Tag Archive: flashcard

What I’ve Been Doing

I spent February doing several things that are fun and also a first step toward fulfilling my Phase Two mission: Make useful things. (My Phase One mission was: Travel and learn.)

Programming in Plain English

I’m creating stand-alone software to let you program in plain English. I have a basic plugin version of the software working, which I’ll present at a SXSW TechBreakfast. If the fancier, fuzzier stand-alone software is also working well enough by then, I’ll demo that as well. It’s an iOS app and will also be a Mac app initially. Here’s a beta website for the project: Plain English Programming.

Short and Sweet Courses

I created a Udemy course called “Short and Sweet: Basic Programming Concepts in 2 Hours.” It was fun, frustrating and rewarding to create a two-hour course that presents the essential ideas of programming in real-world language, using pseudocode. The goal is to make it easier for students to learn any programming language after taking the course, and to understand good practices around program structure and refactoring. I’m happy with the end result (for now), I’m loving the ability to communicate instantly with my students and help them get past roadblocks and succeed, and I’ve made my first online revenue, which is exciting. The course is here, if you’re curious, and I’m including a coupon for blog readers: Short and Sweet: Basic Programming Concepts in 2 Hours

I’ve drafted an eBook to pair with the course and am planning my next courses in the Short and Sweet series. Initial feedback is that the concept is good: A Short and Sweet course will be the best, fastest, easiest intro to a topic — no oxymorons! I’ll be testing this premise some more and then launching my own course platform. Now that I have a course recording process down, it shouldn’t take me long to produce content.

Flashcard App Final Phase

I’ve hammered out many of the bugs in my flashcard app, which I plan to tailor as a study aid for each course I release. I’ll also release some stand-alone flashcard apps to help people study for various exams, starting with the NASM personal trainer exam, simply because it was the first test database I created for the app.

I have several other ideas swimming around in my head, mainly around how to help people learn and do more, better, faster. I’m really enjoying this phase of my sabbatical and will send updates. Apologies for the bat-cave moment on this blog, I know it was quiet here for a few weeks. I wasn’t sleeping :-)


Los Angeles, Again

Apologies for my absence from the blog for the past few weeks; I spent the time immersed in Udemy, getting my new course ready for publication. It’s submitted for review now, waiting only for an image before it gets set live. I’m super-excited and will let you know more when it’s released.

I’m spending the winter in Los Angeles.

I promised myself last winter, as I was freezing in my NYC apartment with the heat cranked up to max and my poor tree actually leaning away from the window to escape the polar vortex (who knew trees even DID that?), that if I actually went ahead and pursued this plan to travel and learn and find a new path, I’d spend the winter someplace warm.

I chose L.A. I’ve lived here before, for four-plus years in the early 2000s, and I know where to go, where to avoid, where to relax, where to hike. Most of all, I have friends here who I’m looking forward to spending time with, making the city feel more like a village hamlet or a reunion than a sprawling sprawl.

I’m already feeling the pull of L.A.’s unique rhythm, the blend of seasons into endlessness, the no-hurry mornings and the bright blue perfection, though now I am uniquely qualified to fight it with productivity. I spent the last seven years in New York, where busy-ness is a way of life, even when it’s fabricated.

I remember traveling around L.A. when I was working in journalism, wondering as I passed by cafes in the middle of the day, “Who are all these idle people?”

Now I am one of those people. But I’m not idle. In the past month I’ve doubled down on my (now-working!) Xcode plugin, signed up to present it at a SXSW breakfast, added new capabilities and started planning a standalone software product; created a Udemy course to teach basic programming concepts to would-be programmers, non-technical co-founders, and parents and teachers; and fixed major bugs in my flashcard app that were preventing progress. I’ve spoken with a lawyer about creating a company and am prepared to move forward.

I expect to launch all of these projects by the time I leave in March, along with an organic food finder I prototyped last summer. It’ll be an interesting couple of months.

Then I’ll see what sticks.

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy being productive in the midst of laid-back L.A. I’m also trying to get back on track with my organic, hack-your-health lifestyle, which I decided a few years ago was non-optional if I wanted to live an optimal life. It’s super-successful for me when I’m on-board with it, so I’m back on board and ready to enjoy my (non)-winter.

73 degrees. I love it. Lots of work to do.

Day 38: Onward and Sort of Upward

I passed the NASM test. It was a comfortable pass, which gives me some confidence in the study method I used. From the flashcard app perspective, my initial user acceptance test of one succeeded.

I added about 250 questions to the flashcard app database — slightly fewer than my goal of 320 but enough to make the app robust and functional. I’ll add more later but wanted to leave some space and time between the exam and that task. Exams change, and my goal is for my app to help people master the material regardless of exam questions — internalize key concepts, understand the overarching principles and connections between concepts, learn this stuff inside and out, upside down and sideways.

I also fixed the app formatting and added a search function, which worked pretty well. Then I broke it. Sigh. I’ll re-implement it this week and try to figure out what went wrong.

That’s the process. Move forward. Achieve. Break. Sigh. Fix. Try again.

Major goals for this week:

  1. Fix search functionality in my flashcard app.
  2. Implement swipe-up functionality.
  3. Swift book (again). 100 pages.

I’ll be on the train for a full day, so all of this should be doable.

One thing I won’t be lugging around is the NASM textbook. I’m leaving all 5 pounds of it at home. Travel light.

Day 30: Check-In

It’s been a month.

I gave notice and then left work on May 23 and it’s been a month.

I went almost immediately to AltConf in San Francisco, a free developer conference, to indulge my hobby of developing iPhone applications. Not only did I have a great time, I drew a clear line of separation between Before and After.

I did it on purpose, to get a clean, clear jump into all the new things I want to try, without wallowing and feeling useless for a couple of weeks.

I spent some quality family time with my dad for Father’s Day, a few more days back in New York socializing with friends and then relaxing at a meditation event.

Amid all of this, I got a lot of work done.

I finished the NASM book last week. I populated the back-end question database for my flashcard app with 80 questions (a good start, but I want to add at least 320 more this week). I read some of the Swift Programming Guide (not 200 pages, but 50).

I had a balanced week. I made progress without obsessing over how much progress. I stayed in the West Village, a neighborhood I always wanted to live in when I lived in New York full-time. I took time for myself, time for friends, and time for work.

I had some great ideas and some not-so-great ones. I wrote blog posts for future dates. I bounced ideas off of people I know to zero in on which ones might be worthwhile. Three get a very consistent positive response, which is heartening.

I know not every week can be like this. But it was a much-needed, pleasant interlude as I prepare to go all-out in the next few months — traveling, learning, improving and finding the right path.

Major goals for this week:

  1. Add 320 more questions to the flashcard app database.
  2. Fix the formatting and add a search function to the flashcard app.
  3. Pass the NASM test.

It’s been a month. But it feels like an epoch.