all of the failed tests are listed out in your terminal. If all of the failed tests are listed, you may be tempted to jump ahead to a different test (I know I am!). In order to show only 1 failed test at a time, use learn —f-f, this will return only the first failed test.

Work in 45 minute sprints, with breaks afterwards.

I got this idea from Avi Flombaum, the dean of the Flatiron School, in a video titled “Learning How to Learn” (highly recommend, it has other great tips and reminders as well) link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9I2uvkwKhc. Previously, I would sit down and would not get up until I finished the task at hand. This sounds good in theory, but when you are working through a lab that could take a couple of hours, this productivity style can stifle creativity and plummet morale. Instead, now I work in 45 minute sprints, and no matter where I’m at, I stop and take a break. I’d recommend a break which lasts from 5-10 minutes. During my breaks, I grab a snack, check Instagram, take a walk, or meditate in a quiet room AWAY from my laptop (shoutout to WeWork’s awesome call booths which make the perfect meditation spot!).

It’s incredible how much a short break clears your mind and rejuvenates you. I often times have coding epiphanies when I get up and move.

Code every day.

It makes Monday’s much less daunting. In the beginning I rewarded myself by taking the weekends off from coding, after working tirelessly for 5 days. But when I got to my laptop come Monday morning, my motivation was high but wasted on relearning concepts I had previously understood from the prior week. The weekend had washed away my understanding of some concepts and dammed my coding momentum. I spoke to my educational coach (a non-technical coach who helps with time management and offers other non-technical advice for success during the bootcamp) and she suggested that I should immerse in code even on the weekends. I decided that I wouldn’t learn anything new on the weekends, rather I would review code I wrote earlier in the week or research a topic that wasn’t “clicking”. This approach aligned with the easygoing schedule I like to have on the weekends. I noticed this plan of action has helped me hit the ground running on Monday mornings.

Admittedly, I had to learn all these lessons after I started the bootcamp, but wanted to offer my words of wisdom to others so they can start off on the right foot! What other tips would you add? I’m curious to hear your thoughts!

Why I Want to Be a Software Engineer

One of my roommates in college was a Comp Sci major. Since she spent all hours of the night working on labs, I assumed she had chosen the wrong major. I had no idea what she was doing.

Fast forward a few years later and I’m an analyst on the tech team of a cleantech company. I got to learn SQL on the job, and while it’s not exactly coding, I got my first taste into what it’s like to make a computer do what you say. I’ve always been curious about what is going on behind the scenes or underneath the hood, so when our tech team built new landing pages for marketing, sales agent management for sales, or our new products, I was interested in how they were doing this. At the same time, I was managing bugs that our member support team came across. I grew increasingly frustrated that I could help to define both the bugs and its scope, but I had to stop there and pass it off for the developers to fix.

I got my start by taking a HTML/ CSS class with a local non-profit. I knew I was on the right path. I followed up by taking classes on web accessibility, the command line, and intermediate HTML/ CSS. I was equal parts confused and excited. To me, not completely understanding something is exciting because it means I’m challenging myself to learn something outside my comfort zone.

My desire to learn how to code is fueled by my desire to break into a field which fosters an ever learning, flexible, and meaningful career.

Always Learning

In yoga it is said to always be a student, no matter how much experience you have. I like to take this concept in my every day life. I challenge myself to read books across vast topics, attend yoga workshops, learn new skills (stitching being the most recent!) so I can continue to make connections and recognize patterns about the world around me. Like I mentioned earlier, I take not knowing something as an opportunity for growth, and it seems as though there is no ceiling with programming.

Flexibility

As I’m getting older I realize I won’t always want to live in a city, where most startups and innovative companies tend to incubate. Becoming a developer will help to find remote work. I love the flexibility of not being bound to an office in order to get work done. I think employees should be trusted to get their work done, no matter where they are. Another aspect of flexility is the vast amount of roles a developer can fill. There are SO many different types of roles and industries I can break into. I can teach, be a part of a solid engineering team at an emerging startup, or freelance— it’s tough for me to see where I’ll land after completing my bootcamp because there are so many possibilities!

Meaningful Career

What was astounding to me when I first started to research my career transition was that every developer seemed beamingly proud of their job. As I began to learn how to code, I started to realize why. Software developers of all kinds are building our future. Developers can bring an idea to life. Personally, it’s powerful that I will be able to bring my idea of a yoga class plan generator or an app to teach Tarot to beginners to the world!

What also adds to a meaningful career is the community. I’ve received so much support from both strangers and new friends, whether it was through twitter and using the #100DaysofCode hashtag, or meeting people in real life at local tech MeetUps. I know I’m not in this alone.

I find my reasons to learn to code are evolving. I didn’t pursue this career shift because I thought “Hmm, I could certainly use a larger professional network,” or “Let me pick a field where I’ll continuously feel like a novice”, — these are byproducts. The reason why you start on a trek is never the reason why you finish it. I’m looking forward to watch my motivation to keep learning unravel as I go deeper and deeper into a programming career.

On Getting Over Yourself

Let the gifts you have to offer the world lift you from the weight of persistent self-criticism.

It’s tough to admit but I would never talk to another being the way I speak to myself. It seemed to help me academically and professionally (or so I thought), always doing more because my ego was never pleased. Although when it comes to teaching yoga, it releases this manic, negative, weasel of a monster.

As a yoga student I have deemed myself as quite the yoga teacher critique. I have taken so many classes that I have learned what I should be listening for. So as a beginner yoga teacher, I am aware of the gap between my current abilities and what my aspirations are.

In classes I stutter, have moments when I am at a loss for words, and am so frozen in fear I am unable to move around the room. I have mounts of anxiety in the leading hours before class, then during class, I am sabotaged by my mind’s critiques: “You didn’t say those queues correctly- that made no sense,” or “That student looks very unhappy, she must not like your style of teaching.” What’s the point of teaching if I am suffering so much?

I circle back on my intention of teaching. Yoga has been my guiding light and constant through my ever changing life. Yoga builds both emotional and physical strength, cultivates an inner knowing, and leaves me feeling centered. In short, yoga allows me to enjoy life more. I teach so I can gift the benefits of yoga to others, so they can find the peace it offers.

I’m looking forward to teaching a weekly class (Monday’s at noon!) at Wake Up Yoga Fairmount, and to share the light of yoga. I’m sure my negative self talk will persist, even if I know my thoughts are not true. However, knowing I can offer a relaxed, nourishing, and revitalizing space for yogis and yoginis for an hour during their day makes it all worth it.

Music as a Mirror of the Self

I grew up listening to an eclectic range of music including smooth jazz, Bruce Springsteen, The Carpenters, and Alanis Morissette. Music always played in my childhood home. Bragging rights were often rewarded to whoever could answer the question “Who knows who sings this song?” first. The music flowed from being the topic of conversation to background music as my family of 7 would converse over the dinner table.

The constant of music has circulated into my adult life and influences the production of both yoga classes I teach and my personal yoga practice.

I hope you enjoy this playlist that reflects my personal style. I carefully selected songs— listen to the expressive lyrics, soulful melodies, and sweet sounds as you move through a yoga practice, house chore, or daily commute ride.

A culmination of soul grounding songs that have beachy, bright sounds intertwined with infinite possibility.

Growing Into a Dream

Chase your dreams. Dream big. If you can dream it you can do it. It’s all so exciting and inspiring, but like everything, this concept has both light and shadow.

In college my dream job was to work for a renewable energy company that had a fun company culture— preferably based in sunny southern California. At 21 years old I believed my career was limited to a 9-5 office job, and so if I had to go to work everyday, it might as well be in a welcoming and positive environment working towards a cause I was passionate about. After a series of trial and error, I finally landed my dream job as an analyst at an emerging clean tech company in Philadelphia, PA. My coworkers quickly became good friends, I had semiannual trips to our LA office (!), and I was even teaching yoga to my coworkers after working hours. I was living the dream I had curated and more.

After a year and a half in the role, I wasn’t feeling as aligned as I once had. My internal landscape became quite prickly. I began feeling ungrateful- “…but you had worked so hard and others have helped you so much to get to this point!”

I began reflecting and contemplating – is this what I want for my current self, at 25 years old? It was difficult to admit to myself that my desires have changed.

My desires now demand more flexibility. I dream of living near the beach, working my own hours, and having a schedule that has space to teach yoga. 

I began to gain interest in a career that would compliment the lifestyle I was seeking, programming. I got my start by taking classes with a local non-profit, Girl Develop It. Their beginner friendly classes not only taught me the basics, but left me feeling empowered to learn more on my own. I got into the routine of waking up early before work to teach myself how to code. I was determined. After 5 months, I realized that a coding bootcamp would catalyze my shift in careers, but that would come eventually, I thought — it doesn’t have to happen right now.

I’m not ready. I don’t know enough. Why leave my job now? There’s still space for growth and opportunity in my current role. I fed myself excuses. 

Ultimately, clinging onto an outdated dream was no match in comparison to my zeal to make the leap.

In a few weeks I’ll be starting my 5 month bootcamp to become a Software Engineer. I don’t know what will follow, but I do know I want to build a lifestyle that my soul desires. I don’t feel ready, but that’s the point.

I’m on the other side of all the confusion, resistance, and fear. Through it, I learned that I outgrew a previous self’s dream in order to grow into a dream that fits all the pieces of my current self. And if I’m lucky enough, this will not be the last time I go through this dream cycle.