Dylan's blog

Satuaday

Day 4

Today is Saturday, April 17th. My 21st birthday is tomorrow. I haven't made a blog post in almost two weeks. The past two weeks have been insanely busy for me, but things are finally beginning to slow down.

To summarize my past two weeks:

Week of April 4

  • Substituted at the school two days of the week

Just the usual work, the first day being mentioned in my previous blog post, and the next day for a fifth grade class (that was really talkative and pretty annoying).

  • Did my first over-the-phone interview for an internship at O'Reilly Auto Parts

O'Reilly Auto Parts contacted me regarding my coding assessment saying they wanted to know more about me (more to be explained later in this post).

  • Participated in PickHacks, (my first ever) hackathon event

PickHacks was a learning and an overall involving and effort-filled event (again, more to be explained later in this post).

  • Got the J&J COVID vaccine

I got the COVID vaccine because my university was doing a mass-clinic event on campus. I should have read more about the possible side effects before getting the vaccine, because Friday night was not a fun one. I felt a fever coming on and my body had some chills. This hindered my performance during the first night of PickHacks. Thankfully by Saturday afternoon, I was feeling back to myself and could work on the project.

Week of April 11 (this past week)

  • Video call interview for O'Reilly Auto Parts internship

O'Reilly Auto Parts sent me a few emails back and updated me in regards to my previous interview, stating the head of the internship program was interested in getting to know me.

  • Substituted one day at the school

The same fifth grade class as last time. Thankfully, they were much more well behaved for me and didn't give me as much trouble as the time before.

That's what I've been involved with the past two weeks. The week of April 4th was my most involving week I've had in awhile. I had to balance doing school work and also attending some of the pre-hackathon events to get a feel for what kind of project my team and I would be involving ourselves in. For the rest of this blog post, I'm going to talk on PickHacks and what I learned and the O'Reilly Auto Parts internship.

PickHacks

PickHacks can be described as a learning experience, with many many many hours of coding and debugging. My team, Amar, Michael, Thad, and I for this hackathon created a website called StreamFinder.

StreamFinder is a website that is intended to search for your favorite TV shows and movies in one place, and give the end user information on where they can legally stream the entertainment of their choice. The front-end uses TMDB, a database for TV shows and movies to populate the autocomplete search results for StreamFinder. We used the identifier they used to

Amar handled the front-end user interface, made on Angular, I worked on the web-scraper that grabbed the results from Google, Michael worked on the MongoDB instance and implementation, and Thad created an API to hand off information from the front-end to the back-end of the application.

As a group, we invested all of our Saturday night into the project. With short breaks between members, we spent over 12 hours working on the project that night. We had started our call around 5pm on Saturday, and had finally ended our call around 11:30am on Sunday. One of our biggest hurdles to get over was the front-end to back-end API. Our original implementation had planned to just call the check.js file stored within the Angular site, but found that calling a js file, that calls functions to other js files, is a lot more difficult to implement than anticipated. The Angular project refused to allow the npm dependencies because it thought the definitions were incorrect. It would get upset if more than one instance of MongoDB was instantiated between the files. This caused us to get stuck. Thankfully, Thad had experience writing APIs. He created an nginx server to perform requests through our back-end that our front-end could call on.

We had plans to implement a music provider search for StreamFinder, but ran out of time. We worked all the way up until the submission was due at 10:30am on Sunday.

The source for StreamFinder can be found here.

You can try it out live at https://streamfind.tech/

It was an honor attending my first Hackathon working with my team members. Thank you guys!

What I learned at PickHacks

PickHacks was much more overwhelming than I originally anticipated, because the idea of what we were creating seemed fairly simple. Implementing Angular, with only one member of the team (Amar) being familiar with the framework, combined with implementing MongoDB (a framework only familiar to Michael), made this project more challenging. PickHacks was a way for me to collaborate with others and begin to learn how to use these two frameworks. I also learned that working with three people that I had never met before was a lot more intriguing than I thought. At times, communicating ideas and concepts was difficult, but I found myself explaining my process step-by-step and sharing information in ways clearly to my team members. I also asked questions a bunch. Even if the question seemed extremely simple, or like it should be known, asking was a way to clear it with my members and make sure I understood the concept we were discussing. It gives the concept creator a way to break down their knowledge and help others understand it in a clear way. For instance, another hiccup we had within the last four hours of the hacking ending, we had pushed the website to a VPS and it didn't seem to be working when we tried performing API requests. Rather than formulate on our own for hours and possibly not finish the product, we asked one of the PickHacks mentors for guidance. Despite not knowing how to do what we were doing, she gave us basic ideas that our worn-out brains had not really came to yet (changing the URL from localhost to the actual API domain, etc). She helped us with the process of elimination. While she wasn't able to solve our problem, she did play a part, as we were able to solve the problem while still chatting with her. Thank you K. Ericson!

To summarize what I learned:

  • Hackathons aren't easy peasy
  • Explaining things step-by-step helps others further understand what I mean.
  • Asking questions can help formulate ideas, as well as confirm ideas that aren't the most clear.
  • Hackathons are great for learning.

O'Reilly Auto Parts Internship

As of Friday, April 16th, I am now a part of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Software Developer internship for the summer of 2021. I am really excited about this opportunity to learn and collaborate with others. This is my first experience in the software development career field and I don't know what to expect. I begin in late May and go until August.

Anyways, that's my update. Lots of words and lots of things happening. Thankfully, things are turning down a notch now.

-Dylan

- 1 toast