Another challenging week over! Not only have we had to rely on all of the knowledge that we’ve built up over the last five weeks in order to deploy a Sudoku app online, we’ve been exposed to a wealth of new material every day. This has included Sinatra, HTTP, HTML, CSS, and Heroku. The pace at which we’re learning the new material can be uncomfortable to deal with at times; far often than not, you haven’t fully understood what’s going on, but you’re already onto the next thing. It then becomes your responsibility to make sure that you’re maintaining and returning to a ‘to-do’ list. Well, I’m trying my best, but never have the hours in a day gone by so quickly!
Truly understanding how all of the concepts fit together is no easy feat, but this week one of my cohort members had the brilliant idea of us putting on a human role-play of what the code was actually doing. People learn in a variety of ways, but visual representations will always remain a powerful mode of retaining information:
The week has also been packed with other events. Not only have we had Halloween celebrations and a talks night, on Monday we were treated to a talk by Adewale Oshineye, from Google, and on Tuesday, we were visited by Sam Phillips, Head of Engineering at Shutl.
One highlight of the week was Rob’s Lean Startup class. The session started with the marshmallow challenge. In eighteen minutes, in groups of four or five, and using only twenty pieces of spaghetti, a metre of string, and a metre of tape, we were tasked with building the tallest free-standing structure that we could, with a single marshmallow balancing on the top. The majority of groups took the approach of trying to build a structure as high as they could before finally placing the marshmallow on the top at the end and hoping that it all stayed standing. As we learned from Rob, the best approach is to start with the marshmallow on top, building up the structure from the base; small steps, experimenting all the way. With this approach in mind, it becomes less surprising that business school students perform the worst at this challenge whilst primary school students consistently produce the best results. Rob also walked us through the lean startup principles, how to best test ideas, and the importance of ‘founder idea fit‘.
The numerous events meant that Friday came around very quickly, and with it another test. The task was to deploy our Sudoku applications to Heroku with two separate deployment targets: staging and production. We then had to install the New Relic add-on to have access to some analytics on our app, including finding out the average page loading time. After that, we were given the extra challenge of switching to the unicorn web server, which allows your app to process many requests at one time, resulting in greater efficiency. I found this test was more straightforward than previous ones have been, but it seems that New Relic doesn’t like twenty people trying to access its free add-on from the same location at pretty much the same time. It was unavailable by the time I got to that stage so I had no choice but to relax a little and pick up the challenge the following day. With a few minor stumbles along the way, I eventually completed the task, and was awarded a badge! It’s funny how we’ve all become like school kids again, excited by colourful stickers.
A significant proportion of the rest of the weekend was spent improving the appearance of my Sudoku app, which you can have a look at here. Feedback is very welcome – oh, and if you know how I can make the pre-given cell values ‘read only’ then please get in touch. I’ve been struggling with that for a while now!