Learning to Hack – Part 5: After 1 Month at Bitmaker Labs

It was my birthday this past week.

With that, I spent time reflecting. This week’s post is about programming, and some personal reflections. We’ll get back to our regular material next week. Here’s what I learned.

Knowledge = Read + Apply + Learn

This week, many new concepts were layered onto our previous Rails imgur application. We built a simplified Amazon website and learned these new features (among others):

  • create a user account using a login page
  • authenticate & authorize a user with a password
  • validate user behavior by providing feedback with error notices
    I experienced a steep ramp-up and realized the order that I consume new material significantly impacts my ability to learn.

Last week I followed my preferred method of learning: read concepts before class, apply them to a silo exercise and learn the material. This week, I jumbled the order because I didn’t think re-reading the technical documents was necessary. Big mistake.

Reading fills the gap between learning and applying. Technical documents can’t be read like a language where you skim and use context to fill in the knowledge gaps. That’s why re-reading is so important. Your increased knowledge base lets you read and understand the parts that were previously skimmed.

Let It Go

I hit a mental wall this week.

A few days this week, I wasn’t able to gather the focus that programming required. Instead, I re-watched lectures online and made notes. I felt guilty that I didn’t program those days. Especially since I was anxious about not fully grasping the material and that the only solution was to program more.

There are days I’m not my best. I need to remind myself: do what you can that day, even if it’s a small step. Forgive yourself and let it go. Picking yourself up and doing better tomorrow is what’s important.

Reinventing Yourself

Birthday dinner with my biggest supporter & toughest critic.

For many of us, our responsibilities grow with age. Some come from circumstances within our control, many are not. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to balance those responsibilities, while finding the time and resources to fit Bitmaker Labs into my life. I know my time here with my classmates and instructors is a privilege. A mentor recently told me “remember, it is literally physically painful to reinvent yourself.” By my count, this is my 3rd reinvention: from healthcare to marketing to programming. And, I’m trying to do it in a shorter timeframe. It’s also a decision that I decided on the most autonomously. I think this is why I get such satisfaction at attending Bitmaker Labs. Being a capable programmer is something I want.

I don’t know what my next re-invention will be, but this is a blessing right now.

Topics covered this week: Rails sessions & authentication; Rails nested resources, validations, callbacks & partials; Rails dates, times & debugging

Kerry Mui is a new graduate from the March cohort of the Web Development Immersive program. This article was originally posted on his blog. It is Part Five of his ongoing series documenting the Bitmaker Labs experience.