Sunday, March 31, 2013

Vocalizing the Pain and the Daisies, Sun Flowers

To this day, everyday I hear doubts and questioning about my ability to learn how to program and code... which is strange because I have been doing it for a few months now, and I do it fast and well for how fresh I am. Fresh as a mint :) because I am newly minted.

For a while, I wanted to write a blog post about the frustration I have encountered when people make very rude and inappropriate comments about my learning process. But I didn't want a blog post of a nasty rant, so I have been waiting for the right inspiration. And today I found my words.

Watching Amanda Palmer at this time in my learning process, was a huge #inspiration. She was able to help me voice the inner beauties of liberal arts, arts, music, and PEOPLE, people who delivers kindness, sparks of brilliance. And then she voices the pain, when others who should mind their own business asks her to Get a Job! make MEMEs about her being greedy and Not Allowed to Ask for Help. Her conclusion was simple: it really hurts.

Her other inspirations: trust people, and seek beauties everywhere. A few days ago a few classmates and I went to the Dog patch for a career fair, normally, why would i go into an industrial part of SF, near the water, under the highway for anything? The biggest surprise: pastel color painted houses, small neighborhood joys palm trees, Rickshaw bag shop, coffee, chocolate tours... and it reminds me a few years when my high school was located in the Mission...

There was something amazingly beautiful about that "unsafe" neighborhood (some people still paid the price of the exposure), but for the most part, it was a happy inspiration of wonderful people, arts, cultural melting pot.

Can I say that's just the best part of being a San Franciscan? That was before all the recent Silicon Valley development, this was already an exciting beautiful place

So I wrote this:
Whenever someone question my belonging in the tech industry, I never feel sad because i always have my beauty in the liberal arts. What makes me so happy all day long is doing what i want, learning coding for instance, and with my fuzzy fluffy twist. It's fun to catch up with friends over Japanese sake and talk about servers, the color themes of their product design, the artists of real world and online on dribbble, i will spend an equal while squeeze out a form processing logic but also that one tap that animates, bounces and fades in and out. I wouldn't give anything to trade those times when I read Pushkin, Byron, and draw the Raven, as I go deeper into the tech world, these fuzzy happiness will always be with me and it will permeate everywhere. #inspiration via #amandapalmer

Friday, March 15, 2013

Coursera Signature Track

Coursera Signature Track introduction by Pamela Fox

Dilys Sun

Pamela Fox talked about Signature Track a new feature by Coursera at the Google DevFest today. This is a new service that is integrated with some courses at Coursera that verifies you by key patterns and recognition and give you a verified certification of completion for your Coursera work. And it is a good business - a paid service $39-79, undetermined.

It is an interesting service, potentially has good business with the hardcore self-selective dedicated students who sign up and actually finishes courses on Cousera.

From the tech side it is also very good, it detects touch versus physical keyboard, keystroke patterns, facial recognition, camera use (Flash, swift) i.e. a lot of user agent sniffing. Device detection. Will post some sample codes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gmail utility Chinese input method

Check out this option that I just noticed in my Gmail. It wil allow me to toggle between Chinese input right there in the browser. Love it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Q&A Web Development Bootcamp [COMMENT TO ASK A QUESTION]

Got a question about web development dev bootcamps? Ask them here or @i_stanford Your question shall be answered by myself, others with experiences from dev bootcamps or #quora research. Peace :)

VIDEO Advice links to my other blogpost, a youtube video about factors to consider when choosing a web development bootcamp. That includes: financial factor, time, emotional commitment, technology, learning curriculum etc.

Video Review of Hack Reactor Part One and Part Two

If you are interested in learning more and learning fast: use my personal paid service

Free Resources:
Words of Caution Before You Enter a Bootcamp
Looking for information specifically on Coding Dojo?  CodeDiv's Coding Dojo Profile Page with Q&A and resources to learn more. 

Contributor profiles:
Dilys Sun : blog host, currently a candidate at Coding Dojo, ex-tech-consultant, Stanford '10, the Codecademy girl
Victor: youngest student in the Coding Dojo pilot class, left high school to start coding early
Ben: dojo classmate, previously majored in game mechanics and design

More answers will be posted

Starting with Introspection

[updated may 22 2013]
As I mentioned in the video, the moment important deciding factors are who are you and what you are trying to learn. Knowing why you are trying to learn code, your learning style and your language of focus can pretty rule out the majority of bootcamps that won't work for you.

If you are in San Francisco, as of today, Coding Dojo does a mix of language, Dev Bootcamp is famous for being a Rails house, and Hack Reactor a Javascript powerhouse, not sure about App Academy. Hackbright is mixed and gives a diverse set of experience.

Other questions:

[updated may 22 2013] Question from user comment: how is the job placement afterwards.
The job placement is weak from the first class of Coding Dojo, but people see an increase in short term gigs and contracts. The strongest employer of the first class turned up to be Coding Dojo itself. Read more here

[updated may 22 2013] Question from Ryan

Coding Dojo claims to teach Rails , how many students do projects in rails? 
Most students do at least one Rails project. I personally did 2 Rails project and one codeigniter. I would say TDD teaching isn't strong in Coding Dojo. But TDD knowledge also depends on your knowledge of rails. 

I knew Rails before and thought learning the fundamentals including CodeIgniter MVC framework helped me understand Rails better, and I saw an improvement in my Rails work.

But the TDD part is lacking, I reiterate.

[updated may 22 2013] Question from Ryan

Are people employable after the bootcamp?
 That's a tough question to answer. Employment depends on many factors, especially a person's existing experience, network and ability to learn. The employment results vary. One guy who just started with Rails got a Rails job, while some others that are really good have yet to pursue or obtain a job.  Many get temporary gigs.

I would say in all bootcamps the stats are bluffs, especially the ones that actually kick students off. The stats scream inaccuracy to me. 

How we do in the job market is pending many factors just like any job search. I will not think many bootcamp is a magical pill. However, some bootcamps are more famous and hence more credible and well-connected.

[end of update from may 22 2013]

Why Coding Dojo over others?

Author: Dilys

  • The biggest is timing. I left my job to code. Can't wait for too long.
  • Pricing matters.Coding Dojo initial class was an affordable $5000, affordable compared to Hack Reactor (formerly Catalyst) for example which is $10,000+
          [Updates May 7 2013] - looking back Hack Reactor is still the priciest and single language            
          (really all about Javascript), retro reflect, Javascript full stack is a good single language to learn.
          Potentially better than the  Ruby and Rails combo. It also makes sense now why Codecademy
          was also focused on js first. 
  • Coding Dojo emphasizes fundamentals more than sexy techs like Ruby on Rails. Rather than spending the majority of time learning frameworks, the emphasis is on fundamentals, then MVC frameworks come more naturally
  • Diversity of technlogy: this boot camp has a good blend of old and new techs, e.g. PHP, SQL, Ruby on Rails, Django, CodeIgnitor

Why Coding Dojo over Hackbright?

Author: Dilys

    That was a hard decision indeed. Hackbright has great lady coders, many of whom I met in person and have received great impressions. Quite a few of whom found junior or entry developer jobs right after the camp. Good combo of pricing, network! (possibly stronger than Coding Dojo for now, and great opportunity for girls of course), sexy technology, and even some scholarship. The only problem for me timing. It was less frequent.
    Now that I am in the middle of Coding Dojo, I am starting to think it was also good to be in a co-ed environment. Has its rough patches, but definitely will emulate the working environment.

    Author: Ben (dojo classmate) and Victor (youngest dojo classmate only 16 and left high school)

    Well we weren't really allowed at Hackright. Lol :D

    How do you like the structure of Dojo? (off shore teachers, the LMS, etc.)

    Having offshore teachers was my main concern. After I talked to Michael and realized that he has a strong good philosophy that I accept, and that he's very smart, I decided to join, still having that concern. Now I am relieved. I worked with offshore workforce before, and it was challenging. But Michael's team is well trained, they are available from 4-8PM for any questions, code reviews, homework help, brainstorming etc... it was helpful for people like me who can't think of questions very fast, so if i missed out in the day time, and in the late afternoons, evenings during reflection it comes up, I almost have 24/7 help. They also create video feedback, which is brilliant in learning coding (I can explain more later).
    Also Michael and Charles are here for way more than 4 hrs a day.
    There are multiple helpers onsite, so I actually ran into the situation that I ran out of questions to ask, so I just listen to what my classmates have to say. There are multiple lectures throughout the day, video tutorials, office hours etc. More materials than I can get my hands on.
    Some of my classmates don't even interact with the offshore TAs too much, that's just their style. And they do well too.

    Would you reccomend dojo to someone with prior programming experience?

    YES! In fact multiple people have prior experience: e.g. 1 year PHP, school work in Java, prior Java/C, solid front end design pixel perfect photographer, javascript by heart... as long as you don't know web development by heart, there are a lot of things to learn. Also we are touching on old and new tech, you may know PHP, but you may not know Ruby on Rails, Django, or Hadoop, or SASS... you know what i mean?

    What do you like the least/best about Dojo?

    It's intense and it's intense.
    I am learning a lot and I am stressed out about learning a lot. Also that Coding Dojo has the philosophy of starting with the fundamentals: meaning you will have to learn the front end design HTML CSS, as well as if/else, loops in PHP, before you move on †o Ruby on Rails, Node Js.... what have you, and eventually 3 projects. I was very surprised at how useful CSS is, when I already a bit of Ruby on Rails. Going through the fundamentals completely changed my understanding of Ruby on Rails. It blew my mind. That's what I mean by learning the sexier technology later. Also the fundamentals are the hardest to learn, and takes the longest to learn outside class, when learning on your own.
    One big philosophy Michael has is to focus on the fundamentals then extrapolate the new tech, and also the boot camp having the point of helping you saving lots of time. You have to struggle to learn, but it will rocket you through your learning trajectory - when learning on your own.

    I'm not sure if you can speak to this yet but I'm particularly curious about job placement and competitiveness once a graduate from a bootcamp like Coding Dojo. Assuming limited engineering experience going in, how competitive are graduates in the marketplace to get junior development positions? Specifically, how many/what percentage of students in your (or prior) cohort landed a position by or within a few months of graduation?

    So many factors are in play. I would say those who are connected in the Startup world will always get jobs faster! Do you know what i mean? It is really about inter-personal connections. I think as a girl you may have the highest placement in Hackbright.

    At Coding Dojo, as we are the first class I cannot tell you the numbers. However, quite a few employers have shown up to recruit, so it looks promising. As I said it really depends on the person. From skill point of view, you will be very ready after Coding Dojo. But the prep work for algorithm interviews still take time for sure (dojo mates and I plan to take time after the first camp to prep).

     I have the suspicion that some bootcamps are very quickly pumping out a lot of students in a short amount of time, so popular camps are not necessarily better. That's why I didn't have a problem to be the FIRST class of Coding Dojo ;-) if you know what i mean?

     You are right, this is a good question to think about. coding is a lot of time and energy commitment. I would highly advise you to try it out in meetups, codecademy and other coding opportunities first see if you truly like it. It's like becoming a med student for the money of being a doctor, it is often the wrong reason, and students drop off like flies in med schools (just personal experiences with a lot of med school friends). I am not saying that you are or it is wrong to think money is important. Just that it get tough and draining, knowing exactly why and when is very important.

    What distinguishes Coding Dojo from other bootcamps? 

    • Skillset, fundamental focused
    • Unique instructors, self-made examples, flexible learning
    • Higher availability with more affordable price
    • Good environment in South Bay, though far if commuting from San Francisco
    • Proximity to high-way, downtown Mountain View (speakers and startups, accelerators)
    • Proximity to Hacker Dojo, a vibrant venue for hacking in the local scene
    • Great speaker series, beyond expectation considering lack of prestige
    • Strong hacker, self-made, entrepreneurial culture
    • Less emphasis on career building: networking, interview
    • Lack of infrastructure on job placement and the prestige to attract employment
    • Developers are entrepreneurial, probably less of fit to Silicon Valley modern web programmer scene
    • Less fit and susceptible to Silicon Valley hip coding culture 
    It is both good and bad that Coding Dojo has heavy emphasis on skill set building. Of course any time you spend on that less time on networking, interview prep etc... This is a good place if you know that you really want to learn hardcore development skills and get the ground running fast (the 2nd part is the nature of any bootcamp). In terms of job placement, Coding Dojo has had many speaker events, and some prominent speakers like Mark of Twitter Bootstrap, but because the dojo just started, the network is not as top notch as Hackbright and Dev Bootcamp, both of which have special places in the history of bay area bootcamps.

    Personally, I am fine with skill based camps, because I have had prior employments which I did well, and I am mostly here to learn web development. While jobs are important considerations, at the end of the day, I will be fine if the Dojo does not help me find one. However, I'd also much prefer that it does help!

    More answers will be posted

    From my WordPress : Salute foodies: Happiness b(u)y Food

    Dilys Sun
    Just recommended a book for a friend who wants to open a restaurant, become a chef not by apprenticeship but somehow his own way. That's really cool, also really hard.

    A book by Tyson Cole the owner of Uchi, a restaurant in Houston and Austin. It is an inspiration that he sort of broke the taboo of Japanese traditions. Innovation on Japanese food is a destiny but also a risky plank. He walked the plank and there is Uchi (I am a Yelp'er foodie, love food, and this is my top 2 Japanese restaurants in the US, maybe the top top is Ikko in Orange County, and I live in San Francisco~). Tyson hasn't been to Japan for that long either. He definitely isn't the otaku nor the kaijin that are obsessed with Japan.

    Here's your amazon link to the book.Uchi (bio, story, recipe)

    I want to just say a few words about food. Chinese are obsessed with food, and from my friend's picture from Korea, gosh Koreans are obsessed too. Chinese even begin the greeting of daily life with a "Have you eaten? 吃饭了吗"

    We Sichuanese Chinese will die for the best chili pepper and spice. We eat in the morning (2AM), throughout the day and at late nights. It is such fond memory to see people driving BMW and Benz to port at a street shack to eat that hot pot on a very very hot evening.

    Food is what we die for. Food brings the peace that all nations so need. You may not like a nation but you may like their food. And there comes emotional struggles.

    I would pay for a 30 dollar piece sushi but sushi is about more than that. Did you know that sush is sort of a fast food? It is a convenience food that was supposed to be eaten with fingers and that is why it is so portable and bento-style. Sushi boats are supposed to be pretty cheap in Japan. Yet Sushi is like a delicacy in the United States, even in Ukraine!

    And interestingly, I used to hate sushi and raw fishes. Now I still can't stand bad Q sushi but will seek out the best. America changed that for me! Crazy indeed. Americans who are not supposed to know about sushi changed me and converted many. California roll is rather the introductory to the sushi ritual, and in fact the Japanese have reverse imported these into Japan~ gaku iinyu. Wow. Without the humble California Roll there wouldn't be a sushi me.

    Any one discovered Mexican food via burritos? Invented in Texas I heard? I was shocked when I discovered that too.

    And once I was in the Vatican, wanting a taste of the "Italian" coffee. I was so angry at the fact that a cafe nearby right at where we lined up was serving americanos to Americans. When I asked for <b><i><a href=";tbo=d&amp;rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS508US508&amp;spell=1&amp;q=macchiato&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=gOD2UI2AA4H7igKDqoCYDA&amp;ved=0CDIQvwUoAA">macchiato</a> </i></b>I was first denied then had to wait 10 min. To be fair, I was this small Asian lady who discovered Caffe Grecco near the Spanish Steps, which I bypassed, and I skipped all the lines in Gucci. And the joy I felt when I learnt that Lord Byron and Goethe once sat in the same place<i>, oh the black marbles and the velvety benches</i>

    We are the nation of Starbucks though~ Starbucks actually democratized coffee! Shocking social discovery indeed. Even the founders of Starbucks were so obsessed with the beans and <em>technical's</em>, but not making it drinkable and affordable. It was a gentleman's drink not an American drink. Starbucks in my pseudo economist eyes are American inventions of "affordable luxury". And that's why I love Starbucks, even though I am a local cafe girl: the Philz and neighborhood jewels: the names that I can't even remember

    Food should be democratic. It should be open and tolerant. I do not like to be made stupid for having an adventurous heart to try. This American way of eating food is such a spirit  that is so very American. As we are the land of many technical inventions, we are also the proud land of food discoveries and renovation. Dare I say I am proud of my country for that - for the food? Yes! And sometimes not so much when food is the cause of our No.1 illness.

    A quick note about Yelp, a community that I so love. Its got minus'es : we yelp we can be annoying, you know like puppies can sometimes too. But gosh I love that it give people a voice. Think about it, before yelp there was not much consequence for terrible service and terrible memories. Memories from terrible food and restaurants can really haunt, after all my whole point is that - food is culture. And to me Yelp is like the voice of democracy of food. Hoping saying this will make people like yelp slightly more. And for yelpers to not be "yelp terrorist" and abuse their powers.

    Food is culture. Food captures so many memories of grandma, neighborhood, local, innovation, and dream. Happiness by food, buy food for happiness. Inspired by my high school friend said many years ago: I would spend all the money I have on food. Yes it may be gone after you eat it, but it is soooooo good. And you need it, for your soul and body.

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    PHP debugging

    Remember this tagline: vomit and die var_dump(); die(); var_dump the arrays/associative arrays, and use die to break up the lines frequently. Then use Inspect Element to troubleshoot and monitor the details. Learnt at Coding Dojo Bootcamp

    Sunday, March 10, 2013

    Tutorial - Stuck on Code School jQuery 3.8 Click Interaction

    The instruction really was not clear on this section, I got stuck multiple times and decide to publish some hints and results to help people out.

    This design of the entire course is beautiful and interactive, but it was definitely the most painful experience that I have had, even though I know a bit of jQuery already. I can see beginners being deterred forever if this is their first introduction to jQuery.

    If you want hints, read this section. If you want answers, skip to the next section. Caution, either way, there're spoilers.

    I'd like to do more of these troubleshooting blog posts and tutorial videos (check out some existing ones), especially for Codecademy, feel free to request!

    Part 1. Clarification on the prompt
    "We're making progress on our page, and it's close to being useful. The next step will be moving the code we have been working on into a click handler. Let's start by wrapping our previous code in a click handler for theBook Now buttons using the on() method."
    Is rather unclear. What it means to say is that modify your codes so that they only are run, when the button is clicked, i.e. you will need a On function with an event handler 'click'. You will have to wrap all your previous codes in it.

    The final result is that when the button is clicked, the message is appended and the button will disappear. So you will have to do something about the commented out line of button.remove too.

    Part 2. Answers
    See screenshot

    Friday, March 8, 2013

    Celebrating International Women's Day - Female Techies ! Rawr [Work in Progress]

    You will hate me for saying, I really don't know. I have meant to write about this topic a lot, but not sure where to begin. I only have observations,  but cannot comprehend what I am seeing in boot camps, events, hackathons... Hopefully this will make sense soon.

    Without a doubt there has to be a difference. In fact there's a difference between everyone, everyone's learning style begs to differ. To celebrate International Women's Day, I have decided to provide a list of resources instead. Destinations themselves are non-biased, unlike the individual articles. You may enjoy  this list for:

    • Finding women friendly environments
    • Finding women specific events
    • Understanding what other lady geeks have been doing
    • Understanding gender differences, learning styles
    • Designing your own programming education
    • Reading for fun :) Happy #IWD

    Leaders & Inspirations

    Sheryl Sandberg
    Marissa Mayer
    - People say that the biggest favor Marissa did for Yahoo is to bring attention and media back to Yahoo. Yahoo's stock has recovered significantly since she joined.  But there's way more. She's a tough iconic leader who dares to make changes!
    Sasha Laundy founder of Women Who Code, also involved with Codecademy!
    More about Sasha

    News & Articles

    Cosmopolitan editor writes about sexy women, career health life tricks alike

    Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional When Things Get Personal

    Learn how to deal with office politics, women help women, understand the differences in communication styles

    Lean In

    Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook writes about Women Work and Leadership


    Women in the Boardroom: Symbols or Substance?

    - Stanford Research on Women in Boardrooms


    Online Resources for Nerdettes

    Women 2.0 (English) (Spanish)

    My very own

    Coding Dojo bootcamp Belt Systems

    Today is my qualifying exam for SQL. I actually used mysql before but have little confidence, because our exam is really hard. Last week, I qualified for HTML CSS and jQuery. We had to build projects under time pressure. It may be surprising that HTML CSS are the toughest, because it is the most fluid, and our prompt? Instructor gives us a screenshot, and we build it ground up, all the front-end needs to look alike. Gosh that felt horrifyingly good ... when you are done.

    For those who like Gamification :) like I do. This Ninja yellow belt dude is awesome. I now have yellow belt.

    Celebrating International Women's Day

    Article from Women 2.0 English

    Article from Ella 2.0

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    Building the great wall of Facebook

    Currently building a wall project as a part of PHP class exercise and I decided to make it as facebook like as possible to challenge myself. And indeed, now I have so much more appreciation for the Facebook wall.

    Coding Dojo bootcamp - does your boot camp teach security?

    Apparently ours does! We are learning about SQL injection and cross-site scripting right now (learning to DEFEND against it that is, important to DEFEND). Those are the two main attacks that most sites are vulnerable for. Does your boot camp go this technical? We love it.

    Being using Inspect Element much on Google Chrome? Make it your best friend for agile development, HTML CSS design, and understanding forms to defend your site.

    Typing as I am listen to Michael from Coding Dojo co development boot camp. Forms are powerful but it can be gateway to attacks to your app. You should never trust plain data coming from $_POST variables or anything that comes from outside. Careful careful.

    -- updated march 9 : wow that wasn't just a morning chat, we actually have an online class dedicated to prevent sql injection. Will have to go through the following exercise this week and early next week:
    - Make a (facebook) wall - MINE IS WORKING AND IT FEELS FREAKING AWESOME (early version. It has been 5 versions since Monday. Will demo my new one soon. )!
    - Make the same wall but now prevent SQL injection
    - Make the same wall now with Ajax rather than PHP form processing

    Massive headache, learning a ton.

    Cool news of the day
    Matz talk about Ruby 2.0
    Kickstarter poster child Twine is growing
    Box model CSS

    Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    Mini HTML CSS jQuery Twitter Bootstrap

    Started coding Saturday, finished first round on Sunday. Hot bug fixed = 3 on Monday @lorocard tracking on Twitter. It's been a fun project that will keep evolving. Feel free to ask any questions. 

    Check it out

    Fun fact : LoroCard is short for Loro Cardinal, which is named after the Stanford color and my college dorm Loro, Florence Moore where there are free ice cream with every meal :)
    Loro is Spanish for Parrot. All the more fitting that the app is in development alpha, so it doesn't do much but to copy what you said to it. 

    The goal is to have a digital online mobile profile card / business card that you can pass around in the near future in conferences and events :) 

    happy hacking.

    Sunday, March 3, 2013

    Weekend project with HTML CSS and jQuery

    It's been 2 weeks at the bootcamp dojo, an intense two weeks where we raced through HTML CSS jQuery ERD and SQL selection... just took my 1.5 hr qualifying exam on jQuery and 3.5 hr exam on HTML+CSS design of a periodic table! It was brutal, this Friday :) But rewarding. The exam itself was a learning experience.

     One language that lingers in my mind since I was first introduced was jQuery. On Saturday I started a fun project building a web app.

    I named it after my college dorm: Loro, which is Spanish for Parrot. The full name is LoroCard, which standards for "parrot (e)card" or "parrot cardinal" as cardinal is the "mascot" of Stanford. It's just a silly fun design project. I am excited to show it soon. Keep in touch.

    React UI, UI UX, Reactstrap React Bootstrap

    React UI MATERIAL  Install yarn add @material-ui/icons Reactstrap FORMS. Controlled Forms. Uncontrolled Forms.  Columns, grid