Free agent baseball superstar Manny Machado, may not be, in his own words, “Johnny Hustle,” but over the last week, I have definitely adopted the alter-ego of Johnny Coder. My wife can attest – If I am not working, or doing yoga, then I am definitely coding. I jumped into this with both feet, but not in the deep end, as I am prone to do. Rather, I walked, down the stairs of the pool, into the shallow end. With floaties. And the rubber raft of the giraffe around my waist. And goggles.
I started by following Sara’s advice of going to code.org and creating an account. Once there, I had to make the determination of where to start. There is so much choice – like browsing through the cereal aisle in Walmart – almost too much choice. So I started with the basics – Express Course 2018. I started with something called Dance Party USA, where the goal is to make characters – a duck, cat, bat, whathaveyou – dance around to popular tunes from Miley Cyrus or classics from MC Hammer. You definitely can’t touch this, I thought, but the cat didn’t move. Oh that’s right – I needed to put in the code. Creating the code is like solving a puzzle in real time, almost like a choose your own adventure book (did I just date myself with that reference?) Unless you put in the code, or the program, the cat will stand there. The music plays, he is waiting for the instructions. The lesson runs with a code in a format called blockly – basically, it is building blocks of commands. If you click and drag “move forward” the cat moves forward. If you click Dab, the cat dabs. It is really ingenious. The blocks are just headers, because underneath is the actual code – which looks initially like a combination of Excel formulas or keyboard commands. The blocks make everything a bit more logical, but you can stop anytime and look at the actual code, to reinforce the learning.
I finished my first course in about 45 minutes. I was so proud. I sent Sara the certificate immediately upon completion and she gave me a couple more courses to try out, which I will get through this weekend. Now, let me put on my disguise hat and glasses, as I have a Minecraft code to hammer out……