30 students + 1 Boston programming class = 30 new web apps

What were you doing on Saturday morning? Here at Intelligent.ly, 30 ambitious coding newbies joined instructor, Aaron White, CTO of Boundless, to kick off the first day of two days of our Lock & Lode: Learn to Code programming class series. The competition was steep for a spot in the class (over 450 people applied!), and everyone who made the cut showed up bright-eyed and ready to dive into 12 hours of Python coding goodness.

Boston Programming Class

I’ll be honest—there was a bit of nail biting when I realized we had a 1:30 instructor/student ratio. But Aaron White patiently made the rounds, and more experienced students teamed up with novices helping everyone come up to speed. It was really a pretty cool thing to see!

Aaron White Programming Class

At end of the first day, someone tweeted an article, Why Coding Is and Is Not the New Literacy. Here’s the thing—many of these folks won’t go on to become developers, but having foundational programming knowledge will open up new doors to each and every one of them. Whether you’re a marketer, a product manager or a business strategist,  “speaking the language” teaches you problem-solving skills that increase your business fluency.

Huge thanks to HubSpot (Dharmesh Shah, Brian Halligan & David Cancel) and BzzAgent (Dave Balter), for generously donating the funds to make it possible for these people to learn to code for free this weekend. It was awesome to see their dedication to learning, and was so very cool to know that two killer Boston companies made it all possible. Want to learn the language of programming? Apply to Lock & Load: Learn to Code today!



We’re Teaming Up with RailsBridge to Teach Women How to Code!

Back in October, a little playful sparring over developers between HubSpot and BzzAgent resulted in HubSpot generously donating funds to Intelligent.ly help folks in Boston learn to code for free. When we launched our new series, Lock & Load: Learn to Code, we truly had no idea just how many of you are eager to add this skill to your tool chest. We received over 450 applications for 30 spots in our first session, kicking off this weekend with Aaron White, CTO of Boundless. Holy cow!

When we said we want to teach people how to code for free, we meant it. I’m totally pumped to announce today that we’re teaming up with the amazing crew of volunteers at RailsBridge Boston to help women (and a few good men) learn how to code in Ruby on Rails. Didn’t make it into the first session? Apply now to learn how to code in Ruby on Rails.

We’re accepting 30 applications for this two-day workshop with a generous group of Ruby pros who are volunteering their time to help you get your code on. Only women will be accepted to the program, but several men will be invited to join as the guests of attendees. Chill out bros—we’re lining up more sessions for you in 2013.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Dharmesh Shah, Brian Halligan, David Cancel, and the teams at HubSpot, BzzAgent and RailsBridge for making this possible!


Rapid Prototyping: The Fastest Way to Make Your Idea a Reality

We’ve all been there.  Driving in the car, standing in the shower, or lying in bed about to conk out.  It’s when we least expect it that our best ideas come to us.  Just drifting away in your thoughts until you strike gold.  Unfortunately these aren’t favorable scenarios for putting your ideas into action.  Who knows how many flashes of brilliance have faded into nothingness or stuffed into the eternal pigeonhole? Don’t let this happen to you! You need a lesson in Rapid Prototyping, the fastest way to turn that idea into a reality.

Experienced instructor, CTO of Boundless, and friend of Intelligent.ly, Aaron White, is teaching a class on the basics of Rapid Prototyping with Twitter Bootstrap and Google App Engine on Thursday night. This class is for people who have conceived an idea and want to see it come to life, but don’t want to wait nine months. You’ll learn the fastest way to test your ideas through rapid prototyping and to see if they have value. Even if they don’t, you still have the time that you would’ve wasted developing with other methods!

You’ve taught a class here at Intelligent.ly before, an introduction to NoSQL with MongoDB.  Having that experience under your belt, what kinds of things do you think you’ll change and which strategies do you intend to employ again this time around?

I really enjoyed answering questions as students had them. To the extent I can encourage people to ask questions, the better I can make sure they find the content valuable. Also, I intend to create/give out more resources to students so they walk away with some real value. With my class on Rapid Prototyping, I’ll be giving out source code they can begin immediately building on top of, as well as a cheat-sheet on how to go from idea to live site.

It’s been said that you once built a site, TweetFavor.com, on a flight in just five hours. In a world where time wasted is money lost, how crucial is it to be able to produce quickly and progress constantly?

Extremely valuable! There’s a lot of value placed in high-quality robust engineering, and with good reason. However, when you’ve got a new idea, validating it is priority number one. The fastest path to validation is typically the right one, so being armed with the tools to quickly build an MVP is immensely important, as is having the mindset of knowing what is critical and what you can leave out until version 1.0.

Not everyone who wants to set up a page speaks code fluently. Are there any helpful tools or resources that you recommend to those who aren’t as technically savvy?

You don’t need to speak code fluently to test your ideas. Sometimes, you don’t really need any working code at all, sometimes just a landing page will do. To that end, there are a lot of great landing-page creation tools that will do the hosting and metric analysis for you. Unbounce.com springs to mind as good entry-level tool.

You plan to educate people on the Google App Engine.  What kinds of projects have you utilized this tool for yourself?

Quite a few! Intelligent.ly‘s website was built using a Google App Engine, as was Firetower (recently acquired by Crashlytics). It’s my go-to platform for testing new ideas.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from holding these classes, it’s that even the brightest of bulbs have the potential to shine a little brighter.  If you could be an expert in one skill by tomorrow, what would it be?

Personally? I’ve really enjoyed the leadership classes from Dave Balter, Kai Gray and David Cancel. Outside of improving in those areas, I’d love to finally learn to play that Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI) I bought three years ago.”

Staying Relevant in the Digital Age: Learning Coding for the Web

To put it simply, the web is the future. If there’s one essential skill that employees will need to set themselves apart in the digital age, it’s a strong familiarity with the way the internet works and at least a basic understanding of how to code for the web.

Virtually every legitimate company has some form of a website these days, and customers have come to expect it. Without one, a company has slim chances for success, so if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a good idea to have a grasp of HTML and CSS.

Intelligent.ly to the rescue! Join us HTML/CSS 101: Getting to Know the Face of the Web, taught by the one and only Tom Boates (@tomboates), Vice President of User Experience at RunKeeper.

Tom has a ton of experience in all things web design. He began coding for the web by starting off in Flash to create animated intros for sites in high school, moving on to freelancing for a number of projects including AJM Architects, Oedipus, and more, and now heads the development of the RunKeeper user interface.

In addition to being a design guru, Tom also has a passion for music and is the official DJ of the Patriots Cheerleaders. But how did he land that job? Tom told us how he got involved with the Pats and let us in on a few web design tips. Read on below.

I.LY: How did you become the official DJ of the Patriots Cheerleaders? Where did your passion for music come from?

TB: One of my great friends Robyn Glaser works with the Patriots organization and passed my mashups around to friends and it spread throughout the team offices.  I’m told the cheerleaders would listen to my mashups sometimes around practices before the director actually reached out to me to do their music.

My passion for music came from a very musical family–my mother was a vocalist and pianist, and my father was my HS band director and plays trombone professionally all over the country.  I used to compose 4 part versions of childrens songs in MarioPaint for Super nintendo and eventually graduated to professional notation software Finale arranging video game themes.  After playing trombone through grade school I picked up quite a few more instruments (guitar, bass, drums, etc.) and started writing songs, producing recordings, and eventually making the mashups I focus mostly on today.

I.LY: What are the differences between the three web coding languages HTML, Javascript, and CSS?

To me, HTML is the language that defines the structure of the content on your page, Javascript is a client side language that makes your web page more dynamic, allowing you to retrieve information from a database or manipulate elements of the page in real-time, and CSS is the language that merely defines how the content on your page looks.  There are actually some blurry lines there, but that’s probably the simplest way to break it down.

I.LY: What, in your opinion is the best way to go about starting to design for the web?

TB: In my opinion, learning how to code was probably the biggest asset to me when designing for the web.  Any graphic artist can make a beautiful design in a standalone package (like for print), but it takes a different perspective when designing a functional UI that lives and breathes like a web app.  In addition, there are little design choices that could translate to days of work.  Several years ago, designing something with rounded corners or shadows meant you had to tack on days or sometimes weeks to a design.  Knowing how something you design gets translated to code can help you make the best design decisions for both beauty and speed.

I.LY: What’s the easiest way to learn coding?

TB: Practice! While I definitely started from books to learn the specific syntax I needed to know to write code, it really wasn’t until I actually started writing code and bringing some creative visions I had to life that I started to really feel like I knew what I was doing.  Knowing what tools you need to use is a great start, but you won’t be a master of your craft until you’ve spent some time actually building things (and likely royally messing up several times along the way).

I.LY: If you could be an expert in one skill by tomorrow, what would it be?

TB: Flying a plane. I grew up near an air force base and have always been fascinated with planes and would love to be able to fly one some day.  My favorite plane is an A-10 Warthog and if I could somehow de-weaponize one and fly it recreationally I would!


Learn about HTML and CSS! Sign up for this class today!

HTML/CSS 101: Getting to Know the Face of the Web
Thursday, June 21, 2012
6:00 – 7:30 pm
500 Harrison Ave, 3R