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Learning how to code! Or at least trying to....

posted Apr 13, 2015, 2:59 PM by Rodrigo Alonso

This week I learned a lot about coding. Mostly about OOP since that's what the classes are about. I am really learning quite a lot of new stuff about this, but most importantly: that all the coding I've done is garbage. 


I say that because of all the concepts, best practices, suggestions and conventions that I've been learning this week, which I had no idea existed. But again, failure is knowledge, and I'm getting the hang of this. 


Speaking of failure, I had quite some issues installing a Java IDE to solve this weeks coding exercise: first off, I had no idea that jdk and jre were needed. After asking around and a little research I managed to make a project in Java. 


With the videos and readings I learned about a lot of useful tools to solve the big data code problem. I learned about map reduce, mahout library and unit testing. 

I spoke with my mentor about unit testing, and he explained how it works and why it's implemented.


With the videos I learned about machine learning, that it's not so complicated to implement as it seems. I had seen a series of videos from coursera about machine learning, and this video consolidated all the information that I had learned with that series. 


There was a video on Ipv6, where the history of the internet is explained, which I didn't know about. It explained the limits of Ipv4 and how it was saturated very quickly. We basically live on the internet now and it's full of devices connected. Personally I have a cellphone, two laptops, an xbox and a kindle connected to the internet… and that's just me. 


There were some very interesting videos on quantum physics, mechanics and computing, which is a subject that I've always found very interesting. I had no idea that Google and NASA were on a joint mission to build a functional quantum computer. 


This week there were also some life lesson videos on leadership, how to give presentations, and a perspective change. This last one was called the pale blue dot, and showed an image of the “the pale blue dot”, which is earth taken from space, hardly visible. 


This small speck in the universe is the place we live in, with all the other human beings, and it's the only home we have and the only home we'll know, and therefore it is important that we take care of the planet and get along with everyone in it as best we can. 


This takes us to the leadership video. In this video it explains how to deal with people better. Most of the time, people want to always be right, to always have an opinion, and to always give advice. In the video there was an exercise where people would walk up to random strangers and say “I want to get better at X”, and they'd receive advice. The advice had to be written down, and thanked for, without replying anything.  


I think the main message of the whole talk was to be openminded enough to ask for advice, and when that advice is given, to just say thank you and write it down.  Not to reply. Also, I think that one key aspect of leadership in any kind of relationship is to forget the baggage. We can't fix the past, so just forget what's behind and move on. 


Another video was about how to conduct a presentation that is worthwhile for the audience, and how to achieve the goal of a presentation using basic tools, the most important ones being: Make them think, and make them feel.


Audience participation is important because it makes them feel important. A positive feeling is a good thing so they relate the presentation material to good feelings. When the audience participates there should be no wrong answer. Always ask questions that are about opinions. When given opinions never reply with “yes… but”, instead reply with “yes… and”. That way you make sure the participants point of view is of equal value as yours, and there is no interest conflict or competition to be right. 


The best way to be able to evoke emotion into the audience is by living said emotion in front of them. If you want to evoke happiness, be happy while you speak. 


The most important lesson for me this week was that failure is the best way to gain knowledge. I learned a lot about how coding works and IDEs by not being able to write a “hello world” in java. 

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