MLK Dr. on Dr. MLK’s Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday and while many people were at home laying low and lounging, I was up at the crack of dawn and getting over to the Iron Yard campus over off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive because I had JavaScript to learn.  This isn’t some “oh hey internet – give me a pat on the back for working on a holiday…” NO.  I bring that to your attention because I humbly proclaim that I wrestled this weekend with some very basic JavaScript concepts and I was determined to sort them out today and not get left behind.  See, as I learn more and more and dive deeper and deeper into JavaScript, I notice how it’s the a lot of the same core concepts over and over again – just written a different way or seeking out a different result.  So if I don’t hammer the foundational principles early, well I’m going to be up the creek without a paddle in the next week or so.

So were there any breakthroughs today?  Short answer, yes.  I threw my hands up a couple of times like I was doing the “Y” from YMCA and gave a couple fist bumps to some other fellow students (jellyfish!)

The best thing accomplished today was building confidence with creating functions and realizing the power of pre-defined methods on strings and arrays, particularly arrays.   After researching the Google-sphere for answers, I came across the .split(), .reverse(), and .join() methods to be used on arrays.  Here is the exercise that turned on the Ah-Ha! lightbulb.

Instructions: Define a function reverse() that computes the reversal of a string. For example, reverse(“jag testar”) should return the string “ratset gaj”.

My Answer:

var reverse = function(string) {
var split = string.split("");

Now this may seem easy to a professional, but for a 2nd week beginner like myself, this was like Forrest Gump learning he could run and break free from those silly “stupid is as stupid does” leg braces.

He might be the stupidest son a b**** alive, but he sho is fast! HAHAAA!

Thanks for reading, more to come I’m sure.


Lessons from a Hanging a TV

Hmmm, what could possibly be learned from hanging a tv – well I’ll tell you!  You can have all the tools in the world, but if you have poor foresight and just meet the minimum requirement – your butt is going back to Wal-Mart.  That’s what happened tonight.  My roommate has a taste for the finer things in life – nice kitchens, big tvs, giant leather sectional couches that could comfortably seat 3-4 ents watching a LOTR movie marathon.

So we’re hanging his 46″ television above the fireplace and I happily offer my experience and toolset, I mean, I was in the business for nearly 3 years and have mounted close to 100 televisions so this should be a no brainer, right?  So I go about the steps methodically as I have many times before… prep the tv, take it off the stand, bolt the brackets on the back of it, pre drill the lag bolt holes for the wall bracket, bolt the wall bracket securely to two studs, … ready! Time to throw the tv up there… we go to do that and come to realize we don’t have enough play to the left or right to center the tv properly on the wall AND the wall bracket would have to be moved to cover the electrical outlet for it to be center.  Next, I look at the mount box and come to realize it’s for a 32-47″ tv… so just barely meets the minimum requirements for this 46″ tv.  So he took it back to Wal-Mart to exchange for a larger mount, what a treat.

check out red and green sweatshirt taking a nap in line

Since nobody in their right mind would ever want to subject themselves to a Wal-Mart product return line, let’s identify the valuable takeaway here.

Even though I had all the right tools and experience to complete the project and do a great job, the foundational measurement for centering the perfect television above the fireplace was not taken, therefore the entire project was completed based on an off centered point of focus and had to be re-done, including a lengthy trip back to Wal-Mart.  So when starting a project, whether it be something around the house or writing some JavaScript, make sure to have clear focus on what it is you’re trying to accomplish and if the path you’re taking is destined to produce and off centered final product, tap the brakes, cut your losses, and redirect your course towards the true north goal.

1 (more) Reason I Love my Mother

Honestly, three months ago I wasn’t in a very good place.  That’s because three and a half months ago I was in an awesome place and it all came crashing down at once like a house of cards (pst… can’t wait for season 3!).  I had a dream job lined up with a new start-up company and they were going to move me out to California and we were all going to get rich doing what we loved.  Best part about it was my girlfriend Dani was going with me and join the adventure – essentially we were about to pioneer a brand new west coast life.  Sounds like the east coast technologist dream right?  Well, that company lost a principal investor going into an off season and POOF! laid off with no back up plan.  Now I’m 26 years old and desperately seeking to reinvent myself and not just settle for some job that I’ll end up loathing in 6 months, I want to actively seek a career, one that is challenging and rewarding, and one where I can bring my ideas to life.  I didn’t know what that looked like at the time, so I sought out the one woman who knew me best, Mom.

holy snap talk about a #tbt ! I mean look at that hair – goodness, there might be some woodland creatures taking shelter in there… also note the T.E.A.M. motivational poster – classic!

Yes, I’m a momma’s boy, and yes I’m her only son, but truthfully she one of the brightest most caring people on the planet.  She teaches 5th graders at a local elementary school and commonly refers to her teaching philosophy as planting seeds in young people’s minds so they may grow to be excellent members of society – talk about knowing one’s purpose in life!  She also has a thing for Dr. Seuss if you couldn’t tell.

Type momma bear into Google Images – it’s pretty entertaining.

So I’m having a heart to heart with mama bear in early December, and she sees me in this down state of “oh woe is me, what am I to do with my life, blah blah blah, wussy stuff that no grown man would share with anyone EXCEPT mom.  She smiles and says with a quiet, matter-of-fact, confidence, “Spencer, you’re so creative and good with technology, why don’t you just learn how to make phone apps?”  All of a sudden I could see my entire future – it was like that breakthrough moment in Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams says “Will, it’s not your fault. No, it’s not your fault, seriously DUDE it’s not your fault.” (Ok, maybe that wasn’t the exact quote but you get the gist)…  BREAKTHROUGH!

I begin scouring the web for learn-to-code tutorials and begin sharpening my pencil with a site called Codecademy.  The next day I’m talking with a college friend who works at the Atlanta Tech Village and I check out their website and Alakazam! The Iron Yard introduces itself to me and I’m checking it out like a previously home-schooled college freshman checks out the new liberal arts female undergrad students – needless to say I fell hard and now find myself in the Front End Engineering cohort learning to build websites and applications for the web.  And I owe it all to Mom – she did it again!

#GlaresGoneWild (a n0t-t00-seri0us p0st)

BOOM!  Today we dove into the basics of Javascript and the answer instructor Tim gave to my dumbfounded face was “Don’t worry, it get’s better.”  He did this with a smile and a calm assurance that made me believe it will actually get better.  See today was the first day of learning the basics of Javascript and after 15 minutes I felt like I was drowning.  Then I checked myself, took a deep breath, and realized it was much more sustainable to tread water steadily than to flail my arms around; tiring myself out (yet another metaphor for my confusion in the moment).

And then, as we were setting up our project with our terminals I realized something.  I was beginning a project in a terminal, and I was doing it with precision.  We began by setting up our directory, file types, setting up our SSH to GH, git’n some init, automating compilations of Sass to CSS, and several others that don’t immediately come to mind.  A week ago I had never worked in terminal, yet now I’ve got a couple more reps under my belt and am gaining some steam…Wooo00OO!

The takeaway here is; if you’re dumbfounded by the enormity of the information being displayed to you by your instructor, simply check yo’ self and hammer them with tons of questions – we at least find it productive in ATL FEE 2015.  Don’t shy away from asking them to use those high-fashion glaremorous projector walls that double as whiteboards and map out the references… #GlaresGoneWild!  Not sure where that came from, but I’m glad it’s now been said, it’s only my 2nd day in javascript.  Well, gotta go now…got some JS to tackle.

PS – Glares are in right now and I’m all for keeping them around.

Glares: The HOT trend for offices and schools 2015


Becoming a Valuable Asset to the World

Here it is, 1:09pm on a Tuesday and I’m picking Jamaican curry lamb out of my teeth from the cafe next door.  Why?  Well for one, where else am I going to get delicious plantains in this city? More importantly though, I’m in downtown Atlanta at the new Iron Yard campus and it’s a great place to grab a quick bite.  Two weeks ago to the day I was accepted to their Front End Engineering program, a 12 week bootcamp to learn all things HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.  As far as software development and coding, I’m greener than a can of peas of St. Patrick’s Day and I’m here to blog about my journey from “zero to hero.”

Why am I even a part of this program? Call it a mid-20’s-life crisis, call it a career security blanket, the answer is: I’m not certain.  One thing I do know is I love the internet, what it represents for information exchange and making our world smaller, and I want to be a part of its continued future growth.  I also want to be able to bring my ideas to life!  There have been so many conversations with friends over ahem “coffee” that went something like this… “What would it be like if we made this?”  or “What if this app did less of this and more of this?”  or “Man I wish I could order a burrito easier…”  The point is, I’ve always surrounded my mind with thoughts of “what-if” yet have found that it rarely gets put into action.  It’s primarily because I feel like a child who can see the possibility of a K’NEX roller coaster – but doesn’t have the K’NEX roller coaster pieces to build it with! That’s where the Iron Yard experience comes in.

Look at how happy this child is! He had the tools to create his vision.

When the Campus Coordinator, Kyle Van Pelt, did the preliminary interviews he asked me point-blank – why do you want to be here?  And in that moment I told him the answer that I’m holding onto and will continue to hold onto.  I told Kyle, “I want to be a valuable asset to the world and bring my BIG ideas to life.”  And so far, we’ve been doing just that.  After only 6.5 days into the program we’ve built two webpages, pushed nearly 100 commits to GitHub, used the terminal more times than in the previous 26 years, constructed with HTML and CSS, and started a blog.  And we don’t even have those small initial heat bubbles showing at the bottom of this pot to boil.

This water is about to boil. It’s a metaphor for personal development, don’t you see?

I’m excited for my personal growth during this time, not just as a web/software engineer, but also as a man growing up into the person he’s always wanted to be.  Thanks for listening, tune in to see future posts.