Getting MEAN: Building My First Web App for Realsies (and also fries are the worst food gift)

You heard me, for realsies.  I even got to self-create security violations, but thankfully as the app works now it doesn’t include usernames.  Unless you’re capable of inferring.  Then, yeah, definitely an issue.

Not THE Batman.
I AM Batman.

I love you, internet, you’re a great outlet for all of my weird.

But first?  Fries.  Three nights in a row, my husband has eaten out for dinner due to working crazy hours recently (poor, handsome bastard).  Since he knows the secret to a happy marriage is food, he brought me home left over fries.  Now, I love fries.  When I was a kid and I got fries from McDonald’s, I would happily eat those hot, salty, death sticks as soon as I could get my fingers on them.

I ate them before my cheeseburger.  Not because I didn’t love the hot, cheesy, non-compostable burger as much as the death sticks, but because the death sticks would gradually develop a weird texture and consistency as they grew cold.  This is especially true with fries that will actually decompose over time such as those that you get from a sit down restaurant.  That crispy, crunchy, delicious starchy stick just turns into a cold, lumpy, limp, soft wad.  It’s like coal in your stocking on Christmas.  Complete disappointment unless you happen to live in a town running on coal power that is running low, and for Christmas you want to give everyone around you warmth again.

So I tried a few solutions.  One: microwave.  BAD idea.  Ten times as soggy.  Two: oven.  Took way too long.  Still quite soggy.  Three: Toaster oven.  Still soggy, but warm fast.  This may have been improved if I could cook directly on the toaster rack without complete and utter fear of causing a small fire.  This may have been a fear exacerbated by the quantity of “in case of fire!” signs all over my toaster oven, I admit, but also fries slide through thin cracks quite easily so it may also just be a common sense thing that I wish didn’t exist.

I tried to think of other food gifts that came home as bad as fries.  Don’t get me wrong, anything that is a starch to which you add sauce isn’t great (burgers, sandwiches, etc), but a quick run in the toaster oven can fix all of those.  Fries though, too thin to be toaster ovened without aluminum foil.  Tis truly a shame.  If anyone has a leftover fry solution, let me know, cause I have quite a bit left.

(Side note: Dear Husband, if you happen to read this, please don’t take this to mean that I do not appreciate the lumpy food gift, but rather that I am desperately seeking a way to improve my enjoyment of the lumpy food gift as google has not provided an answer that works with the cookware we currently own.  This was a pretty close answer though.)

Now onto the programming portion of our lecture.  A couple months ago I followed a django tutorial that told me I made a web app, and once I finished the site I had loaded congratulated me for my amazing endurance for all of the 5 minutes it took, but I knew the truth.  I knew I had accomplished nothing.  When I attempted to make my own web app at that point, my brain laughed at me and called me names, so I knew I had more work ahead of me.

I landed on learning the MEAN stack because it could all be done in JavaScript.  At that point, I’d finished a majority of the Headfirst Javascript book (2 chapters away from the end, I believe?), so I really wanted to learn something that I could use to help solidify what I had learned about JavaScript.

I have an idea for a program I want to make for some of my old teacher buddies to make life a bit easier, and while I have an idea of the kinds of data I need and some of the objects, I decided it’d probably be better to start with something a little simpler.  There were a good dozen plus websites going through MEAN stack tutorials creating a to-do list (the “Hello World” of web dev), and a few making chat programs.  I decided to be awkward and make a chat program where you talk to yourself and no one else.  Why?  It felt right and had the kind of functionality I knew would be a good stepping stone into the future.  It also allowed some really awkward test cycles where I posed as Batman and used the classic trilogy throat-tearing voice every time I posted a test.  It made the whole experience feel way more epic.

Using a combination of resources including the documentation for node.js, angular.js, MongoDB and express.js, multiple websites, blogs, and video lectures from strangers, it took me about a week of working on it after work to get it together.  I learned that express.js is a beautiful blackbox where I don’t know anything about what goes inside, but I should probably learn what happens in that blackbox.  Finally, the best learning tool of all was learnyounode.  The reason for this is because it is called learnyounode, which automatically makes it amazing.  Plus it just gave you problems to solve using the JavaScript you hopefully know to start creating a web server.  Pretty good times.

Here’s a link to the outcome.  More importantly, here’s a link to all my testing posts.  It gets weird in all the right ways with Batman, Joker, and Robin being the stars of my tester accounts.  This page would look a lot less awkward if I tagged the users who post, but since, again, my intent is to only see MY posts alone when I sign in, I don’t see this as an issue.

I think my next step will be to start working a bit more on the app I’d like to build for my teacher friends.  I’ll need to plan out what it needs to do and how it will work a bit more first so I can get my MVC on.

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Getting MEAN: Building My First Web App for Realsies (and also fries are the worst food gift)

Change: IT’S COMING FOR YOU! (AKA puberty, husbands, and JavaScript)

I’m going to make a bold statement that you should just accept as fact: I handle massive change quite well.  Now, hear me out, I legitimately handle it really well.  For you naysayers, what I don’t handle well is the uncertainty of knowing whether or not massive change will happen.  (As a warning, the next few paragraphs go into moderate detail about my realization that puberty was a thing and a thing I would be experiencing eventually.  Please feel free to skip this if your stomach isn’t up for armpit hair.  I won’t judge you.  Actually, I won’t even know about it, which is even better!  Thank you anonymity of the internet which I’ve violated by using my real name on my blog and linking to it from my personal website.)

For example, when I was in 3rd grade and I had the misfortune of being exposed to my first sex ed video about your body changing in strange and mysterious ways thanks to being in a multi-age classroom where no one else in the building was exposed to it until 5th grade.  I was distraught.  Fat balls bouncing around on my chest until the end of time that would inflate and shrink based on weight, age, and baby-making status?  That sounded horrible.  And why more hair?  I kept seeing all these razor commercials, and so I was pretty sure growing more hair was really just a ploy to make them more money and there had to be a way to stop it.  My armpits were completely comfortable without anything stinky coming out of them, and no, I don’t want to rub something inside them every day to keep from offending other people’s nostrils, but thank you for the soap.

The kicker?  I was going to bleed for about a week once a month until sometime in my 50s or 60s?  Why?  No, seriously, why?  That seemed more like a ploy to slowly kill me than an inevitable fact, and I immediately complained to my teacher about these potential changes.  She told me it was something all young women go through, it was miraculous, so on and so forth, to which I was horrified.  I needed to know when.  If I knew when these horrendous things would happen to my body, warping it into a grotesque vessel for this torment supposedly known as “womanhood” topped off with this thing called cramps that until then I had only heard of as a reason to not go swimming after eating (false, by the way), then I knew I could prepare for it.

I took the only reasonable action.  I demanded my teacher tell me exactly when this horror would be unleashed upon my body, to which she responded, “Everyone has it happen eventually, it’s just whenever is the right time for you, dear!”  Dear?!  Ms. C, I was going to bleed most of my life and experience something that kills you when you go swimming with hair all over the place and strange, awful smells dripping off my body, and I was now “dear”?  Absolutely not.  Completely inaccurate!

I immediately set to waiting, uncertain when to prepare for the change, but knowing it would come.  I prematurely started doing things my older sisters were doing, knowing it would inevitably be my fate.  I shaved my nearly hairless legs and armpits.  I wore a sports bra.  I waited with the madness once encompassed by Waiting for Godot, and this was in the days before smart phones, so waiting didn’t involve reading the internet for entertainment either.  It was silent patience embodied by pre-adolescent madness.  I had encountered limbo.  Waiting for Armpit Hair.

That’s the kind of change I don’t handle the best – the kind that is maybe going to happen but hasn’t happened yet and you have no real way of knowing when so sort of make plans for it but also sort of don’t because you need to continue existing as you are now or else you’ll be a useless lump of lady meat.  So I’ve made an effort to address that, since after all the root source of my issues with the unknown is anxiety about when it will be unleashed upon me, which is simply silly.  After all, the most miraculous thing about life is that it happens while you’re making plans, and most iterations of those plans become wasted.  Fortunately, being the nerd that I am, I create multiple iterations of most plans, so while the vast majority are wasted, there’s always one lucky guy that gets to be executed, and he prances forth before all my wasted energy that’s discarded to the side as irrelevant, bragging and boasting about his momentary utilitarianism.

Now, for you naysayers, let me give you some examples of change I handled quite well.  I, a former commitment-phobic lady who hadn’t really dated anyone for more than 3 dates aside from one abnormal instance prior that was still within a month’s span, very easily accepted when I met my husband I would be an idiot not to spend the rest of my life with him, so married his handsome self.  Once I realized I was going to most likely marry him, the when of it all caused some stress, but thanks to constant exposure to that uncertainty (including my husband moving up the wedding date so we had 3 weeks to throw it together in the middle of the school year, which was amazing though very tiring), I got over it, which has been pretty helpful for rolling along with a fairly impulsive man.

I transitioned into an independent adult pretty well too.  Talking to a lot of my friends in undergrad and some recent graduates at the time, a number of people apparently had absolutely no money sense when they were first independent, and though credit cards were free money.  I, fortunately, never had that mindset, so I never built a substantial amount of debt I’d need to claw my way out of.  There’s definitely some weird stuff about being an independent adult, such as retirement and insurance, but researching it hasn’t been too rough, and I feel I’ve generally made fairly good decisions in those areas.  I’m pretty grateful to my mom for my money sense, since when I was a teenager I thought it was weird she talked to me about money, but I was later grateful she did.  There were some lessons that I’d rather hear from her than learn elsewhere, including the infamous, “Your father wants to buy a tractor and we live on a 3000 sqft lot”.

Finally, the decision to program.  I won’t go into too much detail about what prompted the decision, but I have set solidly that this is what I want to do.  Programming and I have been 10 steps apart most of my life as I have previously mentioned, and now that I’ve accepted the fact that I love it, I feel like kicking myself for not jumping in head first sooner.  This isn’t to say I have any regrets about decisions I’ve made in the past as far as my education and career go, and I certainly think every experience I’ve had has helped shape who I am today.  I’ve learned so much patience, empathy, compassion, working with little resources, and how to positively influence someone’s life to help them make more proactive and productive decisions.  There are leadership skills you learn in teaching that if you can apply in other areas of your life lead to a great deal of positive change for those around you in general.  I know how to have tough conversations with people about anything from substance abuse, body odor, or the injury their decisions are causing their relationships with others and themselves.  I know how to tell someone they’re wrong, but do so in a way that they know I still care about them, and that their wrongness doesn’t impact their goodness.  Teaching has genuinely made me a better human being.

Coding takes a lot of aspects that I love about teaching but applies them in a very different way.  To name a few, you constantly learn new information to better implement practices (though for me currently this may be extremely more so since I’m such a novice).  You also get to solve problems and puzzles, which I absolutely love.  It’s great tackling a puzzle without clearly knowing the solution then reaching that, “Aha!” moment later.  Then there’s the collaboration.  Talking to someone else about code and reading their code helps solidify my understanding of concepts, just like watching someone else interact with a student with challenging behavior in the classroom to learn their approach.  I also love that once you learn something new that can make your code more elegant or efficient, being able to go back and revise it, test it immediately, and see the results.  Testing it and trying to break it is great, since it’s like finding holes in your logic constantly then attempting to improve it.

Alright, new goal, make less posts where I inevitably start talking about how much I like coding and learning.

I’m currently learning JavaScript, and after jumping through many sources of information trying to find what works well for me, I have set on Head First’s JavaScript book.  I’m really enjoying it.  I’m on day 3 using it, and already I’ve covered more and more in depth than through months of using other modules to learn.  Part of why it’s working for me is the fact you can quickly read sections you’ve got down, but also because of how many different ways it shows different vocabulary and concepts.  Retaining it all is so much easier than having someone pass over a term briefly but never revisit it.  I really wish they had a recent book on Python too.

My current project is a game of Battleship.  I’m not too far on at at the moment, mostly working on data structures, but I’m pretty excited to get it all working.  In fact, I better hit the books and keep learning so I can get it down.

On shoulder related news, I had a doctor’s visit today.  I’m on the same restrictions for 6 more weeks, but he gave me a steroid injection in my joint, and I have got to tell you, so much less pain afterward.  It was amazing.  The reason for it is so we can push it in PT a bit harder since currently he believes pain is inhibiting my progress.  More pushing is amazing news.  I feel like it has been forever at this point, likely because it has been, but I’m truly grateful for the progress I’ve made.  Each day I feel like I’m getting a bit more of my strength back, and each day the pain decreases a bit more.

Change: IT’S COMING FOR YOU! (AKA puberty, husbands, and JavaScript)