“Debugging is twice as hard as coding itself. Therefore, if you write code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.”
Brian Kernighan & P.J. Plauger
For those not in the know, I’m a student at Lambda School’s Full-Stack Web Development program (Read more here). In short, Lambda School is an online learning company offering 30-week programs in programming that are free until you get a job. If you don’t get a job, they don’t get paid.
As usual, I've done a write-up of my experiences, ups and downs, shenanigans, and curriculum this week. I intend to do the same over the next 27 weeks! If you’re not yet caught up from Week 1 or 2, you can read it here and here.
Fast-forward ten minutes to me getting hit in the face with the hardest coding challenge to date.
To say I felt humbled would be putting it lightly.
From minute one, the instruction sessions were filled to the brim with new concepts and theory, interspersed with the occasional practice assignment. After a while, you become oh-so-grateful for a quick five-minute break. Trust me on this one. Of course, not everything stuck with me as well as I'd like, so W3Schools and I became fast friends over the course of the week.
If I were to summarize Lambda's approach to learning, it would have to be ‘Practice Makes Perfect. So Practice A F*ckton'. And if practice somehow doesn't make perfect, at least it doesn't produce Syntax Errors. Which is good enough for me. I feel like a monkey most of the time when stuck behind the keyboard, so I might as well make sure that I'm a damn good code monkey. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I personally enjoyed the change of pace compared to the first two weeks. The immediate gratification of having your console log the correct result or your function returning the desired array is very visceral after the countless hours spent on HTML and CSS during the first two weeks.
Enter The MacBook
As I mentioned last week, my current laptop was struggling to keep up with even the most basic functions. Opening a code editor would take the better part of a minute. No bueno.
Lambda School actually gave me a MacBook Pro! Sure it's refurbished and it's a loaner, but who the hell cares? Honestly, I'm not in a position to shill out $800+ for a new laptop at this point in time. One of the Student Success Coordinators, Kevin, reached out to me. He explained Lambda's loaner-policy and he encouraged me to apply. For a bit, I felt too proud to admit I needed it. I also didn't want to take the opportunity away from students that might need it more. As soon as it was clear the situation was untenable, Kevin and the rest of Lambda was right there to help out. Thanks Kevin - if you ever do make your way to the Netherlands, I owe you a beer!
Perhaps now's a good time to mention that I had never used a Mac in my life up until last week. But what a change it's been. The first few hours, everything felt alien and clunky to me. The weird swiping-motions, the pop-up toolbars, and the keyboard layout all took some getting used to. One tutorial and four Apple fanboys helping me was all it took to get me up and running.
Now that I've had a couple of days to get used to it though, I can definitely tell what the hype is all about. Once you get the hang of it, the entire operating system is really intuitive and sleek. Not to mention that it makes dealing with the Command Line Interface infinitely easier.
Learning To Say ‘Hello, World!’ And More
As most people are curious about the exact things we learn at Lambda, I’ve listed them all down here. I guess it also makes for a good roadmap for others trying to do something similar by themselves.
In Week 3 we covered:
Var, let and const and their differences;
Objects and object literals;
Arrays and array methods;
Scope, closure, and callbacks;
Declaring and using
Prototypes and Constructors;
ES6: Classes & Arrow Functions.
In addition, I did some studying of my own, covering the following topics:
Reading up on React Hooks;
Did the ‘Applied Accessibility’ and ‘JQuery’ modules on FreeCodeCamp;
Did Week 4 of Harvard’s CS50 course.
As a whole this week was a change of pace. Even nostalgic - in a way. Ironically enough, Lambda almost resembled a university in their approach this week. We actually had exercises to make and homework to do - a great change of pace from another design-project!
this, and ES6 syntax. Most days, we went well over time. Luckily, recordings of previous lectures are available to the students for revision, with lectures by the legend himself, Josh Knell, being one of the crowd-favorites.
Starting this week, I'll also be making a list of topics I want to check out during the next week. As part of Lambda's curriculum, we'll mostly be focusing on the Document Object Model (DOM) and components. Since I'm pretty comfortable with those as is, I want to push myself a bit. For Week 4, I'll look into:
FreeCodeCamp's ‘ES6’, ‘Regular Expression’, ‘Debugging’, and ‘Basic Data Structures’ modules.
Review Week 5 of Harvard's CS50;
Get on Khanacademy and start progressing through their math curriculum. Though it won't directly benefit my programming ability, it'll probably help me with algorithms and logic. Besides, I've always sucked at math so it's about damn time.
Review the ‘Learning How To Learn’ course on Coursera. I completed this one some two years ago, but can't recall all that much of it. A friend recently mentioned it so I decided I ought to jump in.
Questions & Answers
If you have any questions regarding the student experience at Lambda, hit me up on Twitter! I’ll try to answer some of them every week.
Is it possible to attend classes in-person?
Not at the moment. But they might do it in the future. There have been some joking suggestions of Lambda buying a campus now that they've raised $30M in venture capital, but building out their existing remote learning-environment seems to have the highest priority. Every month, Lambda hosts what's called ‘Lambda Meetup Day’, wherein they encourage students in or near major metropolitan areas to meet up and collaborate. Taking the classes together during these meetups is the closest you can get to in-person collaboration and learning. For the European cohort, no plans have been made for Meetup Day, what with the entire European student body being some 20-odd people. Maybe later
Do you know what courses Lambda will start teaching in the future?
Unfortunately not. The founders and staff are relatively tight-lipped about future expansion plans. It seems sensible not to broadcast your future plans to a Slack channel of 1000+ people. Lambda School seems to be convinced about their ability to apply to their methodology to pretty much every vocational training. Recently, scuttlebutt has it that Lambda is looking into security, design, and nursing. Not sure how they're going to pull off that last one, but I'm curious to see!
STATE OF THE LAMBDA UNIOn
This week was somewhat relaxed. It felt good to stimulate the left side of the brain for a bit. I know; left-brain/right-brain is just a wive's tale, but it's a good analogy, no? A lot of students struggled this week and I wondered at times if everyone would make it. However, most people seem to have pulled through and gotten a thorough understanding. There were quite a few cheery faces after successfully completing this week's Sprint Challenge.
Finally, if you’re interested in signing up for Lambda School yourself, please consider using this link. With it, you’ll receive $250 after you attend your first day and Lambda will give me $250 for sending you there! Win-win!
And remember, the average pace is for chumps!
Until next week!