Side project, JobsTrek, YouTube channel

Oh yes, I am officially a YouTuber (cue fanfare.wav). In case you missed it: here’s a video walkthrough of the JobsTrek app. (Discussion of the code starts here.) I was a bit sleepy when I made this one, so let’s just says it’s not exactly electrifying YouTube. But I did enjoy making it! Someday I’ll invest in a proper video editor and make some cuts to these videos.

simple demo of the JobsTrekker Django app

It’s possible that I’ll relaunch once I’ve added an expanded dashboard. I had also started adding a chatbot using the app integration, so I may again get to work with the OpenAI API…stay tuned.

Working with the Nucamp grads and prospective students again is also rewarding — they are a good group of folks trying to better their lives for their families, and seeing them help one another in the community is awesome.

Deciding whether to go further with the YouTube channel, I was able to host another couple of career workshop sessions for some job training clients from Goodwill NYNJ this month. It’s great to be able to offer my skills and just share my experience with what not to do!

Trying out Ignite with a new Android project

Because I have some free time this evening (wow!) I thought I’d burrito-ify myself in front of the computer and finally make a photo viewer Android app for myself.

Let me back up a bit — since LG stopped making phones, I was forced to get a Motorola phone recently. It’s nice and all, but it doesn’t come with a photo viewer. Which means one must use all the Google apps (file viewer, Photos app, etc) to access one’s files.

This is no bueno.

So naturally I have simply not been opening my files on my phone. Unless someone has sent it to me via SMS or Discord or what have you, where I can view a preview. Or, if I upload it to my Proton storage, I’ll see a preview. (Even VLC Media Player seems to have failed me here — it doesn’t open 95% of the video files I task it with opening, for some reason.)

I got started with a video appropriately titled, “Getting Started With Ignite,” by Jamon Holmgren of Infinite Red. (

Install Yarn first if you want to follow this video smoothly (it can be installed via npm).

Deciding to upgrade to Node 20.8 to keep pace with the video, I downloaded the msi file from the official Node site, and double-clicked it — I didn’t have any reason not to install it globally on this machine. The usual “Get apps from Store / Install anyway” Microsoft warning appeared, but it had scroll bars; weird.
I clicked “Install anyway” several times — nothing happened. Did a dreaded restart. Same thing. So I had to run it from inside PowerShell:

msiexec /i “node-v20.8.0-x64.msi”

Quite irritating, but I thought it was just a fluke/bug.
Next was npx ignite-cli@next new PhotoView

… and selected all the desired settings. I chose all the defaults. I enjoyed the lovely ‘splash screen’:

When I got to ‘yarn android’, the error, ‘Failed to resolve the Android SDK path’ appeared. I remembered that I’d never installed Android studio on this particular computer. Downloading from the official Android homepage, I again ran into the same Windows bug. This time the exe file would not run in PowerShell. My hubby suggested running the Compatibility troubleshooter, which worked, but it seems that the bug can also be bypassed by turning off that warning in the OS settings under Apps & Features > Choose Where to Get Apps.

However, now I’m getting, “Starting Metro Bundler
CommandError: No Android connected device found, and no emulators could be started automatically.”

Yay, new error message!
But I’m ready for bed now… to be continued.
Ok, just kidding…I surfed around Twitter (Xitter?) for a bit, then got my second wind.

Starting Android Studio, then going into Device Manager and clicking the play button to start the device…

…seems to have worked:


Now to attempt some modifications so I can gradually get a photo viewer… to be continued…

From jQuery to JavaScript Without Tears


Looking for a cute set of progress bars for my app, I searched around and found a great blog post with a few examples. Originally I had zero intention of using animated progress bars, but they seemed to fit well enough for my needs and actually added a bit of, dare I say, pizazz, to the page.

So I go to play around with the code… aaand it’s jQuery.

facepalm, the other Picard maneuver

On a positive note, usually I can tell what’s going on in jQuery, as if reading psuedocode. It feels sort of like guessing what a Spanish billboard says as an English speaker (to me, anyway). I suppose the faster way to move forward with my project would have been to just import some jQuery via CDN, but I decided that I wanted to fully understand what was going on, and thus decided to rewrite it in plain JavaScript.

“Mayhaps, in the span since first we met, an AI hath vanquished thee, mighty jQuery,” I said to my screen as I Googled “jQuery to JavaScript converter.”

Surprisingly, there was a tool which actually did something, or enough to get me started. Despite some very strange copy on their page, the WorkVersatile converter did deliver on their promise of only “some errors” after conversion.

The original jQuery:

$(".animated-progress span").each(function () {
width: $(this).attr("data-progress") + "%",
$(this).text($(this).attr("data-progress") + "%");

… and the invalid JavaScript output:

document.querySelectorAll(".animated-progress span").each(function () {
width: this.attr("data-progress") + "%",
this.innerText = this.attr("data-progress" + "%");

My end product; instead of innerText, I used the Django template to fill in the element’s text:

document.querySelectorAll(".animated-progress span").forEach(ele => { 
    { width: ele.getAttribute("data-progress") + "%", },
      duration: 1000,
      fill: "forwards"


Using Pivotal Tracker to Manage Your Project

Pivotal‘s free tier might be just what you need to get started or re-energize your side project.

Combining Pivotal’s project management software with — those two tabs in my browser have really boosted my output and kept me organized. So far, the free tier of Pivotal Tracker has been enough to get my little project off the ground, so I thought it might be helpful to share.

You create an account and then name your project. Then you can add user stories or features which you eventually plan on adding to your app or site (your product roadmap).

Adding these features is pretty simple, and you can put as much detail as you like.

Pivotal Tracker project dashboard screenshot
The Pivotal dashboard shows you an estimated project schedule, status, and backlog

Working solo, some of the features like “Accept”/”Reject” buttons aren’t really useful (think: pull request meme of awarding oneself a medal). Also, I’m not quite clear on the project velocity calculation, which seems like a powerful feature that I’m not taking full advantage of at the moment (here’s a 2-year-old video explaining the velocity calc feature, or you can actually — shudder — read the docs). Other than that it’s pretty amazing for my needs. And it’s nice to know that I can still have up to 5 users should I need to bring on help.

This sort of freemium app is really enabling a lot of startup and small business innovation, since a lot of side projects don’t generate income at first. I hope to pass it along with a freemium app of my own!

Testing in Django, or “How long has that been broken?”

When the phrase, “how long has that been broken?” enters into your vocabulary, it’s probably past time to add tests to your project.

Finally got my tests going with some momentum. I’ve also adjusted the dashboard view a bit over at JobTrek; although I’m lacking time to design a UI, at least it looks a bit better now. (Leave a comment if you think I shouldn’t wait to find another Bootstrap theme.) And dear Lord help me, I’ve bought a domain name and even coughed up the $7 for the Heroku Hobby plan with SSL.

I’d learned some basics in the Kickstart Coding course, but couldn’t get my basic tests to pass. Turns out I’d been adding my tests to the wrong file, in the wrong app directory. Hopefully this blog post will save some random person out there from making the same mistake!

Another beginner issue for me was testing templates and content for anonymous versus authenticated users — more on that in my next post.

For some good, free content on testing in Django, check out VeryAcademy’s series on YouTube.

The J.O.B. search continues — is there an app for that?

The fun-employed phase has lost its luster; I’m not quite at the soy-sauce-over-rice-for-dinner stage, but let’s just say it’s crunch time. Now firing off apps left and right, sending LinkedIn DMs, and contacting recruiters and former co-workers is the daily grind.

In side project news, I’ve abandoned SelfWars and all those Vuetify components. Also, I’m finally digging in to SQL joins (studying via Kickstart Coding,) after avoiding it like the plague for so long.

Lately been building a job search progress bar web app in Django. Fun, fun, fun! Wanna take a sneak peek?

“Your search will take approximately 8 weeks”

Step 1: register — I know, I know (a user story for anonymous sessions is on my plate)

Step 2: add some jobs you’ve applied to, using the simple form

Step 3: view your interview rate percentage and offer rate percentages on a handy pie chart (more graphs are planned)

See if your interview rate is around at least 15%, and see approximately how long your search will take. Based on lovely research from TalentWorks.

I know I said ‘progress bar,’ but for now it’s in the form of a pie chart; hey, who dun’ like pie?

I realized I was giving all this ‘daily grind’ advice out to Nucamp students, but when folks see in starkly-presented numbers just how long their job search could take at a certain pace, I think it’s got the potential to be an illuminating kick in the pants.

Jamrock, and updates

Just back from wonderful travel visiting relatives around Jamaica. It was much-needed refreshment, and my first international trip since Sweden, back in the ‘before times’.

obligatory beach image

It was great to spend a lot of time with family. I specifically went to see my aged grandma, who is in her 90s but is still sharp as a tack and still going up and down staircases — bodes well for the ‘ol genome. When I complained about carrying some extra pounds, she chided me that I could use a few trips up and down some steps as well. The Greatest Generation rolls like that!

My intrepid hubby rented a car and drove around the island. Everyone, including me, was pretty impressed with his skills — next time I will definitely fly into Montego Bay instead of Kingston, and rent a car.

Perhaps Portland, Jamaica’s potholed roads are a good metaphor for a coding career.

gif of car interior with view of bumpy road
the country roads are finally being repaved, but in the meantime…

(They are making improvements, but in the meantime here is a hilarious commentary on the lack of repair.) Driving those roads certainly make one question one’s life choices. But then there is a smooth stretch of pavement for a while, and all the struggle and perseverance seems worth it.

2024 EDIT: The role I posted about. The company seemed great, the people were amazing, the kudos on my progress were good; even React was not as annoying as I’d remembered. I was lead to believe that my hiring was just one of those weird miscommunications of expectations, which sometimes happens when both sides are well-intentioned and perhaps a bit starry-eyed. Once I was reprimanded for ‘slow progress,’ I started pulling extremely unsustainable hours. It turns out that the company was facing severe financial difficulties after over-hiring — I found out that people were laid off or intentionally pushed out. Now I wish I would have listened to advice not to quit, and rode out the tough schedule. Likely at the cost of some health and home life, sure, but at least I would have been able to collect unemployment and maybe even land another role quickly. /END 2024 EDIT

But discovering that I can do the job, ‘drinking from the firehose’ of web development and seeing leaps of improvement, is very validating.

So I’m again at a small fork in the road — should I forge ahead with another dev role, or should I take what I’ve learned and revisit the customer support/management-y realm. Before the Jamaica trip I was experiencing a lot of angst about it, but I’ve been reminded that a lot of people dream to have such decisions before them! My gut says to apply for both tracks and see what turns up. I think I shall sleep on it.

Closing one chapter and starting a new one

My “Drafts” folder has more blog posts in it than one might think. But I surely had to post this one.

It’s been a minute since my last post, and what do you know: we are back in NYC. And it almost feels like we never left — nobody asks me, “you military?” or “how long you been here” in town. Everyone is from someplace else, and they have pretty tasty poke here, too.

I got a wonderful job offer with a new company, which, exciting as it is, means leaving the great team at Nucamp. I’ve been there for a couple of years, first as a Web Fundamentals Instructor, then as a Student Advisor and Advisor Team Lead.

teaching a lovely group the Web Fundamentals in early 2020

The Nucamp team is helpful, funny, and kind, so I’ll really miss them, and hopefully I can check in via Slack when I have time. It’s really something very special that’s being built there, but I am leaving to pursue…a software engineer role!

Finally I’ve been blessed with this opportunity, after doing freelancing and teaching. It’s humbling to be reminded so sharply of all the “good gift[s]” and “perfect present[s] from above, coming down from the Father of the celestial lights.” It’s also a bit scary, but good-scary, like climbing a roller coaster. And that’s where the growth always seems to occur — in the scary bits. I’ll post more as the weeks and months go by, but as a friend of mine often says, big tings a gwan

SelfWars app, pt 2 — rough wireframe

I had to decide what features to put in a basic version of the app.

rough sketch of the app screen

Russell Brand mentioned in his video that he used a scale of 1 – 10 to rate himself in each life area. I decided to start with 1-5 for now and sketched out a rough list of ideas:

Default scale of 1-5, maybe this scale is editable by user later?
Default set of life areas, can be renamed by user later
Be able to save progress and view a bar chart for week/month
How did I do this week? frequency? daily/weekly?
Need an initial default setup after first open of the app, so that there’s some baseline to compare to

I was going to also set different domains or life areas, but maybe that will be v 2.0:

Good spouse – family
Diet – health
Exercise – health
Bedtime – health
Spiritual practice – spirituality

Some sort of “save” button or option, perhaps

“View past” – a way to view a chart over time

Next, to start building, which I’ve already begun, using Vue.

SelfWars: A New App

An idea for an app to evaluate myself on a daily basis came to me recently while watching an odd video. (I was a bit bashful about setting this post to public last year, so it’s a bit old now. I might be motivated to revisit this project by blogging.)

It was Russel Brand discussing procrastination on YouTube. (Oh, the irony.)

The user would set the parameters on different scales — how Zandra-y was I on exercise this week on a scale of 1 to 10? Maximum Zandra? 40-year-old, years-ago-Zandra? Or ace Starfleet cadet Zandra level? Was I the best Zandra that I could be today/this week?

I think SelfWars is a good name because it’s a constant battle against one’s self.

So if I drew a few prototype screens, what might they look like? Let’s see in my next post.