Old Focus 01/08/16

This is my nownownow entry from January 8th, 2016. To see what I’m focused on now, go here.

Learning to Code

I’ve learned Ruby on a basic level now. I’m having a really good time solving scaleable math problems.

Before applying for App Academy, I want to exhibit excellence in basic Ruby coding. To do this, I’m reading books on Ruby, playing Ruby games and going through external tutorials (also, Ruby monk and Koans.)

Learning to code has changed the way I think about things. I love it. Even if AppAcademy turns out to not be a great fit, I’m going to continue to get good at this skill. The opportunities in the open source community and solving problems in a scaleable way is far to interesting to not get involved. I’m hooked.

 

Our Business

Our company is called Freedom Podcasting. We offer podcast production services and podcast editing services:

We’re focused on ensuring that we have the bandwidth to bring on more clients while ceaselessly creating excellent, chart topping podcasts.

 

Video Editing

I’ve completed the video editing for our YouTube series which documents our trip across the country in 2015. The next step will be to do a welcome video for the series.

Embedding 3d Scripts to make Websites Engaging

I’d love to be able to embed elements like this into the backdrops of websites to make them look really amazing and futuristic. This one is a bit dramatic and would be distracting…. but if I could slow it down and make the moving shapes low contrast, I think it would make an amazing website. Maybe a good one page element for a data science company or something like that.

See the Pen Nonsense Clocks by Zevan Rosser (@ZevanRosser) on CodePen.

w1 – App Academy Bootcamp Prep Wrap UP

160 Spear Street
The first week of AppAcademy bootcamp-prep is behind our class.

Even though I spent the first few months of the year studying the subject matter in-depth, I’m still finding this class to be useful. Let’s talk about some benefits:

First, it’s great to be around people who are actually good at computer programming. As I was walking home after the first day of class, looking up at the big glass buildings, I realized something crazy. That day was the first time I’ve actually talked with other computer programmers.

I’ve done lots of web development with our podcast production company, but never really met anyone who had a deep appreciation of iterative thinking and back-end languages like Ruby and JavaScript.

So it was surprising to actually sit down and enjoy a conversation about the details of what makes different functions better than others, even when the results are the same.

The Good

Bootcamp Prep is great because we take it slow. I think learning thinks like loops, arrays, variables, strings, objects, NaN and many more basics of programming, are going to be critical to a programmers success. I’m happy to go over things again and again.

It’s helpful to learn these elements from different people too. It’s great that a/A has video lessons from other professors, not just our main, in-class, professor. Learning from others helps me see the subtle nuances which might have eluded me on the first pass.

Sure, I can solve that problem with a for loop… how do you do it with a while loop. This stuff should be like walking forwards or backwards to a programmer.

The Bad

There is a style of teaching in which people who are knowledgable ask questions to those that don’t know the answer. There are these long pauses and I don’t think it works well for programming. It’s great for philosophy or some social sciences, but in programming the answers are to specific. Here’s an example:

Teacher = T | Student = S

S – Why is my loop causing my terminal to go blank?

T – You’re forgetting to iterate your while loop. Do you remember how to iterate?

S – (long tortured pause, starring at impossible code)…

 

This goes on a lot. I think there is a better way to do it. It’s all about speed. Here’s how I think it would be more effective.

S – Why is my loop causing my terminal to go blank?

T – You’re forgetting to iterate your while loop. Do you remember how to iterate?

S – (short confused pause)

T – Ok so with while loops you need to write in an iterator. Here is how to write a while loop to iterate from 4 to seven:

i = 4
  while (i < 7) {
  console.log(i)
  i += 1
}

T – Now type in node + the file name and run that code. Ok, so you want this while loop to be part of your muscle memory. You want to be able to type this without looking at a screen. So do this 5 times for the following iteration: 10 – 20, 20 – 30, 30 – 40, 40 – 50, 50 – 60.

S – (goes off to typing things really quickly)

App Academy View

Week One is Done

The best thing that has helped me this first week is hard work.

I’m going over every note, every video and doing every problem available 2-3 times and I’m doing them in different ways. Before each class, I work on the problems we will have at the end. That way I know the sticky parts before they come up in class.

Luckily, I’m loving the process. I love writing programs. I love solving the problems and I love the pressure of tests.

See you next week.

Ruby Monk Notes

Now I’m just keeping notes of my learning process while moving through RubyMonk.

Thus far, RubyMonk has proven to be a slightly more challenging learning experience as the system demands more of your intuition. They’ve done an excellent job at allowing the learner to get unstuck with a hint. It’s good that they do that, but they also make it clear that using the hints too often will cause you to not learn the material well enough.

I thought it was fairly funny after I answered a question that counts the length of strings in an array. I wrote code that works, it’s commented below, but the answer was much shorter. Check this out, it’s embarrassing for me:

# My code:
# 
# def length_finder(input_array)
#   length_array = []
# 
#   idx = 0
#   while idx < input_array.length
#     length_integer = input_array[idx].length
#     length_array = length_array.push(length_integer.to_i)
#     idx += 1
#   end
# 
#   return length_array
# end
# 
# puts length_finder(['Ruby','Rails','C42']).to_s
#
# Their code: 

def length_finder(input_array)
  input_array.map {|element| element.length}
end

This is actually one of my largest hangups is this style of { |x| x do y} code. I don’t quite understand it so I’m grateful that Ruby Monk is making it a priority now.

Here’s how to use that syntax to delete the even numbers:

[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9].delete_if{ |i| i % 2 == 0 }

Simple. Clean. I like it.

Interesting. From all my studying earlier, we never used >> to push elements to arrays. RubyMonk says it’s the most common way, but I’ve always used .push(“string example”) to push elements to arrays. Good to know.

How to Write an Effective Couchsurfing Request: Inspired by Failure

We love to put couch surfers up in our place. It’s great to have traveler’s come through because they have interesting perspectives and it’s great to make the connections. The truth is that I deny about 90% of the people who reach out to me. Why do I shut most people down? It’s because of messages like this:

Hey, i am travelling a backpacker tour from Sydney to Cairns. And i want to stay two nights in Surfers Paradise. Is it possible that i can sleep at your’s?Pleas call me, because i have not allways Internet, only when there is a free wifi. (his phone number)best regards (couch surfer)

Hey everybody, let’s count the mistakes:

  • 1st = Hey,

So this guy didn’t even bother to write my name in here, that tells me he could be copying and pasting this to everyone on the Gold Coast. Where is the improvement opportunity? Mention the person you are writing to.

  • 2nd = I am traveling a backpacker tour from Sydney to Cairns…

You know what? Everyone seeking a couch to crash on in the Gold Coast is doing that. Want to know another thing? I don’t care. Where is the improvement opportunity? Don’t say mundane, un-inspiring things that matter nothing to the person your hoping to mooch off of.

  • 3rd = I want to stay two nights in Surfers Paradise…

Great, I want a business that cashflows $10,000 a month, a ranch on the beach and a quiver of surfboards. I don’t care what you want. Where is the improvement opportunity? Start with the value you bring to the interaction. Example: “You guys would love my cooking because I make a fantastic German schnitzel ” You see what I did here? It’s not about what you want couch surfer, it’s about telling the dude with the couch that your presence isn’t going to be a friggin headache!

  • 4th = Is it possible that I can sleep at yours?

Check the profile of the couches you are surfing. We offer people a really nice queen bed dummy, not a couch. Where’s the improvement opportunity? “I read that you guys have a bed to sleep on and while I would totally appreciate that, I’m super easy and I’d be happy to sleep out back on the grass.” You see what I did here? With this statement, you make a point that you read about the couch while reaffirming that you aren’t going to be a soul sucking drain on life while you couch surf.

  • 5th = Pleas call me, because i have not allways Internet, only when there is a free wifi.

Sure dude, I’ll call you. I love calling stranger vagabonds with absolutely nothing to offer. Get lost. Where’s the opportunity for improvement? “Though my access to internet is going to be spotty over the next few days, I’d be honored to connect in anyway possible. My phone number is 0404533938 but if you just reply to this message with your number, I’ll be happy to text you when I get into town.” You see what happened here dummy? You explain the situation and offer a solution that doesn’t require the couch baron to do extra work to get your lazy tail to his place. Oh and texting is the way to go. “Please call me”? I hope you like the $30 crappy hostel in Surfers.

  • 6th = best regards,

Tips on CouchSurfingReally? best regards? You couldn’t even be bothered to put a capital letter at the front? Where’s the room for improvement? Look dummy, proper CouchSurfers sign off with better salutations. Next time try: -With Awesomeness -Wheeeeeeee -Graciously -Excitedly – YOU ROCK!

So yeah, your CouchSurfing request was a 100% failure. With luck, I hope someone else reads this and is inspired to have an excellent request and experience with CouchSurfing.
Now here’s the interaction part. Write a compelling CouchSurfer request in the commment section below. Winner gets a pizza.

I Got Robbed: Pick Pockets are Good in the Philippines

 I Got Robbed!

The other day I got my iPhone 4 stolen right out of my pocket without me even knowing. Don’t worry Mom, no violence occured… but I got duped. This is the first time I’ve ever been duped and I hate it.

Here is the Story

I was riding in a Jeepney from my home to my favorite coffee shop at the Baniland Town Center in Cebu City, Philippines. The Jeepneys are interesting old Jeeps left over from the American presence in  World War II (I film some of them in this video.) Since the 1940’s they have been outfitted with  two rows of benches running parallel with the street, pointing inwards towards each other. These are the home made passenger vehicles of the Philippines. I was listening to an internet business podcast on my iPhone with my apple earbuds, while sitting on the passengers side bench.

To signal the driver to pull over in a Jeepney, the passenger uses coins to tap the handrail which is welded to the ceiling of the vehicle. With a loud “Tack-Tack-Tack” sound, I announced to the driver that I wanted to get off. There was a commotion and I assumed the cause to be me requesting a pull over in the wrong spot.

Three little guys sitting in front of me, to my left and right began talking quickly in a strange dialect. “aba aba aba Country Mall yada  blah blah.”

Mad Streets in the PhilippinesI couldn’t understand them of course, and I still had no real understanding of how this mad Jeepney system functions, but I knew the Country Mall was just a 3 minute walk down the road from where I wanted to go so I just chilled and waited for the Country Mall stop.

As the Jeep was pulling into the Country Mall Jeepney bay, one guy sitting directly across from me on the drivers-side bench reached down between my legs in, what I thought was, an effort to find a coin I had dropped from my pocket. He seemed to have a hard time picking it up and then showed me the coin and offered it to me while trying to say something. I couldn’t hear him so I took my ear buds out to listen to what he had to say. I couldn’t understand him and refused the 1 peso coin he had seemed to find between my legs.

All of the sudden, the guy next to me was pointing out that I had a piece of gum stuck to my shoulder. Again, I assumed that these were nice guys alerting me that I had leaned into a piece of chewing gum that had become stuck to my shoulder.

By this time the Jeepney had pulled up to the curb and I got out of the Jeep to pull the gum off my shoulder and toss it in the bushes.

Then I checked my pockets as I normally do to make sure I had everything in order. My heart sank. Surprise surprise, no iPhone.

Challenging Philippines SidewalkI immediately assumed it had fallen out of my pocket on the jeep so I ran over and leaped into the back of the jeep which had started pulling away. I searched around for the iPhone in the place where I was sitting. It wasn’t there and the other passengers were scared of me as I started yelling like a neanderthal. They pointed across the traffic ridden road trying to tell me that someone had taken my iPhone in that direction. I got off the jeep looking around for something to chase. I was ready to be like a lion chasing down some gazelle-like thief through the jungles of urban Cebu.

The witnesses were pointing down a dark ally surrounded by shanty style dwellings and rum vendors. What was I going to do? I don’t remember what the guys looked like. I couldn’t run after them too effectively anyways; I had a decent sized backpack on anyways. It would be like chasing a needle in a hay stack…

…no, it would be like chasing a needle in a needle stack. I was screwed.

The End

Thanks for reading. Leave some comments below and berate me for my foolishness!

🙂 -ian

Google is Awesome

RoswellGoogle is awesome.

Once in a while, Google does something interesting with their home page. This time, it was an interesting little game where you act as an alien and feed radioactive fuel to plants and horses in order to recover the pieces of your space shuttle to go home.

66 years since the Roswell UFO Incident.

But google is awesome now.

GovHacks 2013: Reflections on simPROVAL and a Start up Weekend

Though this event happened a few weeks ago, I feel it would be wise to document it here.

What is GovHack?

2013 Gold Coast GovHackGovHack is an event put on by the Australian government to motivate the public to build solutions to government problems.

The government is dealing with a problem in that they spend too much on solutions that don’t work so well. The idea of the event is to incentivize the public to solve problems by offering prises.

To me, it was exciting to see that at there where people coming together on the Gold Coast (which is a place I generally regard as full of surfers and babes, not techies) to explore building solutions based around open data. The prize money seemed interesting, but I didn’t really consider it to be a main motivating factor.

Attending GovHack

The event was a delight. We had food, beer and wine on the first night, breakfast-lunch-dinner for the whole weekend and on the last day another round of booze and snacks. This is all great because it allows you, as an attendee, to focus primarily on your objective, which is to win some prize money.

The thing that was so great about the event is to sit down for a weekend and build a passion project with people who are executing on ideas. Even if the “carrot on the stick” is to get a big check; to me it’s just great to be wrapped up in the entrepreneurial storm.

What We Made – simPROVAL

GovHack 2013 Gold Coast WinnerOver the weekend we made a “minimum viable product” called simPROVAL.

It’s essentially a tool that takes multiple spacial data sets (open data provided by government sources) and makes the selection and display of that data open to a query based on address. This data aids engineers and builders to select the proper building requirements when planning buildings.

That’s geek talk for; it makes it so you can get wind sheer building requirements by putting in the address in the iPhone app.

The hope would be to automate parts of the building approval process while simplifying the process and eliminating mistakes through an automated feedback system. Ideally, builders could just do their building approval from their phone and the form could be automatically sent to the council via FAX with a little simPROVAL logo on it. This would eliminate the cost of turning down many building approvals. It

We made this video to tell that story:

We’re happy with the results. We won.

Are You Getting Ready for GovHack?

Here are some resources I wish I had looked over before starting it this year:

What’s Next?

We won a start up incubator program at Silicone Lakes in Gold Coast, Australia. We just had another meeting discussing the challenges that arise from building a tech startup. The complexity that we are about to undertake is very interesting.

  • On the Same Track – We all have different assumptions as to what the project is
  • How to Begin – 
  • Who’s the Customer
  • Government – I avoid dealing with government as often as possible, but they are a potential customer of the service. It’s interesting that some of the team wants to discuss the product with government, where as I’d like to take the approach of building something for the day to day builder that makes it easier for him to interact with government. These types of questions are a challenge, because the truth is, no one knows the right answer.

Final Note

Starting a business is working the frontier. It’s the wild west where no one really knows what to do next because we are all existing in an ether space. The goal of the entrepreneur is to find solid ground in this vacum and build a house on it. It’s a fascinating challenge and I’m looking forward to continuing this “startup incubator.”