The Firehose Project - Week 13

Now that week 13 is a wrap it means that my time at the Firehose Project is pretty much over, well in the sense of actual accountability and progression through the course. Last week wasn’t packed with as much code as I would’ve like it to have been but I was also on a micro vacation which I really needed. With the Firehose Project coming near an end the scope of my tasks have become less broad and more focused with the primary emphasis on the Chess application, that being said some really great things have happened this last week that got me excited and it was all because of suggestions from my mentors and the founders that I had the opportunity to experience them.

Like I said my time at the Firehose Project coming to a close very soon because I did my best to tackle as much as possible I actually ran out of specific Firehose Coding Challenges to attack and so in an attempt to keep thinking like a developer and honing my Ruby skills I sought out more coding challenges. This seeking for more challenges and puzzles lead me to Project Euler, a series of math problems from mildly simple to high levels of complexity. I want to be able to stay on my toes when it comes to coding challenges and I don’t want to just have easy ones over and over again and that’s really where Project Euler comes in handy because they are complicated and there are no hints. My favorite Firehose Coding Challenges where the math problems like Fibonacci sequence, Collatz challenge, and the Luhn Algorithm, I’ve always had a love hate relationship with complex mathematics so Project Euler is perfect for me. I’ve gone through 3 of the problems so far and they weren’t too painful but that’s because Firehose and my mentor basically prepped me and had already challenged me in similar ways to solve these problems. Project Euler has been a great assurance that I will continue to have complex coding challenges after the Firehose Project.

300+ miles of travel and a blind sprint to catch the train right before it left the station and I was on my way back to Chicago to attend another Chicago Ruby meetup at 1871 (an awesome meetup if you live in the Chicago area you should attend). This time though I wasn’t just there for the meetup, this time I got to have a special treat and meet one of our fellow Firehosers and one of my Chess application partners, Akiko. Like usual the meetup was great and well worth the time in and of itself but what I truly enjoyed and took great pleasure in was getting to know Akiko and talking with her, sharing our stories and experiences. We were there for over an hour after the meetup was over and then another 15-20 minutes on the train talking and it was a blast! Through the program you spend a lot of time online with people and there is a certain level of disassociation between you and your fellow Firehosers but when you get the opportunity to meet them in person that disassociation breaks down and it becomes a truly amazing experience. If any of you have a chance to meet a fellow Firehoser in person, jump at it, even if you have to travel a little bit or if it’s just for a cup of coffee on your way through town, jump at the opportunity! As for anyone else who is in the Chicago area if you ever want to go to a meetup together or if I’m down there and you want to grab a cup of coffee, let me know, I would love to meet you all! It’s still a bit of a travel for me to get there but hopefully that won’t be the case for much longer.

If going to meetups didn’t have obvious benefits another reason why it pays off is the connections that you make. The meetups are awesome to learn some new things but what you are really going to meetups for is the connections. Through the time and effort I have put forth to going to the Chicago Ruby meetups I’ve made some good connections. With those connections I have been introduced recently to a possible future partnership/employer and that’s all because I made the effort to get to that meetup, I also put forth the effort to talk to as many people as possible and I made an extra effort to get to know the organizers of the meetup (the gatekeepers to a big world). It’s huge to make it to meetups and if it weren’t for the Firehose founders and my mentor stressing that, I don’t think I ever would’ve taken the initiative to travel 300+ miles to get to the Chicago Ruby meetup.

This week also continued our progression on the Chess application and as luck would have it, I got the difficult stuff. I’m always happy to receive a challenge but because of my micro vacation I didn’t have the time commitment to complete the task but making it a good chunk of the way through gave me a great head start to wrap it up in the next couple of days before I have to start on some more complex logic. If I hadn’t gotten my money’s worth up until this point (which I have ten fold) then these last couple weeks with the Chess application is really making it worth it. I basically had to figure out if a piece moves and places itself into a check position that it will not complete the move successfully but move back to its original position. Now it’s not necessarily that complex of an idea to rationalize but at this point of the Chess application there are a lot of moving parts which makes the logic quite daunting because it doesn’t take much at this point to break something. Like I said though, I love a challenge and this is a great one. I’ve learned a ton from this Chess application already and it gets me excited for working on a team in the real world on some other similarly complex problems.

The Firehose Project is almost over and that’s a bit of a bummer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ve enjoyed this so damn much that I don’t want it to end. In a way it feels a lot like the first time I moved away from my friends and family to Chicago, it’s sad knowing that you’re not going to have as much of an opportunity to see and interact with the people you’ve become close to over your time but it’s also exciting to move onto another chapter in your life. There is a nervous excitement and bittersweet sadness that comes with wrapping up your time at the Firehose Project and I really think that is indicative of just how special the program is and how amazing of a community that Ken, Marco, and the Firehosers have built in the time they have been doing the Firehose Project. It’s pretty much done but it has been one of the greatest experiences I have had in my life and that’s saying a lot!

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