Hackbright Academy: Week Two

Hackbright Academy While I am attending Hackbright Academy’s Spring 2015 session, I will be blogging to track and process what I am learning! Hackbright Academy graduates more female software engineers than Stanford and UC Berkeley each year and is dedicated to #changetheratio of women in tech. Connect with me via Twitter @rchdnn.

Week two went by in a flash. While knowing HTML, CSS, and PHP gave me a leg up in entering Hackbright, the first week included getting used to separating PHP from Python in my brain. I was able to absorb the new concepts much faster this week as I started to get the hang of the Python syntax, it felt really good (and fun) to be able to start coding a bit faster!

Dictionaries, Markov, and Twitter

This week was a blur of more lists, dictionaries, Markov chains, classes, and Twitter API fun. “Markov chains are a statistical analysis of frequency patterns in some sequence.” During most of the Markov exercises, my pair programming partner and I were able to build a random text generator – taking text from a variable number of source files and outputting newly formed random strings of text.

The best part was connecting our Markov generator to the Twitter API on Friday! Too cool to actually have something connected to a public external application. We’ve still got a long way to go, but you can check out our project at @MarkovMashup – a mashup of Harry Potter, Alanis Morissette, pop songs, and more.


We’re also gaining much more practice using Git and GitHub. Once you have version control, you can never go back! This would have been so handy in the past when working on a team with multiple developers or with ongoing projects that would have been nice to have notes from the last update months before. You can follow my coding progress as the program continues – I feel like a real programmer! Find me at github.com/rachelledunn.

It’s also been so great to continue to connect with my fellow cohorts. Each one of us has had a completely different journey, but we are all here in one place! With each of us having similar ambitions, it’s so easy to support each other over the various hurdles we are facing together.

UP NEXT: One of the coolest aspects of Hackbright Academy is how they pair each student with mentors – one former Hackbright student and two from the tech community. This next week includes our Mentor Mixer and I can’t wait to meet my mentors!

First Day of Hackbright!

Hackbright AcademyWhile I am attending Hackbright Academy’s Spring 2015 session, I will be using this space to track and process what I am learning (at least once each of the twelve weeks)! You can also connect with me via Twitter @rchdnn.

Today was full of intros and breakfast and fun and jokes and code. The space was full of excitement from an amazing group of women of all different backgrounds, and it was so fun to start hearing from each of our own perspectives.

The Terminal

In all of my time using computers, I’ve always been terrified of using the dreaded Terminal! Because of my lack of formal training (since most of my knowledge was self-taught/self-hacked), I had no idea what it was capable of, or what the purpose could possibly be. I’ve already started using it on my home computer, and was super excited just now when I completed our first Python homework assignment!

Pair Programming & Blockly

BlocklyIn our lab we partnered up for an afternoon of pair programming with Blockly. It did take a few minutes of back and forth and getting used to how each other works, but it was really useful in my becoming more comfortable in communicating with another developer and explaining what I was doing in code. While the Blockly maze game seemed super simple at first, the last one had my pair programming partner and I a little stumped. There were very excited “woohoos!” of success when we found the first two solutions (there are still a few alternatives I’m hoping to figure out)!

Overall, the day was packed full of information, but the incredible staff really made everything flow easily and I felt right at home. I can’t wait to see what we’ll be learning next. So much YAY! Stay tuned!