Week 0, Day 3

Still pretty quiet here. I’ve been helping Ava with her game and looking at some basic tutorials for Backbone and Angular. Then I got sidetracked into learning VIM.

I did hike up the epicness that is Taylor St on a lunch break with Ava to go look at Huntington Park. The views were amazing and I love that I can still wear a T-shirt (no sweater/coat necessary) at all times, even on my evening trek to the BART station and “home” home (Ava was upset by the quotes around the word home so I had to change it).

On the way up:

Up Taylor St

Looking down:

Looking Down Powell St

Looking at the Bay Bridge through the buildings (another thing I love, it looks like stereotypical San Francisco everywhere, tall buildings, funky old fixtures, and a strange mixture of people types):

<img src=”http://res.cloudinary.com/leaena/image/upload/c_scale,h_800/v1391709300/2013-11-06-12_47_39-768x1024_p9tbab.jpg” alt=”Bay Bridge on California St width=”600″ height=”800″>

Prequel – Week 0, Day 1

Hack Reactor starts next Monday, but that doesn’t mean I’m sitting around in my pajamas petting Ava’s dogs (that’s just what I do on Sundays).

Jabba

I’m having a bit of a “take your roommate to class” week. So I’m crashing Hackbright for the week. It’s really perfect timing for this because they are just starting on their projects so the aren’t as super formal right now.

Hackbright

Just hanging out in a space with coding going on has been amazing. The women are all spread all around the space working on code and randomly chatting. The instructors have been coming around and giving informal talks on subjects that people are getting stuck on (I’m currently listening to a talk on how 3D works). I’ve finished up some of the extra credit prework for HackReactor and I’m going to be going to some awesome tech talks and a Geek Girl Dinner this week!

I’m definitely less sad now that I’m busy. I’m worried it’s going to crash at some point, but it still hasn’t caught up that I’m actually here for any time longer than a couple weeks so I think the crash might also lead to some excitement about the fact that I’m in a place I want to be and have been working toward for so long.

Lindsey Learns APIs

Starting this countdown to California/Hack Reactor has brought back my love of learning in ways that online classes couldn’t do. I love to learn. I’m the kind of girl that if I don’t know the answer to your question (“Are inch worms an inch long?” – bad example as I do know that they get their name from the way they “inch” forward, but still), I will stop the conversation immediately, whip out my phone and find you the answer. I’m sure I’ve pissed off friends and relatives, but I think they are used to me by now. It’s something that I just have to do. Some people will make up things or say “who cares”, but I really want to get down to the truth, learn a new bit of trivia, something.

So now that I’m learning more things I keep coming up with questions. Like suddenly the veil has been lifted and JSON isn’t this mythical acronym but something I can actually parse and use. But my brain of course took it a step further. APIs are similar, right? – said my brain. But what exactly are they? I’ve pulled data out of one but it was very hand-holdy. How does that data even get there? How does an app get an API? To Google, my friends.

According to API Evangelist, APIs are tools individuals can use to access companies’/individual apps’ data and functions. They allow external users to access internal info safely. There’s lotsof stuff on this page though and my eyes kinda glazed over about half a page down. Time for a new track.

I learn better by doing so maybe make our own little API? Unsurprisingly, the internet has us covered. Let’s Create your first API. This is in PHP and very straightforward. But if you’re like me, you may want something in our own favorite web app language: JavaScript! So let’s go ahead and try Creating a REST API Using Node.js.

Obviously I’ve only just scratched the surface of this stuff but I want to try and play around with this and more in my last two weeks of down time. One last link for good measure: How to Design a Good API

Regex for Fun and Profit

I’ve always been a bit intimidated by regex (or Regular Expressions for the uninitiated). In a nutshell, regular expressions are these archaic looking bits of symbols that when put together look bizarre but actually are used to search for specific characters in a chunk of text/input. For example [^0-9] means search for the first non-numeric character (the ^ is a not, so [0-9] would be search for the first numeric character). I’ve used them a few times, but only by looking up other peoples versions and mucking around with it until it it gives me something like what I want.

Then Ava introduced me Regex Crossword and I knew that if she could do it I could sure as heck learn it too. I breezed through (or to be more accurate bashed through utterly confused) the introduction and part of the beginner puzzles and then got royally stuck. I had never formally learned regex and still didn’t have a clue what half of it meant. Off I went searching for a good tutorial, which was harder than I thought.

I first found Learn Regex the Hard Way, and while I normally like the Learn Code the Hard Way stuff the regex version isn’t finished and wasn’t really helping. I like interactive things that tell me whether I am even on to the right track of a clue. But then I found RegexOne which checked all my boxes! It gives you a bit of a lesson on each new character and then makes you test it out before you move on to the next lesson. I completed the beginning tutorials on there and decided to try the Crosswords again, feeling much more confident.

I got stuck again almost immediately. It was time for some good old fashioned cheating. I discovered Regexper and at first didn’t think it would be much of a help, but let me tell you, I was wrong. You can copy a regular expression into the text box and it will give you a humanized version with actual words and descriptions. With that in my tool belt I was no longer stuck and am now halfway through the intermediate challenges.

I’m not sure I’ll ever really enjoy regex, but at least now it doesn’t just look like magic.

UX Design vs Sticky Nav

An interesting rant from Reuters on end-user hate of sticky navigation bars (those logo/navigation combos that stay on top of your screen even as you scroll down the page). I find myself more and more interested in user experience data. My first love is definitely promoting/encouraging women in technology, but I can be fickle and have more than one love, right?

Advocating for Geeks

Of course as soon as I type up a list of my recent finds of women in tech sites Huffington Post goes and makes a better one. This covers a lot of the biggies. Ones I have my eye on helping with (or following in the footsteps of) once I have more street cred.

My dream at this point is to definitely get my hands dirty, start small with volunteering, and someday teach/advocate for women in tech and STEM in general.

Girl Power!

I’ve spent the past few week inundating my friend Ava, the one who starts Hackbright on Monday, with women in tech articles and sites online. She suggested I try to collect them all in one place, so here we go:

Big Sites:

  • Ada Initiative – Conferences, lobbying, mentoring. Lots of good stuff. Articles and video on Impostor Syndrome.
  • Systers – I just joined their mailing list. Lots of interesting discussions. Some of them don’t really apply to me, but it’s all inspiring. I really want to go to the Grace Hopper Celebration someday.
  • Skillcrush – Articles and teachables by women for women. Ava especially loved the Confusion is your friend blog post.
  • Women 2.0 – All sorts of career/education/tech stuff for women.
  • She’s Geeky – General geekiness for women, lots of rotating meetings/’unconferences’.
  • ChickTech – Currently focused in my hometown, they’ve done some amazing things for high school age girls.

Individual Articles:

[This will probably be a continually updated list for a while. I’ll sticky it to the top of the page for now.]