How to Turn Cyborg — Week 17

My adventures through Dev Academy’s web development programme

Enspiral Dev Academy is a web development school in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand. Dev Academy’s Marketing Manager Maddy King took it upon herself to brave the programme, and share her #nofilter thoughts on the journey. Check out Week 1 here.

After the last challenge of building a calculator, I was actually so pumped that I took extra time the next day to refactor my code, which means simplifying it and making it more elegant, and to improve my website from Week 3. This wasn’t satisfying, so I decided to use everything I’d learned to build a compliment machine, just for fun.

To do this I made a button and a text field in HTML, the building blocks of a webpage, and made a click on the button trigger a function. A function is just a piece of code that does something, that dictates an action to be performed. I got the function to generate a random number and use this to select a random quote from an array of quotes. An array is a set of data, like a set of numbers or several pieces of text. Once it got the random quote, it put it into a variable, which is a place where you can store information. I then printed the contents of that variable — the quote — to the text field of the HTML, which pushed it out to display on the website. I experimented a lot with global and local scope in this challenge, to try and put the least amount of code inside the function as possible, and eventually got it working.

GitHub lets you publish one website, based on your username, for free. So I moved my Compliment Machine there and published it.

Me doing weird things for fun since way back

I wanted to make it mobile compatible so I used @media queries in the CSS (stylesheet) to adjust the way the machine looked, in order to make it suitable for different screen sizes. I wanted the font size to increase on a small phone screen, so users could still see the words. I could only check if this was working by pushing my changes live to my website and then checking my website on my mobile phone, but this was so arduous that I eventually googled for an alternative. It turns out that in your browser’s developer tools (at least in Chrome) there’s an option to view the screen on different sized devices. This lets you observe whether your styling changes have worked for phones, and whether the button sits in the right place, etc.

So not only did I get my machine working, I got it to look good and function on different mobile devices too. This was a real treat as I could finally show my friends and family what I’ve been learning about all this time. Check it out if you’d like.

It was so cool to be able to have an idea like that and then make it real, after only 8 Sprints of the course. Imagine what I’ll be able to do later.

Phase Zero took me around 90 hours over 17 weeks. I put aside a day a week to do it all, and sometimes it would bleed into two days, while on other weeks I wouldn’t manage to do anything at all. The best practice is of course to code every day, but this was more suitable for my situation. While I was doing Phase Zero I was working half-time remotely. I lived in Spain for two months, travelled to London and Amsterdam, spent 6 weeks in Morocco and travelled back to New Zealand. So with a lot going on I still managed to complete it in 18 weeks I had given myself. In my feedback form they asked ‘What’s one thing you’d tell yourself going into this?” I put “Do 10–20 hours coding every week, even if you finish the Sprint in less time.”

So yes, I think you can race through this, especially if you’re not working or if you have some technical foundation. I’d done the ‘Introduction to HTML and CSS’ course on Codecademy about 5 years ago, I’d worked on the fringes of tech and I’d been to a Railsgirls event 3 years ago where we used GitHub, but everything else was new to me. However, I don’t think racing through is the best way to do it. Lots of these concepts only sink in by using them again and again over time, so the more time you spend building your own projects, reading up on new possibilities and having fun with it, the better you’re going to be going into Bootcamp. Tim notes in this blog that you’re never going to be fully prepared, but you may as well give yourself the best shot.

I’ve written up my top pieces of advice for people considering Phase Zero here.

Mostly I’m just extremely proud to have come this far. None of it matters: being a woman, being a creative, communicative, interpersonal type, being more of a writer and a teacher and a theoriser — none of that is a barrier at Dev Academy, in fact those are assets. The challenges are literally just in learning new things and managing stress and confidence — which we creative doers, we can do. You can do. You can do it. Do it.

Phase: 0

Week: 17

Sprint: 9

Time logged: 5:30 hours

If you’d like to learn the skills to begin your journey into technology, join Dev Academy today. Start Phase Zero by remote learning, before entering the in-class bootcamp in Auckland or Wellington. Graduate only 9 weeks later with the skills to become a junior web developer and craft the future. Apply now.