The Beautiful Game

Week Six at Enspiral Dev Academy #

Another day another $(document).ready and after only a week of JS we’ve moved onwards and upwards to APIs amongst other things. I’m tiring a little of never feeling like I’ve truly comprehended something before being thrust into the unbeknown of another tech topic. I suppose it’s just the nature of the beautiful beast that is EDA.

Application Programming Interface #

You’ve heard of APIs before right? You know, those things that do the thing with the thing? This pretty much summed up my API knowledge prior to this week. I knew that the acronym existed, and I knew they were something techie but I didn’t understand their purpose in life.

In turns out they’re not as scary as I had first feared. No black magic, no millions of lines of code. So what are they? Well I’m glad you asked.

An API is simply a way for an application to share a part of itself with the world.

It’s like your Facebook profile for those who aren’t your friends. You can choose how much to share with strangers dependant on who you are and what sensitive info you might have on your full profile - and API is no different (at the core of it at least).

And it also turns out that APIs are awesome. I haven’t been this excited since JavaScript Week. Although we only had three days diving into them, I’ve now been treated to a broad overview of the potential of what can be done with APIs and am sure we will see them featuring heavily in our final projects. I’ll keep you posted on that front.

Portfolio #

As a part of Phase Two we were all required to work on 10 portfolio challenges that happened to be due on Wednesday this week. The challenges are supposed to be a tool for solidifying (or at least enriching) knowledge built up during our time to date here at EDA. These ten challenges have been the focus of a lot of discussions during Phase Two and have divided the academy on their worth as an educational tool.

Traditional education is one of my pain points. As the survivor of seven years of very traditional (and presbyterian) female only secondary schooling, followed by four years of short-term information retention at University, I now hold the opinion that the education system is more than failing. We structure learning environments to suit only one style and incentivise a perverse system of gauging understanding. How can we expect anything but cookie cutter employees when we pump students out into the workforce from such a rigid production line? I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that some of the worlds most successful individuals drop out of Uni..

Anyway, rants aside I feel the reason these portfolio challenges have stirred up a few issues is largely due to the traditional education feel that they possessed. EDA is by no means a traditional education institute and that is why we all love it, but the slight taint of assessment for assessments sake has been felt by some.

Myself, I got a lot out of them. They were a mass of work and not overly enjoyable at the times, but learning doesn’t always have to be enjoyable. Maybe we’ve been a little spoilt here with everyday (despite being long and tiring) always being extremely enjoyable. The hard truth is that sometimes learning sucks. Sometimes it’s repetitive and confusing, and feels like you’re banging your head against the wall. It did feel like this a little throughout the challenges and I was happy to wake up on Thursday and be done with them but they were really beneficial to my learning so I’m on the fence here.

Lightning Strikes Four Times #

Due to the a slight rescheduling of things last Friday it came to be that I had four lightning talks this week. For anyone that doesn’t know what lightning talks are you can catch up here and also question your wavering commitment to this blog. For the three or so regulars (hey mum) you’ll understand that this was more than a slight inconvenience as it took up three lunch hours planning them! What an outrage right?

But in all seriousness I actually enjoyed at least three of them this week. It’s hard giving a technical talk on something you’re at a maximum 60% confident that 40% of what you’re saying is 70% factual but I’m finally starting to enjoy them. It probably helped that I’m pretty comfortable talking in front my cohort now and that I got really interesting topics but I’m going to miss them! Not enough to give up my lunch times again, but enough to blog about them I guess.

Football World Cup #

We rounded things off a bit differently this week. Have you heard of football? Yeah that’s the one. Well this week we worked on a full cohort mega-challenge that consisted of multiple challenges of varying degrees of difficulty that all interact in a suite of apps focused around managing the world cup. Simply put it was a big API challenge full of mini challenges tailored to our personally identified learning objectives. A lot of people loved it. Unfortunately I feel my standards were set unattainably high last week being fortunate enough to be part of #teamconnectfour. I learnt a lot but for some reason it just wasn’t the same. I’m guessing it was just because it was focused around the world most non-sport sport ever.

Closing Thoughts #

With Phase Three knocking down our door it’s again time for a little mid-phase reflection. I’m lucky enough to be escaping Wellington this weekend and spending some time with my grandparents. It’s pretty hard not to neglect family and friends during a stint at EDA but I feel now is the perfect opportunity to both recharge and reconnect all at once. I’m sure a weekend should be enough to cover off APIs with them.


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