Week 1 -Boris bikes and coding spikes

Holy moly, I’m a week old Makers fledgling. I can’t quite decide whether it’s flown by, or I’ve been here all my life and have known nothing else. A mixture of the two I guess.

In fact, there’s a small risk that there’s been so much to learn and get excited about, that my brain has given up on attempting to hold events in a chronological order and perception of time has simply fallen by the wayside.

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A couple of us were actually discussing this on Friday when someone pointed out that we’d already completed 1/12th of our time at Makers Academy. This is an utterly terrifying thought when I cast my mind back to the previous cohort’s final projects – we have so much to learn! Having said that, if the next eleven weeks are as jam packed as this one, I’m in for one hell of a ride… and maybe one too many peanut-butter-on-toast-dinners.

So, what did we learn?

This week’s project was all about Boris Bikes, or Santander Cycles if you’re a fan of precision/a pedant. The aim was to design a program that controlled the docking and releasing of bikes from stations – as well as taking them out for a jolly, people should also be able to report a bike broken if they felt compelled break it, and all broken bikes should be taken to a nearby garage for a fix up.

Building on what we’d learnt in the final week of the pre-course, the main aim of this project was to get us all more comfortable using RSpec to run unit tests on our code. Although this whole ‘testing before having anything to test’ thing doesn’t quite come naturally yet, I’m beginning to see the benefits.

Often with my pair, we found that spiking out a couple of lines of code whenever we were working on a new feature helped form some creative ideas about how to solve the problem. However, under our coach’s instruction, we diligently deleted anything we hadn’t tested first to stick to the TDD principles like the devout disciples we are.

I found it very interesting working on the same project with a different pairing partner each day. Everyone has such varied ways of approaching problems and I can already tell I’ll be able to learn a lot by passing over the reigns and observing. Just writing that last sentence shows me how much this experience is already making me grow as a person – those who know me know that ‘handing over the reigns’ has never exactly been my forte…

Taking about growing as a person, this week was not all about coding ourselves crazy. On our first day, we were all introduced to Dana, Chief Joy Officer at Makers, whose job it is to make sure we’re all happy, healthy and remaining wholly human. This means that everyday we’ll be de-screening ourselves after lunch for session of meditation – a practice that is completely new to me.

(Actually, ‘completely new’ is a bit of a lie. One time, our Year 9 RE teacher optimistically/insanely decided to introduce the excitable class of 14 year olds to sleep meditation. Imagine the chaos that ensued when, BOYS lying next to REAL LIFE GIRLS were told to send their energies to their left calf, left thigh, left groin. Yeah.)

Luckily, many many moons hath passed since then and our meditation sessions are quickly proving to be a valuable addition to my day – a midday reset for the mind, if you will.

Next, onto the weekend challenge!

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