Open letter to phase 1 Dev Bootcamp students

Hey how’s it going? Welcome to DBC! I bet you’re nervous. I sure as hell was. Don’t worry, you’ll settle in soon. This place is pretty chill. Just don’t be a jerk and you’ll do fine.

One piece of advice that you’ll hear a lot is that you’ll only get as much out of this place as you put into it. I know that’s a cliché but it’s true. The problem is, when I heard that advice I interpreted it as “work really, really hard.” It took me a while to realize that’s not what was meant. Don’t get me wrong, you’re going to work hard. It’s not called bootcamp for nothing. But it’s much more than that.

DBC is a collaborative effort. Every single person in your cohort is there for a reason. You all come from different backgrounds and bring different skills with you. You’ll each learn new skills at different rates. For some people the morning lecture will totally click. For others it totally won’t. This is where the collaboration comes in.

Every single person at DBC is a teacher. All of them. Including you. Especially you. You don’t need to be some kind of super genius or an absolute perfect expert on a topic in order to teach it, you just need to know a chunk of information and believe that knowing said information would be valuable to your cohort-mates.

DBC tries to convey this to you by encouraging you to share “Aha!” moments during Phase 1 and assigning you lightning talks during Phase 2. These are times specifically set aside so that you all can teach each other.

You are not required to save all of your “Aha” moments for the designated time. If you figured something out and want to share your knowledge with everyone else, please do so as often as possible! Make an announcement that you’d like to do a quick breakout on whatever topic you choose, gather anyone who wants to listen, and teach away.

Your topic doesn’t have to be something huge, it can be a handy little keyboard shortcut that you discovered today, or a metaphor to explain AJAX. You can share a pneumonic device that helps you remember something. All of this counts as teaching. All of this helps.

The more you all teach each other, the more you will learn and the stronger your cohort will be. This is a good thing! Programming is collaborative, not competitive. You need to be able to work on a team. The stronger your team is, the better your work will be.

Then once your 9 (or 12, or 15) weeks are over and you’ve graduated and earned your dog tags, you don’t stop learning. You didn’t just come to Dev Bootcamp to learn how to program, you came to learn how to teach yourself new things. It’s not like technology is going to stop evolving. You’ve got to keep learning if you want to keep up. You’ll have to keep learning new languages and concepts for the rest of your career. You might be able to do it alone, maybe, but it will be a lot faster and a lot easier if you have friends to help teach you along the way. Can you see yourself in 5 years attending a workshop to learn some new language and running into other DBC grads? How do you want them to remember you?

Make the most out of your time at Dev Bootcamp (after all, you paid for it! Get your money’s worth!) Put in as much as you possibly can, and get out as much as you can.

- Erin Joan Snyder, Fiery Banana Bear 2014 -

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2014 Banana Slugs

Tourist in my town: Coit Tower and the Filbert Street Steps

I really needed a change of pace today, so I decided to spend some time outside exploring the city. I walked through Chinatown and North Beach to Telegraph Hill. I didn’t see any parrots, but Coit Tower is still a nice landmark and the gardens surrounding the Filbert Street steps are gorgeous! The steps are my new happy-place in this part of the city, and all of the people I met there today were very respectful and nice (unlike most of the people I meet in touristy areas)!

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Summer Reading List

I’m realizing now that we’re halfway through August that I’ve spent most of my summer writing code and reading books, but haven’t done much blogging about either. I’ve also been terrible about updating my Goodreads account on any kind of a regular basis, so here are a few of the non-technical, non-coding books that I’ve been enjoying:

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

I chose this for my book club’s next read. It’s a 21st century novel set in India and Ethiopia starring a queer woman as the hero and it’s wonderfully fast-paced. It’s no bodice-ripper, but there are some steamy sex scenes. 

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

Another book club pick. This one was sad, frustrating and enlightening all in one. The story is about the aftermath of Columbian drug cartels and the people who were caught up in it all. It’s beautifully told and the characters are rich and interesting, even the ones that you hate. 

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Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Food, adventure and lady pirates. What more could you want? :)

Bright Lines by Jane Devin

I really thought this one was going to be a heartwarming, boring, Oprah-Book-Club-Pick but the book really surprised me. The characters are intriguing, the story is gripping and I found myself finishing the book in less than a week! I highly recommend giving it a chance.

What are you currently reading? Does your reading list change according to the season? 

Hashtag Sea Witches Against Feminism

The men up there don’t like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!
Yes on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle prattle for?
Come on, they’re not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who’s withdrawn
It’s she who holds her tongue who get’s a man!

Ariel doesn’t need her voice because after all there’s always body language, hah! #WAF

Also, ‘The Little Mermaid’ sets some seriously unrealistic standards for French chef’s ankles!

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We’ve got Movie Sign!

After last week’s schedule was completely filled up with volunteer teaching gigs at Maven, leading a Women Who Code workshop, pair-programming with friends over Google Hangouts, and continuing to work on the Helpful Hand web app, I really needed a week filled with comic books, dinner with friends, baking, and movies to balance things out.

lucy

Have you seen Lucy? I wasn’t sure what to expect after reading the online criticism, but the movie was actually really good! Firstly, you have to be a fan of director Luc Besson. Did you like ‘The Fifth Element’? Can you stomach the violence in ‘The Professional’? If not, this might not be for you.

The premise of the movie is that humans only use 10% of their brains and that Lucy, through her accidental involvement with some very bad people and their shiny new drug, manages to unlock the ability to increase her brain use to 100%. Many critics get hung up on the fact that the whole “you use 10% of your brain” thing is just an urban legend. The criticism is valid, if you go into this movie expecting a scientific documentary; however, if you walk into the theater expecting to see a science-fiction film you’re probably willing to suspend disbelief about things like magic, mutant powers, and human brain capacity.

Throughout the movie, Scarlett Johansson shows off her remarkable acting chops. In the beginning, her fear is so raw and real, I could feel my stomach tighten and my breath catch in my throat. As her character “evolves”, ScarJo moves seamlessly into robot-like detachment.

Some critics dislike the movie’s campiness, but I’ve come to expect that in any good science fiction. Look at any ‘Star Trek’ episode or film and it’s 50% science-ish “facts” and 50% goofy hijinx. I know parts of this movie, like the whole Suspiciously Well-Informed Doctor trope and the I Just Got Super Powers And Now Have To Eat All The Things scene, have been done to death but I think that’s okay.

Huh. You found me after googling "Accidental blue drugs making my brain smarter"? Might need to alter the SEO on all of my research papers.

Huh. You found me after googling “Accidental blue drugs making my brain smarter”? Might need to alter the SEO on my research.

I really like that Besson didn’t try to shoehorn a romantic subplot into the film. It’s all action and sci-fi. At one point Lucy does kiss another character, but it’s a quick peck on the lips (with her eyes open the entire time… weird) and more of a quick thank-you kiss rather than a sexy kiss. There’s no Win The Girl By Saving Her Life trope here (but there is a Crack Your Neck To Show You’re Tough moment and a Matrixy Computer moment where Lucy is using both hands to frantically type on two laptops.)

I will agree with critics that ScarJo wearing stilettos to kick some bad guy butt is pretty absurd. At one point in the film characters mention that a human with 20% brain use would be able to fully control their own body, such as the ability to not feel pain or fear. I guess if I could feel no pain in my feet and ankles I might wear stilettos too, but probably not. (Note to self: If I ever develop superpowers, be sure to blog about choice of footwear. )

There are also a few annoying moments where Lucy changes her appearance in front of people or wanders around in public with a gun in her hand and no one appears to notice or care. Also, sometimes the chroma keying is just awful. My husband says he didn’t notice but I sure did. Nothing as bad as the shitty green screen in ‘Shutter Island’ (during which I was scolding and shouting at Martin Scorsese) but it was still distracting.

I can forgive 'B2TF' because it was made in 1985.  'Shutter Island' is only 4 years old so it doesn't get a pass.

I can forgive ‘B2TF’ because it was made in 1985. ‘Shutter Island’ is only 4 years old so it doesn’t get a pass.


And of course during the brief few seconds when there are Native Americans on the screen, they are fully outfitted in war paint and feathered headdresses. Seriously?

Aside from that handful of annoyances, the movie is really good. If ScarJo doesn’t at least get nominated for an Oscar, I’ll be very surprised.

Did you see ‘Lucy’? What did you think?

Better Stuffed Peppers

I hate mushy vegetables.

Vegetables in general are fine, but I’m weird about texture. Mushy veggies are right up there on my “rather eat a live bee than this” list.

Mushy anything, really. I like my oatmeal undercooked and my applesauce chunky.

So when I decided to make stuffed peppers for dinner and the recipe said to boil the peppers in water for 5 minutes and then bake them for an hour, I knew I was going to have to change some things.

I ended up changing a lot of things, so I figured I should write it down for next time.

Erin’s Better Stuffed Peppers:

Ingredients:

  • 2 large green peppers
  • 1/2 lbs of ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 4 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup long-grain rice, cooked
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook the rice according to the package instructions and set aside. Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and clean out the seeds and membranes. Place the peppers in a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes* then drain and set aside.

*Next time I make this recipe I might reduce the simmering time to 3 minutes for even less mushiness.

Add the butter to a frying pan, then add the onion, celery and garlic. Saute for roughly 5 minutes, or until the veggies have softened to your liking. Pour the softened veggies into a large mixing bowl and mix with the tomato sauce, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Mix the ground beef, egg and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl and add to the frying pan. You can cook the ground beef in the same pan you previously used for the veggies (no need to dirty another one).

When the meat is completely browned, add it to the celery and onions in the mixing bowl. Dump in the cooked rice and mix everything together.

Place the boiled bell peppers in a baking dish, fill them with the meat, rice and veggie mixture and top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake approx. 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and everything has had a chance to warm up. Serve immediately.

This recipe took about 30 minutes to make including the prep time for chopping the veggies, and the two times I had to shoo my dog out of the kitchen and yell at her to stop licking the floor. It passed the not-mushy test, and both my husband (who also hates mushy veggies) and I approve it.

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Pepper a la Erin

Discussion questions:

  1. Which is grosser, overcooked asparagus or overcooked broccoli?
  2. What’s on your “rather eat a live bee than this” list?
  3. Would you actually eat a live bee? You probably shouldn’t. Aren’t they almost endangered? Yeah, better not.

I have found Jesus and it turns out he’s a brownie

Dude.

Dude!

DUDE!

I made these cast iron pan brownies today and it’s a good thing I poured the batter into the pan and stuck in into the oven before licking the spatula because otherwise my husband would come home tonight to find me dead, having accidentally drowned myself in brownie batter from shoveling it into my gaping maw too quickly to allow myself to breathe.

It’s that good.

Also, sometimes the right song comes on your Otis Taylor Pandora station while you’re hardcore making out with a spatula and you could just swear you felt the touch of god.

I didn’t even make the peanut butter topping! I’m not sure I’m ready for it. Maybe one day.

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The cooked brownie looks identical to the way the batter was poured into the pan. I had to touch it to see if anything changed, or if I’d just waited 30 minutes to eat more raw batter. (Both good)

Crochet Eyelet Shawl in Royal Blue

#1 on my 30 Crafts Before I Turn 30 List is to crochet a lightweight eyelet shawl using royal blue yarn.

I used this pattern for Eva’s Shawl that I found on Ravelry for free, and 3 hanks of 100% wool fingering-weight yarn in Marine Heather from Knit Picks.

This was my first time using anything other than cheap worsted-weight yarn from JoAnn Fabrics or the Fabric Outlet, so it was a totally new experience. The yarn is so soft and delicate, and just really looks and feels beautiful.

It also took FOREVER compared to some of my other projects where I used giant crochet hooks and thick strands of yarn!

Currently I’m blocking the shawl so that it drapes nicely. Unfortunately I don’t have the space or the carpet to block the entire thing all at once, so I’m doing it in pieces. I’ve never done it this way and have no idea how it will turn out, but aside from pinning it to the wall and leaving a thousand little holes in our apartment when we move out, I don’t have many options.

My ironing board is the largest thing I have that I can stick pins in!

My ironing board is the largest thing I have that I can stick pins in!

 

 

Still, it turned out beautifully and I’m happy that I put in the time! I plan to wear this shawl with a little black dress so that the beautiful blue color really shines.

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If you want to follow my 30 Before 30 posts, I’ve added a separate category for these posts under the DIY section. Hopefully that will keep all of these posts organized, since I’m obviously not doing them in order!

Hey Erin, Whatcha Doin’?

Currently playing: TwoDots!

I finished The Room and Monument Valley and needed a new puzzle game, so I downloaded TwoDots. It’s a series of connect-the-dots puzzles with cute graphics and catchy music. It’s currently free from iTunes.


 

Currently reading:Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley.

I couldn’t help but think of Young Frankenstein whilst reading this :)


 

Currently making:

My blue eyelet shawl is 2/3 finished! It’s taken a long time, and I still have a ways to go, but it’s totally worth it.

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The eyelet shawl is long enough to cover the tops of my arms!


Currently baking:

Chocolate chip banana bread using my mother’s recipe and adding half a bag of semi-sweet chips.

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I should have taken the picture before we went to the picnic, because this is all that’s left!


Currently working:

on the Arduino kit that Kevin & I bought last year. Right now I’m just practicing with LEDs, a bit of code and a small motor, but I intend to build something cool soon!


 

Currently studying:

The Data Scientist’s Toolbox through Coursera with the help of a weekly meetup courtesy of Women Who Code SF.


 

Currently feeling:

sick with a head cold that became a mild flu, but I think it’s started to go down now.


 

Current indulgences:

Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered marshmallows, Coffee Bar‘s Bolivia blend and Hangar 24’s chocolate porter.

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Current goals:

Recover from this flu, return to exercising at the Chinatown YMCA 3-4 times a week, complete all current projects and continue to build apps and/or robots while searching for a job!

Returning to Normalcy

My life post-DBC has been packed with portfolios and resumes, catching up with friends and putting myself back together.

It’s called Dev Bootcamp for a reason. It’s hard work and long hours. Anything in your life that isn’t code gets temporarily abandoned.

In the 2 weeks since I graduated, I’ve been visiting as many of my friends as possible, joining as many study groups and pair-ups as possible, and stressing myself out over the number of books I’ve been meaning to read, movies I’ve been meaning to watch, craft projects I’ve left gathering dust and charming little coffee shops in my new neighborhood of which I’ve only seen the outside.

In short, I’m desperately trying to pick up my life where I left it.

I’ve missed so much, but I have wonderful friends who understand why I haven’t been around, and have supported me right from the beginning.

It was worth putting my life on hold to learn these awesome new skills, and I don’t regret any part of it, it’s just that I feel a little bit like a human time-capsule. My friends reference current events, funny videos and tv shows and I’m staring at them blankly like Capt. America.

I know things will go back to normal soon. I need to approach my stack of books and long-lost Netflix queue the same way I’d approach a new algorithm. I also really need to stop saying nerdy things like that in my everyday conversation, because no one has a clue what I’m talking about and I’m going to alienate people!

So please bear with me, gentle readers, as i try to find a balance between coder and crafter, worker and friend.