Betwixt Code and Music

The Iron Yard - Week 3

September 10, 2015

Week 3 and Other Tidbits

In my quest to switch careers, a coding bootcamp seemed like a good fit. Through a mutual friend, I talked to a former student from The Iron Yard that attended the original campus in Greenville, South Carolina. He had gotten a job in development in Dallas at a smaller shop doing some cool work. The job market for coding in Dallas has plenty of open positions. After being a band director for twelve years, I was right at the point of getting ready for a new direction. My aforementioned contact said that the thing he would have done more before bootcamp was studying JavaScript.


Thankfully, I followed his directions. I went through the Codecademy course on HTML/CSS and JavaScript two times each, the second time around carefully hand-writing nearly all of the code. Hey, I learn best by writing, and it keeps me focused, be nice. (You probably do, too. (mentalfloss dot com)). I also got the book Eloquent Javascript by Marijn Haverbeke (eloquentjavascript dot net) and read (and worked) through the first three chapters three times. You might think I am a JavaScript champion now. I would say that I was simply practicing and getting some mental and physical muscle memory built up. I knew that JavaScript has some weird idiosyncrasies that make it identically a mystery and a brilliant tool. My goal is to understand those and make them work in my favor.

A fun example: like most programming languages, JavaScript has certain base “types” where it stores information. This could be a number like 9 or a boolean like true or a string like "The Iron Yard" or an array like [1,2,3] or an object like {a:1, b:2, c:3}. Got it?

No, you don’t.

An array is actually a type of “Object.” Gotcha.

Unless you are working in the browser, then it could be an “array-like object.”


Exactly. That is JavaScript. It is weird and funky and a lot of fun. (Hey, I used Turbo Pascal and C++ in high school… I put in my time with the strict languages!)

This coding bootcamp experience has been daunting and scary at times. Other times I feel like a rock star when the code works and my tests come back with green check marks! YES!! My classmates have been cool to be around. Everyone seems interested in learning their stuff and getting work done. Staff is fantastic. The campus is in Austin…a wonderful place with great food and great people. I miss my family SO MUCH, but it will be worth it when I get a wonderful job back in Dallas with a great team shipping things that make the world a better place.

Something that has surprised me is that I was terrible at my first attempt at coding bootstrap. I haven’t really finished my assignment from a week ago…it looks like I really need to start it completely over and rethink my approach to the grid system of the masses. Not everyone gets ALL of it the first time!

I definitely expected a challenge, and it has been delivered in nearly every assignment. Even when I feel like I have a decent level of skill, I know there is a long road ahead. I am always keeping in mind I am still near the left of the flow chart from the mind of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (pronounced “chick-sent-me-high”). As a musician, I achieved flow by getting my skills and challenges to extremely high levels. I feel like after about 15 years and thousands of hours of drumming that I was pretty accomplished. Hopefully I can get to flow sooner in coding!


To any future students, please hang in there and keep a positive attitude. Ask questions. A lot of them. The days I have been most frustrated were the days that I felt most isolated. Ask your staff, ask some mentors, definitely ask fellow students. No one can do this alone. I highly suggest doing some exercise to keep your body and mind active, as well. Lastly, I am a fan of writing things down (did I mention that?). I filled our moleskine cahier notebook in the first five class days. If it helps you learn, then GO FOR IT!

Michael D. Mathew.

Written by Mike Mathew who lives and works in Dallas building useful things. Sometimes he posts on Mastodon. Mike also wears many hats at Presto Assistant where he is a co-founder, owner, and product engineer.