Weeks 1 and 2 Done (Before the end of week 1)

I just finished up week 2 of the new Coursera course I’m taking and wanted to pop in to jot down what I thought and share my first assignment. Week 1 was an introduction and some basic information about how the internet works. Some of it was interesting, but for the most part it was a review for me.

Week 2 got a lot more interesting as we were introduced to codepen.io, a in browser editor for HTML, CSS and JavaScript. You write code and it automatically displays the result in a window right along side. Pretty cool. The first part of this week we went over simple HTML which was a review for me again, but I was really in need of a refresher so it was good. Plus I’ve never worked with HTML5, although it seems the basics are identicle to HTML4. These basics came back to me fairly well and was again reminded of when Mrs. Franks would come get me from my 9th grade English class to go to her Grade 12 Information Processing Class and help explain the concepts of HTML. If I recall she even gave me a copy of Adobe Dreamweaver to learn at home and then teach to her so she could teach her classes. Looking back I wish I was given a chance to really learn how to code in High School. We didn’t have a CS course and I knew more than all the teachers about it. At that point the thought never crossed my mind to do more self learning. Stupid kid.

After going over the basic HTML we got to one of the parts of the course I was most excited for. CSS! I had never ever touched CSS before. I had a basic idea of what it was, but that was it. I had always tried to muddle through and make ugly web pages using presentational HTML. Not good, but it was all I knew. CSS is cool. And so far what I’ve learned and looked up hasn’t been too hard to do! Yay! Memorizing it could be another story, but on of the instructors said flat out not to try to memorize it and that CS was as much about knowing where and how to look up information as it was about knowing the information. So, that’s cool and I’ve started to try to build up a library of bookmarks to help. I’ll list what I have so far for Web Development below.

Do you know of any great resources I’m missing? I’d love to add to my collection!

Know, onto what I made for my assignment. I had to pick a topic I could write about and come up with lists and tables for and write a webpage in HTML and CSS. It needed to include a few specific things too. Here, I’ll post a snip of the assignment for you.

Instructions for Week 2's Assignment

Assignment Instructions

So, without further ado:

Comments? Critiques? Thoughts on how CSS should be organized? Mine is all over the place! Should it be in order relative to the HTML that it styles? That wouldn’t always work when you are styling elements that appear in multiple places… Is it generally fine to have it disorganized?

Leave your thoughts, comments and resource links below.

Wannabe Code Monkey Heads Back to Coursera

Hello all. It’s been far too long since I wrote here or even tried to continue my coding journey. Back in June I had my work schedule switched around on me. It’s actually given me more free time. Time I planned to use to learn to code. But for the last 4 months I’ve been doing . . . well, not much. A little bit of work on the house and in the yard, but really, not much at all. It’s time to get back to work! I’ve enrolled in a Coursera Course. It’s called Programming and the Web for Beginners. In all honesty I’m less interested in this course than I’d like to be, but it’s the first course in a specialization on Java programming that I’m very interested in. However, I’m not enrolling in the specialization itself, but rather hope to just jump into the individual courses as they come up. To enroll in a specialization on coursera costs $350. At this time I don’t have the funds to invest in this little project of mine, so therefore I’ll stick to the free parts.


The course doesn’t actually start until October 12, next Monday if you’re reading this as it’s posted. It looks like it’ll cover some basics on the internet (I should know most of this already), some basic HTML (I taught some HTML for my computer teacher when I was in High School… She actually pulled me out of other classes to come teach her students so this should be simple), CSS (never touched it, but always wondered about it!), Javascript (this will be new) and a 7 Step Design Process that should be useful for all types of programming (!). I’ve started to preview week one of the course and they included a quiz with sample questions taken from throughout the course. I got 8/13 correct. The ones from the first week I knew the answers to and some others I got lucky with my guesses, although they were educated guesses based on what I know of code.

This is a 4 week code, with an estimated 3-5 hours of study required per week. This shouldn’t be too tough for me as I know have 4 days off a week (although in that time I do have some other responsibilities such as looking after and spending quality time with my 2 year old daughter and doing work around the house). I’d like to encourage anyone reading this that’s interested in coding to join me! It’d be fun to get a group that’s doing this together so we can discuss it as we go. If you think about it, the course can be done in as little as 1 hour a day after work (if you work a traditional 5 day work week). Or take an hour after the kids go to bed, whatever it might be. LET’S DO THIS!

Code Monkey learns with Learnaroo

On again off again. I seem to go through phases where I really want to learn this stuff and then I always peter out on it. That’s OK. Somewhere in my mind I always have a desire to learn it, I just don’t always have the focus to turn that desire into time and action. A few days ago I got the focus again. I had heard about Codecademy in the past and that it was the best free way to learn how to code. They don’t teach Java. That was sad. I played around with the idea of just using it to learn a different language, but ultimatley decided that I needed to work specifically towards what I actually want to do, code Android apps. For reference, Codecademy currently has tracks for Web Fundamentals, jQuery, JavaScript, PHP, Python and Ruby. I also thought about going back to Treehouse. I really loved the style of that site, the fun videos and how quickly I was learning. The code challenges are great too. I just can’t afford the $25 dollars a month. Diapers and baby food are more important than me learning a new hobby. I highly recommend the site to anyone who can afford it though! Treehouse has tracks for Android Development, Web Design, Web Development, Rails Development, iOS Development, PHP Development, WordPress Development and even Starting a Business. You can use this link to get a free month’s subscription to try it out (it also gives me $5 off for every month you are subscribed!).

Okay, enough with the sites I am not currently learning! I found Learneroo. It seems alright so far. It doesn’t offer as many options as Codecademy or Treehouse do, but it does offer Java. The rest of what it offers are more nebulous. Here is the list of their modules: About Programming, Combinations & Permutations, Learn Programming with Java and Logic and Loops Practice. I started with the “About Programming” module which I found to be quite good. It didn’t really go over anything I didn’t already know, except an over view of the most popular languages and what you should learn based on what you want to do. They had a flow chart that pointed me to Java. Then I moved onto the Learn Programming with Java section. I’ve been working through it off and on for about a day. My attention is divided between it, my baby girl and a house full of company so it’s slow going, but I thought I would stop and revive this blog.

I’ve also started looking into ways to make a bit of cash on the side online. I’ve found a few site that pay you to do simple things. I figure if I can pay for my Netflix every month and get a bit in my paypal account it can’t hurt. Hopefully when I’m ready to publish my first app I’ll have enough to pay for the dev membership to the play store. I made a quick blog that talks about the sites. Feel free to check it out here.

Code Monkey Tries to Animate

As I mentioned that next step is adding animations. It’s a bit daunting to me to be honest. To start I skipped the video and downloaded the files Tree House provided. They were 22 Crystal Ball images where they ball basically lit up all mystical like and then faded back to the original. Once I saw that I thought about what I wanted Yoda to do. Speak the answer, obviously. I fired up Episode I and found a scene of Yoda talking. It was harder than I expected to find one of him close up and straight on, but I found one from the Council Chambers that should work well. That, as it turns out, was the easy part. Next I had to compile a number of screen shots from the film. Not too hard using VLC. Then cropping them all since I didn’t want the entire frame. THIS was difficult. I found a plugin for GIMP that allows batch editing of images so you can do the same thing to multiple images. Perfect! Except it only allows some basic fuctions, which while cool and time saving, still left me with a lot of work to do to get my 52 images ready to animate. I used the plugin to crop them all to the same size. Then I went through each one individually and applied an elliptical cutout around Yoda using the same X, Y coordinates so that he wouldn’t bounce around while animating. If anyone knows of an easier way to do things like this please let me know!

One of the Fifty-Two Yoda images I edited to make him Talk

Once I got those all the way I thought I wanted them, I finally fired up the next video to learn what to do with them. The files they included for download for the Crystal Ball animation included an XML file that I recreated for my yoda animation. I did that and followed the instructions for actually coding in the animation, and was greeted with the following:

Error message

My App has Stopped

That is pretty much where I am right now. I’m currently going over what little debugging I know to try and find the cause.

Code Monkey Makes Pretty Little Changes

Hello everyone! I continue to work through the Android Developing Adventure at Tree House. I’m on Stage 3 of building a simple app. It is titled “Pretty Little Things.” As you might have guessed we are prettying things up a bit. They added a crystal ball image to their background, but I found a nice image of Yoda looking wise to use.  A fair bit of what we covered here I have already learned, but doing it again will help to cement it in my mind and learning from a different source allows me to pick up a few new tips.

I’m running into more issues from using Android Studio as opposed to Eclipse. We went through adding a Theme (or rather changing from the default one) to the application in AndroidManifest.xml. They were able to simply pull up a nice interface that let them choose the Theme from a list of them by clicking on the Application tab at the bottom of the androidmanifest page, but I didn’t have that tab (or any of the ones shown in Eclipse) so I had to figure out where and how to add it manually to the xml code. Not a huge deal, but it was a bit of a setback for me. I wish they had covered both ways in the video, but I understand they want to keep it simple and if I had followed the first step in their videos I would be using the same IDE they are.

Theme Code in AndroidManifest.xml

If you look closely at the above image you can see we also set our main activity to only run in portrait mode. When we got our image added and changed the theme we ended up with no button or text on our screen. They were actually still there, but behind the image. We re-ordered the components in the component tree and could once more see everything. There was still a problem through. Our button was now right on top of the image. We moved it down to the bottom. Next we wanted to get the answer text to appear as if it was floating in the crystal ball (They did anyway, I followed along and made the words float over Yoda’s face). We added a Linear Layout (horizontal) and placed our Text view in it. To center our text view we added two blank views to either side of it in the Linear Layout and manipulated the weight of the three components. I could not find the blank views that they used in Android Studio so I used something called Spaces that were described as simple views. They did the trick the same as the views, but it appears they are from a later API and I might have to tweak that at some point. Once we got the Text View inside the Linear Layout lined up where they wanted it for their crystal ball, I moved mine down below Yoda’s Face. Before I’m finished with this I would like to add a something that says “Ask Yoda” above his image. Here is what the app currently looks like when you open it.

Opening Screen at this point

Background changed to Green since Yoda answered in the Affirmative

I was planning on continuing, but I just noticed the next part is on animation. I don’t feel up to tackling that right no so I’ll leave it here for now.

Team Tree House?

I’ve started using teamtreehouse.com since reading about it for the first time yesterday. I’m not sure how far I’ll be able to go with it because it is actually a paid program (service?) and I don’t have spare funds at the moment. I was however able to score a free first month through a promotion I found, so I’ll try to make the most of it. It is way more interactive than simply watching videos. It includes quizzes, and coding challenges that let you know if you got it right as well as the usual follow along videos I have come to know from mybringback and other sources.

Mike the frog, Team Tree House’s mascot

I started at the beginning of the Learn Android Adventure and am just working my way through it. I have learned a few new things. They recommend always using scale-independent pixels (sp) which I think I agree with. They will scale based on the size of the screen as well as the user’s font setting for the device. If I understand correctly using density pixel would stay the same size no matter what the user had the device’s font to set to. This would potentially cause your app to be unusable by someone with poor eyesight who had the font set to large so they could read it. That would be bad.

I’m also learning about arrays! Arrays can be used to store a number of different values from one data type. You tell the computer that it is an array by using square brackets after the data type (String[]) and then open curly braces to start your list of values. That was a terrible description so I’ll just include a picture of my code for the app tree house has me making. Actually, I’m altering the app a little. They are making a Crystal Ball app, and I’m not into that, at all. So I am making an Ask Yoda app.

My First Array in Java/Android

I was excited to cover if statements because mybringback hadn’t touched on them yet and I remembered them being such a big part of the course I took on Python.  It seems like they will be a fairly big part of Android dev as well, and I imagine of any type of programming. Before we made our array as seen above we simply had 3 possible answers: Yes, No and Maybe. We had a random number generator (Which is also new for me in Android) that could give us 0, 1 or 2 when we ran it. We used this with an if statement to assign 0 to Yes, 1 to No and 2 to Maybe. This worked great and was a simple way to introduce if statements. When we added are array we pulled that if statement out. I have added a new one to my code though that changes the background color dependent on whether the answer was positive, negative or neutral.

If Statement to change the Background text

I’ll stop there for now. I’m really liking Team Tree House. I really think I’d like to continue using it after this first free month runs out. I’m going to see if I can work it into my budget somehow. That said, if you are interested in learning anything in their library please consider using my referral link. It will get you 50% off your first month and I’ll get $5 off my next month.

Learning Adventure 

Some of the things you can learn

Here’s my referral link: http://referrals.trhou.se/tonywhitney



A Small Update

I had part of a post written up a few weeks ago, but I guess it didn’t save. Been a while… I pretty much haven’t done any work on coding in the past month, but motivation struck again, so here I am. I keep ideas for things I want to code or additions I want to make for the apps I have planned to make, but I don’t know how to implement them. I previously said I would be updating twice a week, but I’m going back on that. It felt like a job at that stage and when something came up that meant I couldn’t meet my self imposed deadline, I got discouraged. I’m learning to code FOR FUN, so from now on updates will come when they come.

So here I am. Back at MyBringBack going over tutorials.

The first tutorial I checked out was Number 18 on creating a scroll view. Nothing real magical here. It was pretty basic. I’ll just put up a picture of the code and the result.

The code for Scroll View (Both the linear layout and scroll view tags are closed after a series of buttons

The scroll in Action, although a bit hard to show in a still image