Road Blocks



July 21, 2012




I started trying to learn how to code Java application 20 days ago when I had an idea for an Android App I would like have and use. Since no one else has made it I thought that I should learn how to and make it myself. I like to think I’m pretty smart guy. After all I’m employed as a PC Technician… How tough could this be?


Turns out, it’s pretty tough. I hated math in school and it turns out it’s used a lot in Java Programming. I started out by trying to jump right into Android Development. Now, what is a Computer Technician to do if he wants to learn a new school? Yup, you guess it! The first few android developement tutorials I came across assumed I had a fully working understanding of Java Development. I did not… Back to google I went. This time searching for java development. I quickly learned that youtube video’s were going to be the best way to learn. I found what I thought was a good java tutorial video series and followed Oliver’s directions to install NetBeans. Pretty soon I had coaxed my code to print out the simple phrase “Hello World!” Since would be the first time of many that I would code those words. Hmmm, well that’s pretty simple. By the 13th lesson I was getting input from the user. Now, I start to see something that I will need in am own app. I know I am still a very long way from being able to make it. Soon I was getting data from a file saved on my computer and writing data to a different file. Things were looking up and I was feeling pretty good about my chances of being able to make a working app one day. I found myself becoming consumed with learning all I could about java. Reading tutorials at work, watching youtube video’s on my coffee breaks and looking forward to getting home to netbeans to try it out. I didn’t understand everything I was reading, or even everything I was watching, but when I was able to try it out in netbeans while following the program I could get it to work. Almost always…
One morning before work I got up and set to work on the 17th video in the series. I had watched the video a few times the day before and although it was more complex than anything I had before I thought I had a handle of how it worked. It was a basic calculator program that could perform basic mathematical operations that the user input. The only issue is it didn’t work for me. Something was wrong, and before I could work it out I had to leave for work. It would bug me all day, but I had to move on. My main work PC was down, limiting what I could do during the work day. With no manager in to approve a new PC I found other ways to keep my self amused. I installed {AIDE} on my Galaxy Note and found a tutorial to start coding for Android. This seemed like a win, so I wasted away the wait times in my day as diagnostics ran on the few PC’s in my shop. The guide was for using eclipse, but I figured it was be similar to use {AIDE} since you can import projects from eclipse anyway. I started a new project and went to work on making my PC output the word’s, “Hello World!” Hmmm, where have I seen that before? The guide went on to show how to change the colour of those words. I changed to them green, and recompiled the .apk. After discovering the the guide had some syntax errors I got the text to change colours. Next the guide went on to add a new layout element: A text input field. This would be needed in my eventual app, so I was excited to learn about. Sadly, this is were the guide started to lose me. I found that it didn’t explain what the code it was adding meant, but I tried to copy it into {AIDE} just as it appeared in the guide. After I had copied it all in I was presented with 37 errors! Including some in the blocks of code that had worked just fine a moment ago. Suddenly it was telling me their should not be a ‘/’ in ‘string/hello’ but that would mean it would not pull the string up from the res folder. That’s not what I need. I re-read the guide, started over and tried again and again always to get hung up at that spot. My work day came to an end. Once home, I synced the broken app from my phone into my 10.1″ Acer iconia A500 and attached my keyboard. I pulled up the guide and started trying again. This time with more concentration and less distractions. Still no luck. I deleted the project and started again, hoping that I would some how avoid the issue this time. This time as I went I made other changes to test things out. I added to the main “Hello World!” string so that it displayed: “Hello World! Testing 1, 2, 3” and compiled and ran the app. It worked! That got me a bit excited. I had found out how to do something on my own. Encouraged by this small victory, I went back and added more onto the string. I added: “It worked! That means I can add this and it’ll appear in the app as well.” Compile, install, run. “Hello World! Testing 1, 2, 3. Wait a minute! Why didn’t it work? Went back and checked the code… maybe I didn’t save it before compiling. No, it’s there. Well this makes no sense. 
So here I am with 3 different beginner Java Programming issues. Who knew copying down code someone else wrote for people just getting started in programming could be so hard. Now this wannabe code monkey is left wondering if he really wants to be a code monkey or if he should just stick to simple repairs. It’s an interesting dilemma since he’s only coding for a side project and really doesn’t aspire to make any money off it. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this wannabe’s journey into codeland.

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