Leaena

Week 1: I Feel Like I’ve Been Here Before

Mar
23

First week of work is over and it felt a lot like a less intense week of Hack Reactor. I still can’t believe this is what I’m actually doing with my life. I still definitely have lots and lots of impostor syndrome but I also deployed live things my first week! And learned a few of my coworkers names! And did a two minute all staff demonstration on how to knit!

I also got exactly what I wanted. I’m working full stack in JavaScript and Python in non startup-y startup (e.g., we’re not out to make lots and lots of money or making a product we don’t believe in for the money) doing things that I feel are making a tangibly good contribution. We have a gong that gets rung when a person graduates a class. That small bit right there proved that I was exactly where I wanted to be.

And yes, I’m still terrified some days that I’m too slow or too newb or just not cut out for this, but here’s a secret, I don’t think that will ever go away. Maybe it’s a good thing or maybe it’s just human nature, but I just need to learn to live in my own skin I think and take the impostor syndrome as a mark of being human, of caring about my work and wanting to always get better.

And a minor update: Selma is no longer in the house, I got the balls to move her outside finally.

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I Feel Legit!

Feb
16

Week 12: And So It Comes to an End

Feb
16

I don’t know where to start this week. So many things happened and they all seemed like we had been waiting for them forever and now they’re gone and I miss everything. Hiring Day was Tuesday. We demoed Helix and then I got to talk to 10 companies that were looking for Software Engineers. I was terrified but once I got down to business and started talking with the company representatives it got more fun.

Wednesday was fun too. I had my first call with a recruiter (who basically just called to say the job had changed, but could he keep me in mind for future things?). We also got to demo Helix live at the Famo.us Launch Preview. Sara did the narration and I drove the app.

The next day (Thursday) I stayed in my apartment because I was out really late for the party, but I had another talk with a recruiter, a talk with a tech lead, and a coding challenge for another company to do. I bombed the talk with the tech lead. Literally, I didn’t realize it was going to be a tech interview, it was my first one, and I just froze. Right after I got off the phone (“You failed. Good luck with other companies” were his parting words), I had the coding challenge waiting in my email from another company. I dusted myself off and finished the challenge in an hour, emailed it back and then cried. Thursday kinda sucked.

Friday was a bit of a blur, I told everyone about my failure the day before (it was cathartic) and then talked to ANOTHER recruiter and then partied down at my graduation party.

Saturday was calm. Lots of hugs and reflecting and a snazzy new Hack Reactor t-shirt I will wear with pride.
Hack Reactor Tshirt
I don’t really know how to feel about this crazy journey. I know it’s not over yet, I don’t think it will ever be over. I’ve made friends/family that will last forever and I will always be proud of our community and its people and what amazing things have been accomplished in their walls.

I’m obviously a bit terrified of the coming weeks and months. It’s a whole new adventure to navigate through filled with tech interviews and the highs and lows of finding a job. But I’m not going anywhere without my fellow HackR’s or this blog, so I think I’ll be OK.

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Week 11: Not Coding Makes Me Nervous

Feb
09

This entire week has been a wild and crazy adventure toward finding jobs. We spent lots of time making our resumes look awesome and making sure all of our online presences look like we knew our stuff. Shockingly, I think it’s working! I’ve actually had some interest from companies and recruiters on LinkedIn and AngelList! I have a couple of interviews scheduled for later next week, but because I haven’t been able to dive into coding, I’ve had a lot of time to sit with my decisions and I’m suddenly really, really nervous.

Next week is the start of something new and I’ve done more new things in the past few months than I have in my entire life. I interviewed/got accepted to Hack Reactor, I quit my job, I moved out-of-state, I started a crazy intense engineering program and now it’s like I’m done with the program and get to start a new great unknown. Next Tuesday is Hiring Day, which means companies get to decided whether I’m awesome or not (and one of my top choices of jobs is going to be there) and Wednesday my team is demoing Helix, onstage, for the Famo.us Beta Launch Preview. And that’s not even the end of it, I have two phone interviews already scheduled for later in the week and hopefully more if things from Hiring Day pan out.

Everyone around me is telling me I’m capable, but I don’t have that same confidence. It’s not even that I think I’m not a capable coder, I know I am. I’m just worried that I’m not going to show off my potential. I’m terrified of the rejection (because I know there has to be at least some) and I’m worried about making the best choices for me when the time comes.

On the other hand, I really look forward to seeing how amazing everyone is going to do. I hope we all kill it. Most of all I hope we’re all happy. <3

Advanced Filtering with Angular.js

Feb
06

Everyone (who’s used angular or seen an angular tutorial) has seen the awesome realtime angular search. This is used with a filter property, but there are more complex things you can use with filtering. On my Hack Reactor hackathon project I used filtering for just about everything. From picking out individual objects to finding just the right combinations and I learned some awesome tricks and some pitfalls to avoid.

One of the coolest things you can do is filter by lots of things together. The filter ends up looking a lot like a JavaScript object:

 filter:{TEXT: text, notes: noted, category: category}

They way this works the best is if you have a number of searches all on one page to pull together. Say a regular text search (text above) that needs to interact with a drop down menu filter (category). Just throw all the variables into one object and filter on that.

Another neat thing you can do is filter by IDs. For example, if you want to have individual pages for each item, you can normally just call to it based on the $index of that item. But what if you have searched and filtered your list of data into a more manageable grouping? Index doesn’t work! It’s pulling the index of the new filtered list and not the actual index that data point has in the entire data structure.

My fun work around for this was to send the object that you had selected to a function within my Angular controller for that page and find the data that way.

  $scope.add = function(website){
    $rootScope.selected = $rootScope.selected || [];
    if($rootScope.selected.indexOf(website) === -1){
      $rootScope.selected.push(website);
    }
  };

Of course this requires something in the $rootScope, but that also benefited me because I wanted to have access on a separate page to all of the data points a user chose. That way I could fill out a detailed report of the chosen bookmarks with user defined notes all on one screen.

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Week 10: Game Changing

Feb
02

This week has been a week like no other. I’ve already demoed Helix three times and there are so many more to go. We spent Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday frantically getting everything we wanted to happen with Helix working. I finally fully integrated the 23andme API and all of my algorithms are humming along to find genetic traits for users that login to their 23andme account. I have the setup to record a video walk-through of Helix that I plan on doing sometime next week. Because the framework we used is in private beta we can’t actually deploy it live so unless you come bug me in person, you’re stuck looking at a demo video for now.

Thursday night we demoed for Famo.us. We also got to be a part of their weekly team meeting which was really interesting. I felt much more like an actual Software Engineer following conversations about their framework and business. Right before our demo, we found out that we will be demoing Helix onstage at the Famo.us Launch Preview Party. My team is so excited (and terrified). Helix has definitely been a labor of love and something I am so proud to have been involved in.

Next week will be a new adventure – job searching. Starting next week I am an almost free agent. We have some hype up (and warning lectures) and then the next week we have hiring day (and Famo.us Party demo). The week after that I’m attending a developer conference and the Launch hackathon. I am so excited that this is my life now.

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Custom APIs and Web Scraping for Science

Jan
31

So my team’s most recent application, Helix, involved genome visualization. We integrated it with the 23andme API, but still needed a way to find out interesting information about specific RSIDs (used by researchers and databases to refer to specific base pairs of DNA). By far the most useful and open source repository of genetic information is SNPedia, but I needed access to lots of information and to integrate calls to specific SNPs. Basically I needed an API. So being ever resourceful, I decided to make my own.

Tools for the task were an easy choice. I needed a small fast server that I could implement a web scrapper on. I have always wanted a reason to use BeautifulSoup, but it’s a Python library so I knew it would be easier to build a Python server to run the API endpoints. I chose Flask because of its lightweight nature and how much it reminds me of a Node/Express server at times.

Thankfully there are some really good tutorials for both Flask and BeautifulSoup, my favorites (and the ones I referenced when I hit weirdness) were Designing a RESTful API and Website Scraping with BeautifulSoup. Both of these tutorials said a lot of things better than I could have myself.

For access to my SNPedia API and information on how to use it, check out my project on GitHub.

Week 9: Highs and Lows and… WTF I only have three weeks left??

Jan
26

My week started out fairly average. We were all rolling along on our projects and then I noticed an event on the Hack Reactor Senior calendar. Tuesday, three weeks from this past Tuesday, is Hiring Day. Three weeks?? Not even now, more like two?? Oh, god. And yet, as much of a whirlwind as this has been and as often as I have impostor syndrome, I’m a little excited. I want to see what’s out there for me and find a job and learn and grow and do my instructors proud.

One slight stumbling block for me this week: Hacker in Residence positions. I applied and think I would have been accepted, but I had to bow out. After I sat down and thought about it, I just couldn’t justify being out of work that much longer (even on a stipend). It would have been fun to learn how to teach and spend some more time hacking on personal ideas, but that’s what weekends are for, right?

We also got to demo Helix for the first time. Helix is a gene visualization app that shows you your SNPs (base pairs) from 23andme that have traits attached to them (according to SNPedia.com). You can search traits or just browse your chromosomes for interesting info. It was built using a private beta framework (called Famo.us) that my team was lucky enough to get to be involved with. We have *fingers crossed* two more opportunities to demo Helix, one more run through at Hack Reactor and if all goes well, a private party/meetup for Famous.

Another fun thing that came out of Helix was that I got to dust off my Python knowledge. I had wanted to try BeautifulSoup (a Python web scraper) for a while now and I needed an easy way to pull rsid information from SNPedia so I created my own API wrapper! The code is available (including instructions on how to run it on your own) on my github account. It’s a tiny Python/Flask server that only has a couple of endpoints (the ones I really needed) but I’m thinking about expanding eventually.

And then I got sick. I came down with a cold on Friday and haven’t been to HackReactor since. I’ve been working from home, but mostly just trying to sleep, having weird dreams, and sounding pitiful. I’m getting better though and I will definitely be on-point on Monday to work out the last-minute details of Helix before all the demos come crashing around us.

Three more weeks until I graduate! My gift to myself – I’m attending the LAUNCH hackathon with two other women from HackReactor the weekend after it’s all over. I just don’t want to get lazy!

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Week 8: New Surroundings, Same Routine

Jan
19

Sorry for the delay in this post. My roommate, Ava, was worried about my long hours all week so she wouldn’t let me touch my laptop on Sunday. Saturday night was card games with Hack Reactor peeps so I was out late. It was a jumble of a week and I’m writing this so late that this week is already upon me. So I think this one will be very short.

We started working at Famo.us this past week. They have a beautiful office that was converted from an apartment. It’s weird to go back to Hack Reactor now with their darker rooms and only two bathrooms, but I still miss it something fierce when I’m away. Hack Reactor feels like home, but Famo.us is a nice vacation. Our project is slowly progressing. We have some really neat ideas about gene visualization and if all goes well we’ll get to demo the awesomeness in front of a bunch of people.

Other fun things from this week included a talk on Thursday from the author of Cracking the Coding Interview and Saturday social night where I got my ass handed to me in Marvel vs. Capcom and then made people squirm in Cards Against Humanity.

One final thing: Ava talked me into buying a FitBit! I’ve been meeting all my goals every day and it’s pink so life is pretty amazing. You can find me on Fitbit here.

 

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Week 7: Is This What Confidence Feels Like?

Jan
11

Coming back from break was wonderful. I really missed this place and these people and I’m at a point now where I’m excited to walk in the front door of this space. I am really, truly a Software Engineer. I have been for a long time, but it took this place and these people to pull that knowledge out of myself. I started the week with giant hugfests of awesome. It was great to see everyone after two weeks. There was some unexpected lack of (and new growth of) facial hair and general fun stories about hijinks had during our time away. We all quickly felt the glory of being seniors and then were promptly blown away by how awesome the new batch of juniors are.

There wasn’t much time to chat though, juniors were starting their hell week and we were about to embark on a different sort of hell – Hiring Day Assessments. I was terrified. I’ve decided my brain just needs to have something to focus on being terrified about to function at all – I’m starting to wonder if losing my fear would also diminish my awesomeness. We had all day to finish our assessments and as I dove in my confidence built. I knew this stuff. I knew it from the times it had been drilled into my head and the moments when I was working on something alone and would need to Google a concept and those times at the lunch table with my peers discussing wild and crazy new concepts. It rocked to realize how awesome we all are now. Everyone can tell us we are awesome until their blue in the face, but it’s moments like that when it clicks for me.

The other moments it clicks for me is the new, terribly unfunny programming jokes we’ve all started making. It’s getting ridiculous.

After Monday’s stress, we quickly got our hands dirty in our code. Our first round of group projects wrapped this week. I worked with Sara and João to make a custom html5 video player plugin to vote on moments in videos and visualize the user data. Our project is called HeatVote. We’re still hacking on it in our “free time”, but its production cycle is officially over. There are a few previous posts on things I worked on for this project and I feel like I have a book more to write about the experience, but time is, as my faithful readers know, very short lately so I’m going to close this book for now.

Our next project period starts on Tuesday. I was fortunate enough to get a client project working with an awesome team to create mobile web apps at famo.us! I am very excited to dive into unfamiliar territory, learn, and help out a team of super talented people.