Daniel Sullivan

The blog of an aspiring Rubyist. Flatiron School this June.

The Flatiron School

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Before committing to The Flatiron School, I ruminated for way to long over the following question. “Is it really worth spending money to learn something that is freely available in books and online?” However, what was once a puzzling question seems completely irrelevant to me now. If you think about it, all free knowledge is just that, free. Of course I could teach myself how to code, by myself, sitting in a pitch black room deep into the night with nothing but the glow of my Macbook. But for me, I needed more.

If you are reading this post, you probably searched Google for something similar, but the truth is I don’t have the answer and neither does anyone else on the internet. You have to decide for yourself. So I have put together a few questions to ask yourself that may help bring some clarity.

  1. How do you learn best?
  2. I made the decision to apply to Flatiron because I wanted to speed up my learning, study best practices from the get-go, but most of all be part of an awesome growing community that is changing what it means to be a coder. I am at the top of my game when surrounded by others at the top of their game. It’s a competitive drive that pushes me to learn from others and share what I know. So ask yourself, do you like learning in pairs/groups, or do you prefer to learn by yourself?

  3. Can you afford a 12 week life acceleration?

    Most people would ask, “Can you afford to put your life on hold for 12 weeks?” I really think it’s the wrong way to look at it. Being accepted to The Flatiron School is an amazing opportunity and I definitely don’t plan on “putting my life on hold” while I am there. This is not to say it doesn’t come with sacrifices and careful balancing of family life. I have a wife and an eight month old daughter. The thought of leaving them for three months is hard to swallow. My wife and I decided that attending Flatiron is the best decision for us long term and I couldn’t do it without her support. So does attending a bootcamp fit into your life and align with your long term goals?

  4. Do you love learning for the sake of learning?

    This has been touched on in a few blog posts circulating the web, but I just wanted to hit it again. I would not attend a bootcamp for the sole reason of landing a high paying job. Attend because you love to learn and you want to be part of a great community of learners. If you have a passion for something, money will follow. If you start out seeking money and your heart is not in it, people will sniff it out and you will end up failing.

For a comprehensive breakdown from a Flatiron alum’s perspective, check out Eugene Wang’s essay here.

Just remember to take everything you read online with a grain of salt and decide for yourself.

Zurb’s Strike App

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Just wanted to drop a quick post on how I really enjoy using Zurb’s “Strike” web app. There are a lot of “to do” apps out there, but Strike is incredibly simple. You don’t have to sign up which is great, just create a list, add tasks and strike them off as you go. I started using it to keep track of my Flatiron School prework. Check it out here.

We Were Unable to Load Disqus…

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After a few days of deliberation, I finally have my Disqus comments loading properly. There are a number of tutorials and blog posts on this topic already, not to mention the help section at Disqus, but for those still struggling, this may be your solution.

Rather than explaining every step I took to arrive at a working solution, I figured I would just show you exactly how I have all of my components set up. Hopefully this will help someone out there who is fist fighting the “we were unable to load Disqus” message.

Disqus Admin Settings

Octopress _config.yml Settings

One thing definitely worth noting is on the Disqus end, I have my website url filled in as http://daniel-sullivan.com, which is the redirected domain. In my _config.yml file under Main Configs, I have the url set as http://dsully360.github.io, which is where it is being hosted. This is really what was tripping me up.

Also, make sure you include the “http://” in your config file. Originally I had it as dsully360.github.io and it was not working. As soon as I added http:// in front of it, it started working.

Hopefully this helps. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have something to add.

Gritty

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I’ve come to the non scientifical or fact based conclusion that someone’s ability to learn is based mostly on how much frustration they can handle.

Since I started learning web development, I have spent countless hours debugging and stumbling over code to find that I forgot to add something as simple as a semi-colon to the end of an expression. For a lot of people this would be enough to say “forget it, this is not for me.” But what is it about web developers that pushes them through these frustration thresholds? I think what it boils down to is grit, the will to succeed and their ability to handle frustration.

As a web developer you are always at the brink of what you know. There is so much to learn, so frustration is inevitable. It’s what you do with that frustration that determines the type of developer you will become. You have to harness it and use it, become motivated by it.

I am using the word frustration loosly here since it is a different experience for everyone. For me, it’s when I feel like there are mountains of stuff to learn, not enough time, wanting to learn it all but being stuck on a tiny problem for hours. What I have come to realize through these trials is that you soak up a lot more than you realize. If you are determined enough to succeed, you research and ask questions, eventually you will find the answer and as a by product end up learning a lot more along the way.

In order to become great at anything, whether it be web development, soccer, table tennis…you have to learn to love frustration, because you know you are at the edge of your knowledge and you are about to expand and learn something new.

Great Teachers

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I will be attending The Flatiron School this June and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

When picking a web development bootcamp, it was really important to me that my values aligned as closely as possible with the school that I chose. I love the fact that Flatiron’s culture and academics are built on hiring great teachers, not just great coders. There is a huge difference between being an expert in a subject and being able to teach that subject.

As a former special education teacher, I know from experience that a great teacher can make all the difference. Teaching is about connecting with people. A great teacher can teach anything, it’s a completely separate skill from being knowledgable in a certain topic. Creating an environment where your students truly connect and feel your passion for a topic is the definition of a great teacher to me.

I’m excited to be joining such an awesome movement and postitive culture that The Flatiron School is creating.