End of Summer Wrap-Up

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve had the chance to write a post, as things have been a little crazy around the Crooked Code household…

Football season started for my two boys, they started school this week and my wife went back to work this week!! Hopefully, now things will start to settle down a bit.

Anyway, enough about that, let’s talk about what we’ve accomplished this summer and what we want to accomplish this fall….

What I’ve done this summer…

As I mentioned in a previous post,  I finished the front end certificate at Free Code Camp in July!!

I decided to work on the Back End Program at FCC, then jump back and complete Data Visualization.  Thus far, the back end has been difficult, but enjoyable.

It’s been difficult in that I’ve really had to change gears in my head. Node.js and working on the server side have been completely different than any other coding I’ve done in the past (granted, it’s a fairly limited past as far as coding is concerned).

Diving In…

I started the back end program by working through the Cloud9 modules for Git, Node.js, Express.js and MongoDB.

If I’m being honest, I found these modules to be pretty useless…  I didn’t learn much from them, and half the time I wasn’t even sure what they were asking me to do.

As a beginner, I think it would have been more useful to have a better intro to the languages and better explanations as to what I was trying to do with them.

Instead, I felt like I was trying to satisfy the requirements of some very random modules so I could move on (and getting nothing out of it in return)…

I realize, that’s just my personal opinion and that different people learn by different methods…

Intro to the very helpful Ninja!

Speaking of actually learning, I found a very helpful tutorial series on YouTube called Node JS Tuturial for Beginners by the Net Ninja.  I may have mentioned this guy before and I highly recommend these videos if your starting out learning the back end.

There are quite a few videos in the series, but each one is short and to the point and very easy to understand.  I watched each of the videos and worked along side them in building a ‘To Do’ app in the last 7 or 8 videos.

In addition to a great intro into Node.js, one of the cool tangential things I learned from this series was working with Atom.

The ‘Ninja’ takes you through the steps of setting up Atom, installing Node, npm, etc.  I’ve been working in Atom ever since and find it a much better environment to develop the back end projects than working on Cloud9.

Initial Thoughts on Server Side

At the risk of sounding a little naive and corny, learning how servers work has opened my eyes to the potential you have as a full stack developer.

Let me try to explain what I mean…

I feel like I learned a ton in the Front End program but I always had a nagging in the back of my head like, ‘yeah, these new skills are great, but how do I actually use this to build something bigger than a one page app??’.

Working with Node and Mongo and everything else involved in the back end program (yes, even Git) has calmed that nagging a bit and given me a sense of the bigger picture.

Granted, I’m less than a month into this and have a lot of work ahead of me, but it’s very motivating to start tying things together like this…

Progress Thus Far..

At this point, in addition to the Cloud9 ‘learning’ modules, I’ve completed 3 of the 5 API projects.  Feel free to check out my Timestamp MicroserviceRequest Header Parser Microservice and URL Shortener Microservice.

You can find the code for all these apps on my GitHub page. Please feel free to comment below with any suggestions or questions about my code.

Where we’re heading this fall…

First and foremost, I’ll be working towards completion of the Back End Certificate.  I plan on finishing up the last two API projects then moving right on to the full stack ‘Dynamic Web Application Projects’.

Additional Resources

In addition to the Free Code Camp projects, I’ve continued listening to tech related podcasts.  I mentioned most of the ones I’m listening to in a previous post, but have picked up a few new ones as well.

Two of my favorite new ones are FiveThirtyEight Elections Podcast and IoT Podcast.

The Elections Podcast is by the awesome people at FiveThirtyEight.com where they talk about how they are applying their models in an attempt to predict the outcome of this year’s US presidential elections.  It’s very relevant and very cool…

Internet of things

As I’ve been working through the back end program at FCC, I’ve been trying to think of ways to start applying what I’m learning in the real world.

One idea that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately is the internet of things (hence the IoT Podcast).

The internet of things, if you don’t already know, is a broad term that describes all the real word items (refrigerators, cars, wearables, thermostats, etc, etc, etc) that are hooked up to the internet and can be sensed and/or controlled remotely, the so called ‘smart’ items.

Just yesterday I ordered a beginners kit that includes a board and a bunch of sensors and motors so I can start playing around with this stuff.  I’m really excited about it and one of my sons wants to get involved too, which makes it even better!


Considering the FCC program is full stack JavaScript, I’m planning on using the JavaScript framework called Johnny-Five which enables you to run full stack JavaScript, including Node, to control the robotics.  I’ll be sure to include my experiences here at Crooked Code.

A friend of mine, Serg Chernata, just started a blog called ‘Bits & Pieces‘, where he’s going to discuss a bunch of tech related topics, including his experiences with IoT.  In fact, his first post was about setting up a Raspberry Pi as a home server to host his blog.

I’ve included a link to his blog on the sidebar of this site under ‘Recommended Blogs’.  I’ll keep adding to this list as I come across sites that I find interesting and useful.

Once again I’ve written a much longer post than originally planned, which is not easy for someone who says so little in the real world!  Hopefully, if you’re still reading, you got something out of this.

Until next time…




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