Week 0: Prework for Galvanize

Two weeks before classes began, an instructor connected with us to distribute a prework assignment on Galvanize's Github account. I was eager to jump in! I wanted to tackle this problem set quickly so I could better prepare and also properly set expectations for the course.

I had used Github before, but my experience was limited. Luckily, Galvnize supplied some logistical information about Github, and how they’d like the documents pushed back. So I logged in, forked the repo, and downloaded to my hard drive. Pretty easy.

First Impressions: 8 Chapters of prework, with a focus on Python, NumPy, Pandas, linear algebra, SQL, probability, statistics, html/css. Problem sets in each. I first began with the setup documentation. Here, I learned the development loop Galvanize abides by, allowing a tight development loop for agile coding. Turns out, I had not used either iTerm 2 or Sublime Text 2 in my prior development work, but they did have some amazing advantages:

  • Iterm 2:
    • Ability to search in the terminal
    • Easy copy / paste features
    • Ability to split windows
  • Sublime Text 2:
    • Multiple Selections
    • Batch Edits

Once setup, I began the Python module. I spent two days to complete the assignment and learned many pythonic methods of programming. It was tough, but eye opening. I now expected that the 12 week course would significantly improve my programming skills. By extrapolating the time it took to complete one module, I needed to increase my pace through the next few before moving to SF.

Numpy and Pandas were new for me. In the past, I had used SAS's JMP program for any sort of exploratory analysis or data rollup, so initially I struggled with the assignments. However, I powered through these module each in a day, and moved on. I was back on pace.

Statistics, Probability, SQL, and linear algebra are strengths. I began doing 2 modules a day as I was already well versed in this material, but I did learn a few new techniques to add to my toolbox. All the while, I was improving my development loop and debugging more efficiently.

After the final modules, I accomplished the prework in 8 days, allowing time to build on some weaknesses before getting heading to SF. Furthermore, I wanted to set up this blog. I figured it would not take more than a couple days to build a site in Wordpress. Long story short, I think Wordpress is quite nice, but I absolutely despised the theme I downloaded: Suarez by CMS Superheroes. It was so buggy and slow that I questioned the authors' ability to write good clean code. I eventually tried some other wordpress themes and they magically worked out of the box. In the end I lost 5 days of effort to build the site.

Overall, the prework was great. Assignments were well documented and Zipfian had code to verify our functions ran as expected. I learned a lot in a short amount of time, and was eager to get to SF, meet my cohort, and start this experience.