Can’t stop, won’t stop.

That’s been the theme of the last couple of weeks. Truly non-stop. Now that my fourth week of MakerSquare is over with (holy crap, almost halfway!), and I have a minute to get some thoughts down again… I can barely remember the third week. I do remember that we learned about Sinatra, and did Javascript “exercises” for hours and hours, and had our first introduction to APIs.

And then there was the Hackathon. Instead of a weekend off, we had two days to work on projects of our own choosing. My team made this Lorem Ipsum generator. It’s pretty satisfying to be in class and notice people using it when they need filler text. I personally am having way too much fun plugging songs in from bands like Mindless Self Indulgence, Ke$ha, or even Insane Clown Posse, and just doing dramatic readings of the results.

The process to make Lyric Ipsum would not have been terribly intense if not for the APIs we had to/tried to use. Primarily, it runs with a Ruby gem called Lyricfy that has two APIs for lyrics databases wrapped up neatly inside. This was a pretty cool find by my teammate Jesse, but we wanted more from it by Monday than it was willing to give. Specifically, we wanted people to be able to search for, say, “Wu Tang,” and have our app understand that the user means “Wu Tang Clan.”

I learned quite a lot about a lot of music-related APIs this week in the name of bringing that idea to life. In the end, I have unfortunately learned that there are a lot of APIs (and gems) out there that are a pain to work with, and more than a couple that don’t do what they claim to (and in one case, that doesn’t even connect to its own database using its own methods, but anyway…). The idea isn’t dead yet, but it is definitely on hold until we learn more about AJAX calls in jQuery. I heard a rumor that this might solve the problem.

Also within the last week, after my class built our first functioning web apps, the team at MakerSquare (finally) introduced us to Rails, which I am a little in love with already. The first few days were rough, but then the lesson on Thursday made everything make sense. I had a few moments (and all of Friday morning) of frustration while trying to complete my lessons using individual concepts without connecting them to each other, but for the final lessons, making everything in Rails work together the way its supposed to was easy. I suppose this is why the term “Rails magic” gets tossed around a lot.

I finished Friday’s assignment in a short amount of time, and took a look at the extra credit “extensions.” I didn’t like the look of the extensions (i.e., I was in no mood to deal with another API-wrangling session late on Friday afternoon), so I made my own “extension,” based on a small feature that I thought the project should obviously have. In doing so, I discovered why this seemingly simple little thing had not been included in our lesson, but I did still make it work; I want to shout out some love for my classmate Lynda here, because she took a look at what I was trying to accomplish, said one thing to me, and that was The Thing I needed to get my idea working in under 10 minutes. Suffice to say, I’m incredibly excited that Lynda will be my pair-programming buddy for this coming week.

 

 

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