1. cah:

    Our final episode reveals the winning creators of Tabletop Deathmatch 2013!

    Spoiler warning: you can get more information about the winners after the cut. 

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  2. Weeks 8-11, Large Project and Job Search Prepping

    I missed a whole bunch of weeks. Sorry, guys. But I want to see this blogging thing through to the end, and Omaha Code School is so close to done (only one more week, omg) that I might as well keep going.

    If you’re wondering, this is what happened the last few weekends that more or less deterred me from working on my blog (and then once the following week actually starts, all is lost):

    • Weekend after Week 8: I wrote the blog post Sunday night, but then the rest of my week was monopolized by our large project and I had NO TIME to do the doodles.
    • Weekend after Week 9: All time was consumed by the large project which was due on Monday.
    • Weekend after Week 10: Family emergency took up the entire weekend and part of the beginning of Week 11.
    • Weekend after Week 11: Blogging was finally able to happen, yay!

    Well, let’s get to it. Weeks 8-11 recap!

    Week 8
    Monday, April 14th – Friday, April 18th

    After the trials and tribulations of individual project week (week 7), we were able to take things a little slower during week 8. We spent the whole week revising last week’s projects with Sumeet’s blanket suggestions, like making our database look-ups less intensive, working on the front-end of the website and making it more presentable (some of us that already have front-end experience didn’t need to spend as much time doing that as others), cleaning up the code on the back-end, etc.

    The things we learned this week during lecture just built on knowledge we already had, so nothing was ENTIRELY new. Like, we learned how to use Jekyll, SASS (which just builds on our CSS knowledge), HAML (which just builds on our HTML knowledge), and so on. This was also when I started thinking about redesigning my portfolio site, with the knowledge that the end of school was looming soon. I knew I wanted to code a functioning clock face and incorporate that into my portfolio site somehow, and…that was it. I love clocks.

    Clock sketch

    We knew that Week 9 would be the largest group projects, where we would have a group of 6 and a group of 7. But we didn’t know anything else, and Sumeet wasn’t letting us in on anything else. And so…

    Week 9
    Monday, April 21st – Sunday, April 27th

    Sorting into large groups, part 1

    Sorting into large groups, part 2

    Omawho is a networking site, specifically for the Omaha creative community. You’re able to add your face to the site and some information about yourself. Sumeet made this site originally, and we were tasked with redesigning it.

    Andy ended up being the technical manager for SMAC (Sock Monkeys Against Cancer), which is a project for donating sock monkeys to people with cancer, and that group worked on an application for managing pairing donators with people who wanted sock monkeys.

    After my moment of panic was done (well, my “moment” of panic was never REALLY done, but at least once the initial shock had passed), I figured Andy had to be the manager of the other project because he’s so organized and has leadership qualities and is one of the fastest learners in our class, so he would be good at helping people who are stuck.

    But I was a manager. Me. Why me? I would have never volunteered for this.

    Week 9 was a hard week, in more ways than just doing lots of coding. It took a lot of effort to put myself into a leadership position, but I found that a lot of my administrative skills carried over into being a leader. I’m very organized, so after some hiccups in the beginning trying to figure out exactly how to delegate work to my team, I think I got the hang of it. And it helped that we all like each other, because I’m not very good at getting on people’s cases if they’re slacking or whatever. We’re all naturally hard workers, and we all really wanted to do a good job of redesigning Omawho, so I didn’t have to be pushy very often…which is good, because I’m not good at being pushy.

    Also, like Andy, I pick up on new concepts quickly, so I was able to help my teammates when they got stuck. I think that was one of my favorite parts of being manager. As reluctant as I was to be in a leadership position, I feel like I’m a good mentor, and I enjoy helping people and teaching.

    For most of the project, we were on track with the schedule I came up with at the beginning of the week. I did more and more coding towards the end of the project as it came down to crunch time (in the beginning, I was mostly focusing on management things, like proofreading code and breaking down goals into smaller tasks and delegating work, etc.). Despite having so many front-end coders on our team, by Friday we were still coding the front-end and my back-end people were for the most part done, and they just worked on debugging and writing their tests over the weekend.

    Our team has three designated front-end coders (Kaitlyn, Michael, and Jay) and two back-end coders (Brandon and Dan). And I consider myself more front-end than back-end, so it was more like we had four front-end and two back-end. This was probably because our team was more focused on redesigning an existing project (therefore much more front-end code), and SMAC was building a project from the ground up (they had four back-end developers and two front-end developers, plus Andy who’s strong in back-end).

    So I’ve figured out logically why our teams were organized this way, but…

    Sumeet will have the prettiest site

    By Sunday afternoon, I thought we had Omawho to a presentable state, and I was so exhausted that I accidentally fell asleep around 8 PM.

    But then I woke up around 11 PM to like a million bug reports that my teammates and Sumeet found in just 3 hours, and I was like…

    Fuuuuuu

    Week 10
    Monday, April 28th – Friday, May 2nd

    Monday morning, I felt less bad because it seemed SMAC was fairly behind, too (more behind than we were, but they had a more massive project that they were designing from the ground up; at least we had an already existing site). Sumeet asked us if we would like another hour to work before our class presentations, and I said yes so we could tackle the largest bugs.

    While we were working, Sumeet came over and cheerfully announced that he had launched the Omawho redesign to the live site.

    I’m not sure what the look on my face was that made him burst out laughing, but it was probably something like:

    The look of horror

    (I had also switched to straight black coffee the past half a week, so the look on my face was probably 80% horror and 20% “This coffee is really bitter.”)

    But our presentations went well, and I guess Omawho isn’t broken, but there are still bugs that we’re working on.

    Omawho redesign

    All of my team did a great job, and I’m really proud of what we were able to do in a week. It’s also nice that at least for right now, all six of us seem interested in continuing maintenance on the site.

    If you already had an account on Omawho, your information was transferred over from the old database. Otherwise, you should totally sign up. :) There are new features, like being able to add pictures representing your work to your profile page, and a game that lets you guess people’s names and work places, etc.

    After presentations ended around 11 AM, Sumeet took us all out to lunch, and then I went home and passed out.

    Sleep until tomorrow

    Then the rest of week 10 was pretty laid back. Like week 8, we had lectures that didn’t teach entirely new concepts, but they enhanced our previous knowledge, like how to do more intensive searches using Solr, how to cache information, and so on. On Friday, we had a field trip to Goodtwin, and the guys there were really funny and great. It’s too bad they’re not hiring right now, because I really liked the environment and the people there.

    Week 11
    Monday, May 5th – Friday, May 9th

    Okay, we’re finally on the week I should be blogging about, haha. We spent Monday and Tuesday preparing for our presentations at 1 Million Cups. 1 Million Cups is an organization where usually a business owner will talk about their business and receive feedback, but for us, the format was geared towards our projects.

    Presentations at 1 Million Cups

    Both large group teams (SMAC and Omawho) got to present, and we were surprised about how many more questions we were asked about our experience at Omaha Code School than our actual projects. But I guess the idea of a web development boot camp is so new to the Omaha area that people are really curious, and we have a lot to prove since we’re the first class.

    I think we represented our school well, though. We’re all a smart, capable bunch. And so many of us went from zero experience to ready for an entry level job.

    After 1 Million Cups, we took a field trip to Agape Red. They’re one of the larger businesses we’ve been to, but they’re still not huge. They were also all very nice, and we hung out for a while after the actual talks, just chatting and making friends. Michael Struthers of Agape Red has been really helpful while we prepare for jobs; he gave a talk on Thursday about how to write our resumes and prepare for interviews.

    Thursday and Friday were entirely dedicated to preparing for jobs. I redid my resume and added all my newly acquired skills and experience, and in my spare time during weeks 10 and 11 I redesigned my portfolio site (and also continued debugging Omawho). It’s…done enough, I guess. I’m still going to add a picture of myself to my “About” page probably, and a downloadable PDF of my resume, and set the URL to caraheacock.com, blah blah blah nothing is ever done.

    Portfolio redesign with clock background

    You can check it out here.

    The GitHub repo is here if you want to check out more of the technical stuff, but I’m just going to be pretty high-level on my blog and obsess over my clock. I am so proud of my Javascript clock. Look at it go. Look at it go. It’s so pretty. I’m a nerd that is obsessed with clocks for some reason, leave me alone.

    Going into the final week of Omaha Code School, I’m pretty nervous but also excited to find a job doing something I love. I really enjoy coding, and it’s like every project is a puzzle to solve, and I love the challenge. I’m going to start job hunting soon, and I would love to find a job at some sort of graphic design firm doing the front-end (and maybe also back-end) for web applications. Wish me luck!

     

  3. Weeks 6 and 7, Individual Projects

    Hey, blog readers. It’s been a couple weeks.

    I’ve been debating how much I would talk about why I didn’t blog last week. Week 6 was…kinda odd. It all sort of blended together, and I felt pretty zoned out that week.

    The knowledge that the end of week 6 meant Omaha Code School was halfway done was putting thoughts in my head like, “Oh my god, I’m halfway done. I’m going to have to start job hunting soon. What have I learned? Am I going to be ready for a job in this industry? Am I even any good at this? Was this a horrible decision?” And week 6 was also when we dove into Javascript for the first time, so learning something entirely knew was making me feel like, “Yeah, I really AM NOT GOOD AT THIS. THIS IS HORRIBLE.” Week 6 felt a lot like week 1 in regards to learning something entirely new (week 1 was solidifying the Ruby we learned in the prework) and making me feel like I know nothing and I suck.

    Week 6 was a lot of videos and a lot of Javascript homework, and I’m serious when I’m saying week 6 really blended together and I don’t remember much about it.

    Dairy Queen trip after crying

    [Author’s Note: I don’t know why both incidents about me crying about code end with me getting ice cream…?! I swear this is not a regular thing.]

    When the weekend rolled around, I realized I didn’t retain anything funny to blog about from week 6. I was a mopey blob. I was also STILL moping all weekend, which didn’t help me get motivated to write.

    Cara the sad blog

    So when it came time to video chat and screen share with my friend Joanna on Sunday night, which is when I work on my blog and she works on whatever project she’s doing and we hold each other accountable to work on our art things, I had zero motivation. So she took pity on me and we spent the night playing Harry Potter quiz games instead of working.

    How do you spell McGonagall?

    On Monday of week 7, I already started to feel better. We were starting our individual projects, and I was really excited about the project I chose to do. I decided to make a video game that would be very Javascript/jQuery/Ajax heavy, just by the nature of browser video games, so it would force me to learn what I felt shaky on during week 6.

    Also, as the weeks have gone by, I’ve felt myself becoming more inclined towards the front-end than the back-end of coding. I know how to do both, but doing the front-end and making a pretty, well-designed website gives me joy that I don’t get from doing the back-end. So this project would be my pretty, self-indulgent game.

    Thus, day by day, my game slowly came together. Tuesday night was fun, because I went over to Marcus’s after school to watch the first episode of the Tabletop Deathmatch, and Nick was there as well, and they helped me debug my code…by putting my monitor’s display on the big screen TV.

    Big screen debugging

    By the way, Marcus’s and my episode in the Tabletop Deathmatch will air April 24th (Jayson’s birthday), so keep an eye out to see us talking about Discount Salmon. :)

    Week 7 became stressful towards the middle and end as it came down to crunch time. I’m pretty sure EVERYONE was stressed out. We had all come up with ideas for applications that would realistically take a few weeks with a TEAM of developers, but we were pushing ourselves to our limits and seeing what we were capable of.

    And hey, it was totally worth it, and I’m really proud of the final product. Presenting, Lydia Butterfly!

    Lydia Butterfly screenshot

    Okay, so, bear with me. I build this thing in about four and a half days, so it’s a little buggy in spots, but overall it’s a functional game. Many bugs were already ironed out when, after presentations on Friday, half the class signed up and started playing. XD

    It does WEIRD THINGS in Firefox and IE. In Firefox it’s giant and in IE it’s tiny…? Like, I can’t. I don’t know. Just play it in Chrome or Safari, I’m sorry. I’m still working on the cross browser compatability.

    Anyway, it’s pretty. That’s the most important thing. ):<

    One day there will be a “How to Play” animation, but in the meantime, there are directions in the footer. Basically the game will give you a butterfly with colorful sections, and you keep clicking sections to change their colors until they no longer match the colors next to them. Here’s an example of a winning game:

    Lydia Butterfly winning game

    If you sign up, it will keep track of your scores on your personal stats page, and you’ll also be eligible for the high score table. :)

    And. AND. There’s cute little music box music that I wrote myself. (By default, it’s muted.) Ideally, one day there will be sound effects when you click sections of the butterfly, too.

    I’m also still working on making the mobile experience better. It technically works on mobile devices, but it’s slow. I’m trying to get jQuery Mobile working, but I think I need some help from Sumeet because it’s doing weird things.

    It felt like all my hard work paid off when so many people who played really enjoyed it. The night before presentations (Thursday), Corey was the first person who got to see the game in action while I was still finalizing things, and he was like…

    This is the next Flappy Bird

    He very much wants to make the mobile app, but I’m still trying to decide what I want to do with the future of Lydia Butterfly. Like, is it…is it really that revolutionary that it’s going to go viral? I don’t know.

    I’ve just had an idea for a video game ever since I made this picture in November 2012 for Kenny and Elicia’s baby Lydia for her room before she was born:

    Butterfly for Lydia original art

    And as I was making that artwork, I was trying very hard to not let any sections match the colors of the sections next to them, and over time I thought, “That might be a cool idea for a video game,” but I’ve never been capable of creating it until now. I thought it would be a good idea because it plays on people’s obsession of evenly spacing colors out (at least for me). Like, when decorating Christmas trees, I don’t even want to put two ornaments of the same color next to each other. So I figured that a game that plays on an obsession would make a good, addictive game.

    When we had to submit the URLs for our websites at 11:30 AM Friday morning, Sumeet walked by me around noon on his way out to get lunch, and he was like…

    Game rage

    And after presentations, Sumeet tweeted about my and Michael’s apps:

    Most polished apps

    So on top of the fact that most of the people that have played it like it, I feel really good about all my hard work. <3 I guess I am good at things.

    The only downside to that week was that we were so close to finishing our current puzzle that’s in the Omaha Code School space, but by the end of the day on Friday which was followed by an after party of snacks and drinks at Saints Pub, we weren’t able to get it done.

    BUT…

    Matt keeps going on about the Ballmer Peak, and as we were drinking at Saints, he was convinced that if we went back to OCS, we could totally finish the puzzle.

    And mostly, I was like, “Haha, yeah, right,” until I, uh, accidentally ordered a margarita that was 32 ounces…? Which I split with Matt or else there was no way I would ever be able to drive home that night.

    TOO MUCH MARGARITA

    Let's do that puzzle

    Completed New Year's puzzle

    And with that, week 7 was officially complete.

     

  4. Week 5, First Group Project

    Note: It’s gotten to the point where I’ve realized if I don’t post SOMETHING, NOTHING is going to get posted for week 5. This post has been finished with the writing portion since Sunday, but I’ve been too bogged down to do doodles, so here’s the week 5 update, sans doodles (except a bonus teaser doodle at the end).

    —-

    I feel like there isn’t a lot to write about this week, at least not a day-by-day breakdown, because the days in week 5 really blended together.

    There wasn’t a lot of variation from day to day because most days were work days. Like I mentioned in my last entry, we started our first major group projects, and ours was to create the Omaha Code School Wiki.

    Compared to everyone else’s projects (one group made an app that let you check into locations, one group made an app that let you create animated gifs, and one group make a task management system), ours was relatively simple, although we didn’t realize that in the beginning. As project manager, I came up with our timeline of what we wanted to accomplish each day, and we were almost always ahead of schedule. Since we had some time towards the end to refine the Omaha Code School Wiki, we were able to work out a lot of bugs and really polish the look of the site.

    Omaha Code School Wiki

    It IS technically live, and I’m really excited to start pushing you guys towards it so you can contribute, but we’re in the process of finalizing email authentication so you guys can’t just make bogus accounts. I’ll be linking to it soon though!

    When I was breaking up the work and who would work on what, Andy ended up writing the code for getting articles working, and Matt got users working. And yeah…with a wiki, that’s really all there is to it? I felt weird writing almost none of the backend; the work I had left was to manage the project (finalizing everyone’s work before we merged it into the master branch) and the frontend. Towards the end I DID end up writing a chunk of the Ruby because we had some previously unanticipated functions we wanted, so at least going into week 6, I don’t feel rusty, haha.

    But for the most part, while Andy and Matt were writing the Ruby (what makes the site run), I was working on the layout and the CSS (what makes the site pretty). The graphic designer in me really enjoyed that.

    When I first showed the site to Stephan, he could immediately tell it was my “style” (whatever that means?). Like, I…I don’t know, I guess when given free reign, I gravitate towards blue and purple? (Just look at this blog.) But hey, Omaha Code School’s main color is blue, so I didn’t pick it JUST because I like it.

    But I guess things in that site that are me… I like curves and organic shapes (but they’re not there only because I like them, but I feel like it helps websites look less boxy). I also like transparencies.

    Anyway, we currently have a couple dozen articles. It’s fun adding to it now that it’s live and watching it grow. In the future, I’d like to add more responsiveness to the layout (so it looks better on mobile), add more to users’ profiles, etc., but I’ll probably post a link to the site before that stuff is done.

    When we had our presentations on Friday, everyone had come up with some really impressive apps in just five days. We all had to learn at least a couple things that we had not been taught in the scope of the class, and it’s really awesome how far we’ve come as developers in just five weeks. Afterwards, Sumeet treated us to drinks at Brix to celebrate the completion of our first large projects.

    Then on Saturday, Spielbound had a fundraiser event at Omaha Code School to play games and promote their Kickstarter. I went about an hour early and helped set up, and then Andy, Lindsey (Andy’s wife), Matt, and I were literally the last ones there, haha. I had a lot of fun playing games all evening, and it was good to see a lot of OCS students show up even though the event wasn’t OCS-related.

    During week 6, we’ll be learning Javascript, and then week 7 we’ll be doing our next large project. I don’t know if it will be another group project or an individual project, but I’m hoping for individual, because I’ve had an idea for a video game spinning around in my head, and I want it to be my personal baby project…

    Mystery project oh no

     

  5. Week 2048, I mean Week 4

    It’s really strange realizing I’m a third of the way done with Omaha Code School. As tiring as it gets sometimes, I really love being here, and sometimes I don’t want it to end. But at least there’s 8 weeks left to come up with awesome projects and build a portfolio.

    We started learning Ruby on Rails stuff towards the end of week 3 and really dove into it during week 4. We’re also utilizing GitHub more for our group projects. With GitHub’s help, a team can all work on a project at the same time without overwriting each other’s code by creating branches on their own computers. When you’re done with your branch, you merge it back into the master copy of the program, and Git lets you know when you’re in danger of overwriting stuff that other people wrote. Git is pretty smart and useful.

    One of the downsides to this week is that I feel like I didn’t code much that I’m proud of? A lot of our homework this week was revamping older projects and working on a practice university program that kept track of terms, classes, teachers, students, and grades.

    GitHub and Ruby on Rails both took some getting used to, which is why we had this throwaway university program to practice on. We learned a TON this week and needed to test what we learned on something inconsequential.

    Anyway, so my group for working on the university program consisted of Andy and Matt. Together, we are Team Cool Table.

    Deal With It

    I think Andy was the one that dubbed our group Cool Table…because when we first gathered, we were at a table…that was the cool table, I guess.

    My group is awesome, and I really love working with these guys. During week 1 when we had all those partner projects, I felt like Andy was one of the people I worked best with. And I had never worked with Matt on a project before, but he’s really easy to work with, too. I feel like we’re all on a good communication wavelength, and the three of us get a lot done and learn a lot from each other.

    Once we overcame our GitHub struggles, it was pretty much smooth sailing from there. Or, as smooth as it can be when we were constantly learning more things to make our application better.

    But then on Thursday, my life was derailed by 2048.

    This is a horrible, horrible game, and it will ruin your life, and you should never play it.

    Team Cool Table plays 2048

    Team Cool Table plays 2048, part 2

    Thursday was also Beer && Code night, and we had a ton of visitors, to the point where there was so much going on that we all decided to go socialize with the promise that we would fix our issues and submit them as a pull request on GitHub by the end of the night.

    I drifted from group to group, saying hi to people I knew and trying to be social, and when I got tired out from extroversion, I wandered over to where Marcus was, and I was like…

    Cara and Marcus play 2048

    Cara and Marcus play 2048, part 2

    And then poor Sumeet saw us, and he was like…

    Sumeet is disappoint

    Sumeet is disappoint, part 2

    I don’t think he tweeted it.

    On Friday, we started brainstorming for our first large group project, and we stayed in the same groups as our last project, which I was happy about. Andy was the project manager for our university application, and I asked if I could be the project manager for this one because I wanted some experience doing that.

    We could pick anything we wanted for this project, and we’ve decided to do an Omaha Code School wiki! I am really excited about this. We’re going to have pages about all the students and teachers, and also inside joke pages like 2048. Andy, Matt, and I will be the admins, but we’re going to make it so that anyone can sign up and contribute.

    We’re also going to implement a feature that every time a page is edited, every old version is saved, so if anything gets vandalized, the admins can roll it back to an older version.

    During week 5, we’ll learn more in-depth front-end development (right now only the students who knew CSS beforehand have pretty applications, and everyone else’s is straight up HTML; this means a lot of people have websites that are just black text on a white background). I’m looking forward to making our wiki pretty and awesome.

    Also, either Thursday or Friday last week, my friend Kaleb launched his Kickstarter to get Spielbound started! Spielbound will be a board game café near Midtown Crossing with over 1000 games. They still need help reaching their goal, so you should help them out. They have a lot of cool rewards for donating, and it would be really great to have a board game café in Omaha. (I also helped make the templates for some of their graphics, like the headlines and the rewards and stretch goals tables.)

    A bit past midnight, early Saturday morning, I finally made a 2048 tile.

    2048 tile

    And you know how you tell yourself that once you make the 2048 tile, you’ll be done with this game forever?

    Well, uh, that didn’t happen with me. I was like, “Now I know the secret and I can win all the time!” and kept playing it obsessively.

    Then Sunday afternoon, like, I don’t… I don’t even know how this happened.

    8192 tile?!

    I really need to stop now.