Category Archives: Resources

Newbie Classes: Code Academy, Treehouse & Code School

Learning how to code starts with sifting through massive amounts of information, on where to start.  After which, you’re faced with deciding what to start learning.

For the past 3  months, I’ve pretty much narrowed down newbie coding classes to 3 main  platforms:

  • Code Academy: initial point of contact.
  • Treehouse: Go here afterwards.
  • C<>de School; For more advanced newbies.

chartAs a newbie, your learning should be focused, guided and cover core concepts.  A topic must be learnt by  practicing – by doing coding examples.  Googling can either be helpful or tedious , depending on how much you delve into a certain topic . Avoid  spending too much time on a certain topic because it will detract from the bigger picture.

In my opinion, it’s well worth starting at Code Academy, following on to Treehouse and then C< > de  School once you start advancing. I also recommend a textbook/ebook  on what you’re learning  and taking notes.

Code Academy

I started out with this first. when I knew  nothing about coding.  Nothing, Nada, Zilch. However, I did know that HTML & CSS is a prerequisite to any kind of programming.  If you didn’t know this, now you do! As a newbie, no matter what your end goal is start at HTML & CSS first.   Code Academy is free, which is  usually why  it’s an initial point of contact with coding, for a lot of people.

I particularly liked the clean minimalistic dashboard at Code Academy, they recently changed it and it’s very nice. Despite not having any videos, their teaching text is engaging and to the point. Each course is written by  a different instructor so you don’t get bored or inundated with the same teaching style.  Additionally the code exercises build on top of each other and become harder as you progress.  Users collect badges as they complete assignments.They also have projects you can do like building your webpage. The problem is that sometimes you need to keep refreshing your page, or restart firefox after clearing cookies when code doesn’t work due to bugs.

People also complain that Code Academy gives them a false sense of security, because of all the hints and leading the learner by the finger. These are valid issues, but not applicable to a newbie. As a newbie, Code Academy should be your initial contact with coding, and not your only contact!

At Code Academy, you should look into the HTML, CSS & Jquery courses. The JavaScript course is good as well, but it goes about things in reverse : i.e. practice first then introduce the theory, which might be confusing for some.

Treehouse

This is a popular coding platform that promises to   prepare you for a career in programming.  I haven’t been using this one for very long and go there to  tinker around.  Their basic membership starts $29./month, but you can try it  free for 14 days.They have a broader variety of courses than Code Academy and Code School, with business modules included in addition to programming classes and a library, with tons of resources.

Treehouse offers a more structured environment and is program orientated.  Their user panel is a little more crowded but organized. Newbies are guided by course “tracks”. For example depending on what your goals are, they offer course tracks  such as  web development, Ruby on Rails, IOS development, web design etc.  You choose a track and then videos, quizzes and exercises precede.  Once you choose a track, you’re guided step by step through the courses and cannot jump courses (must do them chronologically).

This is much slower paced than Code Academy and for that reason might be better for beginners who know HTML & CSS and want to now delve into more advanced skills such as JavaScript.  The quizzes aren’t supposed to be hard academic tests, rather they’re questions to reinforce concepts.

Treehouse tracks progress, through a point and badge system as you work through quizzes and code challenges on a work-space. They also have a job board which is pretty cool.

C< >de School

For slightly more advanced beginners. This is a paid subscription starting at $25/month.  But here is a free 2 day pass! Head here if you’re in need of more practice, their rails class is highly rated. Simple interface, not too much going on here all at once, which is nice.  They have fewer course tracks, but  classes on lesser known topics like GitHub and the very new Node.JS are included, which is exciting!  I jumped into their instructional class on Git, which has about 25 slides with accompanying exercises to help you learn how to use the Git repository.

Like Treehouse,  instructional videos are used.  Followed by coding exercises.  You can also download slides of the video  if you wish to.  As a personal preference,  the console is built into the web page like Code Academy, I just find this more convenient than having to open a separate workspace (like Treehouse).  Progress is tracked through a badge system. These are shown in a report card on the user panel.

Featured Image: Ryan Joy

 

Women and Privacy: Things You Don’t Know CAN Really Hurt You.

Maybe not physically, but it has happened. Remember the “Craigslist killer?” Cyperspace is full of common folks communicating, banking, buying, and playing. But there are also countless numbers of hackers, scammers, peepers, thieves, and even murderers out there too. In a digital age, some things can get scary. Should you really worry? Well…., in a word—- YES! Anyone can be a target and a victim. The good common sense safety rules we apply when out on the town, traveling in a foreign place, or just following our day to day routine, should extend to our electronic devices and communication as well.

Your Own Computer May Not Be Safe

There’s $40 software anyone can buy (no computer engineer required) that can hack into your computer, steal your information and even  turn on your camera, without the light turning on to tell you that it’s happening. Recently in the news, Miss Teen USA and 30 to 40 others, learned that they were being spied on in this manner. A total invasion of what they all believed, was their private space, and under their control. Even on a Mac, your camera can be turned on without your knowledge.

Apps May Not Be Safe

Some programs get hacked and some don’t care. Snap Chat lied, and doesn’t enforce it’s privacy polices. Whisper and Secret do share your information. Up until recently, any new Facebook accounts, posted to public by default. It is important that you read that tedious fine print, monitor the default settings, and just stay aware.

Everyday May Not Be Safe

There’s also a lot of hacking going on too. eBay lost not only your passwords, but your name, address, phone number and more. Target lost up to 70 million individuals’ credit card information. Apple lost developer information. Heartbleed was a problem with how security (SSL) was implemented on MOST websites online, with that recent break ALMOST ANY website you purchased from was open to being hacked. Those are just a few recent ones, as the list in never ending, ongoing, and just a part of our new electronic lives.

Sometimes it makes me want to hide in a hole! But I LOVE technology. I love the convenience and coolness of sharing on things like Twitter, being able to buy a custom t-shirt from an artist half-way around the world, and being able to see someone’s photo instantaneously and feeling like I’m there with them (even when I am not). Sharing a moment with someone on the other side of the earth brings us all together, and allows for connections and bonds like never before.

Some Ways to Stay Safe

Some developers have worked night and day to secure your information. Some are trying and some are not. Scary. The Electronic Frontier Foundation actually posts a list of companies and how they handle your privacy. There’s so much information out there if you look. I appreciate all the people that have brought attention to the problems and all the people working hard to protect us against it. It is a never ending battle between the “good guys and gals” and the bad ones.

As new security is implemented, some creep finds a way around it. So the days my grandparents told me about, when the whole community left the back door open— are gone. So are the days when we could just play, chat, and buy online using the same password for everything (yup, 55% of people still do that!). All I can do is fight the good fight and not give up.

There’s several good articles and tips out there on how to protect yourself, your data and your privacy. One book I read called The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy helps women (and men too) navigate this jungle. She has some suggestions for daily prevention tips, what to do if hacked, and how often to check what. Not a bad start.

Here’s a Few Tips From @VioletBlue:

  1. Don’t give up. Don’t forget you CAN do some things to protect yourself. ( She has some great resources listed. )
  2. Might I suggest a piece of tape over your webcam?
  3. It’s a good idea to change your passwords often. ( In light of recent events, I’d say now is a good time. ) 
  4. Use different passwords and different emails for different kinds of accounts. Password managers like 1Password help with that. A PO Box for signups makes eBay losing your address, not as scary. 
  5. Diligence is good, Google yourself to see what’s out there.
  6. Lock your devices and don’t sign-in on other devices. 
  7. Let me repeat. DON’T GIVE UP. 

419j52P+fbL._SL110_The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy
I would suggest this book for any of the women you care about, including you. Thanks @VioletBlue, The Electronic Frontier Foundation and all the tech / non-tech people who work hard to help navigate this digital jungle. It’s a pain to protect yourself in this digital age, but what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Hopefully with awareness we can try.

When should you email someone twice?

When should you email someone twice, if you don’t get a response?

Almost always.

I’m collaborating with someone on a project. On Sunday he sends me an agenda over e-mail. I see the e-mail, but get caught up with other work. On Monday, he follows up with a facebook message. Please confirm. Is that too much? No.

Would I have done that, though?

Last week, I signed up for an online dating site. There’s one guy who looks interesting – studying astrophysics. In his spare time, he travels with Engineers without Borders. We exchanged a few messages. Then I stopped replying. So he messaged me again. Twice.

Would I ever do that?

I don’t think girls like to ask twice. We’re supposed to be mysterious and alluring. Attract, don’t apply.

That’s all well and good, in an English town in the 18th century. It’s not the way business works. Actually, I’m pretty sure most of life today won’t work like that. You need some hustle!

And I think women in particular have a difficult time sending those follow-up messages. A reminder: it’s not personal. And hey, if it is personal, you have nothing to lose anyway.

If an e-mail requires an action, such as a thoughtful response or the composition of an agenda— and you are not a paying client— it’s very likely that I’ll make a mental note to respond later today. And we all know how that goes.

So, ready to up your follow-up game?

Try these three e-mail plug-ins to make it easier.

Do I even have the right e-mail address?

Rapportive solves that problem. If you have the right e-mail address, the person’s profile will pop up in the right side bar.

Did they get my e-mail?

Boomerang will send your e-mail back to you if no one replies. So at least one person remembers. Great for casual use.

Yesware lets you know if and when someone opened your e-mail. It is a bit too intense for your personal life, but if you’re running business development or sales, it’s key.

Now, how much is too much? Three times.

Most things are worth following up on once. New business contacts are worth following up on twice. But if someone isn’t interested in what you are saying after three attempts, let it go and focus your energy elsewhere.

 Image By:Horia Varlan

5 Groups For Women To Learn Code

The movement for better representation of women in technology has been spreading fast, which also means all sorts of support groups and communities have been popping up that are part of the change and teach skills like programming.

If you’re looking to pick up some new skills, especially computer programming, you don’t have to feel alone and overwhelmed with these five groups aimed at teaching young women how to code. Or, if you’re already proficient in programming, you can still show your support for these groups by spreading the word or pointing friends to these amazing resources.

Ladies Learning Code
With their extensive classes and resources, Ladies Learning Code has become a de facto source in helping young women and girls technical skills in a supportive, collaborative environment. From events on teaching HTML and CSS to the WordPress basics, do check them out!

she++
The amazing ladies behind she++, pronounced she-plus-plus, started off their community as a women in tech conference at Stanford. But the support and outpouring was so great that she++ has become a place to empower women in computer science and spreading the word on learning technical skills, too.

Girls Who Code
Most of the disinterest in science and technology in young women starts in school, which is why Girls Who Code has made it their mission to help high school girls break up stereotypes and get interested in code. If you’re in high school and want to learn a very valuable skill or know a young women interested in technology, this is a invaluable resource and community.

Women 2.0
This group is for the career women looking for a supportive community and resource on technical skills and start-up advice. They provide a job board, meet-ups, and everything you need to be a power player in the tech scene.

The PyLadies
Okay, this isn’t general knowledge on programming but is instead learning a certain language, in this case Python. PyLadies helps women learn about the open source programming language that can be applied to all sorts of applications and technical projects in a friendly community.

There are several other groups out there helping women kick butt in technology, but this is a great list to start with. Are there any recommendations you would add to the list?