#1 Learning to code; from pleb to more experienced pleb by Harry

Harry Burrell
February 27, 2023
5 min read

About me:

So, a bit about me: I’m 29 and I originally did a bachelor’s degree in Psychology back in the day. Shortly after graduating, I went from bar work to retail assistant to supervisor running 2 stores, then 5 years of insurance: mainly in complaint/vulnerable customer handling. Then the pandemic hit, I got into investing and generated enough funds to get a mortgage and quit my job to go back to university to study “Clinical and Development neuropsychology”. An impressive (if not overly long-winded) course title at that.

I was kicked off my placement on a stroke ward due to my unvaccinated status at the time as I was deemed a health risk to others. A few months later this requirement was lifted. By this time, it had already hit me where it hurt as I spent the last 8 years hoping to one day pursue a career in clinical psychology and the one local position had closed its doors to me.

I did get Covid that Christmas (2021) and it did knock me off my feet for a couple of months and this, coupled with my disappointment, led me to choose to leave the course.

One thing I did learn during this whole experience is that I’ve enjoyed the MultiversX (Elrond) community and NFT scene ever since I bought my first 2D duck JPEG in a hallucinatory state back in December 2021. The best decision I’ve ever made whilst jacked up on medication!

I love the Elrond space and if there’s one thing I want to see, it’s more building on-chain and the community growing exponentially. One thing I’ve also learned whilst helping with Combased, is that this doesn’t feel like work to me.

Now I embark on a journey into the world of coding with my most relevant experience being moving a tortoise around the screen in one hazy memory of a year 9 (age 14?) IT class.

Step 1: Application

I did some research (and ran it by the ever-so-helpful Viktor) and I came across www.hyperiondev.com, which actually does bootcamp courses funded by the UK government. So, if you are a UK resident (with the right to work) and older than 19 and interested in making the same life change, I recommend you get on this.

If Hyperiondev is already fully booked, you can find a tonne of UK government-funded courses at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/find-a-skills-bootcamp. If you’re not in the UK, check EU initiatives, your country’s government website etc. 

The logic “labours of Hercules”

Now initially, I was thinking the application would be your standard: name, DOB, sexual orientation (buy me a drink first), etc. It was for maybe 5% of the entire thing. But generally, no! – They want to test my IQ first because they clearly don’t want a brick wall getting into this “highly prestigious, competitive” course. Fair enough, it makes perfect sense.

They initially got me to do some logic puzzles, such as:

·   move a few words around,

·   arrange a bunch of fictional people by slowness,

·   crack some safes,

·   work out how many times a squirrel can steal my marbles until I can’t play any more,

·   direct some co-dependent robot twins,

·   ensure some useless taxi drivers never collide in traffic,

·   Work out Doris’s husband’s name

And then I’m through as long as I could navigate that suite of very strange tasks. I already feel like a coding whiz after those logic “labours of Hercules”.

Free taster session

Now I get a free tester session of what to expect, which I’m really looking forward to! – step 1, make the computer say, “Hello World!” to you. As I see the computer mirror what I asked, I think “is this the beginning of AI, did I just make Skynet?”

Joking aside, they’ve got me using a plugin version of www.trinket.io which is a Python (programming language) console and it’s very easy to use.

It also seems that Python is as sensitive as your disapproving mother can be when you don’t take a right “tone” (or “syntax”) with it. But don’t worry, trinket will always be there to tell you why you’re wrong (also, like your mother).

Then a bit of:

·   Variable storage, it’s learning my name and saying Hi to me.

·   Mathematical equations worked out by the computer and presented nicely.

·   How to transform data.

·   Spelling an inputted word backward:

Note: It asked me to write this, I’m not an egomaniac…

·   Top tip: Notes within the code are important to instruct others on how to use it and its purpose.

·   Algorithms…If statements…Lists:

Coding challenges

And then finally… we reach the coding challenges for evaluation, and I’m overjoyed as I feel like I’ve got the hang of this!

It went from super easy, “Make a basic program that asks for details and outputs them into a nice sentence back to the user”:

To much harder with things ramping up quickly when doing repeating actions and checking conditionals.

Transitioning to loops

With the repeating actions, I struggled to get the computer to add the numbers to a list. Whereas with checking conditionals, I succeeded in it telling the user whether they could enter a school or not depending on the time (0-23). However, I struggled to get the computer to recognise a rule that any number outside of 0-23 would tell the user it’s an invalid entry.

Changing parts of a list (queue of women) based on the scenario was easy.

The final few tasks needed loops and I realized that this is an area that confuses me. Although there were brief explanations during my introduction, it didn’t feel like enough to deal with the complex puzzles given to me. I gave it a good old try and submitted the half-completed (not even half) answers.

I imagine a lot of these harder tasks were more to measure my current coding experience and although there was a secret score I had to hit; these weren’t enough to dissuade them from having me on the course. If you choose to go for a course like this, bare this in mind and don’t stress too much (like I did), just try your best!

“Fingers crossed” I passed the application and will be accepted, but as I said before, you wouldn’t be reading this if I hadn’t!

My “learning to code” journey from pleb to more experienced pleb.This blog series will be a personal account of my software development bootcamp course and if you are reading this right now, it means I passed the application stage and was accepted. If you aren’t reading this, then I tripped up over a “logical thinking” puzzle and no one, but a select few, will ever know!

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