Quick Update: No, I am not Dead. Yes, I am still working on the Career Change

Sorry that I haven’t updated this in a long time but unfortunately life has been busy and stressful. So for a quick update, I am currently working on Ruby on rails going through the Odin project. I will go into more detail about this later, but at this time I’m really just kind of refreshing myself on all the stuff I worked on in the past. Also, I purchased a used mid-2010 MacBook Pro that is devoted to my web development endeavor.

Days 84 to 92: Continuing with the Ruby on Rails tutorial… and some CSS!

So, my apologies on the slow updating here. I am still alive and moving forward. A couple of life events slowing me down, the usual being work, allergies and a horrible toothache but I am still working on my career change. A quick update on the progress:

  1. I completed a few CSS courses at Treehouse. I am rusty on it and wanted to get an update. I finished these:

Getting Started with CSS Badge


Basic Selectors badge

I will continue with this as I want a pretty solid front-end foundation despite my aim being back-end.

2. I finished chapters 5 and 6 in Michael Hartl’s Ruby on Rails tutorial. I am over halfway finished with it. I will be starting projects at that point!

Days 76 through 83: Catching Up on Posting But I’ve Been Studying!

Sorry to go missing from here, but I’ve remained busy. Allergies and such have been wreaking havoc on me, but I have continued studying Ruby on Rails Tutorial through Michael Hartl. I am currently halfway through Chapter 5 and I am learning a lot and really enjoying it.

I also just had my first interview through SparkHire. This was a unique experience. Its a one-way interview where you record your answers to questions. If I pass this part of the interview process I then move on to an in-person interview. Very exciting. I will be switching gears for a bit to brush up on my CSS skills at Treehouse.

Days 73, 74 and 75: Beginning (Again!) the Hartl Ruby on Rails Tutorial

So, a quick update and a proposed project. First, I have been slowed down over the last few days due to a severe sinus infection. I hate allergies! Nyquil knocked me out yesterday. About to do so again. Gotta get through this to keep working, both my day job and this.

I also finished up a first, small, project. It is using jQuery to display the top 50 games ranked according to Hotness at Board Game Geek. Take a look here to see it in action. I got help from the great folks at CodeNewbie Slack channel to iron out some bugs.

In any case, I have started back on the Michael Hartl Ruby on Rails tutorial. As of today I have completed chapter 1 and 2 again. I wanted to start from scratch to catch back up to where I need to be. I also have an idea for a 2016 US Presidential election web app I want to develop using the Twitter API. This will be my next project. I will be using JavaScript and Ruby on Rails to complete it. Stay tuned! Now, off to sleep!

Days 71 and 72: Podcasting, Finishing Up a Project, and a Day Off

This past Friday the Developer Soup podcast was recorded and made available here. Go have a listen! Alex and I discuss building confidence in programming and avoiding burnout. The next day I went to the beach, visiting Rehoboth Beach and Ocean City. it was a nice, relaxing day away from everything. On Sunday, I completed the BoardGameGeek Top 50 Hotness display web app I was working on. Take a look here.

So, I have decided to continue my studying while also working on programming on the side. A two-fold reason for this. I want to continue building my skills. No matter what, I need either Rails or Node.js in my repertoire. I have decided on pursuing Rails. No real reason for this, except that it feels right. I figure no matter what that I can come back later and get Node or whatever other skills I need. I am starting on Rails tonight.

Day 38, part 2: Back to ride the Rails

I will be studying the Michael Hartl Ruby on Rails tutorial. First, however, I want to do a quick refresher to catch up to where I left off. I’ll use Treehouse for that. I am glad there is a speed up function there. Here we go! BTW, I am going to speed through these and just post the badges I earn. I want to get going and fast.

Beginning HTML and CSS badge

HTML First badge

Creating HTML Content badge

OK, I will be continuing tomorrow. For those wondering why I am going back through this again, well, that is twofold:

1. Refreshers are good. I want to know this stuff really well. While HTML and CSS are markup languages, it is important to understand them.
2. I’m a completionist. Here is what the path ahead on Treehouse looks like:

I completed the Ruby Basics course already. I am a quarter of the way through the “How to Make a Website” stage. I want to be competent and refreshing my knowledge is a good way to ensure I know my stuff.

Day 13: Finishing Chapter 4 (Finally!)

I’m back at it and more determined than ever. I actually find myself looking forward to my studying.

By the way, I am trying out a new plugin for code syntax highlighting: Crayon Syntax Highlighter

Let’s start where I left off, with 4.4.3: Modifying built-in classes. So, before we took the properties of the String class adn gave them to our new class (not unlike the bite of a radioactive spider.)

Now we are going to look at how to call .palindrome? by modifying the String class to allow .palindrome? as a method!

See here that it doesn’t allow it right now:

So, let’s add the method to the class String:

This code defines the method “.palindrome?” by using something I think I neglected to explain at the end of last night. This line here:

As best I understand, self will refer to the object inside the class. So, we are asking whether the self is equal to itself in reverse.

Also, this feature of Ruby that allows us to add methods to built-in classes is powerful but with great power comes great responsibility. Also, this feature was used by Rails to add the .blank method to Ruby. The .blank method is useful to prevent variables from being blank, such as a user’s name or such. See how it works here:

This example shows us that “” is blank, but so is ” ” even though it is empty. Nil is also blank.

Next, we will discuss a controller class. We discussed classes before when we looked at the Static Pages controller. Remember:

So, with our knowledge from the previous lessons we can now appreciate this:

The StaticPagesController inherits from the ApplicationsController! It also has methods such as home, help and about which we see were defined:

We can also create a controller explicitly using the .new method, and then examine its class hierarchy. Take a look:

We can also call the controller actions, but they return nil since they are blank:

Now we are at the last stop on our tour of Ruby: the user class.

So, this time instead of entering the class definitions in the console as we have been doing all lesson, we will be creating a file in the application root directory called: examples_user.rb

Since there is a lot here, we will go through it line by line.

So this creates attribute accessors that correspond to a user’s name and email address. It creates “getter” and “setter” methods allowing us to retrieve (get) and assign (set) @name and @email instance variables. These always begin with an @ sign and are nil when undefined.

So, the .initialize method is the metod called when User.new is executed. This .initialize method takes the attributes argument. Below that, two instance variables are defined and the attributes given above are pulled out.

Finally, a formatted_email method is defined using the values of the assigned @name and @email variables to build a formatted version of the user’s email address using string interpolation. Since @name and @email are instance variables, they are automatically available in the formatted_email method. Now, let’s load it in the console!

So, a couple of conventions new to me. The ‘.’ is Unix for “current directory” and telling Ruby ‘./example_user’ tells it to look or that file in that location. The code following creates an empty example user, fills in the name and email address to the corresponding attributes and then formats them pretty with the .formatted_email method!

And then we need to delete the example_user.rb file we made since we won’t need it anymore:

and then commit the other changes to the main source code repository, push to Bitbucket and deploy to Heroku.

Oh my. I completed Chapter 4!

So, tomorrow I will be going to my first Ruby on Rails Meetup with B’More on Rails. I will write about the experience afterwards.

Day 12: Continuing through Chapter 4

I am back at it.

So, I left off at 4.3 Other Data Structures. This part starts out talking about arrays and ranges. An array is just a list of elements in a particular order.

As you can see, the “split” method divides this string along the whitespace. This is the default method. You can split on nearly anything however. Notice we split along “x” here:

Below, we will set “a” as an array, and then can ask it what various elements in the array are. As is the convention in most computer languages, Ruby arrays are zero-offset, meaning the first element is 0, not 1.

As seen above, Ruby accesses arrays using bracket notation. You can also use synonyms for commonly accessed elements:

We can also use the “==” operator to do a comparison, the below asking whether the last element is also the -1 element.

We can also demonstrate that like a string, an array responds to the “length” method. Also, you can use other operators to compare in Ruby, such as the “!=” which is “not equal.”

You can also use other methods within Ruby on the array. You can ask whether it is “empty” use the method “.empty?”

Ask whether it “includes” a certain element using “.include?” and putting the element you seek in parentheses.

You can also sort it, reverse it, and shuffle it!

Notice that despite it being reversed and shuffled, the array remains the original pattern. To have Ruby keep the order when sorting you add a “bang” at the end, like so:

We can also add elements to the array using “push” as well as “<<"

You can also chain together the adding of elements, like so: >> a << "foo" << "bar" => [8, 17, 42, 6, 7, “foo”, “bar”]

This also demonstrates that you can add strings into the array. Using the method “.join” you can put these together.

As well join them together with commas.

This is because the array was not saved in the “.join” state.

Not, let’s look at ranges. These are similar to arrays. You can understand the difference when a range is converted to an array:

What happened here is, like the method “.to_s” to convert an element to a string, we attampted to use “.to_a” to convert the range to an array. Unfortunately, Ruby didn’t understand it. We need to use parentheses to define the range, like so:

Ranges are useful for pulling out array elements. Below, we will use %w to make a string array. I like this because I am lazy and who really wants to put quotation marks around all those strings?

And you can use the range to pull out array elements:

You can also use the “-1” index at an end of a range to select all the elements from your starting point to the end without having to use the array’s length:

You can also use a range with characters, like so:

Now it is time to move on to blocks. Mr. hartl explains that the block is “one of Ruby’s most powerful and most confusing features.” Let’s take a look, and I will try to get my head wrapped around it:

Alright, so the first line shows us putting the range 1..5 into an array. Now, after this we take this range and call the “.each” method on it. It is then passed to the block which is this:

The vertical bars, I’ve also heard them called pipes around the “i” are Ruby syntax for a block variable. So, if I understand correctly, it takes each element in the range, which is “1, 2, 3, 4, and 5” and multiplies each by 2. It can also be expressed another way:

The “do” and “end” way of doing this is best for a multi-line block, like so:

You can also use any variable name:

Let’s look at a few more, first with the “times” method:

Here, the 3.times passes through the block, summoning Beetlejuice.

Next, we will look at a block and use the “map” method. The first takes the range, (1..5) and applies the “.map” method. It passes it to the block, { |i| i**2 } where it is squared by 2. The “**” is how Ruby notates “power.”

This took me a bit to understand and I had to go and compare it to how each outputs. The .map method maps the results into an array, as best as I can figure out. Here are a few more examples, this time using characters:

Now, I am going to stop for a second because I want to be sure I understand the difference between .map and .each. Let’s take a look at a test I just did:

It appears to me that the .map method actually applies the block on to the elements in the array. It appears the .each just passes them on without it being applied. See here:

This makes me curious. I’m going back a bit and trying the .map on the earlier blocks we tried…

I am confused but this is also very interesting. The first is the original block example in the tutorial. Notice that at the main end it outputs the original range we called. The second one is with the .map method. At the end it outputs an array of nils (If I had a band this would be my band name.)

I did end up seeking help for this, however, in the CodeNewbie Slack Channel. Practicing Ruby explained it like this:

You can think of map as just being the same as the long form “create an array, call each on another array, operate on each element, append the result to the new array”

Time for hashes and symbols!

This is an empty hash. The use of those curly brackets should not confuse you. It is not a block! The tutorial says that “Hashes are essentially arrays that aren’t limited to integer indices.”

** I am going to start using comments to talk about certain lines like the tutorial does. Probably a better way anyway! **

So, the above defines each key and value one at a time. We can also use a hashrocket to do this! This is a hashrocket: =>

According to the tutorial, it is much more common for symbols to be used as has keys then strings. A symbol is prefixed with a colon, like this :name

Mr. Hartl describes the symbol as having less baggage than a string. See this:

but try it with a symbol:

and we get an error. Same with trying to reverse.

Also, stick with normal characters, letters and numbers. Ruby don’t like it:

So let’s try some symbols with our hashes!

>> user = { :first_name => “Atticus”, :last_name => “O’Sullivan” }
=> {:first_name=>”Atticus”, :last_name=>”O’Sullivan”}

There is also a new syntax that can be used in Ruby versions as of 1.9 that takes away the hashrockets but still defines the values to symbols as keys, like so:

Hash values can be anything, including other hashes. Hashes of hashes are nested hashes. Here is an example:

Hashes will also respond to the .each method

>> flash = { success: “It worked!”, danger: “It failed.” }
=> {:success=>”It worked!”, :danger=>”It failed.”}
>> flash.each do |key, value|
?> puts “Key #{key.inspect} has value #{value.inspect}”
>> end
Key :success has value “It worked!”
Key :danger has value “It failed.”
=> {:success=>”It worked!”, :danger=>”It failed.”}

And, the above uses the method “.inspect” that returns a literal representation of the object its called on. The use of inspect to print an object is so common that there is a shortcut for it:

Its the p function!

So, at this point the tutorial is taking us back to look at the app/views/layouts/application.html.erb which i will put below:

So first, parentheses are optional in Ruby. These two are equivalent:

Second, the media argument, while looking like a hash but is missing curly braces. They are also optional in this context. This is a little worrisome, but also makes it look more natural.

Also, the use of the hashrocket is the older syntax. This is used because “‘data-turbolinks-track’ => true” uses hyphens which are invalid.

Yay, time to move on to 4.4 Ruby classes. First, we will look at Constructors.

So, above we see that using the method .class returns the class that s is, which is “String”

We can also use something called a named constructor, here being: String.new(“foobar”) that has the same effect as the literal constructor which is s = “foobar”

This also works with arrays:

There is no reason to do this for strings and arrays.

So, with a hash the Hash.new takes a default value for the hash, which is the value for a nonexistent key. Also, when a method gets called on the class itself, such as the .new method, it is called a class method. A method called on an instance is called an instance method.

Next, let’s look at class inheritance. This is demonstrated here using the .superclass method:

So, with this crude diagram below you will notice that the superclass of STRING is OBJECT and the superclass of OBJECT is BASICOBJECT. This is true of all Ruby objects.

String –> Object –> BasicObject

So now we are going to make our own class with a palindrome? method that returns true if the word is the same forward and backwords!

and let’s give it a try:

So, as seen in the above the method .palindrome will check the string given and see if it is the same forward and backwards. There is, however, a way to do this having our new “Word” class inherit from “String.” The above is creating a class to create a method to then take a string as an argument. The below example shows the inheritance:

And see below that now the new class has inherited all of the methods from String

And we can use the .superclass method on the new class as well.

OK, as much as I wanted to finish Chapter 4 today, I can’t do it! There is a lot of material here, and I want to understand it all. Tomorrow I will be picking up where I left off, looking at 4.4.3 Modifying built-in classes. I am learning a lot and really enjoying myself!

Day 11 Part 3: Return of the Rails

OK, back from playing board games with my wife and eating a crab cake. The crab cake was good and I am convinced my wife cheats at board games.

Back to the tutorial. So, nil is an object. As such this can be done:

Where the method to_s mto convert “nil” into a string. You can also try to ask whether nil is empty:

Unfortunately that returns an error. You can, however, use message chaining to get the response desired:

You can also use Ruby to answer a seemingly philosophical inquiry:

So neither “foo” nor “” is nil. Only nil is nil. That is deep.

Earlier we had defined “x” as “foo.” The following statement can be used to evaluate whether the string “x” is empty:

This is an alternate way to use the “if” keyword. You can also use “unless” the same way:

Going back to “nil,” it is a special object. It is the only Ruby object that is false in a boolean context. Here is a demonstration by using the !! (bang bang) which negates an object twice, coercing it to its boolean value.

By the way, the last was not something in the tutorial. I thought I would try it. I had to look up the error. According to an answer on Stackoverflow, the warning is because a string literal will always be true. Interesting.

Next up is method definitions. We saw this back when we used it to make our first two apps. We can also do the “def” command in a console. Take a look as we define a function:

An interesting note in the tutorial is that the variable “str” could be replaced with any valid variable name. He used the_function_argument and it worked. I decided to try something else:

So, at this point Mr. Hartl says we are able to understand the entire full_title helper from earlier in the tutorial.

The one element left is the topmost one:

Modules are a way to package together related methods. The Ruby documentation says:

A Module is a collection of methods and constants.

OK, it is 1AM and as much as I want to continue and finish Chapter 4, I should sleep. It is taking me longer, but there is a lot of meat in this chapter. I will continue bright and early tomorrow with “4.3 Other data structures.”

Day 11, Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

OK, I’m back for a short session.

First, a picture of my dog, Ajax. This one is from my old house in Ohio. He enjoys sitting and looking out windows.


Let’s continue on with the elseif command. If you remember where we left off, we did this to demonstrate control flow:

We can add in “elsif” to add more than one clause, such as:

I will admit to getting confused at this until I realized I had to leave the console because of something I did and restart it. I forgot to assign “foobar” back to “s” and I got errors. I went back, assigned “foobar” and it worked!

We can get a little deeper into Boolean variables using && for “and,” || for “or,” and ! for “not.” Take a look here:

You can see the first statement was not printed out since it was false. The others were true and it printed these to the screen.

OK, I am taking off again and will return later. My goal is to finish Chapter 4 tonight.