Week 1

I just completed week one at Grace Hopper! Here are my thoughts.

Stuff we learned/did 

  • The theme this week was computer science fundamentals. We had a very targeted review of some topics that, apparently, are quite common in interviews for junior-level developers. These included:
    • Data Structures! We built models of queues (a word I just learned to spell), linked lists, and binary search trees in JS.
    • The DOM! I, and many of my classmates, I think, had previously been relying on JQuery to make our websites interactive (because, like, why wouldn’t you, JQuery is magical). We learned to access and update elements in the DOM (like the paragraph you’re reading, or the header on this page, or the link you clicked to get here) without any of that Jquery magic, and even wrote a program that performs some of the magic of JQuery, making it seem less magical.
    • Algorithm efficiency! We learned about big O notation, which is a vague and imprecise (yet useful and omnipresent) way to describe an algorithm’s run time. I already knew all about this because I played guess my number with my 6th graders. Literally. You learn everything in the 6th grade.
    • Sorting! We implemented bubble sort and merge sort. It was a really great programming exercise and I kind of wish we had written more search algorithms, it might be something I decide to do on my own time.

My Favorite Parts 

  • Pair programming: in each workshop we are assigned a different partner who we work with the entire time. This has been a really great way to get to know my classmates better, and it also makes 6 hours of basically nonstop programming way more doable. Another benefit is that it forces me to talk through my ideas and make sure I really understand them, usually while drawing many scribbly diagrams. I can now do a breadth-first search in my sleep.
  • Game night: Settlers of Catan and gluten free pizza… What more could I ask for?

Code and the City 

  • New York has always intimidated/overwhelmed/disgusted me, and now I live here! I’ve heard that it’s better to live in New York than to visit, and I have to agree. It’s great to have a nice, quiet room to retreat to at the end of the day (although by doing so, I am contributing to the gentrification of yet another Brooklyn neighborhood, so there’s that).
  • I actually really like FiDi, where Grace Hopper is located. The streets are twisty and turny and you can never tell where you are. To me, the flowing streets feel way more natural than a harsh grid and it makes the whole place more liveable.

Overall Impressions

  • I have  to say that I expected the work to be quite a bit harder. The workshops are challenging enough, but there hasn’t been anything that I really struggled to finish. I am definitely learning a lot, but in general I expected the pace to be faster for such a short program. We will see if it picks up in the next few weeks.

Stuff I started using 

  • If you ever need to take notes on a coding lecture, I recommend Quiver from the App store. It lets you go back and forth between normal text and nicely formatted code pretty seamlessly. I never pay for apps, but this was a good use of $10.

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