The site is slowly taking shape ( http://www.green-planet-heroes.herokuapp.com
). The next step, after a couple more user interface tweaks, is adding the 3rd payment system in. The first two turned out to be not quite what I needed. The irony is that #3 uses #1, but since the company that makes #3 has a development team that can keep up with the frequent API changes in #1, it's practical for them to use #1, but was not practical for me to use it. The problem with #2 is that I would have had to send people away from the site to create accounts, which is a *great* way to lose users, but not a terribly good way to keep them.
GPH Project Page
Phew! We're done with the big learning push, and just starting our independent projects. Mine is (surprise!) rewriting Green Planet Heroes from scratch using all I've learned in the last several weeks.
Along with that milestone comes the next payment milestone - I need the next $700 by this Friday. If you've got friends or family who can help me get there, I would be ETERNALLY grateful!
I can't believe it's almost the end of week 4!
We're starting to get into familiar territory, in terms of the adding "gems" that will handle things like automating the creation of image thumbnails. This is good, because some of the images are HUGE!
We're building an application similar to a popular image sharing site as our learning platform. Each day, we learn more techniques and tools, then spend part of the day practicing what we learned by actually implementing it in our app, using those tools and techniques. We haven't reached the point of formatting things, yet, so it's unbelievably ugly, but that's ok. :-) The goal is to *understand* what I'm doing on the back end.
I can feel the knitting together of this mass of information deep in the recesses of my brain. Eventually, there will be that day when it all "clicks," and then watch out, world!
This week (week 3!), we're learning Rails. Ruby is a language for defining your web site, Rails is a web server that can run ruby code.
Rails happens to have some features that do a bunch of the heavy lifting for you, when it comes to things like database creation, and making your site a bit more secure.
For example: if you've got a form on a web page, and the form passes back a big blob of data, the server doesn't know what the user is going to send it. This means that they could send *anything* - including some malicious code that could do nasty things on your server.
So rails has some built in protections. If you don't specifically whitelist the allowed actions from a form, it'll spit out a great big error and tell you to go fix it. In the mean time, no one will be submitting that form! Luckily, rails makes fixing that problem easy.
I'm posting short tidbits about the daily activities here, if you want to follow along: http://www.lianeallen.com/home/
Last week was a bit of an extra challenge, because Monday night was spent in the ER with Dad (pneumonia - he's OK, now) instead of sleeping. Also, our adventure in trying to get health insurance after hubby's layoff continues, so I spent some quality time communicating with a wonderful staffer from Senator Sanders' office of constituent affairs, who is helping to light a fire under the folks at Vt Health Connect. And then there was the freight train, which chose to break down on the commuter rail track, right in front of me, just as my commuter train was due to arrive.
I made it to class every single day, though - even if the process of getting there felt like swimming through molasses...
The folks at Metis suggest we keep a blog, describing random things we learn during our time taking the class. Mine's here: www.lianeallen.com/home/
I'll do daily posts there, and try to update folks here once a week (so you won't be inundated with updates).
I finally managed to go buy thank you cards last weekend, and cleverly left them at home on the coffee table, so I'll have to get to them the weekend after next (I've got to stay in MA this coming weekend, for family stuff). At least I remembered my train pass!
I'm on the train, on the way to the first day of class! The adrenaline from my excitement means I got about 4 hours of sleep last night - so it should be interesting. :-)
It was great fun meeting fellow students, graduates, and teachers at the Metis "Meet & Greet" in Boston tonight! The grads from the prior class are all interviewing like crazy, except for the ones who've found jobs, already.
As an added treat, as Andy and I walked back to the car, across the common, under the old-style street lamps, we were serenaded by a saxophone! We were the only ones on the path, so it was like walking through a 1940s noir film.
Started prepping for my 3 months in Boston. I got a Charlie Card yesterday - essentially an MBTA (Boston subway, bus, and commuter rail) prepaid card - for my monthly commuter rail pass. So *of course* the web site for adding commuter rail passes to a Charlie Card is broken. LOL!
This is going to be an amusing 3 months!
I've also reached out to a high profile woman in the Boston tech industry to see if she might want to help me put together a program to offer full-fare scholarships for minority women in underserved communities. I have resources (thanks to my amazing friends & family, and their networks) to help make this class possible for me. Others are not so lucky. Why not start paying it forward from the start?
For those who'd like to know, the boot camp I'm attending is Metis: http://www.thisismetis.com/
The instructors are expert ruby developers (not necessarily case at other boot camps), and the class size is small.
We start June 2, and run through August 22. It's going to be one of those "drinking from a fire hose" experiences, and I'm really looking forward to it! Thanks to everyone who donated so far, you've made it possible for me to make the downpayment and move forward. And thanks to everyone who has offered encouragement, even if you can't donate. Your kindness keeps me motivated!
I put this page on a brief hiatus after I didn't raise enough for the downpayment I needed in time to start.
However, I've done a bit of scrambling in the interim and have been accepted into Metis' bootcamp, which seems like a much better opportunity. (My grandmother always said, "Every bump is a boost.")
Some of that scrambling means we can cover all but $5500 of the $12,500 tuition. Subtract the $1500 I've received so far, and I only need to raise another $4000 to spend 12 weeks in a small class environment being immersed in ruby on rails with industry experts!
I've spent most of my life in the tech industry, but have never done any real full-stack programming, and while I know this won't make me an expert by any means, it can help me get where I need to be in order to launch Green Planet Heroes in "mvp" form (minimum viable product).
Front end web dev, throwing together wordpress sites, and working through tutorials isn't the same thing as having the option to ask questions and get immediate answers from an expert. While spending 2 hours trolling through stackoverflow.com to find the most likely answer to a question can be fascinating, it's definitely not an efficient learning process!
At this time, a bootcamp, as expensive as it is, seems like the kind of immersive program I need in order to learn most efficiently. So, I'm turning the fundraising back on, and hoping you're up for taking a chance on me!
Holy cow!! We're over 6% already. I can't believe it! What amazing friends and family! I am so lucky!
After I became trained as a home energy auditor a few years ago, I found that one problem prevailed everywhere: for most people, no matter how much they need or want to save energy, the cost of home energy improvements was more than they could afford. People are worried about the increasing costs of home heating and cooling, they feel bad about the extra they're contributing to global warming, and they feel helpless to do anything about it.
A bit over a year ago, I started the process of learning to code in Ruby on Rails, because I wanted to create a tool people could use to overcome the biggest hurdle to energy efficiency and sustainable energy: the up front cost.
I took a number of classes to learn how to determine what would be needed to make such a site successful, and began the bootstrapping process. Here's the current state of the site: Green Planet Heroes
Then I found the best tool for handling the commerce side of things, which is based on Kickstarter's payments API. I discovered that I needed a great deal more understanding of exactly what I was doing with the coding in order to integrate that tool. I signed up for RailsBridge Boston and learned a bit more of what I need.
I took a look, but at the time, it a ruby coding bootcamp entirely out of reach, financially. So, I decided to put things on hold while I took random bits of free time I could muster to read books, and do tutorials. I made some incremental progress, took some classes on things like business model development, gamification, and more.
Recently, we reached a point at which it was (barely) possible for me to consider signing up for a boot camp. I hemmed and hawed for a couple of weeks, because its a LOT of money, but finally, I applied. I went through their application process, which includes doing coding exercises, plus two interviews. Things were looking great!
I was making plans, and thinking that if I got in, I could (a) get Green Planet Heroes (GPH) off the ground, and (b) do some coding on the side to earn money to help my kids with their college plans.
Friday, my husband was laid off ... two hours before I received the acceptance letter from the first boot camp. So, I got in, but now I can't go.
I was SOOOOO close!
Finding a way to make it possible for ordinary people to be able to afford to save energy, and to reduce the rate of climate change has been gnawing at me for years. I want to give people a means of raising that money - one where their fundraising won't get lost in a sea of requests of a whole different type. (Ironic I'm crowdfunding to gain the skills I need to build a crowdfunding platform, eh?)
So, in the end, I'm hoping you might be willing to invest a bit in me, so I can help others invest in a better future, and, with luck help my kids achieve their dreams, too. It's a lot to ask, and I'll be unbelievably grateful to anyone who donates any amount.