Thursday, August 20, 2015

Podcast Review: CodeNewbie

Yes, I am late to the game on this, but this really deserves to be a destination for people learning to code, who want to learn how to code, or may even just have an itch in their brain that they might want to code in the future. On any given day, I match all three of those ;). That's why my discovery of CodeNewbie has been fun and informative.

First, some background. CodeNewbie describes themselves as "the most supportive community of programmers and people learning to code". There is a lot of great content on their site, such as Ruby Monday where each week they get together to work on a project, and yes, all are welcome to participate if they want to. Each Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST they host a Twitter chat, using the #CodeNewbie hash tag. I've followed along with a few of these, and they are quite informative and, while primarily focused on the new programmer, don't be surprised if you don't learn a thing or two even if you are experienced in programming.

All this is great, but it's the podcast that I want to focus on. The CodeNewbie Podcast has been around since September of 2014, and it is hosted by Saron Yitbarek. I first heard Saron on the Ruby Rogues podcast, and some time back I made a note to check out the CodeNewbies project she had announced at the time. Like many things, it fell to the back of my list, but as I kept seeing CodeNewbies pop up in my listings, I decided I had to give it another look, and specifically, yes, the podcast. Since they now have 49 episodes, I'm approaching them in alternating order, meaning I am listening to the earliest episodes, followed by the latest episodes, and simultaneously working my way forwards and backwards. What that has done is let me see just how dramatically the show has improved in delivery (this is to be expected with any regular podcast) but also how consistent it has been in staying on message and in a format that is both accessible and readily relatable. Saron gets a lot of credit for that, in that each show is structured in a similar manner (yes, comparisons to Ruby Rogues abound, but since that is one of my all time favorite technical podcasts, that's meant to serve as praise). Saron also has a voice designed for radio, and considering she spent some time at NPR interviewing people, that should surprise no one. It adds a polish and an ease to the episodes that makes each interview feel smooth and well presented. That's not a requirement for podcasts, since I generally prefer practitioners over over-coached pros, but when you can get both, hey, run with it!

If you were to listen to any one episode, I would encourage starting at the beginning, with Saron's interview with Carlos Lazo titled "Bootcamps, Water Coolers, and Hiring Devs". Carlos talks about his time in the "Flatiron School", which is a programming bootcamp. The interview covers a lot of ground, such as the difference between studying computer science and actually being an engineer, why he chose to attend a three-month bootcamp to become a web developer, and several interview related questions and strategies for would be developers to consider. One piece of advice I really liked was to "own your ignorance". Don't be intimidated by the fact that you don't know something. In fact, embrace the idea that, if you are asked about something you don't know, you will not fake your way through an answer. Instead, reply with "I'm not familiar with that particular area. Could you tell me a bit more about it? How do you use it?" Seriously, this interaction alone is worth the time to listen to this episode, but there is so much more to glean from it, so I encourage you to do so.

If you are new to code, have dabbled in code, or have made a decision to get more involved with code, then CodeNewbies is a great destination site. Saron's podcast is a great way to plug in, get inspired, and learn about many aspects of the world of coding you might not think relate to it, but are as essential as the syntax you learn.

TESTHEAD gives the CodeNewbie podcast two thumbs way up :).

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