Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MakerSquare Day 1: "We are your seat belt." (1/1)

Theme: Deep ends and safety nets

First, logistics: I'm going to try to schedule my posts to appear the morning after.

Second: Day 1 was riven--riven, I say!--by one big paradox: we were thrown into the deep end, but told we had a safety net. Or maybe the paradox is more like: learning programming can be intensely rewarding or intensely frustrating. Or put another way, instructor Nick drew a chart of our progress, which would involve sudden breakthroughs and grinding plateaus.

Which was then demonstrated for us--or on us--when we had to do some pretty heavy coding in the afternoon (after preparing our computers). There were some abstract data structure questions that weren't very abstract at all: what's the best way to think about a library? What's the best way to model a book? Would you make those as arrays? Or as hashes?

(Rule of thumb: the answer is almost always "hash" unless order matters.)

But the real work was building a program that could take a plain text file with a recipe (well, a shopping list, really) and parse it into a special class for recipes that--gasp!--we created ourselves. This is one of those lessons where... well, you know when you try to print something and the computer says "Cannot find printer" and you point at the printer and yell, "it's right there!" Well, reading is something that comes pretty easily to us, but that computers need some help with.

So Day 1 basically tossed us into the deep end of Ruby.

But, and here's the contradiction at work, we have a safety net, both in the form of the instructors (Nick, Flip, Patrick, with MakerSquare fellow Ben, who lives at the DevHouse where I live) and of the other students. When things get too frustrating or weird or you don't know what you should do or what you already did--ask someone.

As Nick said, "We are your seat belt."

Also, our office has a ping pong table. That probably shouldn't be important, but I kind of already know what our big office hobby is going to be. I mean, seat belts and safety nets are great--but so are pressure release valves like banging a little white ball around.

No comments:

Post a Comment