Its 2040 and Trump is still president

Trump is still president. He changed the constitution when in power. Jamie Oliver is prime minister in the uk. He and another bunch of celebs won the general election a couple of years ago. Brexit never happened. The government spent billions on it and abandoned it after 10 years of failed negotiations.


I have a fully electric car now. It's good for what it is.  Not much fun to drive, all roads in the uk enforce the speed limit automatically through auto management systems. 60mph is the maximum you can go on a good day. I say on a good day because depending on the weather the limit is reduced.


If it rains it's 40mph.  It doesn't really matter as you don't actually do anything in a car anymore. You tell your personal assistant where you need to be and when you need to get there and they take care of the rest.


When it's time to leave your assistant tells you to get in the car. I don't travel by car much anymore, everyone works at home now. Most former service jobs are taken care of by bots. I'm partly responsible for this being a software engineer. I helped develop the first delivery bot. Amazon pushed the boundary further and got delivery of prime down to 2 hours. All city's have an amazon warehouse.


Food is manufactured on our 3D printer, endorsed by Jamie Oliver. It's a clever device. Tesco spent a lot of money developing it. It's funny not only can't I speed in my car but I'm prevented from getting fat by my Tesco 3d printer. My personal assistant tracks my health and Tesco adjusts the nutritional value of my meals.


Average life expectancy now is 120 years of age. A good diet and an excellent medical service means that we are all living much longer. I am "still working", No one retires anymore. The government scrapped the state pension a few years ago.

The big electric companies no longer exist. They missed a trick when Tesla started producing solar roof tiles. Most uk houses are self sufficient in their power generation. All they need comes from their house roofs. The demand is much lower and houses now run a much safer 5v supply which covers all lights and appliances in the house.


The only exception is car charging points. The supply for this this quite high and dangerous at 1200v dc. Car manufacturers had done quite well getting range to 500 miles and a charge time of 15 minutes, but with the demise of the national grid charge times at home increased to 48 hours. It means most people don't travel far anymore.


With electric cars and hydrogen commercial vehicles big oil didn't run out more than become in less demand. As a result the price went back up for a short period which pushed the last remaining cars off the road and reduced demand for oil even more. 


Commercial flights are the big problem globally. The solution to green air travel has not been found yet  so only short distances can be traveled in the new hydrogen planes. Long haul is a thing of the past. If you want to travel further than former Europe you need to take multiple flights or travel by sea. USA is all but cut off from the rest of the world with planes not capable of traveling across the Atlantic. Volcanoes in Iceland make landing there unsafe for the past decade now.

Travel by sea is the only option. This can now take up to 10 days with the return of sail boats. Not the small wooden ones that were pushed along by wind, rather turbines attached to giant floating platforms. With prevailing wind only in one direction means the turbines face the wind and the maritime electrical generators turn propellers.


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So the Megaden is nearing completion.  Standing on stilts, it's made from mainly reclaimed timber. The doors and windows we picked up from gumtree, the main supports are scaffold boards from a local farmer and the walls finished with pallet wood.


We did have to buy some new parts for it including the roof, insulation, waterproof builders membrane, the electrics and screws and coach bolts, but I think its still mainly eco friendly from reclaimed tree hugger materials.

It is a whopping 3.6 meters by 2.4 meters inside.  Outside has a covered deck which is another 3.6 meters by 1.7 meters.


I have to say I have loved every minute of the build. There is something so satisfying working with wood, and especially nearly free wood at that. Building something is also brilliant and gives a great sense of achievement.


So whats a Megaden?  Its a place the boys and me can hang out, play games and chill.  It is a hideaway at the end of the garden that is removed from the house.


I had many, many designs in my head before I started, I had it sketched out on paper long before I started. How big would it be? What shape would it be? how would the roof pitch, how does everything join together? How would I get electrics to it? How would I make it water tight?


I have been collecting materials for years, squirrelling away timber round the garden. The doors and windows have been lying under tarpaulins for over a year behind the shed. A length of about 30 meters of armoured cable for the electrics has been hanging on my garage wall for about 15 years. It was left over from a job my Dad did many moons ago.

The main structure sits on 100mm by 100mm by 3m long treated fence posts bolted into fence spikes and hammered into the ground.  I used 8 spikes in total, one in each corner and one more each on the two longer outside runs.


With the spike and posts in place the scaffold boards were clamped in place front and back, then drilled and secured with M10 coach bolts.  Ratchet straps were used to pull the posts back into square while the top boards were put into place.


With metal joist hangers I fitted more scaffold boards between the front and back boards to create a floor structure for both the inside and deck area.  These boards are long and heavy and give a sturdy frame really quickly.

I the used reclaimed timber to make the deck from old fence boards made from pressure treated timber. 


For the inside I put down water proof membrane over the joists and laid a layer of 11mm OSB 

The walls were made from CLS timber buttons, that were then clad in more 11mm OSB, with a layer of builders membrane and then an outer layer of more fence boards.  Inside got some foil backed insulation before being framed inside with reclaimed pallet wood.  Pallets are a real pain to dismantle and there are many videos on youTube on how to do it quickly. 


I have never had much success and is a very manual process of splitting the board and hammering out the nails.  I did come up with a simpler way of taking them apart using an old car jack and spinning it up using a impact wrench.  It basically just pushed the pallet boards apart with force rather than hammering.  The boards had the nails removed and then sanded using a belt sander before nailing to the walls.


For the electrics, I ordered a shed/garage consumer unit from eBay. It has 2 RCB circuits on it. One for wall sockets and one for a light circuit. Amazon delivered the cable, sockets (with USB) and lights  (thanks prime). 

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21 of 21 graduates in Tech jobs

So Ive not posted a blog for a couple of weeks. I have been super busy with other projects.  Poor excuse.  Its actually quite hard to keep up a schedule of once a week.

I did my first post back in September last year and was able to keep up a run of 43 consecutive weeks posting each Friday. 


Then I slipped up a couple of weekends ago and I was gutted.  In the end it doesn’t really matter but I am the sort of person when I start something it quickly becomes routine and I have to keep it going or I beat myself up about it


I follow a couple of YouTube vloggers who do daily uploads.  Where do they get the time?  I guess they don’t have full time jobs and kids. YouTube is their job, but still it must be a big pressure to keep it up every day with thousands of followers eagerly awaiting your daily post.


I will keep going with my weekly blog and if I miss a week its no big deal.


Some good news from my CodeClan Cohort 7 this week.  21 out of 21 are now employed in the software development industry. And most in Scotland. The last of us to secure a software developer job was the other week. Woo hoo! Go Us! Unfortunately one was not kept on beyond a 6 month probation. I'm not sure of the details but it's a real shame and I imagine it is more to do with the company than the graduate. Based on the 100% success rate they should get something else soon.


I happened to be in Edinburgh last week and popped in to see how things were in CodeClan. A few cohorts have passed through since I was last there. It was project week for some so it was busy with students working on their projects. It was great to catch-up with the folk and particularly one of my fellow graduates who has gone on to be an instructor there. He never got to leave.

I had been asked previously by CodeClan if they could compile my 16 weeks of blogs while there into a PDF book.


Of course was my response and they had been working on it with my pictures and all. I got a first look and was amazed to find it has over 80 pages. It should be available via the CodeClan website soon. I'm quite excited to see it go live. I have never actually gone back and read through what I produced last year. Hopefully the spelling and bad grammar have been fixed. I will add a link here later.


It must be time for the Oil exhibition as I can see the tents erected round the AECC next to my park and ride in bridge of don on my commute into the city. Will I get a ticket and go? Probably I usually do. But this year it will be the first year I am completely removed from the industry.




I bought an other Arduino

So I need another project like a hole in the head. But when "The Most Complete Arduino Starter Kit" appears on Amazon prime at more than 50% off, Hey it would be rude not too. I looked at all the accessories and found myself clicking the buy with one click button and less than 24 hrs later it arrived.


Tech Christmas Day... The box was full of all sorts of coloured bits.

This is the 3rd Arduino I've bought over a number of years. The first was a simple learn to program an Arduino kit and came with some basic electronic components.


An Arduino is a solid state micro computer with on-board input and output pins exposed. It's basically a circuit board with a controller about the size of a playing card. It's blue, not that it matters. It's like a mini PLC or Programmable Logic Controller. It can sence the outside world with connected sensors and be programmed to do something that can affect that world. So you could connect a light sensor and measure when it gets dark. When it does it can switch on a light. It can be so much cleverer than that though. It can measure how dark it is and can be programmed to adjust how bright the light is.


That was about as far as my projects got with the first one. Although I did make a bubble machine for the boys. It used a servo to dip a bubble eye in a bowl of fairy liquid, raise it up rotate it and a fan would turn on and blow bubbles. It would then lower back into the liquid and repeat. It wrecked the servo eventually as the fairy liquid dripped into its gears of the servo. It was fun when it lasted and the boys enjoyed it.


The second one I bought a few years later was an Arduino Yun (posh model with Wifi) it was bought with a plan to solve my leaving the garage door open problem. I can't see the door from the house so would forget and go to bed and wake in the morning to the realisation that the door had been open all night.

The door is electric so the plan is to add a couple of limit switches and feed them to the Arduino. It would be programmed to tell me past a certain time that the door was still open. It would tell me via wifi and I would be able to press a button and it would close. This project will still happen some day. I've probably had the Yun for 3 years now.


And on to the third arduino. It's an R3. I have no idea what's this means. I guess it's probably revision 3 but I still have to read the manual. Out of the box it looked the same, it plugged into my Mac with a USB cable that provided power and the ability to download programs. I skimmed through the 3 pages of windows installation to get to the Mac installation. Which was 1. download the zip. File 2. extract and run the programming package.

So what came in the box besides the arduino? Lots of things.

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Not another Excel spreadsheet to track bugs? Trello to the rescue!

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I have the makers itch...

So I have an affliction making stuff.  I always have some project or other on the go. I get a whacky desire to make something and mull it over for weeks, months or years before having to start. 


If I don’t start I just keep thinking about it and thinking about it!  I am either planning, making, fixing or repurposing something.  I have many projects on the go at one time.


I have to say I enjoy the whole process. I see something and think I can make one of those. I don't have much of a desire to buy it, but given the chance to build or make it. How can I build that?, and then Im off…


The perfect project is something that takes a long time and has many stages to it. It can evolve and be shaped. I love to spend time subconsciously sketching out in my mind how I can make parts, how I can adapt parts, how I can engineer something. Its those moments when I am waiting or daydreaming I will be engineering something in my head.


Building the boys Jeep was a perfect example of this. It had lots of parts, it required research, it needed different types of skills and I had to adapt and repurposing things.  The front steering mechanism was a problem I spent ages thinking about.  I needed a way of having a 3 axis mount that could swivel in all three directions.  Id sketch out diagrams, play with bits of metal, Lie in bed awake thinking how to solve the problem.  Inspiration and a final solution came while in the local hardware store.  Large eye bolts normally used for gates bolted together in an X-Y-Z orientation were a quick and reasonably cheep and strong solution.  Relief, I can stop thinking about that problem.

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How I became chartered

So a little over 4 years ago I finally got my finger out to apply to be a Chartered Engineer.


Years of procrastination and false starts the application form, the process and the thought of an interview had me stalled. I had the necessary qualification, I had plenty of experience and I was a member of the IET,


I just lacked the personal motivation to get my finger out. I was "comfortable" in my job  I didn't need to be chartered. It would be nice but not a must have.


The biggest blocker was compiling my experience in chronological order on the application form. I had been working for 20 years so remembering and cramming it all into a few pages was daunting.


The shove I needed was when I looked to move up a grade at work. My "boss" blocked me with a job description. Basically a badly written list of must haves to perform the upgrade in position. Lots of airy fairy statements plucked out of thin air that the person must meet to perform the job.  I was doing the job already but had to prove it.


So I set about formulating a case that showed and was backed with evidence of my experience that I could meet the must haves.  I spent a few weeks with a text document open on the side of my desk top, quickly adding experience when I remembered..., reliving my past 20 years.


The document grew and grew and gradually I had recounted all the projects I had worked on. I had ticked off all the job requirements (must haves) and provided real evidence how I met them. 


I polished it a bit adding in real must haves the job holder should have and forwarded it to my "boss" and was moved up a grade. The bonus was I now had a full career review down on paper (or digitally). The dreaded application form for chartered engineer would be easy now.

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Sitting next to the Queen of Tech

So I'd consider myself part of the team now at Aberdeen City Council.  Ive managed to get into the swing of how things work, 


I have lots of new friends and colleagues, and I am really getting into the hot desking.  I get to sit in a different desk each day and get to sit with different people most days.  Although the folk I work with directly in the Team generally sit in the same area. 


I have had a few days working from home and its good.  Probably the easiest login from home I have ever had or used yet.  No hassle, no dongle, no phone app and no code to remember.



Some days I find myself sitting next to the Queen of Tech or princess Leia of ACC leading the rebel army on the war on embracing technology from the dark lords (you will know who you are). I get to hear all the great tech initiatives that are going on in Aberdeen and the City Council.  We met by coincidence just before I started at ACC when she was giving a talk at the Business Gateway Hub in Bridge of Don as part of the Elevator program.


A couple of interesting tech project I heard about this week are Smart Benches and City Lab.

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My 10 favourite things (inanimate objects)

So its been a super busy week and my usual write my blog on the bus time did not pan out.  I keep meeting interesting people.  What I have written this week I did a while a go.  I am a bit of a hoarder and like things with sentimental value.  Anyway here are my 10 favourite things.  Note this does not include friends and family,  I should maybe title it my 10 favourite inanimate objects...

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Gold nanowires

So this week I met someone on the bus.  I have met her before and this time we started chatting. She is a chemistry teacher in a high school.


I liked the idea of learning chemistry when I went to secondary school. It sounded exciting, mixing and burning things.


I was however completely put off by my chemistry teacher. "Dr Pockets", he wore a tweed jacket and the black gown. He wasn't very good but worst of all would come up behind you and poke you in sides with two fingers. I didn't like that or him so I completely switched off from chemistry and dropped it as soon as I could. Perhaps that is why I became an engineer.



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Picking your nose…

So yea, I read this week that picking your nose and eating it is good for you. It boosts your immune system.


I took great pleasure it telling my boys this. Both are bogie munchers and they were delighted with this news.


I had been told for the past 46 years it was bad for you and I have been dutifully passing on this message. I won't take up this habit but the boys will be boys and it will save me from telling them off for it.


It got me thinking what else have we been told when growing up is bad for you but might be good. Living in our nanny state maybe boogies are not alone.

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The 2025 fuel crisis and the end of Big Oil...

So I'm on a train on my way down to Cumbernauld for the weekend. I have Jamie (age9) with me and he is delighted to be on a train.  It's a diesel electric. On boarding I pointed out the massive turbo on the side of the train just below the level of the platform. (I'm an engineer, I notice these things...)


The Diesel engine powers a generator to make electric energy to turn a massive induction motor that makes it move, I tell Jamie.


It's quiet, but you can just hear the engines dull drone as we fly through the countryside. I'm guessing being diesel electric it is more efficient than pure diesel and also cleaner.


I was also on a bus this morning on the way to work. It was one of Aberdeens new hydrogen powered fleet. Diesel busses have been abandoned in favour of turning hydrogen into electricity which again powers a motor to make the bus move. This bus is almost silent apart from some transmission noise on the move. When stopped there is no noise at all. Great for commuters like me tapping on my iPhone writing my blog.


I like both these forms of transport in terms of where we are with the tech. I am however a massive car fan… a petrol head at heart and I feel a sense of gloom coming.


I like my petrol and Diesel engines. I have a few cars. All of them older. A big 4x4 with a Diesel engine in it. I love the torque and the feeling of go anywhere it gives, and its 500 miles or so range. I have a lotus seven kit car with a revey 16v Toyota engine that makes it fly. I also have an Abarth 500 which has a little 1.4 litre turbo charged engine. Its got twin intercoolers and one of my favourite exhaust notes of any car I have owned. 


I have promised the Abarth to Jamie when he is old enough to drive.

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The year I took back control...

Last week CodeClan contacted me and asked if I would write them an article for their website.  Of course I would be delighted to.  Apparently someone had been in touch and was looking to change career, they hated their job and would like to study coding.  However they thought at 46 they were too old.  Well I am 46 (old?) and I did it (I actually started at CodeClan when I was 45, but thats splitting hairs)

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When two Cohorts collide!

So this week I was in training for a couple of days. In the old days this would have been a game of listen and try to stay awake. However after 16 weeks of intensive teaching at CodeClan a couple of days was a breeze.


The training was in the customer experience platform CEP of a product by a company called FirmStep. It goes hand and with their Content Management System CMS. You can think of the CMS as the website and the CEP as the application for forms, process and workflows for customers visiting the website site.


The guy training (Mathew) had traveled up from Edinburgh for the couple of days. The training was very hands on and we were quickly creating process, designing forms, making data and integrations.


Mathew spotted my cohort 7 sticker proudly displayed on my laptop and queried what it was from. It's the class sticker for my cohort when I studied at CodeClan. It turns out that Mathew is also a CodeClan graduate from cohort 3. He graduated in April 2016 and joined FirmStep.

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It's great being hands on again...

So I get to be hands on again.


I spent years in my last job working my way up the ranks from junior software engineer to engineer, senior, lead and then principal. I picked up a growing team peaking at about 10 folk. It became inversely proportional to the amount of hands on meaningful work I actually did. It was more about meetings, plans and justifying what you needed to do.  


I have always thought when a company employs you as an engineer they want you for your brilliant engineering skills, Then you do a good job and they promote you.... you then do less engineering, and they want you to deal with Faff (office politics, brown nosing, failings of others).  Your not trained in Faff and your not good at it but you manage.  So they promote you again and you do even less engineering and have to deal with more Faff (runny noses, time sheets, holiday forms). Before you know it your are promoted again and you find yourself as a engineering manager (a job you are not trained for) and you no longer do any engineering whatsoever.  So you are now doing a job you are not very good at and don't do any work that you are good at...


Now I am at ACC I'm back in the role where I am employed for something I am good at, I have no Faff to deal with, I get to do hands-on, meaningful work and I'm loving it.

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Wake up Aberdeen!

So is Aberdeen missing out on the tech industry boom?

The tech industry in Scotland is reported to be worth £5 Billion! The bulk of this is scooped up by Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow... SkyScanner, FanDuel and FreeAgent plus more in Edinburgh, Thriving Games industry in Dundee, and a new Tech hub in Glasgow.


There is a real buzz right now around tech companies and startups.


Is Aberdeen being left behind and missing out? Aberdeen could do with a boost at this time. In 2016 Scotland employed 84,000 people in tech. And this year there is even more demand. Web and mobile developers are like hot cakes! ( Who me? )


What does Aberdeen need to do to get more of a share? It doesn't need any natural resources (sorry oil!) it doesn't need to be geographically located near anywhere. It doesn't need huge investment, It doesn't even need good weather and sun.


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I am a worker for the Council...

Have been 20 years… (actually only 4 days).

Im gonna buy a dinghy...

Gonna call her dignity...


I started on Tuesday at the Marischal Collage office in the center of Aberdeen. Wow, what a nice place to be. I thought working at the new AIBP office in Dyce would be hard to beat. But I think Marischal collage has it by a nose. Super new, clean, open, wired for tech, great architecture and right in the center of town.


My first day was a quick drive in to the park and ride in Bridge of Don and jump on a bus. I had to laugh as on the bus was a mate from Udny also off to his first morning in his new job. We both had a report time of 9:30, we both had our smart new clothes on, and had our packed lunches and playpiece in our school bags. It was good to pass the time on the first bus ride for a while. 

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Building Robots

So Im starting my new job on Tuesday next week. Im super excited to move into a new career and see what its like to be a full time Web Developer.  I need to figure out how to get to the center of Aberdeen from out in the sticks of Udny Station each day. Its either bus all the way or park and ride part of the way.  I might have to get my old mountain bike running again and take up cycling part of the way too.  Anyway thats next week.


Myself and Jamie have been busy with Udny Designs over the past couple of weeks.  We have been bombing round Aberdeenshire building robots with kids holiday clubs.  We had made simple to construct kits in the shed along with small wooden hammers and put all the parts in little zip lock bags.  We made 50 in total and had a good production line going on in the house.


Tuesday and Wednesday last week we found ourselves in Banff and Peterhead in local schools.  The classes had about 8 to 10 kids, and we would step by step take them through the construction of their individual robots.  Starting with adding the goggly eyes to the head, then with the hammer and lots of noise, banging adding the neck to the head and then to the body.  A pair of legs and feet had them standing up, then shoulders and arms had them waving or impersonating super man.  We had printed off some stickers and each kit included a couple of body, arms and head stickers. was included on the sticker for a little bit of free advertising.

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Memories of working with my Dad

So my Dad had his own business when I was growing up. Tuckwell Cable Vision Enterprises. He worked for the British Telecom and left to start his own business. Inspired by a cable television system he installed in our village he set up on his own to bring TV signal to other villages in the highlands.


This was back in the late 70s and many villages did not receive Television signal. Our village North Kessock was no exception shielded from the local transmitter by the hills behind.


Dad came up with a plan to put an Ariel on the hill with good TV signal and through a distribution network of cables and amplifiers pipe the signal down to all the villagers. A lot of work, cables and amplifiers gave North Kessock 3 channels to watch. My claim to fame is pulling the main feed cable under the newly built A9 dual carriageway. A small child size pipe  carried the Drumsmittal burn under the road. A lot of head scratching on how to get the cable to the other side till I piped up “I’ll crawl through it”. Wet and muddy I appeared from the other side triumphant with cable  in hand.  

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The Tarzan Method

So I have new contract and new job title. For the next 12 to 18 months I'm going to be a Web Developer for Aberdeen City council. Well chuffed. It makes my time at CodeClan a worthwhile leap of faith to change career from oil and gas into something less industry specific.


I had a brilliant interview with some lovely people. A few difficult questions on languages I'm not familiar with, but with my recent learning experience I am happy I will be able to pick up anything new quickly. I mean in the past 6 months I have learnt the bones of Ruby, Java and Javascript, it can only be a hop, skip and a jump to C#.  If I can find time I'll try a few tutorials with Code Academy before I start.


Speaking of a leap of faith. I watched an interesting clip on YouTube this week describing the Tarzan method.  It rang true to me on a number of levels.  It  seems to be what I have been doing over the last few months.

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How much is my App worth?

So I am developing my own software application.  Its a medical app to help people with a certain condition.  Its early days and I think it is possible. 


I cant say exactly what it is but it could be mobile for use during the day, and an online interface for a more detailed view and review later.  It had me thinking about how I would monetise it.


We buy the occasional app from the App Store for my boys, normally I get them to aim for free apps, but every so often there is one they want for 79p or £1 something.  I think the most I have been persuaded to pay was £3.99.

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I really am Freelancing now!

So its been a super busy couple of weeks.  Ive been to Business Gateway a few times, Ive been fielding work requests, and I went for a sort of interview, not for a job but to attend an entrepreneur workshop.


Super interested, it will be 2 days a week for 12 weeks and I will be in Cohort 1 as its the first time its being run (another Cohort?).  I don't want to say too much at this stage as its just in the early stages and I may not get in or it may not get funding (it will be free if it does).  Heres hoping it does as it should be a good experience and from what I have seen of the curriculum it will be great for Udny Solutions.


Speaking of Udny Solutions. In other news and this is a biggie… Udny Solutions received its first job last Friday.  Hurray! we are up and running.  Its not massive but its a start and Im feeling really privileged at the opportunity.

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I built an Electric Car

Im an engineer, and have interests beyond coding and software.  I like to get my hands dirty and build things mechanical too.  So I built an electric car.  Its a few years old now and has to be maintained and repaired occasionally but it gets good mpg and lots of use.  It took quite a few skills to build it, including woodworking, welding, mechanical design and electrical work.


I bought plans for the car as a kit back in 2008 shortly after Jamie was born.  They came with a build manual and large A1 sheets of paper detailing the cutting patterns for the bodywork. 


You have probably guessed by now from the pictures that the electric car is intended for kids.  The plans came from, which makes 1/3 scale replica Landrover and Jeeps.  The plans I bought were for the Geepstar, which is a replica Willies jeep from America.

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The Buzz of Business Gateway

So this week I had a couple of meetings at the Business Gateway Hub in Aberdeen. A cool and trendy place for business startups.  Bright colours, breakout spaces, hot desks, a cafe and a real buzz.  Its a fun place to visit and network with like minded people.


I spent quite a lot of time there last summer before heading off to Edinburgh.  But now Im back and ready to do my own thing I can go back to attending the business startup seminars.  These are great and free to attend in subjects related to setting up and running your own business.


The first one I attended last year was Business Startup Awareness. A very open and informal group of about 15 people being instructed on best practices on how to setup and start their own business.  Lots of practical tips and hints starting from the minute you enter the room.  Kickoff was a quick round the room with each person doing their elevator pitch.  “Hi Im Adrian and Im a software engineer and I am going to change the world”

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Im going to be a CEO

So a job title describes someone’s job or position in a company. 


I have had quite a few over the years.


My earliest job title was when I was 15 as Sales Assistant in Boots the Chemist the Eastgate centre in Inverness (and yes after playing havoc with their computers I went on to work there) I worked on the record and photography counter.  I had a name badge with my position on it. Check me!


Next up I started working with my Dad in his own business (Tuckwell Cable Vision Enterprises) fitting TV and background music systems.  I didn't have an official title but was an Apprentice Engineer.  I learnt a lot about running in cables, using tools and connecting and commissioning systems.  We installed some of the first satellite dishes in the highlands, and at the time they were 1.8m across and came in petals.


I then went to University and became a Student, 2 summers were spent working with my Dad and I continued to be an Apprentice Engineer gaining more hands on skills.


In 3rd summer I was offered a job in the Highland council to be a IT assistant where I was responsible for maintaining network backups and doing print runs working on a shift rotation. I also became an expert in fixing the pole tax collating machine, which took ordered forms folded them and put them in envelopes.  It was temperamental to say the least.

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Have I become an Education Junkie?

So this is it.  No more student, Ive finished and submitted all my CodeClan continuous assessment work for my PDA.  Its just a matter of waiting for my certificate to appear in the post and I’ll have a Professional Development Award in Software Development.


I guess it can go in the drawer with my Being In Electrical and Electronic Engineering, my Diploma in Design and Innovation and my Certificate of User Interface Design and Evaluation.


Have I become an education junkie?  

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I'm Adrian Tuckwell and This is How I Work

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CodeClan - I am a graduate of Scotlands first and only Digital Skills Academy

So Im writing this from home in Aberdeenshire, I have left Edinburgh and my CodeClan learning experience has finished... After 16 weeks of full time study, lectures, homework, projects and no life I have graduated. Go me! I did it and have a certificate to prove it. I am a trained coder...  A certificate from the Scottish Qualifications Authority should also follow shortly.  I am one of a about 100 graduates from Scotlands first and only digital skills academy. How cool is that!


Now I have finished,  the first thing I would say is I miss the routine and the people having spent so many hours over the 16 weeks living and breathing code and hanging out with my cohorts. Looking back and having come from 20 years in an office enviroment it was an odd experience at first but I soon got used to it. 


I imagine its what it is like to work at Google, People huddled round laptops, dress down Friday every day, chill out spaces and table tennis room.  With hindsight we were fully absorbed into a little CodeClan cocoon and the environment was set up with the purpose of learning to code and do it supported by your tutors, support staff and fellow cohorts. It was a brilliant place to study and work.


Before I go into what I have learnt here are key some figures from my time:

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CodeClan week 16 - The Gladiators have been thrown to the pit!

So its the last week and we are now fully trained Coding Gladiators. 


The week has become a bit surreal as everyone is competing against each other for the glory of a new job.  Some are performing coding tests set by prospective employers, some are attending group interviews and some are having cozy chats. 


What was once a close group of 21 friends who worked together and had each others back has changed into Gladiators coding to the death. 


There will be casualties…


This week is final project and the brief is we can do anything we want from what we have learnt over the last 16 weeks. The only caveat is that we need to show evidence of architecture design and planning, and we have to learn something. 



We have 6 days to create something and come back and present on Thursday in class.


I chose to do a Ruby on Rails app and I set myself a project brief:


 “Create a personal portfolio app that I can use to continue to develop my coding skills when I leave CodeClan”


I set my MVP (Minimal Viable Product) to:

  • be a Ruby on Rails project
  • be live on the internet (to date all apps we have developed have only existed on servers on our MacBooks)
  • be a sandbox to add further projects over the next 52 weeks 
  • include a database with data served as API to applications
  • have Javascript with TDD setup

The 52 weeks is the key for me and although I have learnt a huge amount since I started the course it has been a frantic learning process and moving from one language to another and one technique to another with little or no time to practice.  What I need now is practice, and practice on what I have been taught before I forget it all.  Thankfully I have taken a lot of notes and these are backed up by some excellent class notes for all lessons.


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CodeClan week 15 - This baby corners like it's on Rails

So its week 15 and the penultimate week at CodeClan. 


The mood at standup has changed as cohorts are stressing about applying for jobs and the realisation that soon it will be all be over and we will be cast back into the real world outside cozy CodeClan. 


Exciting times ahead but we still have work to do.


This week we are learning about Ruby on Rails, and using it as a back end framework for our web apps to serve up API data. 


Monday 9:00 standup and the talk was about the homework and about how much or little people managed to do over the weekend.  It was hard. The task was to create a guess who game app with Javascript React. 



I completed some of it but did not get a fully working game.  Id like to say the main reason is I ran out of time which is partly true, but I did get stuck with a bug in serving up my API data (Rails where are you?).  Thank goodness for one on one instructor homework reviews!


Lessons start with an introduction to Rails, and in a 2 minute whirlwind of commands we had a fully functioning website, although just flat HTML it was a website.  What was generated in a few commands had previously taken us days to code from scratch.  I can see the power of Rails and instantly like it.  Coding is fun but if something like Rails can do the boring bones for you quickly Im ok with that.

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CodeClan week 14 - Speed Dating with potential Employers

So after a couple of weeks off Im back in Edinburgh CodeClan for week 14.  Much excitement to see my fellow cohorts who have now firmly become good friends. 


It is tinged with a hint of sadness as I know that we have only two weeks left after this one and we will all be off on our ways back out into the real world.


9:00am standup had stories of some that had coded over the Christmas and the New Year and some that had not and feared that they had forgotten everything. I was between the two as I had done some work towards the evidence for my PDA. It need submitted soon.


Monday classes start with an introduction to frameworks.  We will be learning two frameworks over the next couple of weeks.  React for Front-end Javascript and Ruby on Rails for the Back-end. Frameworks are intended to add more structure to the code.  Using React this quickly becomes apparent as code and its component parts start to fall into place and code becomes easier to manage.  Less Like Jekyll and Hyde and no more Spaghetti.


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2017 - Happiness and in my control

So here is the plan… I have just turned 46 and its the start of a new year.


The most common question I have been asked since I was made redundant last year is “What are you going to do?”  


“Im going back to school to learn to be a Software Programmer” has been my response for the last few months and has worked well but the reality is I finish my PDA in Software Development in just 3 weeks time.  That takes up January and the question is back. 


So what next?


Its odd how we define ourselves by what we do for a Job and who we work for.


In reality I would like to say my main Job is being Dad.  It is the thing that I will be spending my most time doing for at least the next 10 years (any beyond).  So Dad is what Im doing next and in the time when the boys are at school I’d like to do many things:


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2016 - A good year with one tiny exception

Elephant in the Room

So to get the exception out of the way first. Redundancy! After a number of odd events I found myself at risk in the 3rd round of redundancies at Aker Solutions Aberdeen. 


Id been there for 23 years and on the most part had a great time.  It was a great company to work for.  However in the year up to redundancy the cracks were showing,  Little in the way of new or interesting work, lack of any real direction in the department I worked for and a total lack of leadership. 


So on the day after I was put at risk, or should I say my ‘position’ was put at risk, I was asked to work overtime, work the weekend and cancel a weeks holiday…


So it was time to take some control back.

I could possibly have put up more of a fight and argued but I was done.  Its a strange feeling having to give up something you had worked for and enjoyed for so long.


The timing couldn't have been better.  It was the start of the school summer holidays and I had as much free time as I wanted to spend with my boys (Jamie 8 and Thomas 5).  We had a brilliant summer riding bikes, playing in the garden, playing lego, going to the park and camping.  I noticed quickly my health was improving, I was sleeping better and generally feeling good…was I ill? 


During the summer I also attended some career events and met with a few people who made some good suggestions as to what to do next.


Become a teacher? Yea that sounds good where do I sign.  I applied and was rejected!  I don't have higher English.  Unfortunately 30 odd years ago when I was planning to become an Engineer I had chose Technical Drawing over Higher English. The rejection letter was interesting in that it had quite a few grammar errors in it which made me laugh, My english isn't the best but hey I was going to be teaching computer programming.


Work for myself?  I attended a number of brilliant training courses run by the Business Gateway in Aberdeen.  With the theme of Digital Boost they provide free courses that help with setting up your own business.  They also provide a coach to help you through the process.  I have one waiting in the sidelines till Im ready.


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CodeClan week 13 - Group Project Week

So this is group project week.  Just over 10 weeks ago we sat in on Cohort 6 making their presentations for their group projects.  At that time we were 3 weeks in and the thought was how on earth will we be ready to create projects like that. All were brilliant and well executed.


Now Its our turn…


Last Wednesday we were split into out teams using the CodeClan randomiser.  I was first team member up and was then quickly joined by another 3 team mates.  In all there are 6 teams of 3’s and 4’s.  Keeping in mind what we had learnt and sticking to Cohort 7 rules (<-see right) we had a week to ourselves to execute our project.


We were set a number of project challenges that we could pick from, all with an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) that we must meet, and given free reign to add as many extras as we wanted.


We formed a huddle in the canteen area and went through each project.  We quickly discounted a couple and homed in on 3 projects that we would then discuss in detail.


First up we discussed ‘Astronaut Dashboard’.  We sketched out on a A3 what we could make with this and searched for API’s that we could pull data from.


Second was an Educational App where we could produce a website app with a theme that again could pull from API’s and present the data in a teaching way.


The third and the one that enthused the team the most was a ‘Trip Planner’ app, where a user could plan a trip using visuals from Google Maps API. I had attended a presentation with VisTech in the Code Base building (next to CodeClan) a few weeks ago there was a project discussed was to develop an app that would help improve tourism along the A9 after the route from Perth to Inverness becomes a dual carriageway.  The Trip Planner seemed similar and has a real world need for it.

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CodeClan week 12 - Worshiping at the Cathedral of code

So we have been working toward a full stack JavaScript web application for a couple of weeks now and as one cohort suggested we have been drip fed all the parts to build a cathedral but we are not yet able to see the cathedral.  This week we have been given the last few parts. We now have the full box of lego bits.  Some are unusual and comprise of odd shapes and sizes but we have them all.  Have we built a cathedral? not quite.  We built a bank app that could persist data. it needed 4 terminal windows all running various processes and had no CSS but it was good to see and understand all the parts and what they did.  It was more of a shed application than a cathedral, but hey I like sheds.  The Cathedral will come next week. 


Monday was a standup as usual at 9:00 followed by an individual instructor review of the weekends homework.  Again I did the bulk of it on the train on the way home on the previous Friday.  This time it was to pull movie data from an API and display it in a browser and add some CSS to make it look good.

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Code Clan Week 11 - Meeting the DOM...

So the wheels almost came off JavaScript bus this week.  It started harmlessly enough with Monday morning standup with cohort stories of the weekend and how they got on with the weekend homework. 


I had done the bulk of mine over the weekend and then finished it off on the train to to Edinburgh.  The task was to recreate Rocking Ricks Record Store in Java Script, and make record objects and stock Ricks store. He was able to buy and sell records with the he cash in the store going up and down depending on sales and stocking. Rick could also do stock checks to get a total value for his store and cash.


The lessons started us off into the world of JavaScript in the browser.  Developed specifically to improve the end user web experience javascript is now very powerful and is used to create lots of functionality in the web front end. Spotify and AirBnB are examples of websites that are now more like apps than websites because of Javascript.

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Code Clan Week 10 - JavaScript... use a semicolon if you want!

So I'm now in double figures of being a full time coder.  We have done Ruby, done Java and now we are being thrown into the deepend with JavaScript.


Its actually not that bad, lots of the concepts we have learnt to date apply to JavaScript and getting up and running making programs is quite quick.  And yes as I have mentioned before Java and JavaScript are not the same language.  Java is a compiled language, JavaScript is not.


Monday morning standup had us discussing the previous week and a like for the computer science  teaching, but not so much of a like for the CV and cover letter teaching.  I think the latter adds some reality that we will need to get a job at the end of the course and will be competing against each other for vacancies…


Anyway Monday starts with JavaScript and we are quickly learning the basics of Operators, Loops, Arrays and Functions.  All very familiar and its amazing how quick it is to get basic programs running compared to day one Ruby.


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CodeClan Week 9 - Happy 1st Birthday CodeClan!

So Im past half way of the Code Clan software development course (already!) and into week 9. The Weeks are flying by. 


Monday 9.00am  Standup saw my fellow cohorts and I looking fully recovered from the previous weeks project.  A new Cohort (Cohort 9) started this morning so we now have 3 cohorts (7, 8 and 9) all doing standup in parallel.  This is making the office really busy but giving it a new buzz. Lots of new faces and personalities round the building.


This week is Computer Science theory week (zzzz) and also preparing for job applications week (double zzzz).


Coding where have you gone we miss you?.  Its not so bad as in preparation for the job application process we have been given a typical coding test that you may be asked to do prior to an interview.  We have the week to implement during spare time.  I really enjoyed this task and it showed that what Im learning and Java is starting to take hold. It was just a simple shopping basket where you had to add items, update the total for BOGOF items, apply discounts. I was able to perform the task with minimal fuss and minimal googling and managed to get the methods and tests passing relatively quickly. 


A Computer Science degree is a 4 year full time course so to cover it all in a week is a big ask and the course doesn't try to replicate that, however it does give you some basics of the concepts. 


During the mornings this week,  computer science theory covered topics of Algorithms and introduced to Big O notation and how to win quickly at the kids Guess Who Game.  We were introduced to parallel programming which was brilliant to see the performance improvements that could be made in a resource expensive process by adding parallel threads. We were shown a really good video from  Mythbusters that shows the concept applied to a Graphical Processing Unit. (Link Here).  There was a morning of going through various terms applied to OOP including the 4 pillars again.  Much needed refresher and the terms are starting to take hold, I can talk the talk.


A representative from a company called 13 coders came in on the Monday afternoon and went through a workshop on their current recruitment process and what we might encounter when applying for vacancies.  This was an excellent afternoon of practical hands on exercises:  


We split into small teams and did a whiteboard exercise on how we would break down a Monopoly Game into a software program. Trying to do this in the allotted 25 minutes is impossible but shows how you interact with others and make a start on a complex task. Failure was always going to be the result and it was interesting to see how far you could get, and how people would become disappointed that they did not complete the full Monopoly program


We were split into twos and given a real world ‘pair programming’ task of creating a Linked List with tests in Java, with only 25 minutes to do so. Having not covered Link Lists in Java as yet it was a panic google to find out what they are and frantically recreating the concept using Array Lists.  With two of you working on the task it is amazing how fast you can come up with a solution.  In the enemy fellow cohort and I managed to get about 80% complete and had the code uploaded to Git Hub with all associated tests passing.  Again to complete the test in the 25minutes would be difficult at the best of times but in an interview environment who knows what it will be like.


We were split into groups and provided question cards and had to ask each other mock code related interview questions. Please explain what Encapsulation is?  Whats the difference between Overriding and Overloading? What is Abstraction?

The whole exercise was both off-putting and good fun at the same time.

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Code Clan Week 8 - Android - Like putting your pants on two legs at a time!

So Im at the halfway mark (Trumpets and fireworks) 8 weeks down and 8 weeks to go.

This week was the second full project week and the task was to to create an Android App on Android Studio and Java.


The task I picked was to create a basic ToDo list.  Simple in principal when you have pen and paper, but gets hard when you want to program it in Java, and even harder when you add in Google Android operating system.


No matter I set about the task on the previous Friday and planned out a basic application in a used case diagram and imagined what classes I would need to create.  I had been given some notes on how to use list views so put them into practice making a very basic application.

I wanted to add more functionality and have the ability to save any tasks created into the app.  I had been recommended a book called Android the Big Nerd Ranch, so after a quick look on line it found its way into my Kindle.


Monday I spent my time adding Java functionality and getting to grips with fragments and adding to a basic app.

Tuesday I added SQL lite and made my data persistent and saved it to memory.


Wednesday I spent the day playing with Androids equivalent of CSS and messed about with how the App would look, changing colours, fonts and adding a splash screen.  


Thursday was big presentation day where each Cohort had 15 minutes to demonstrate their project and explain how they had coded it and discuss how they got on. 

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Code Clan Week 7 - Java + Android = Cool Apps

So week seven and we are being introduced to the world of Android... What?  Being fully entangled into the apple ecosystem with iPhone, iPad, iMac and macbook this was a bit of a shocker but needs must. Combining java and Android studio lets us write our own apps and have them installed and running on (our) Android mobile devices.  A quick pitstop to Amazon has a cheap 7" (£34) Android tablet is in the post. Thanks NUS student card and Amazon Prime.


The week starts on the Monday with a standup and a review of the weekend homework .The exercise to create a card game in Java left a few broken people.  This was a tuff assignment and took a bunch of time at the weekend but I managed the majority of it and managed to get to the stage where I was able to simulate (with tests) the basic Pontoon functionality and compare two hands for highest value.


The days lesson moves us into Android studio and into an an Integrated Development Environment (IDE). To start off and keep things simple the IDE is used to just for coding Java.  Initially its quite a change, but quickly the benefits become apparent:  The IDE checks the code on the fly as you are typing and will underline anything formatted incorrectly with red and underline.  It also, with the use of TAB key suggests and auto completes input text, which speeds up the typing.  


Tuesday - had us building our first App as part of a Code along.  A simple magic 8 Ball app where you could ask a question and it would give you a random answer. The Java code used android libraries and we had it running on an Android phone emulator on our desktops.  Brilliant to see the process of making a couple of simple screens and have Java code control them on a phone.


Wednesday - and we were given a group lab where we were split into teams of 3 and tasked with making a Rock/Paper/Scissors app. The timescale was about 4 hours and as a team we had to do the Java code and the Android front end have a working app by the end of it.  This was a real high and the 4 hours zipped past before we were ready to present to the class.  Some premature high fives in the team had the first play show a draw, second play another draw and the third play also a draw... Some minor tweaking and debugging code we had it working in time for presentation.


Thursday - gave us some more tools in the form of Menu's and toasts (popups) that could be used in our apps and then some instruction on how the apps could be downloaded to real Android phones and Tablets.


In the afternoon we were set our project task for the coming week.  There was a choice of 6 briefs that we could choose from.  These were a range of Java and Android app suggestions that we would need to plan, version control code test and present on the following Thursday.

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Code Clan Week 6 - They put Java in my Ferrari!

So Im back in Edinburgh for week 6. There was no homework at the weekend so it was a good opportunity to recover from last weeks project by not writing any code.  This week we are moving away from Ruby and off into the world of Java programming and into a Compiled language. 


Monday starts with standup at 9:00 with 21 relaxed cohorts ready to be thrown into the deep end of a new language.  Lots more learning and at an even more rapid pace than before.


Java was intended to let developers "write once, run anywhere" (WORA) meaning that compiled Java code can run on all sorts of platforms that support Java without the need for recompilation.  So it is possible to run it on the operating system on your PC, your Mac,  your toaster or even your Ferrari.


Although Ive said 'rapid learning' above Java did not seem as painful as Ruby day one.  The Java code did look familiar, with variables and methods similar but in camelCase and lots of semicolons. The days lessons were on Classes and Multiple classes and had us building dogs, cats and bear coding examples. Oh and remembering to compile the code... Ruby is an interpreted language and does not need compiled. Java does.


Tuesday and after standup we had probably the hardest day yet. Long and so much to take in.  A Bear example saw us learning about Array lists Casting and Polymorphism.  Arrays in Ruby you can shovel any old thing into them.  Java you cant and you have to define their size before you start.  Array lists help us get round this.


Polymorphism!  Joy!  ..this is the ability for something to take on many forms.  So if you have a Car Class and a Ferrari Class, the Ferrari can go into Car Shaped memory and also go into a Ferrari shaped memory.  The Afternoon was a lab expanding what our bear from Monday could do and giving him ability to eat Salmon and Humans, and dance salsa.


Wednesday.. hmmm it was harder than Tuesday! We learned about Abstract Classes and Template patterns and an  announcement that we would be making a card game for our weekend homework.  So the  afternoon lab task was to split into pairs to discuss and plan how you would build a card game in Java.  What classes you would need and how they would interact.  Sounds easy but is quite complicated to break it down into its component parts.

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Code Clan Week 5 - Training the Dragons

So Ive made it to week 5!  Its an early start on Monday morning as Im staying and commuting from Stirling this week. After a 4:00am drive to Stirling and catching the 7:17am train to Edinburgh Haymarket I was back in the Code Clan office ready for another week.


This is individual project week and we were set 5 different briefs last Thursday and we had to choose one for a project. The idea is to cement the past 4 weeks tuition with a full stack application made from scratch. We were encouraged to pick a project that you could have some fun with and challenge yourself.  Each project brief had an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) of functions that it should do.  I wanted a project which I could make visual and have a clean neat front end. The choices were:

  • Best Pub application - a week thinking of beer but not getting any… next?
  • Olympic medal application - Im not vey sporty… next?
  • Record shop application -  Im not very musical... next?
  • Expense tracking application - possibly but it can be done in excel… next?
  • Animal shelter application - you get to train animals… cool!

So I decided on the Animal Shelter but with a twist.  My boys and myself enjoy the ‘How to Train your Dragon’ movies so how about a dragon shelter where homeless dragons could be adopted by vikings?


The Friday was an all day planning day, and we were encouraged not to code till at least Saturday.  I started with some blank A3 sheets and sketched out some ideas, then planned my database and tables and did some use case diagrams. I setup a new Trello board to capture my requirements and divided them into Must, Should, Would, Could, (MoSCoW).

I actually didn't get a chance to do any work on it over the weekend so at standup on the Monday morning  it was a bit unsettling to hear some people had met their MVP already.  Anyway I had 3 days to take my planning and build my application.


Monday was spent in Ruby and SQL, creating my database and adding my dragon table, my owners table and my adoption join table.  Each had their own object data created in a Ruby seed script.  Lots of Git Adds and Git Commits were the flavour to keep my project code safe.  This continued regularly through the week.


Tuesday I carried on and made my controllers and models and worked on the code to simulate the relationships.  I achieved my MVP at the end of the day and updated the traffic lights on my Trello board.


Wednesday was a brilliant day where I could add my CSS and  HTML along with some graphics to improve the look of my front end.  I downloaded lots of pictures of dragons and vikings from various how to train your dragon websites and finished up late afternoon with an application I was pleased with.


Thursday is presentation day and following standup I had the pleasure of going first!  My name begins with A and we were going alphabetically through the cohorts. Lucky me!


Macbook in hand I plugged in the HDMI cable and began my presentation.  Thankfully I could hear oohs and aaahs and my application was well received and had quite a few questions.  I gave a demo of my application, showed how I had setup my Trello board, showed pictures of my planning diagrams and did a brief code walk through.  Applause and that was me done and on to the next cohort.


Each cohort took it in turn to do a standup and present their application.  Everyone had developed their own unique application and wow, most of these people had no coding experience 5 weeks ago and now were presenting fully working application that could have real world uses!


Week 5 has been one of the best weeks, and it was brilliant to be able to code and focus on a full project for an entire week.  There were difficulties but the instructors and other cohorts were on hand to assist when I became stuck.


So a massive thanks to Code Clan and instructors.  And to my cohorts I am chuffed to bits to be part of such a brilliant group of people.


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Code Clan Week 4 - Frank Sinatra


So towards the end of last week things ramped up with complexity of the sql queries:  


"SELECT t.* FROM trainers t INNER Join ownedpokemons o ON o.trainer_id = WHERE o.Pokemon_id = #{id};"


The weekend homework was of a similar theme so good practice.  This time we had to create a Cinema database, and pass customers, films and tickets to and from Ruby methods.  I had the car with me last week so unfortunatly the drive home was dead time time.  Listening to a Ruby Coding podcast made up for this.


I managed the bulk of the homework on Saturday.  The Monday morning 05:43 train to Edinburgh gave me an opportunity to review and add to my homework and move on to practicing Ruby in Code wars


Monday - starts with the Scrum at 9:00 followed by a one to one review of the homework with an instructor.  Its good to get some feedback on the weekends work and some pointers on how I could have improved.


Classes begin with an overview of the internet and what is really going on when you make a request of a web page.  All good stuff and I now understand what a HTTP: 404 error is.  We were then introduced to Sinatra (Frank Sinatra) which is an open source front end framework for Ruby.  A few examples later and the lab was to create a Ruby calculator with a browser front end.


Tuesday - and everything is coming full circle and the Pizza app goes online with a code along class.  Building on the Sinatra from yesterday we combined the previous weeks SQL and made a full stack web application.  Pizzas could be ordered via a front end and stored to a database and then retrieved. This was hungry work so it was off to Pizza Express for lunch with fellow Cohorts.  The afternoon was a group lab where we were tasked with creating another full stack application for a shoe shop.


Wednesday - and we are introduced to 'Restful Routing' and applied it to our Pizza shop application. This completed the different actions that could be applied to the Pizza shop, by providing Edit, and Delete (DESTROY) facilities.  An afternoon paired programming lab let us develop our own record shop application using what we had learnt in the morning.


Thursday - and following the 9:00 standup we are off into the world of libraries developing an application with many-to-many SQL queries that manage books, members and how books can be issued.  For this the number of balls being juggled has risen considerably. Having to develop ruby code embedded into HTML and have it managed by Sinatra and having to think about joined inner tables is getting tricky.  The Afternoon class is an introduction into Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) with instruction on how to improve the style and formatting of our HTML front end.


In the afternoon we get issued our first week long project task. There is a choice of 5 projects that you can choose from and we have till Friday standup to choose.


Friday - 10:00 standup and Im going with an Animal Shelter (...with a twist) application.  We are encouraged to Plan Plan and Plan on Friday and not do any coding till at least Saturday morning. We will see!


So at the end of Week 4 and Im still really pleased with the course so far. It did ramp up again in difficulty this week, but I seem to be getting used to in now and my brain is taking the strain.


Code Clan week 3 - Program like Efen Reys

So I have made it to week3... Go me!  last week ramped up a bit towards the end with blocks and enumerators.  The weekend homework task was to create a Karaoke bar which was apt as I was lucky to be staying at the Crieff Hydro for the weekend. Sitting on my Mac in the bar with a beer coding had just the right inspiration and atmosphere. 3 objects were created, Room, Guest and Song.  All had to interact with each other and it was fun to playing with the objects.


Monday standup was interesting to hear how my cohorts also enjoyed the homework. The Monday lesson began with a bit of thought for the day and a pep talk for the cohorts to make sure we are having fun and enjoying coding. We should program like Efren Reyes who is a famous pool player. When he makes mistakes he takes them on the chin and laughs them off rather than getting all stressed.  So when our code is not working don't stress it, just laugh and work through it. A good mental attitude will help us code better.


This week is SQL week, so in the class room, lessons introduced us to databases.  Lots of CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete).  This class was made easier through creating a Star Wars example database.  Luckily for me Jamie (myson age 8) and myself watched the Force Awakens in the hotel cinema the night before so I was up on my Jedi.


Tuesday, and the 'SQL' homework was summed up during the 9am scrum by a fellow cohort as 'SQ-Hell'.  

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Code Clan week 2 - and we are putting the band back together

So week 2 starts with a scrum and then a review of the previous weeks homework.  I was lucky to have 3 hours of quiet time on the train back to Aberdeen on the Friday where I managed to get the bulk of the homework done. It did make me laugh that Jamie my son (age 8) and I were both finishing our homework in the kitchen on the Saturday evening. Jamie had grammar and reading and I was making a fantasy model pet shop using Test Driven Development (TDD).


Monday saw us learning about cats, wizards and wands to model classes and multiple classes... No wait, thats the other way round. The homework was to continue with classes and model a speedy car (with turbo) and a slow car (non turbo, Normally Aspirated). The type of engine would affect the cars performance and fuel economy which would be passed into the car object.


Tuesday was a brilliant day of coding along with an instructor to form a "simple" snakes and ladders game.  21 cohorts clattering away at the keyboard churning out ruby code. The game of snakes and ladders turns out to be quite complicated if you break it down into a program.  Thankfully Object Oriented Programming (OOP) simplified it into objects, board, players, dice etc.


Wednesday, following the scrum was a whole day exercise where we were split into pairs and tasked with making our own objects and having them interact with each other.  The world was our oyster, so as a team we decided to put the band back together and form band related objects including, songs, venues and gigs.  It can get very complicated very quickly but we met the brief of having objects interact with each other. 


Thursday introduced us to the 3 pillars of Object Oriented Programming (OOP) -> Inheritance. Abstraction and Encapsulation.  This covered a superclass bird object and its sparrow, duck, robin and penguin sub class objects.  All had methods quack, chirp and fly. (except penguin who couldn't fly).  Blocks were the final lesson for the day with a small lab.  Thankfully this was Thursday "social" evening so no homework and a chance to go for a beer with the rest of my cohorts.  Blocks were hard, so much chat in the pub was discussing coding


beer_array ={ |beer| beer.type}.count


Friday is revision and a chance to go over anything we need a refresher on from the week. Oh and we get issued the weekend homework challenge.


So week 2 in review.  Another big thumbs up to Code Clan, my instructors and my cohorts.  I can't believe how much I have learnt in the two weeks.  I feel part of something special and really BIG...


Code Clan week 1

So, I'm in week 1 of a software development course,  Myself and 20 others are here in Edinburgh at a facility called Code Clan.  We are here on a software development boot camp, where in a fairly short space of time (16 weeks) we will (hopefully) gain a Professional Development Award (PDA) in software Development.  


So far a big thumbs up, great facility, enthusiastic instructors and 20 other friendly cohorts (my class mates). I am in Cohort7, which is the seventh time this course has run.  Sounds a bit like a space mission.  "Welcome aboard Cohort 7, your journey to the future"


Day 1 - was mainly an induction with a meet and greet in the morning along with lots of info and a few ice breakers. The afternoon saw us dive into Unix command line, Git and Git hub version control system.  Ive used Unix before briefly and have experience of a version control system.  Getting instruction refreshed my memory and taught me the basics of Git.


Day 2 - starts with an Agile Scrum (standup), we all meet at 9 and discuss what we did the day before and go through any problems we have and then its off into the class room.  The classes took us into the world of Ruby, with functions, methods, and conditional statements; a software engineers buzzword bing0 dream.  This lead us on to start writing some small programs and later in a Lab exercise start to use Test Driven Development (TDD) methods.


Day 3 - We started again with an Agile Scrum at 9 and went through the previous days work.  Then back into the classroom for more Ruby (Arrays and Hashes) and some exercises which included the hulks super powers.  Apparently he has a smash power of 100.  


Day 4 - Im getting into the agile scrum thing now.  Its a great way to start the day.  Morning is spent in class exploring better use of text editors and also applying debug methods to making your code work.  Afternoon is spent in labs going through examples and putting into practice what we have learnt.  we were split into pairs which helped with speed and lets you bat ideas between you.  This is a Thursday which means social evening and Cohort 6 have laid on a pub quiz night.


Day 5 - Friday, I've made it to the end of the week... Go me! So Friday there is no lessons and an opportunity to go through anything you have not quite understood from the week before. and... you get your weekend homework.


So top marks for Code Clan, the teaching methods, the instructors and fellow students!!! 

Roll on the next 15 weeks....