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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Codecademy Adds Command Line Class Unit 2 Learn to Code Resource

This is a busy year for the sleep giant of Learn to Code movement - Thankfully it has come back with a bang, launching solid courses in Ruby on Rails, Authentication, AngularJS, and now Command Line, Unit 2. +Codecademy #commandline #learntocode

It covers the basics ls, pwd, nano in Unit 1, now it's ready to show some serious chaining and piping, two shell command concepts that professional programmers constantly use. It's easy for beginners to lose track.

What is 

$ sort deserts.txt | uniq > uniq-deserts.txt

What is uniq, what is in deserts.txt and uniq-deserts.txt, and what will be returned in the terminal or shell. 

During professional front-end interviews, senior JavaScript will often ask tricky questions that can be easily tested in the command prompt, but interviewees will have to come up with the answer in their head, by logic.

As a learn-to-code junkie, I can safely say made JavaScript learning really easy. It's still the best way to iron the grammar of JavaScript in beginners. Unlike others, Codecademy is a habit-forming interactive coding and learning environment that's strangely addictive as it is black & white. Now with these flashy Rails, AngularJS and Command Line, projects added onto its outdated API pack, is luring its users back. And we are very happy to be back.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Codecademy Course Review Command Line

Codecademy launches new BETA course on Command Line.
Useful for beginner Ruby on Rails and Python coders.

Recently more than stepped up its game to launch new blockbuster and real-world relevant courses like Rails Authentication, AngularJS and Command Line. The new command line course is short, 1-hour long, aims to introduce learn-to-code students to basic shell commands like ls, pwd, touch. As usual, the practice is completely interactive and self contained in the browser. Students equipped with desktops of all Operating Systems can easily play with code as long as there's internet connection.

While the website is responsive, the exercises, however, are not responsive. It is the best to use a Chrome browser to complete exercises and avoid unnecessary browser-specific complications.

Investing in learning Command Line early is a wise choice (personally, one of the best choices I have ever made). Command line basics are extremely important in Ruby on Rails, Python and Django development, and Heroku Deployment. It's like JavaScript, there is no escape.

The early BETA course set is quite easy, at most, 1-2 lines of commands per exercise.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Developer Tools to Keep in Mind - A Learn to Code Guide for Beginners

Fitness Tracking with Pebble Time - Use Pebble Time with Jawbone UP

The new Pebble Time works with Jawbone UP fitness tracking using its build-in accelerator and manual sleep tracking app, no Jawbone UP device required. Jawbone UP is an official Pebble Time partner. The feature requires a bit of a setup but essentially is well supported and work seamlessly.

Up for Pebble watchface displays time with progress
proportionally to your daily goaln

Setup requirements

Caveats :

The UP for Pebble watch-face displays step progress along with digital time. The upward app has small dots that represents your daily goal (which you can set in the UP app). The dots will proportionally turn into little squares as you progress towards your daily goal.  See picture

Note the UP for Pebble "app" is actually a watch face (versus a  pebble app) that you would install on Pebble Time.  Search for "up for pebble" in the "watchface" tab.

Jawbone UP purple app works well with
Pebble Time no additional device required

Just like the Pebble Time requires a different iOS app from the old Pebble, Jawbone UP app requires you using the UP app with a purple icon if you have no UP device (versus the blue account). The Jawbone UP app "purple" is essentially a free and awesome fitness step tracking app for anyone with iOS!

Here's a longer video I found on Youtube that explains this in details. Caution the beginning is a bit loud

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Udacity Adds 3 More Google Courses - Online Education MOOC News

Announced via +Udacity  newsletter today: Udacity adds three more +Google Developers  sponsored software engineering, development, programming courses to its growing professional curriculum. All basic course material access is free of charge. Udacity is digging deeper in its specialization in real-world professional software development curriculum. This time it teaches you how to build apps with Google. Pretty impressive. Grab your free Google Development course content now.

Developing Scalable Apps in Python with Google App Engine

a course on Python and cloud computing with Google App Engine

Already 1500 students strong. Learn how to really do Cloud Computing with Google's App Engine, leveraging Google data centers. 6 weeks of advanced coursework.

Browser Rending Optimization 

aka Building 60 FPS Web Apps
a course on web performance

Already 3500+ students strong. This month-long advanced course. Learn how to build 60 frames per second (FPS) web apps and learn how to improve web performance. Developers will learn how to build apps that render smoothly.

Responsive Images

a course on working with images front-end development

This is an intermediate two-week long course with nearly 3000 students. Google will teach you how to use responsive images responsibly (LOL). This class will walk through the <picture> HTML element, <img> and the srcset attribute. A great short course for front end developers.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Learn to Code Full Stack with Udacity Nanodegree

I recently submitted Project 1 of the Udacity Full Stack Nanodegree curriculum. This blog post is my reflection and review on the experience. Overall, it really exceeded expectations. The price is still too expensive, but Udacity is really offering effective, engaging, alternative online education for programming, development #learntocode movement. It starts to distinguish itself as an online ultra-premium vocational school for software engineering using modern technologies, programming languages, and software frameworks like MongoDB, D3.js, Bootstrap, Github,, Android, iOS and more.

 Udacity took a long time to ramp up its course content by focusing on video-intensive, interactive basic courses for a long long time. It got famous, then got quiet until it re-entered the arena with a bang. Last year, it came back strong with blockbuster partner names like Google, Facebook and Salesforce, but it's not until this year's Nanodegree offering did it become clear that all the work and focus on fundamentals paid off. The full stack nanodegree and the data science nanodegree clearly integrates fundamental classes like intro to computer science, programming with Python, data analysis etc. These fundamental classes have been improved and adapted to the nanodegree, but the majority of the content stays true to its originals.

The leverage becomes clearer when students are struggling to submit assignments using Git and Github (in the iOS nanodegree). Udacity just added the Git and Github intro curriculum into the nanodegree after project one, and the content already exists elsewhere on Udacity, the process was super simple. Udacity's content is so much more integrated compared to Coursera, whose content is largely organized by university departments and specializations.

Project 1 of the Udacity Full Stack was intro to python programming. I expected the course to be a cruise for me as I already learned to code, and it was, but I was surprised to learn many useful Computer Science concepts which I missed out not having that formal education in college. The mini exercises were extremely useful, resulted in scripts that I could immediately use to make my daily professional life more productive e.g. find a secret message is really a python script for organizing files for content management.

The project is advanced for the level (I will explain this more in my iOS nanodegree reflection talking about the really challenging project). To complete Project 1 students must write the code to utilize a "" library / mini API to dynamically generate an HTTP file. i.e. generate an entirely new locally hosted website on the fly. Students can choose to ignore the file, all together, or can choose to dive into the mini API and learn how HTTP files are generated using Python. It was pretty cool.

The integrated grading process prefers students sharing completed work via Github integration with Udacity. There's some real life commit and code sharing practice. The content is rich and may be bit jam-packed for first-timers, i.e. they really mean what they say "minimum 10 hour weekly commitment" (the iOS commitment is really much longer than that, I previewed the data science one briefly and saw that it requires quite a bit of statistics background to make the curriculum a cruise). It seems that the essential goal of each nanodegree project is to generated presentable mini, relevant projects which can be showcased on Github, preparing the student for the interview / job seeking process. In that case, Udacity did a good job elevating its curriculum to real-world job relevance, distinguishing itself from the more academic counterpart -Coursera and the more fun gamified Code School and Treehouse.

Say More with Twitter Comment Replacing Twitter Quote Tweet

Read about Twitter Comment update on the official blog
Twitter updated its Quote Tweet feature, previously a retweet feature that will grab texts from the original tweet leaving only a few below-quota characters for commentating. Quote tweet used to look like RT "@name  .... original... tweet... takes up most of the space", now it almost looks like a shared link, freeing up 140 characters to express opinion and highlight relevance of this RT. You can now say so much more with this Twitter Social Media feature update.

The original tweet now looks like a shared URL freeing up space for 140 additional characters
This can be Twitter's response to the recent surge of unofficial infinite tweet apps (rendering words as images) which allow users to share unlimited number of characters and have gotten popular even on ProductHunt. Twitter Comment can really change the dynamic of Twitter conversations, making the "replying" process more cohesive. You can now comment, @ mention people, add detailed opinions that are relevant to the original tweet. This can really be a game changer. 

What will you do with an additional 140 characters?