JS Snippet #1 — Callbacks

In the recent months, many things have happened, including the end of the course, and the beginning of the job hunt in a new industry. It has all been a bit of a whirl wind, and I don’t wish to go into a million details about it in one go, so instead I’ve decided to occasionally divulge some of what I’m learning on the side. Namely, a lot of JavaScript.

One particular tech test I was asked to complete as part of an interview process required the use of pure JavaScript. Since this means not very much to most people reading, the reaction this recieved was something along the lines of:


You see, we learned a basic overview of JavaScript at Makers, and then were introduced to some libraries (like jQuery, or AngularJS), that do LOADS of JS things in the background. These libraries are written in JavaScript, but apparently you can get by just fine with the basics, and most things are done for you. So, weirdly, I didn’t know much JavaScript.

But, as we learned to do very well throughout the course, one perseveres.
And persevere I did, because my familiarity with the language just grows. However, I’ve found a number of bits here and there that trip me up constantly, and I’m still working on figuring these out. The basics. But necessary basics.

And I’ve decided to log some of that here! Starting with callbacks.
To explain callbacks, I need to explain asynchronicity.

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Percentage-ly Speaking

Something has shifted in the cohorts’ dynamic over the past few weeks, because things are getting real. Though we’ve been going through some gruelling bits of new material— I have frequently (99.9% of the time) wished to throw my laptop out the window and follow suit—it stands to show that this has still been a great decision, because I’m still here (about 70% of me), and I’m still banging my forehead against the keyboard in hopes of producing functional, sexy code. Sometimes  it works.

More often than not (60% of the time), it doesn’t.

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Rollin’ on Rails

Last week I was asked to explain what a framework was. But the questioner was a good friend with no knowledge of the programming world, which made it especially challenging to explain – partially because I’m not 100% sure how to explain it to myself.

This conversation began when I was talking about the week I was having. It was week 7 last week, and we were introduced to Rails. According to a google search:

Rails is a model–view–controller (MVC) framework, providing default structures for a database, a web service, and web pages.

We learned about the components of a framework (servers, databases, the web) when we worked on Sinatra and PostgreSQL in week 3 (OMG WHEN DID WE REACH WEEK 8 !?), but this week we learned about the *magic* of Rails, which builds everything we learned about during weeks 3 & 4 in a few keystrokes. Sort of.

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Groups Galore

Up until the cohort before ours, week 6 was ‘Lab Week’ at Makers. From my (relatively vague) understanding, it allowed space for choosing your learning topic, with a suggested structure if you chose to follow it, or not. But due to previous feedback and requests for more structure, and Makers ongoing efforts to tailor the course, Lab Week was scrapped, and we got introduced to the first Project Week.

The concept behind project week is for us to work in groups for the first time, on a project that we will be presenting today! The focus of the week lay in distributing our efforts between project management, code writing, pairing, running our own stand ups and retrospective meetings, and generally moving forward as a team.

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console.log(‘Gutter Game’);

This week/weekend combo was—well, complicated is an understatement. And although I feel like most of these blog posts open in this way, but I’m officially declaring all previous comments as low on the challenge scale.

As mentioned, last week was a four day week, due to the Easter holiday. And in four days we’ve basically learned a whole new language; JavaScript. And since it lives between the realm of front- and back-end, there’s a powerful new library to help with that (jQuery), that was bundled into the learning. There was some AJAX, that exchanges data with a server without having to reload a full page every time there’s a change in the data (this is what makes it possible for Google Maps to update the map you’re dragging around without breaking everything). AJAX interprets JSON, which minimally structured data that gets thrown around the webs. And naturally, if you want to interact with external internet stuff, you then start calling on APIs.

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Le Databases

I don’t think I’ve ever been in the position where I would like a bank holiday temporarily revoked. You know, that feeling when everyone is really looking forward to some time off, to go on a little trip, eat lots of chocolate, catch up with friends and family, &c, &c. Well, I didn’t get that feeling. I mean, yeah, chocolate (always), but everything else, not so much.

Since the Easter holiday spans over Friday, the weekend, and Monday, our weeks 4 & 5 have turned into 4 day weeks. Considering the amount that we’ve had to cram in over the last week, I wouldn’t’ve been opposed to postponing the holiday time for after the course.

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A week of new beginnings! Sort of.

Week 3 has introduced us to the web. In this flurry of a week, we’ve learned about clients and servers, HTTP(S), requests and responses, controllers, models, routes, views, a wee bit of HTML and CSS, the Sinatra framework, Capybara + a whole new chunk of testing terminologies, and with all of that built a web app battle game for two players. The weekend challenge was a different version of that, creating an online Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock scenario. It all involves rather confusing logic, I must admit.

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The Week of TakeOut

Something very exciting happened this weekend!

I sent myself a text.

More specifically, I learned how to use my command-line to send my phone a message. I coded myself a text! Whaaaaa!? Implementing what we have been learning into something resembling a real life situation is wild. Our weekend challenge for the end of Week 2 consisted of creating a basic take-out program that sends a confirmation sms when the order has been completed and paid for. Sadly, no food is delivered as of yet, but no money is taken out of my account either. We just got to place loads of pretend orders over the weekend, to receive deceitful delivery confirmation texts. I have been hungrier than usual.

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Striving for Perfection

Ok, now Week 1 is over.

On Friday, at some point after the beers were broken out and all productivity went out the window, we received our weekend challenge. It consisted of an exercise in a similar vein to the one we had spent the week tackling, except this time we were meant to work on it alone, and hand it all in by Monday.

It seemed like a seriously daunting task at first. Reading through the instructions brought on a wave of anxiety and panic, as though everything that we had spent our time learning about throughout the week had just completely been erased from my memory and I couldn’t for the life of me process what I was reading. So some real fear set in.

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Do you know that feeling, when you go on holiday, when the first few days actually feel like months? And you rejoice because your holiday is going to stretch out, and you’re really going to get the chance to get into it?

And then you wake up the next morning and it’s over?

Welcome to Week 1 of the Makers Academy course.
It has been a wild blur, and feels as though we’ve been wandering this building since the crack of time. Between breakfast, and coding, and yoga, and coding, and highs, and coding, and lows, and coding, and nerf bullets, and coding, and ping pong, and coding, and meditation, and coding—there’s no real way of explaining just how much has happened in the last four days (except for maybe the way I just illustrated). This week has been all about immersing ourselves in the Makers experience wholeheartedly, and I mean that emotionally, psychologically, cognitively and physically. We’ve been introduced to two fundamental concepts this week, pair-programming and TDD – Test Driven Development. But in addition to that, we’re learning how to be well-rounded peoples, to work on our life-life balance, and make everything happen. Winning.

Every day, we’re peared (ha) with a different person in our cohort to work on the week’s project. This week, we’re learning how to build a basic program to make the grand concept of ‘Boris Bikes’ work, from docking to maintenance and loads of little nitty gritty details in between. We’re learning to build this program based on a testing mechanism called Rspec. Frankly, I don’t know where to begin explaining the steepness of the learning curve, so bear with me.

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