Monthly Archives: February 2014

Everything Clicked

Yesterday was horrible. I couldn’t wrap my head around the problem we were given for homework. I felt bad for my partner because I wasn’t much help. We couldn’t figure out which pieces we needed, let alone where they were supposed to go.

Today was the exact opposite. Once we received our assignment, I got it right away. My partner for the day was none other than Kaitlyn Hova. (Check out her website, she does amazing things!) We had a plan, and were on the same page right away.

We got to work and started writing our test cases. I should let you know that our instructor is trying to get us to use Test Driven Development for our assignments. That’s where you write a test before you write any actual code. It can be hard to understand at first, but totally made sense today. We were able to come up with about 20 tests for our program. As we changed something here or there a test that used to pass would fail, and that is a good thing. Since we had automated test cases that validated our entire program every time it ran, we knew instantly if our change broke another part of the program. We would find the issue and fix it so that our tests would pass again before moving on.

Since we were cruising, it didn’t take us long to finish our initial assignment. Unfortunately, we were sitting right next to our instructor. Every time he heard us mention that we were about done, he updated the assignment’s requirements to add something else. We barely skipped a beat and knocked them out too.

Today was one of the more satisfying days in my adult life. It feeds something deep inside and makes you want to wake up tomorrow and do it all again. I hope these days become more frequent in my life. They are awesome!


In The Beginning

Like any other first day, today was not without its surprises. As I drove to class, I had a silly grin on my face. It was something that I haven’t experienced in a long time. I simply cranked my stereo, sipped on my energy drink, and enjoyed the ride. I have been looking forward to this day for the last two months.

I rounded the corner from the parking garage and walked up to the door. I swung it open and looked inside. I could hardly believe what I saw. A big open space with high ceilings. Huge colorful art pieces that instantly grab your attention. As I forced myself to look away I spotted comfy couches, benches, tables and chairs filling the room. I can’t tell you how spoiled we are. As the rest of the class filed in behind me, I introduced myself and tried to remember names. We picked our seats, and pulled out our laptops. Bagels and coffee made sure that we got off to a good start.

As we got settled in we wen’t over some of the details. After the formal introductions were complete, we started the long, arduous task of adding the required software to our laptops. Luckily, Sumeet came with a plan. The class relies a lot on GitHub to backup and share the projects we will be working on. The same company has come up with a way to make sure teams have the same software loaded on their machines. They call it Boxen. It took a little massaging, but eventually we were ready to dive in.

Our first Ruby assignment had us pair programming right away. That’s where two developers work together on a project, but only use one computer. It’s an interesting way to work. It forces both developers to be involved and pay attention to what the other is doing. I have to admit that it works though. Both Cara, my awesome partner for this assignment, and I caught errors and typos that the other didn’t catch right away. As we sat on one of the plush couches, we made pretty good progress. Our instructor admitted that this first assignment was a bit of a stretch from what our prework had required, and he didn’t disappoint. Soon enough we ran into a problem. We knew what we wanted to do, but we didn’t know how to do it. We started looking through some notes, and quickly moved onto online forums and search engines. Unfortunately, this problem had us backed into a corner. We weren’t finding what we needed. Luckily, we had an entire room full of people to ask. As we described our problem to other students, we began hearing about options that we hadn’t even considered. It gave us enough to power through and get the job done.

As if all that wasn’t enough, today Silicon Prairie News announced that I am working with them to cover OCS. They are a technology blog that covers startups across the midwest. This is an opportunity to get as many people in our community aware of what we are doing this spring. For the initial post, I summarized some of the information from my blog so far. Specifically, the Questions post. Hopefully it helps get information out to those who have questions. I will continue to write a new post every-other week throughout the class, so keep an eye out and give them a read.

Even though today was short by Sumeet’s standards, I’m still wiped. There was so much excitement and energy today that I just got lost in the moment and needed to take a minute to catch my breath. I can’t help but think that I will be cranking my stereo and rocking out with a grin on my face on the way to class again tomorrow. Today was a great day.

Our Space

Here are some pictures that I took as I walked into our space at Omaha Code School. It HUGE and awesome. Comparisons have already been made to a Real World type space from MTV.

Through these doors...

Through these doors…


Artwork from local artists cover our walls


Beginning to see how big this place is.


A view out our window of Midtown Crossing and downtown Omaha


Official signage


A couple of other students arriving for class


Yoga mats. I wonder who will use these?


Table with a sign for Big Wheel Brigade in the background


Meeting Everyone

Last night Omaha Code School hosted a mixer at Bliss Bakery and Aromas Coffeehouse downtown. Many of the students, instructors, and mentors were in attendance. It was a good opportunity for us to get to know the people we will be spending so much time with over the next three months.

Rahul is helping Sumeet run OCS. He lives in San Francisco and works full-time at Big Wheel Brigade, the company that puts on Omaha Code School. He is constantly looking for new sponsors and mentors for us. I hope that he will be able to make come back to attend our demo night at the end of the course.

A few of our mentors were there. Michael is a recruiter. He works for Agape Red, a local company that is trying to change the way the industry recruits new employees. OCS has asked him to help us with practicing our interview skills. We were all excited to hear about what he does and the exciting ways they are changing the way things get done.

There were also some local entrepreneurs. Meg runs a retail fashion website called Hello Holiday. I have read about some of her contributions on Silicon Prairie News. It was awesome to get to hear about what is going on in our community and what they need to take their business to the next level. Hopefully one of the students in our class will help them in the future.

Then I met Autumn. She is the owner of Bliss Bakery and Aromas Coffeehouse, where we were meeting. She and her husband have a passion for supporting our community. They help with the 402 Arts Collective, a local non-profit trying to build a network of artists committed to making a difference in Omaha. Something tells me that we will be using their coffee shop to work throughout the class. Good thing they make excellent coffee and pastries.

I also got to meet some of the students that couldn’t make it to the SPN meetup last week. We are all scrambling to complete the prework before class starts on Monday. I have enjoyed meeting everyone, and I think we are going to make a good group.

Overall, I am still incredibly excited to start. Everyone that I have talked to has been friendly and supportive of what we are trying to accomplish. Now, I need to rest up and prepare for Monday. Once we start, there’s no looking back.

A Mutual Farewell

Today is my last day at Mutual of Omaha. It is a bittersweet moment for me.

Over the last week, I have made it a point to express my thanks to the people I have worked with over the past five years. I walked throughout the building tracking everyone down. I have worked with almost every team in our company, so I had a lot of ground to cover. I was incredibly humbled by the responses I received. My goal of expressing my thanks was met with kind words expressing how much people have enjoyed working with me. That is an awesome feeling.

I am thankful for all that I have learned and experienced during my time at Mutual. I would not be who I am without those who have taken the time to make me a better person. So if any of those people are reading this post, thank you.

As I move on to my next adventure, I will always look back and appreciate everything Mutual of Omaha gave me. I can only hope future opportunities work out as well as this one has.