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.

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

 

 

Dur, Spelling is Hard

Hey guys, Another weekend of lots of gaming and near enough sleep, but I got back at coding Sunday afternoon. Started out with lesson 15 over at MyBringBack. In this lesson we finished up the current activity we’ve working on. We made the Radio Groups for Gravity and Typeface work. We fleshed out the onCheckedChanged method we created as a stub last week. I’m not really sure how to walk through this, but I’ll post a picture of my code.

Code that makes our Radio Buttons work

Let me take a stab at this… Let’s look at the first case (rbLeft). In case our Left Radio Button is checked, set the Gravity to Gravity.LEFT. That will make the text align to the left side of the screen. Well, that wasn’t too bad. But it get’s more interesting when we get to the Typeface ones, so let’s look at rbNormal and see if we can make sense of it. In case our Normal Radio Button is checked set Typeface to Normal. That is what it does, but does all this mean? “Typeface.defaultFromStyle(Typeface.NORMAL), Typeface.NORMAL” Why do we need all that instead of just something like Typeface.NORMAL? I’m not sure. Hopefully it all becomes clear at some point in the future. In the mean time let’s take a look at our activity in action.

Our text with Typeface set to Normal and Gravity to Center

Typeface set to Bold and Gravity set to Right

Lesson 16 had us working on the menu. You might have noticed that this blog post is really late. Well that is because the lesson burned me out a bit. It all seemed simple enough. And in reality it was. But my inability to spell hurt me. Worse than that my inability to notice my spelling mistake for the two hours + I spent staring at my code to try to solve my issue. I ended up sending my who project to a friend who knows more about coding than me and he found my error (Thanks Glen!!!). By that time I was pretty discouraged and spent the week gaming instead of coding. Ready to get back at it now.

Code Monkey Works with some Java

Hello Everyone!

Been busy the last couple days with some boring stuff like lawn care (I was trying to grow a jungle, but my wife didn’t like that plan). I only managed to get one lesson in. It was Lesson 14 and was all about using the getText() and setText() methods. There really isn’t a whole lot to talk about here. We set up a few more ids on our radio groups from lesson 13 and then we started setting up the methods to make them work. We set up textOut to output text, or at least we started to. I don’t think we finished anything yet. We set up textIn to get the text we will output. We also set up our radio groups so we can get them to do stuff later on.

Our TutorialOne.java code after lesson 14

My First App

I started working on the layout of my sound effects app. I’ve decided I will do as much of it as I can on my Nexus 7 using AIDE.  AIDE is a Java IDE that can build and compile apps right on your android device. I highly suggest checking it out if you make apps at all. I see myself mostly using it just to tweak or make small changes later on, but I thought I’d see if I can build a basic app with it. As I said I’ve only just started building my layout. If I can get my wireless keyboard running it’ll be much faster sailing. Stupid batteries! So far I have got one layout file started with 4 buttons across the top that I used a Horizontal Linear Layout and weight to appear as tabs at the top of the screen. I plan to add 3 columns of 4 or 5 buttons each. I tried to add a Text View under the tab buttons, but I couldn’t get it to appear properly. I am pretty sure I need to give it it’s own Linear Layout to get it to work. I’ll try to do that tonight.

Sorry this post is so short. Hopefully

In Search of a New Source of Knowledge

UI Fragments on a tablet vs a Phone screen

The most exciting part of my recent lessons

This will be a pretty quick update. I’ve been following through the Lesson’s on Google’s Android Dev site and while the first lesson on Building Your First Application was great and really helped, I am starting to become disappointed in the lessons. I’ve done a few more lessons covering subjects like Activity Lifecycle, Supporting Different Devices (and Lauguages) and Building a UI with Fragments. It seems like beyond that first lesson where we built an app the lessons have become more theory and less practical. This shift has made it harder for me to follow along and get anything out of the lessons. Without actually having something to code it has become harder for me to get a feel for what is truly being taught. I understood the part on Languages just fine and think that the different values folders is a great way to handle it. Easy to package and add new languages after the fact. Different device sizes is handles in a similar way, but since it dealt with different layout files and didn’t walk through how to create them the lesson was lost on me a little bit. I am hoping that I’m still getting a bit of understanding from them, and that later on I will find myself using this information. It is neat that they come with sample applications you can download, but I would much rather they walk us through CREATING those apps so we can see how it works. At this point I think it will soon be time to find a new learning resource. I’ve been reading through a book called Hello Android and I think it might be my next main focus. The introduction mentioned creating a Suduko App and then as you learn new things you keep adding to the app. That sounds interesting and like a better way for me personally to learn. I have no doubt that in the future I will be returning to the Google dev site to look things up and learn about specific things as they come up, but for now, I need something holding my hand as I go and that keeps me coding. I guess I’m a learn by doing type of person, not a learn by reading.

On a different note I have used dropbox to import the application I made and mentioned in my last post to both my Tablet and Phone in AIDE. I was able to successfully compile the project and run it on both devices so that is good news. It means I should be able to create apps in Eclipse on my PC and then work on them while I’m on the go. I think this will be important when I get to the stage to be able to work on my own projects as I can utilise breaks at work and whatnot to do it.
One last thing: I’m really happy to see my blog getting as many hits as it has been. Thanks to all who have been visiting and commenting. especially to those that have answered a few of my questions. Please keep coming around and if there is anything specific you want me to write more about just let me know.