Mary Dickson Diaz

Code, Life, Learning

Month: April 2015 (page 1 of 2)

to take notes or nahhhhh

Hey folks. House still standing! Foundation work remarkably uneventful, but I guess it’s good that it’s done. Would be nice if we got something more immediately gratifying with all that $$, like, I dunno, a maze tunnel underneath the house, but let’s file this under Just Another Day in Responsible Homeownership, Boring.

~/JADiRHB$ mkfile foundation_repairs

Done!

I’ve been plugging away at wedding to-dos, helping write a grant, and also working through a couple of Ruby tutorials in preparation for the class I’m taking end of June. Which seems, I know, so very far away (I will be MARRIED and also WORLD-TRAVELLED by then).

(mary.is_married? == true) if month > May

I am really digging Ruby, which is intuitive in many frightening ways — frightening because I know intellectually that if I hope to retain this knowledge at all, I need to take notes, but it *looks so easy* as I’m doing it that it’s easy to skip that step.

I’ve seen people in “ruby vs python” conversations compare ruby to poetry and python to prose.

It should not come as too much of a surprise then that working through these tutorials, I experienced that *ah-hah* moment when it comes to understanding Classes — both languages use them, and we studied them in my python class, but I never really understood them or the homework assignment given for practice. Now, though, I can sort of see how they work, and what the initialize method does.

Now to just hold on to that lightbulb moment across the next few months… ! (Take notes, Mary.) (I use Evernote.)

calm before the storm

First, something easy:

I logged in to twitter tonight to catch this total bullshizz. A re-tweet from “import python” and Guido van Rossum (which I clicked through to read and thought “aww, that’s a little hokey, but ok”) and subsequent calls to remove the tweet and its content from the plagiarizing site. Turns out some dude stole Anna’s ‘love letter’ in its entirety and republished on his blog. With no attribution. With *self attribution* (it was signed ‘love, Milap’). And the retweet (not of Anna, of the plagiarizer) got like 50 twitter “favorites” since this Guido guy has 61k followers.

This little blog here isn’t very big (my follower number is in the dozen, yes that’s singular) and partially for that reason I would be furious, *fur-i-ous*, if someone were to appropriate my content as their own and get amplified for it.  All has been corrected, and YAY for that, but it still hit home, and hard.

So, if you use twitter even casually, give Anna a follow, or check out her blog wherein she highlights a diverse group of women (including black and Latina women) who use python and django.  So cool.

The storm? That’s coming tomorrow, when a bunch of dudes arrive to re-level our house. Presumably with us and our stuff in it. Our little house, built in 1919 (I still cannot wrap my head around that number) has been through so much, and tomorrow we’re paying some people a lot of money (so much money, I can’t wrap my head around that number either) to make sure it doesn’t fall down for the next 30 years. A few weeks ago they called me, and offered, for just a few hundred dollars more, to guarantee their foundation work on the house for *50 years* instead of 30, and I may have just laughed at the guy because in my head I was thinking “certainly we’ll all be dead or living below ground by then” and, less fatalistic, “whoever we sell this house to is not going to care about 30 vs. 50 year guarantee.” (And they haven’t called me since then! Now they call Josh.)

But time marches on, with or without us. Here’s some dirt I dug up on our new digs using the Seattle Times historic archives (library card may be required):

Continue reading

you can go home again

This morning I was copied on an email from some new colleagues at the Collaboratory about a grant application one organization is looking at, asking if I might be available to help, and I just about fell out of my chair with excitement. My initial response was something like this:

“Yes, YES let’s look to see who else they fund and what programs might overlap with their giving priorities oh and by the way have you heard about this other funding opportunity coming up, someone should look into that, I can do it if no one else is, and also do you have a board? and a strategic plan? what’s the vision statement? what’s your Big Goal? how soon can we start? yesterday?”

…and then I toned it down because, do not scare away the nice non-profiters, Mary. It’s something of a relief to have this reaction as opposed to throwing my phone across the room: it reinforces the “yes, AND” narrative (yes I am good at my past work and I enjoy it, AND I want to try this other thing now that I think I could be good at, too) as opposed to a position of “Hell no, I’ll never go back, Coding or Bust.” It is nice to know something about something, and be acknowledged for it.

Fundraising may be immensely more satisfying to undertake as a volunteer operation though, we’ll see, or maybe it’s my True Calling and I just need some time away. I have yet to encounter a career that would not benefit tremendously from adopting the professional norm of “sabbatical time.”

hello world

On a related note, I’m reaching a point in my coding progress where the beginner stuff is too easy but the leap to more advanced work is still beyond my grasp. It’s hard. Other people seem to “get it” faster than me. They explain it and I still don’t get it. They explain it again and I feel obliged to say “ohhhhh….” And they say: “Do you understand now?” And no, I still don’t understand, but I say “huh” or “maybe” or “let me tinker with it some more, this has been helpful.”

The process is humbling and, whatever comes of it, I can’t imagine that more people wouldn’t benefit from such an experience.

state of the code

this kid has A Plan

this kid has A Plan

(cross-posted with The Plan)

In January 2015, I made a tentative 4 month schedule for what my code learning would look like, and for the most part I executed on it. Anything optional got shelved. Almost all the MOOCs got shelved (I did stick with the MIT one about 3/4ths of the way through). I went to one meet-up group meeting, once, which is ridiculous given the wealth of resources in our community and openness to sharing, but hey, this journey is about learning and I’ve learned I’m not a meet-up person.

Not surprisingly, in-person class commitments were key to moving forward and keeping me accountable, and I’ve had overall positive results with Code Fellows so far.

If I had to plan it again, here’s my do-over itinerary:

  1. First, get you a Mac, or get ready for a world of pain.
  2. Unless you’re planning to do the full-time bootcamp (in which case do everything you can the month before), take a night class with Code Fellows ($500 for foundations I or $1,500 for foundations II if you already have some code experience and want to prep for an accelerator).
  3. If you have an opportunity to apply to Ada Academy, do it! Don’t let the required video and their unpredictable cohort schedule scare you away, unless the latter is a deal breaker. This cohort timing wouldn’t have worked for me, but that’s not why I didn’t apply — I didn’t apply because I was scared to make a stupid video. And that’s super lame. So, you know, just do it (and then turn them down if it doesn’t feel right).The act of applying will be a useful exercise for you. This year they had 265 applicants and selected 24 women, and, while I’m confident the number of applications will only grow, those odds are not terrible. You can do it!
  4. You’ll want to work all the way through the HTML/CSS web track andJavaScript tutorials on Code Academy. These are required for the Code Fellows foundations classes and a good intro/refresher for everyone else. Don’t let it be your only teaching source, but it’s not a bad piece of the bigger pie.
  5. Work through MITx 6.00.1x  Intro to Computer Science with John Guttag. I bought the textbook but never really used it, so skip that. Instead get the textbook for…
  6. Python the Hard Way: the book is offered for free entirely online, so a paper copy is optional (but nice, IMO, because you can keep going without an internet connection). If the hard way isn’t your style, try Elizabeth Wickes python for informatics instead.
  7. Get familiar with git (where you’ll keep track of your programs), unix/terminal line(where you’ll run/edit/etc your programs) and a text editor, I use Sublime 2. Like, really, learn them. This could maybe wait until month 2 or 3 but the sooner the better.
  8. Tackle a few side projects to start to grow your portfolio and have something to practice your new skills on: mine were this blog (powered via WordPress), a non-Wordpress pure html/css webpage, and twitter bots. Bot, bot, bot!
  9. Talk to programmers to learn about their jobs, and research code school options that might be a fit for you.
  10. Hopefully you made some friends in your class (or online) and have an ongoing study group in the works. Or, for Pete’s sake, go to some meet-ups. I hear they don’t bite.
  11. You should probably try a few languages/programing paths to see what’s a fit. At some point you’ll want to narrow down a programing language. Keep in mind that once you know one, it’s easy enough to pick up another, so you’ll also want to pay attention to who’s teaching what and where the opportunities are. I personally like Python and there are lots of jobs in JavaScript, but I had a great experience with an instructor who teaches the Ruby accelerator and that’s what I’m currently focusing on.
  12. Next steps for me: take another foundations II class in June (this one in Ruby), and apply for the Ruby accelerator in August. On this path, I’ll be “done” by the end of October and looking for jobs or internships before the start of 2016. We’ll have to take a good hard look at finances after the wedding and honeymoon this summer. I’ll be most comfortable if my period of unemployment lasts no longer than a year, but I’m mentally prepared for a career shift to last up to two years (same amount of time as full-time grad school for most programs). One year could be crazy wishful thinking.

And that’s it! I tried and failed to break this out month-by-month, but I hope this is helpful to someone even without that timeline. I’ll keep my first (aspirational) draft on The Plan page that has many repeat resources (and a lot more that I didn’t get to). Enjoy! –Mary

mission unlocked

Hey friends,

After compiling all these great twitter bot resources I’ve been on a bot kick, creating two new ones in the past few days. I should probably diversify my projects some more, but in the meantime it’s such a great way to learn and practice code, git, and tools to deploy.

CHALLENGE #1: Can you do it in JavaScript?

answer = #achievementunlocked

Darius Kazemi is something of a legend in botland (he’s the creator of the Harry Potter sorting bot, among others), and has posted a tutorial for a simple example bot that re-tweets a hashtag once an hour.  I have, in my pile of unfinished projects, big plans for the twitter handle *unlock achievemt* but I got stuck awhile back when I couldn’t figure out how to auto upload pictures. So in the meantime, I’ve set it to re-tweet something from the #achievementunlocked hashtag once an hour, with pretty great results:

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 12.36.49 AM

Continue reading

Quick note on site tracking: I like to know who’s reading this site and where you’re coming from, what you’re clicking on, etc. Not to make money on, but to help me make the site better. I haven’t been very happy with the built-in WordPress site stats, so last week I installed site meter which had served me well on a personal blog for years. Since doing that, I’ve been occasionally getting sketchy re-directs when clicking to off-site links. So, I’m uninstalling site meter now. Here’s more info on why. Bummer, but it has to be done. So if you experienced some weird clicks, forgive me and that’s why! (And if you experience anything else weird, let me know so I can fix.)

top bot

OK, you want to talk bots? Let’s talk bots! First, let’s go back…

WAAAAAY back. A few weeks ago, I got a nice mention on Twitter from a procrastinating grad student who found my tutorial and used it to set up Ecce , a Publilius Syrus twitterbot (I had to wikipedia that).

Continue reading

no matter how long the winter

20150402_093522_resized

People of the internet! I have rejoined your ranks! One of the joys of buying an old/remodeled home is discovering that, after a month of ISP escapades and multiple visits from CenturyLink, the house is not wired for DSL/phone. So, we now have a cord running from the DSL box, across the porch, under the front door and into the living room, where it is attached to a phone jack that is not (yet) attached to a wall.

The point is, it works.

Remarkably, I spent my first day with internet at home NOT watching all the Netflix (TV, I’ve missed you so so much), or scrambling to finish pre- and home-work for tonight’s python class, but rather I gave my partner a ride to work, I made soup, I cleaned my closet and started narrowing down a capsule wardrobe for spring (see Nicole’s take on this here). It’s been A Very Nice Day. I’m feeling Good.

At least three things are contributing to this Good Feeling:

Continue reading

from future import gelato

This is exactly what I needed today… Thanks to Kevin for the laugh!

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 5.16.47 PM

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 5.17.08 PM

 

Happy Good Friday, everyone!

games programers play

1. Code Fights!

Don’t worry, you can play “solo” until you work up the confidence to play a human. Find and fix the incorrect logic in your programming language of choice. The first few solo matches I tried were really hard, but hang in there. And when I accidentally hit the “play an actual person” button I did not wholly embarrass myself.

2. Wikipedia ‘Philosophy’ Game:

 

This was brought up in a listserv this week by a bunch of academics. Here be dragons.

Older posts

© 2017 Mary Dickson Diaz

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑