Yesterday was the last day of Phase One in Dev Bootcamp. The first three weeks are in the bag. It feels like so much longer than three weeks, and I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much so quickly. Each day was packed down to the minute with challenges, readings, experimentation, mentor meetings, guest speakers, and countless hours of flailing against new concepts and unfamiliar code I broke through and understood it. I wish I’d been better about blogging during the first three weeks, but I’ll do my best to write more during the remaining six.
The first three weeks, known as Phase One, focused on modeling. We worked on Ruby basics the first week, dove into object-oriented programming the second, and got our feet wet in databases the third. I feel like I have a small but solid foundation on which I can build during the upcoming weeks.
But today, I’m going to take this beautiful Saturday afternoon off. I’m meeting up with some fellow boots in Golden Gate Park to enjoy the sun before heading home tonight and getting started on my prep work for week four.
Music has always been one of the most important parts of my life. This year, I started a music journal with my Rdio account. Whenever a song grabs me, pops into my head, or somehow crosses paths with me, I add it to a playlist for that month. As mixes, they’re all over the map and might sound jarring if listened to the whole way through, but each song reminds me of a moment from that month. Here are a few from February.
The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army”: This is the unofficial rally song for Baltimore Ravens fans and was the official song of our Super Bowl Party.
Blur – “Parklife”: I went to brunch with Sophia for one of the last times before heading to Dev Bootcamp and one of the shops in Decatur played this song outside on the patio. I hadn’t heard it in years.
Baauer – “Harlem Shake”: This silly Internet meme was one of the first things my San Francisco roommates and I bonded over.
Here’s the whole thing, in case you’re interested.
Tomorrow, I’ll start my March playlist. I’m already grateful that I’ve started doing this.
My first week of Dev Bootcamp is done. This morning we received our first weekly assessment via email. It’s a series of five challenges designed for us to apply things we’ve learned so far, and the DBC staff will use it to gauge how we’re doing. At first glance, it looked daunting. Maybe it’s because I was tired or hadn’t made breakfast for myself yet. Also, I had a handful of core challenges left over from the week that I needed to finish by the end of the weekend. I had another mountain of work looming over me, and there was a long way to go before reaching Mordor. That metaphor was clumsy and embarrassing, but I’m too tired to fix it. Just pretend it was genius.
So there I was, looking at a whole new heap o’ work, so I did the thing any responsible, mature adult would: I went shopping at Target.
This morning, I woke up with the prelude to the hint of a tickle in my throat. Hell no, I thought. I must be dehydrated. There’s no way I’m getting sick. Getting sick is not an option. I haven’t been drinking enough water this week, that’s all. I went into to the kitchen to get some whenever I thought of it, but more often than not, my head had been buried in pair programming challenges. A water bottle, I decided, would solve the problem. If I have water in front of me, I’ll drink it, right? I bought a bottle of multivitamins, too. Water’s great and all that, but I’m not screwing around here. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, and my body needs to be in top shape.
As a side effect, I’ve lost weight. I’m not sure how much, but I used a skinnier belt notch this morning. It’s probably a combination of my daily hikes up the San Francisco hills between DBC and my apartment, the smaller meals I eat, and the extra energy it takes to learn at this kind of a pace.
I hadn’t considered my body a machine before this week, but now that I’m hyper-aware of the things I put into it and the things I expect it to do, I’ve become more concerned about how it’s running. Verdict: so far, so good. I’m drinking more water now, taking care to eat as well as possible, and taking breaks between long stretches of work.
My walk to Target ended up being constructive for a non-obvious reason. It got me out of the work cycle for a half hour. It was a beautiful morning in San Francisco today. It was nice to get a little air and sun and explore a new corner of the city, and I was surprised by how much it supercharged me. When I climbed back up to the DBC office, my assessment no longer looked daunting. Challenging, absolutely, but I had no doubt I could tackle it.
It’s almost 11 p.m. and I’m about to finish the fifth and final exercise in the assessment. Tomorrow, I’ll wrap up my last few core challenges, read the first two chapters in Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby (POODR to the cool kids), and jump into week two. I feel like I’m finding my stride here.
I knew this was going to be intense, but I got my first taste of how intense it will be. And I love it.
My cohort is called the Banana Slugs, and all fourteen of us waited outside the locked doors before class. We introduced each other. Some people I recognized from our Facebook group, others I’d met the night before at a pre-DBC walk to the Golden Gate Bridge. Which, by the way, is stunning in person.
The door swung open and the previous cohort (the Sea Lions) crowded the entrance. They screamed, cheered, and high-fived us while “Gangnam Style” blasted from the sound system. It felt like stepping into the Internet.
We gathered up, introduced each other, and did some icebreakers that had us hugging and laughing with other boots within our first fifteen minutes. A quick breakfast later, the Banana Slugs regrouped in a side room to run through a couple activities go over the day.
And then we pair programmed. I’d never done it before, and it took some getting used to. I’m still not used to it. The way it works is there are two monitors, two mouses, and two keyboards connected to the same Mac, and you work with a partner to tackle some of the programming challenges. Some of the challenges were familiar from the prep work I’d done over the past few months, others were new. (A couple reminded me of Chris Pine’s excellent How to Program).
And just as I was got into a groove, it was time for lunch. Today, they brought us sandwiches, and I was surprised how hungry I was. I’ll need to remember to eat, to drink water, and to sleep. That was advice echoed by the Sea Lions. They’d been at DBC for three weeks and have six more to go. Even though they’re only a third of the way in, the seem like veterans.
We met up as a cohort and went through some logistics with Brick and Anne, two of our instructors. We looked at the nine weeks as a whole, talked about lockers, the kitchen, and how and when to access the building.
And then we went back into pair programming for the afternoon. We picked new partners and dove into the remainder of the challenges. The instructors stick around from nine in the morning to six in the evening, but we’re expected to stick around until we finish all of our core challenges (and have beaten our heads against the stretch challenges long enough until our eyes are mush).
It was tempting to stay late on my first day and dig deep into a particular challenge: write a command-line version of the game Battleship, but as I heard from some of the Sea Lions and all of the instructors, it’s important to pace yourself, especially during the first few days. So I came home, more tired than I’d realized, looked over some of the code my fellow boots had written, now I’m going to bed.
I’m ready for day two!
The San Francisco Public Library’s Luis Herrera made good on the Super Bowl bet with Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library. The raven puppet is a great touch. Well done! It’s neat to see my former and future libraries interacting like this.
At about this time, two Mondays from now, I’ll be heading to my first day of Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco. For nine weeks, I’ll be learning as much Ruby, Ruby on Rails, and software development as I can cram into my brain. I’m excited to be going on this adventure, to build on the things I already know about web development, to open some new career avenues, and to build some cool ideas I have.
It’ll be an intense but exciting few months. I’ll write about the things I learn, the projects I build, and the bits and pieces of San Francisco I discover in between.
That was an insane Super Bowl. My Ravens were on fire for the first half, but the Superdome power outage and subsequent delay of game killed some of their momentum. The 49ers struck back hard, but the Ravens played for their lives and edged them out for a dramatic victory. I did a lot of standing and cheering in the living room.
My favorite rivalry took place between Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library and the San Francisco Public Library. The Pratt Library describes the bet:
If the Ravens win on Sunday, San Francisco Public Library City Librarian Luis Herrera will have to recite Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in the atrium of the SFPL Main Library wearing a Ravens jersey.
If the 49ers win, Pratt Library CEO Carla Hayden will have to recite George Sterling’s “The Cool, Grey City of Love” in the Central Library Main Hall wearing a 49ers jersey.
Whoever loses will also have to video their director reciting the poem and post on YouTube.
I can’t wait for that video.
Ahem @sfpubliclibrary. Here’s a link to buy a Ravens jersey ow.ly/1RSm7O
— Pratt Library (@prattlibrary) February 4, 2013
After the Ravens win, the celebratory videos flooded in and made me feel a little homesick for Baltimore. The streets of Fells Point, Federal Hill, and Hampden were flooded with cheering fans. I can only imagine how exciting that must have been.
In less than two weeks, I’ll be in San Francisco for Dev Bootcamp. I’ll have to pack my Ravens hoodie.