Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Whole Brain Power Coding

I promised to always tell you what I am doing to improve my coding skills, to be honest on what works. 2.5 years ago I read this book: Whole Brain Power by Michael J. Lavery and started doing 1 of the brain training exercises suggested in his book to improve your brain. I did the hammer drills brain training exercise which I shared previously with you as one of the best things I ever did while learning to code to help keep my mind fresh here in this post: The blacksmith secret I use everyday to keep mentally sharp.

What I failed to mention is, I am not the originator of this learning 'secret' but in fact Mr. Michael J. Lavery. All I did was find another application for how to help myself learn to code quicker. The main reason for me not mention Mr. Lavery's book previously, was I felt weird enough already with my unusual background, education, and learning strategies to feel comfortable sharing more unconventional ways of learning.

However things have changed, I feel so strongly about Whole Brain Power 'WBP' and Coach Lavery's training methods and to techniques to radically improve your brain, I have decided to do coaching with Mr. Lavery himself. I am also having a link to his site: http://www.wholebrainpowercoaching.com/ and his book.

This is not any kind of affiliate link deal where I receive money when people click on the link or buy the book. No, the purchase of the book goes straight to Mr. Lavery, not me. Just so there is no misunderstanding :-)

After talking to Mr. Lavery about the fantastic clarity and focus I am having by using the hammer drills Coach Lavery promptly let me know that I was actually doing less then 30% of the the training methodologies he teaches in his book. He also conducted a 20 minute 'communications game' on the phone where it was painfully obvious how sloppy I have become with my speech.

On the bright side after realizing how little of the Whole Brain Power training methods  I was currently incorporating into my daily life. Coach Lavery was quick to encourage me that if I would commit to doing the entire 'WBP' training program, I would soon see nothing short of incredible changes in my brain, body, and furthermore my focus would go through the roof.

I have taken the good man's advice and for the past 5 days have done absolutely everything suggested to do in the Whole Brain Power book and am already seeing huge improvements in my speech, focus, mental clarity, and also my sleep.

From staying up into the early hours of the morning for the past couple of years, pushing myself to learn how to program, I have develop a terrible issue with being able to sleep at night. I am not a whiner which Is why I have never mentioned this issue before.

I would go to bed exhausted but unable to sleep until 1 or 2 in the morning most nights. I would then wake up the next morning at 7a.m. feeling very tired. I started taking some natural essential oils to help myself go to sleep.

After the first day of doing the 'WBP' left handed writing exercises for 20 minutes. I slept like a baby!!! Deep restful sleep not my typical 'light' sleeping. It felt SO good to experience the kind of sleep where your muscles feel relaxed when you wake up. Long story short, my sleeping is getting way better!

I finally decided to get over my awkwardness and let you all know about 'WBP' and how it is helping me. I apologize if I sound like a used car salesman in need of a buyer. I really believe 'WBP' is helping me learn Javascript at a much faster rate then before and to retain the information. As a recreational golfer I want to improve my golf game which I don't have the time to practice except for once a month. Coach Lavery tells me that if I really do all of 'WBP' training I will soon see incredible improvements in my golf game as well.

I am so excited, I recommend you not only get the Whole Brain Power book and read it, but also to try it out and do the exercises in the book as Coach Lavery recommends. I will be keeping you up to date on how things are going for me with 'WBP'. My learning of new languages like Javascript, as well as my overall brain improvement, and in my golf game.

People told me many times when I started this 'learning to code' journey that I was dumb to think I could simply 'learn to code' and expect a company to hire me without any degree or background in I.T.  I am sure I will hear that some more from people as I begin to push forward with something as unconventional as 'WBP'.  I say to those people in advance: "I don't care how unusual something is as long as it gets results".  If something doesn't work, you will see me running the other way as quick as possible, I have no time to waste on unproductive learning.  Whole Brain Power is not one of them.

Give the book a read and try the brain improvement exercises for yourself, I promise you will not regret it. Keep coding peeps! :-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Dream: Hack Reactor

I have a dream, it is quite large and very far fetched. In the past I have never supported ANY coding Bootcamps. I have never been paid or received any kind of compensation from anyone for any product I recommend. Hopefully you trust me and the things I do suggest because I have gained your trust and have the best interest at heart to help all 'noobie' developers.

I have talked to people from probably 10 or more Bootcamps who have gone through the course and then told me in a private email how much they didn't like the experience and how they still don't have the skills to get hired as a 'junior' developer. Most of the people emailing me are unable to complete the entire 'Learn To Program' book by Chris Pine.

I will say after talking to a lot of graduates from these Bootcamps I believe if you can complete the entire 'Learn To Program' book no matter how long it takes, you will have a very decent understanding OOP programming. The title of the book is why I think most people don't end up finishing the book do to the fact it sounds too much like a beginner's' only book.

I achevied my goal of getting hired as  'junior' developer, I know front end CSS and Haml pretty well after making 280+ sites since being hired at ZipList in August of 2013. I don't think it's being 'cocky' to feel confident in that arena. What I don't feel confident about is in my actual 'coding' abilities. Soon my official role will be a full time Javascript developer starting July 1st (so hopeful I will be up to the challenge by then)  :-)

I have HUGE knowledge gaps though, which I intend to fill, not as fast as I would like just do to how things are with a full time job and family.  I am dying for the oppurtunity to dedicate myself to working hard for 4 months, pushing myself to the next level of coding knowledge.

I have always kept my eyes and ears open on all of the latest and greatest coding Bootcamps and always have people asking me which is the best Bootcamp. To which I typically recommend learning on their own and saving their hard earned $10,000+ and instead get up at 5am or 6am, drive to a coffee shop and buy a senior developer's gourmet coffee whenever stuck on a coding issue, instead of paying for expensive Bootcamps. Which is still a good idea. 

However after watching for the last year one Bootcamp has caught my attention for several reasons: (1) I have yet to read a bad review about it, (2) They don't promise you to become a 'junior' developer (which is very vague) instead they promise you will be able to compete for REAL engineering jobs the same jobs that a CS degree graduate with 2 years of experience would apply for. (3) If you read about getting into the Bootcamp, students say it's incredibly hard to even get into the school it's not for beginners. (4) I have never had anyone email me about the school as having a bad experience which is something I can not say about many other schools.

My dream is to somehow get enough money to take my family the 2,812 miles from our apartment to the Bootcamp, complete the 12 week course and then get hired in Dallas, Texas which is where I one would one day like to settle down buy a house and live.

The cost for the Bootcamp: $17,780. The name: Hack Reactor. Here is their website: http://www.hackreactor.com. This is the most expensive Bootcamp there is currently, but I think it is worth it. I still recommend teaching yourself if you don't have the ability to go to Hack Reactor, but if you aren't married with kids, I think Hack Reactor is THE best Bootcamp bar none and I will continue to recommend it, unless something were to change with the way they run it fundamentally.

So how am I going to go? I don't know. Ideas? Why yes I do have some ideas. Is it likely to happen? No, but then again most of my goals and dreams are not 'very likely' so we'll see if I can make 'magic' happen :-)

Keep coding peeps!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One of Dev Bootcamp's Finest! Meet Rick Rubio

 Meet Rick Rubio ( @rickarubio )  I first met Rick online through his blog well over a year ago while I was about 3 months into my learning to code journey. Rick spent an entire year of learning to code BEFORE even going to Dev Bootcamp to help put on the finishing touches to make him a really good developer ready to be hired!

Rick has inspired me by his hard work ethic over a long period of time, being willing to move and relocate in order to learn from the top ranked bootcamp in the business.

I hope you enjoy Rick's story and share with others, also send him an email or a tweet to encourage him along on this final leg of the journey :-)


(1) What got you into wanting to be a developer?

- Back in high school, I took a Visual Basic 6 course and made a really cool game using sprites. Unfortunately, I pursued IT instead of software development. Years later, I was working at a local tv station and made a cool little application in Java to control the weather graphics for the weatherman. That got me looking into alternative education to avoid wasting more time/money in college. I found out about Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco. I applied, interviewed, and got in. It's been over a year since I read that Dev Bootcamp article. I now live in San Francisco. I attended Dev Bootcamp. Soon hopefully, I'll have a full-time job developing!

(2) What has been the hardest thing about learning to code?

- There is so much stuff out there. Where do you begin? As a beginner, I think the sheer amount of "stuff" out there to learn is daunting. I needed a focused environment that would help me break into programming. That's why I went to Dev Bootcamp. Now that I have a good foundation in programming concepts, it's way easier for me to learn stuff on my own. It's so cool that there's all these new technologies/frameworks around me. It's like I'm a pioneer. Computing is still in its infancy. This is a really exciting time to be a programmer!

(3) What do you like most about coding? What has been the coolest thing you've built or helped to build so far?

- My favorite thing about coding is that it's magic. Literally. Modern day wizardry. Spells and Sorcery. If you can think it, you can build it. Being able to program allows you to turn thoughts into things. As for the coolest thing I've built so far? I made a silly little app to easily display the USD and BTC exchange rates for Dogecoins (http://www.cryptseer.com). I also led a team project to build an online learning course aggregator (http://www.noodleskoodle.com) over the course of roughly a week for my DBC final project.

(4) You recently graduated from one of the best coding bootcamps in the world: Dev Bootcamp. After attending and successfully completing the program, would you recommend it to others?

- Dev Bootcamp was amazing. It's definitely an experience. They will pound work ethic into your skull. I feel like I learned more than I ever have in a very condensed period of time. I've also made some great friends here. Dev Bootcamp also allows me to continue showing up to use their space as a study space, since I have found that I can get into a good flow there. They also hired me on as a part time phase 0 guide. I don't know of any other coding school that would provide so much support to a student after you've graduated. I think Dev Bootcamp is very unique in the experience and culture that they create. After you graduate here, you're not afraid to learn new things. You have learned how to learn. That's the main skill Dev Bootcamp teaches. Forget Ruby on Rails. The skill you have now is that you have a kitchen mindset, you have a creator's mindset, you're excited and ready to tackle problems that you would've previously given up on. Because really, you create the experience at Dev Bootcamp. You. If you want to learn how to code, go to Dev Bootcamp. Be prepared to work hard, learning will be up to you.

(5) What advice would you give someone who is just starting out wanting to learn how to code?

- Meetups! Meetups are so awesome. Meetups are so cool. Go to a meetup! Meet people at meetups! They will help you learn if you just ask! Besides meetups, you'll learn best by doing small tutorials. Get some hands on. Build little tiny programs. I learn best by doing, maybe that style will work well for you too.

(6) Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently with your path to learning how to code?

- For starters, I would not have wasted years of my life (and lots of money) wandering through college. If you have the means, apply to coding schools. Go to meetups. Do online tutorials. Build sample apps. Try do something that will progress your learning everyday. Keep track of your time. Notice where you lose time. Try to minimize distractions. Keep coding. Keep learning. Keep creating.

(7) As a recent graduate of Dev Bootcamp that is interviewing with companies for development roles, what do you want to see in a company that you would like to work with?

- I'd like to see a company that cares about its developers. A company that allows me to develop. A company that allows me to continue my learning. I'd like a team environment where I might have a mentor that could help me out when I get stuck or need guidance. Most importantly, I want to be creating something meaningful. Something that will add value to the world. I love challenges. I want to be part of a team that is disrupting the way things are. Give me a challenge, a place to work, a team to work with, oh and money is always nice too. Most importantly, I want to be around passionate people. People passionate about coding. Passionately passionate people. Yes.

(8) Where do you see yourself as a developer in 5 years? 10 years? What are some long term goals that you have?

- In 2-3 years I want to be highly proficient in developing mobile web optimized apps. Whether that means writing them in their native languages (Objective-C, Java), or JavaScript(Node.js, Angular, Famous, etc.) or both, who knows. I'd like to someday apply to YCombinator. I'd like to try my hand at a startup someday as the technical cofounder. 10 years? I'd like to be living proof that old people (aka anyone not in their teens or 20's in tech) can code just as well or better than the young minds.

(9) How do you feel about your development skills? What is your favorite language? Do you like do more front end development or backend?

- I feel like I have enough knowledge to learn anything I don't know on my own. If you give me a project to code, I feel like it wouldn't be a matter of if I could code it, but how long will it take. My favorite language? Right now it's JavaScript. There's a lot of exciting things going on for the mobile web right now, and JavaScript is front and center of the revolution. So many awesome JavaScript frameworks! I enjoy both the front and back end. Ideally I'd love to work in an full stack role. It's like being the conductor of a symphony. I love learning and creating, and I think I'd be best in a role where I can help build the entire system. Maybe as the henchman of a full-stack master.

(10) Tell us something that most people don't know about you :-)

- I enjoy trading. Stocks. Options. Crypto. I enjoy learning about trading. It's an expensive hobby :-)

I hope you enjoyed getting to learn from Rick's 'Learning To Code Journey'. Please help him get hired sooner rather then later by spreading the word about this guy :-)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Learning To Code - 2 Warnings

My number one goal with this blog is to be transparent and to show you how to learn to code and get hired, with that in mind I strive to always have the utmost honesty and character with you.

Which brings me to 2 rather uncomfortable points:  BE CARE FUL of Code school and Skillshare, which I used to highly recommend. Unfortunately things change as time moves on and so we must change or at the very least be honest about what is going on.

When I applied to Dev Bootcamp, one of THE most frustrating things about the entire process at the time was the blatant untruth on their site. Big bold letters "You will get a 'yes' or 'no' answer from us within 2 weeks." Of course as you probably know it took me well over 2 months to get accepted into the program which I later had to decline.

As you know I am making a course due to be out in the next month that will hopefully be a big step in helping people learn how to code, make it easier and more fun. As I applied to Udemy and Skillshare with my course, Udemy has been nothing but nice while Skillshare has in Big bold letters: "We promise to get back to you within 5 days."

2 weeks+ later not a peep from Skillshare nothing. I have been hearing less and less good things about their camp and more and more good things about Udemy, maybe it's just how things go with change.

Which brings me to the question: "Do 80+% of these online monthly membership 'Learn To Code' places really want you to learn or just keep you coming back regardless?" I'm all for making money, but what I learned the hard way is a terrible practice that Codeschool does that I think you all should be made aware of since I have previously highly recommended it.

I would sign up for Codeschool for a month or two then take a break till I saw another course I wanted to take. I know LOTS of developers who love Codeschool and do the same, pay for a month when a cool course comes out to keep their skills current since their material is top notch.

SO...I was quite surprised when I had stopped the Codeschool membership a while back that an email popped into my inbox saying my card would start being automatically charged in less then 3 days if I didn't tell them explicitly NO!

I don't know about you, but that is not right, I don't pay for your course for a month or two and then YOU get to decide when you will AUTOMATICALLY start charging my card???

Sorry folks, I just think they are more interested about getting your money then in giving you a quality education. Yes there material has always been good, and if you are still going to use them then fine, however be very careful of what card you give and watch your emails like a hawk.... unless $30 bucks doesn't bother you in which case you can send it my way :-)

Otherwise life is good, JavaScript learning is going great, my course is kick butt awesome and I got an email this past week from an amazing well know developer who I didn't know had been watching my career and sent me this note:

This note made my month, I felt taller after reading it :-) My book is coming out as a professionally done audio book very soon, which I am tickled pink about. 

Sorry today's post wasn't as upbeat I hate to be a negative downer, but I promise to always keep my eyes open for you guys.

Keep coding peeps!  =-)