Bootcamp Prep – The Videos I Wish I Had When I Started

Coding Bootcamp Prep Course
The view from the App Academy building… awash in code.

It’s challenging to prepare for the technical interview application process at immersive coding
bootcamps like App Academy and Hack Reactor.

I’m trying to make it easier… here’s a collection of videos that I think make it easier.

Creation Story

For most of 2016, I was working hard to learn the needed coding skills to pass the technical interviews. My goal was to get accepted to the top programming bootcamps in San Francisco.

In July of 2016, I applied to MakerSquare, Hack Reactor and App Academy.

I was accepted into Hack Reactor and App Academy, both of which are considered very challenging schools to get into.

After a lot of deliberation I chose to be a part of the November, 2016 cohort at App Academy.

At the time of writing this, I have 2 months until the start of the cohort so I want to spend the time teaching others how I think about the technical challenges and provide material to speed the skill acquisition of future aspiring programmers.


There are a lot of tools to get hung up on. If you follow along with the video course, you can skip that.

In this course we will use Node and a simple text editor. Both are easy installs.

Programmers are crazy about their tools and that is a good thing. We’re learning the basics so we don’t need the fancy stuff. Fancy tools will actually hurt you during your coding interview because they become a crutch.
During many interviews, you won’t be able to run your code or write in an editor that gives you hints on syntax. We’re doing this spartan style so you have the core ability to pass the technical interview no matter what tools they ask you to program in.


We will be using JavaScript. Here’s why:

JavaScript is used to build almost all websites these days.

Even if you’re going to a school that focuses on Ruby or Python, you will still find yourself using JavaScript (or it’s derivatives) to display the results of your code on a website.

For that reason, it makes sense to learn JavaScript first. The syntax is more challenging (IMHO) and therefore it is better to start there. Once you get good at JavaScript, Ruby and Python are easy to pick up. I transitioned from Ruby to JavaScript and I think it would have been easier to go the other way.

When I started, I learned Ruby. After transitioning to JavaScript, I wish I had started there and moved to Ruby later.

I hope you find this useful.

You can download the course material as I create it via this GitHub repository.

Screenflow Recording Error – Quick Solution = Don’t Use Bluetooth

The short fast answer, don’t use your bluetooth headphones.

I was using the Sony MDRXB950BT/B Extra Bass Bluetooth Headphones and they were causing the error.

Update Sept 28 2016 – ScreenFlow reached out to me and let me know they can’t fix the issue because of something to do with Apple and Bluetooth.

The Screenflow Error

Screenflow Recording Error Unable to Start Recording

I had a really hard time with Screenflow just now. Here’s the error I couldn’t get rid of:

Recording Error

Due to an internal error, the recording has unexpectedly terminated. Please try making your recording again, and if problems persist, contact us for technical support.

Unable to start recording.



Screenflow Listening?

If you’re reading this and you’re with Screenflow, please let me know in the comments section if there is an update to the software which will allow me to use my headphones again.

Long Canyon Cliff Dwelling – Sedona, AZ | 2016

I didn’t even know this place existed…

We met Miles and Melanie on the Nomad Cruise, but when they asked us to come visit Sedona, AZ – we had no idea what that actually meant.

After deciding to attend App Academy in November, rather than Hack Reactor in September, it became clear that we had a few months of free time before I do the immersive coding thing.

Miles and Melanie told us a lot about how beautiful Sedona, AZ was… but I never really thought much else about it. I thought, “Ok then. I trust these guys. If they say that they live in a beautiful place, well we can just go there.”

It wasn’t until we were actually driving south of Flagstaff, AZ that I realized that this would turn out to be time spent in a very special place.

The beautiful stretch of road to Sedona, AZ

Lessons from Sedona

Appreciation for the Earth’s natural beauty is a common thread for most people I know and trust. This places exhibits that beauty like I’ve never seen before.

natural bridge of Sedona, az

Sometimes adding strange action to still frames causes them to be far more interesting. In this shot below, Miles, Melanie and V do a good job of levitating stones. As you can see, all three where able to levitate the rocks in this ancient cliff dwelling.

Girls levitate rocks in Sedona AZ

Again, Miles shows his prowess at levitating stones.

Miles Levitates Rocks, Sedona AZ

There is an abundance of beautiful flora in these canyons, this one was particularly interesting.

Flora of Sedona, AZ

Planning a Visit?

It’s quite easy to just go to Sedona and go on hikes. Our friends live here so we didn’t have to plan our accommodation. If they didn’t live here, planning accommodation would have been our only requirement. There are lots of hikes all around and if you’re confident with hiking, you don’t even know a guide.

The great thing is that the whole place is beautiful. You drive to the gas station and it’s stunning. So just go and have fun.

Coding Bootcamp Acceptance Decision and a Southwest Roadtrip

(This is a now page, and if you have your own site, you should make one, too.)

Updated September 19th, 2016

Acceptance to App Academy and Hack Reactor

One day in July, I decided I had studied enough. It was time to apply to my top coding bootcamps. After a handful of technical interviews, I had two acceptance letters from my two top-choice schools. It was a very nice feeling.

The hard part was deciding between Hack Reactor and App Academy. Both are great schools. In the end, it was App Academy’s tuition model, and the fact that I had already organized housing in the bay area for the App Academy cohort. If I were to do Hack Reactor, I would be forced to find a place to live in San Francisco for two months before my other housing would available.

It would cost me about $10,000 USD more upfront to go to Hack Reactor than App Academy. That was a deciding factor.

Both schools have excellent reputations. It’s an honor to be accepted to their programs. I did work really hard at it before hand.

Before Starting Coding Bootcamp

I’ll be headed to App Academy on November 14th, 2016. Here is what I plan to accomplish before then.

  1. Organize Freedom Podcasting (our podcast production service business) for my 3 month absence
  2. Business travel to Sedona, AZ via Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
  3. Teach and produce a course on the software skills needed to get into the top coding bootcamps
  4. Make a meaningful contribution to an open source project
  5. Publish an open source project which accepts iTunes podcast URLs and returns the source URL (which iTunes hides from users)
  6. Read a book about money, a book about history and a book about humanity


Driving to Las Vegas from Reno

Before we left, I expressed that this drive was boring. I was wrong. It’s amazing.

Reno to Vegas

The whole trip is STUNNING. It’s not just a beautiful desert, there are some really amazing things along the way. For example, we found this:

Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Projcet

This is called the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project. It’s the first of it’s kind. The blue isn’t a lake. The blue in the image above is a lake of robotic mirrors. Each mirror reflects light to the top of that tower. The plant pumps salt from a 70 million pound vat to the top of the tower. That salt melts at the top of the tower. The melted salt is a storage method to utilize the energy of the sun.

This is different from photovoltaic solar power, it’s thermal solar power.

The heated salt stays hot for more than ten hours. Therefore, the power plant is capable of running consistently for the entire 30-year lifecycle of the plant. This is a zero emission source of power.


The problem seems to be that they produce a kilowatt hour for 13.5 cents, in a state where the market rate is 12 cents. That means they have to get better at it before the technology has a chance of taking over the market.

Creech Air Force Base Drone

The US Military is probably the most prolific stakeholder along this route. The above image is one of many drones we saw while driving by the Creech Air Force Base. At first I thought they may have been checking out drivers to ensure they aren’t speeding… but then I realized there were about 5 in the air. I’m assuming that they are training the pilots or testing the vehicles.

Funny enough, we were listening to a podcast directly related to drones and technology of the future. It’s called Eye in the Sky. The show discusses a company that can take pictures of towns from so high their aircraft can’t be seen from someone on the ground. They can uses these images to track people and learn about people’s movements. It’s an excellent podcast.

Please feel free to listen to it if you’re interested:

A casino and hotel in Las Vegas called The Luxor

Despite being born in Nevada, I’ve spent very little time in Las Vegas. It’s a beautiful town. I’m looking forward to learning more tomorrow.