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.

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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

 

 

MONKEY SCRATCHES HEAD A LOT

Alright, so you might have noticed I’ve been gone for a while. I stopped coding for a while, or trying to code as the case may be. Why not? Well, I just wasn’t learning much with the methods I was using. Essentially all I was doing was copying what I saw in various tutorials or books into Eclipse and calling it a day. But I didn’t really learn what I was doing. I was also very hung up on only trying to learn java and/or android development. Android development is still my end goal, but I have taken a step back. Over the last 4 weeks I have been learning to code in a new way, and I’m ready to start writing about it and sharing it with you.

Image

This post is just an intro to what I have been doing. I found Coursera. Basically, this site lets you connect to many high level institutions and professors. Unfortunately the Android Development course I signed up for hasn’t started yet or even given a start date. So… I am taking a Python course. I feel it will still benefit me when I move onto Android Development because I’m learning how to think logically like a programmer needs to. If, Else, For, While and so on all apply. As do the design process and thinking. And I can actually learn in this format. Coursera is structured with video lectures from the professors, quizzes and mini projects. The mini projects are great as you get a basic template and specifications as how the program must work, but then you must put in the code. It’s not just copy and past. It’s using the information from the lectures and examples and applying it to the given project. These projects are then peer graded, so you get to learn more as you look at other student’s code and implementation.

I will follow up this post with a few more in depth posts about the various projects. This week we are making a pong game.