Learnings from a new Dad Chapter #1


Get these before you baby is born…

It’s only been 9 days since my son Nash was born. It’s been a crazy ride so far. Truly awesome. I’m writing this as I sit in a rocking chair to keep him asleep, thinking how amazing this is and also the resources that are helping me be a parent.


APPS

Anyone who’s met me knows I’m a such a sucker for apps and IoT in general. Here are some apps that I swear by when I first becoming a parent.

Contractions App — Smart Contractions Timer

This app is easy to use stopwatch to track your wife’s contractions. The reviews are mixed. But in my experience this app told me to go to hospital…which prompted us to ring the midwife. If we left it any later we would have had a home birth. Just sayin’. Moral of the story…is call the midwife!

Sound Sleeper

A collection of looping sounds, it’s worth upgrading so that you can have continuous play on. My wife and I have grown accustom to the Rain sounds, it is quite soothing for the whole family in the first days of birth.

This works really well with portable Bluetooth Speakers. My wife and I have a couple, one in the bed room and one in the living room. We also take it with us when going out for walks or to the shops.

VacciDate

Get reminders for your child’s vaccination dates.

I don’t care where you stand, vaccinate your god-damn kids, there’s a reason why polio is no longer around people! Rant. Over.

SIDS and Kids safe sleeping

Let’s face it, being responsible for tiny human is overwhelming. Keanu Reeves character (Todd Higgins) in the movie ‘Parenthood’ says it all.

The app is a great resource intended to equip you with information regarding SIDS and will ease your worries about your baby sleeping well.


CHANGE TABLE KIT

Baby Poop Everywhere Buzz Lightyear Meme
Baby Poop Everywhere

There will be poop everywhere make sure you dedicate a space for changing dirty diapers.

Change Table Mat and Cover

These are a must have, we got two covers just incase you need to wash one and have one handy to use straight away.

Hospital Blueys aka Puppy Training Pads

puppypad

These work well with your change table mat. It will catch any rogue poos and wees.

Water Wipes & Coconut Oil

My son’s skin was peeling and flakey which is common in new borns. However, my wife and I (both experienced clinicians — not parents) were confused with all the advice that is out there regarding new born baby skin. We got some great advice from one of our midwives during a visit when we asked about managing our son’s skin.

“If you can’t consume it safely, then don’t put it on your baby”

After hearing this, she suggested using putting some coconut oil on a cotton bud and gently applying. We already had water wipes which work really well for cleaning baby bottoms. So, if your child’s skin does get flakey maybe try some coconut oil and no need to go crazy with that stuff.

DIAPER / NAPPY BIN

This. Thing. Is. Awesome.

I’m not going to make this into a discussion on reusable vs disposable diapers. Do what you like, but I have to emphasise that there will be poop everywhere.

Poop Everywhere.

Your sleep pattern will be disturbed constantly and the last thing you or your wife will want to do is wash a dirty diaper. That being said…I highly recommend a diaper bin and refills. It wraps it up tightly, keeping your home from smelling like a pile of dirty diapers. Honestly, the person(s) that built this is an absolute genius.

I know it’s bit random list of things…I hope you find this list useful when becoming a parent for the 1st time.


If you liked this recommend and share it. I had a great time writing it.
Follow me on Twitter @neilbo21, Blog, AboutMe, LinkedIn.

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Why I built the 6MWT App

6 minute walk test App

I used to co-ordinate Chermside Community Centre’s Cardiac Rehab Program and also North Lakes Health Precinct. The program is designed for patients who are recovering from a recent Cardiac event such as Heart Attack or Bypass surgery.

We would conduct this test, which is the Gold Standard across the board, dare I say globally as well.

Once a patient has been accepted into the program we would need to gauge a patients level of fitness. This was done by conducting a Six Minute Walk Test. Basically we get the patient to walk to the best of their ability for six minutes on a flat surface. We would also track their Oxygen and Heart Rate as well.

We would bring out a stopwatch, clipboard that held the forms and a calculator to help us complete this test.

I thought to myself…what a waste of time. We have all these things on our phone! I would go to work then go home to the 21st Century. It was (and still is to this day ) a bit ridiculous. I began to search to see if there was an App that already existed and couldn’t find one out there at all. So I decided to do it myself.

I was always interested in web development and computer programming in my younger years, but chose to do Nursing instead of Information Technology Studies for various reasons.

I started off trying to learn C++, which was the wrong thing and too deep a learning curve to achieve my goals. I remember I used to dabble with Geocities sites and stuff in my younger years so I wanted to go down that path. At the time, building mobile apps was all the rage, but even then the learning curve was steep too.

I messed around with various libraries and frameworks which you can see in this Prezi on How I made it to the App Store. But I eventually built it with jQuery Mobile and PhoneGap (before it was acquired by Adobe and “renamed” to Cordova)

I’m quite proud of what I achieved back then, learning essentially on my own. I managed to get 6MWT app into the App store after a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

I get downloads every week, but not making any real profit from it. It’s not got great reviews, but that’s the whole point. Moral of the story is to just create something and put into the wild. It’s an awesome feeling. You get faster feedback as well and learn what users want. Trust me users will tell you if something is not right.

I’d like to improve the 6MWT App since I’ve learned a lot since obtaining a role as a UI Developer/UX Designer at ThoughtWorks. Although I’ve just become a father for the first time, so I’m not sure when that will be.

Solve small problems first, that’s how you provide value to the world and that’s how you learn to do crazy things like teach yourself how to build an app.

If you liked this recommend and share it. I had a great time writing it.
Follow me on Twitter, AboutMe, LinkedIn.

If you are a Clinician that is interested in 6MWT App, Check it out.

5 Javascript Libraries that make your life easier

Lodash JSUnderscore JS

Lodash is smaller in size and documentation looks better than Underscore. But it is much of muchness when using them. Use these libraries for their helper functions that you can chain together. It makes sorting, filtering and mapping so easy. I’m a big fan of pluck, each, map, assign functions.

Moment JS

Moment JS makes dealing with time and javascript way simpler. You feel like Hiro Nakamura manipulating time and space. It’s easy to compare, calculate and manipulate date and times.

jsPDFPDFJS

Need I say more?
These two libraries are great for rendering your HTML files as PDF. jsPDF seems to be pretty easy to implement and has some really cool examples. PDFJS is dependent on javascript promises, if you are not familiar with promises I’d either get up to speed or use jsPDF.

 

D3JS

This is the Library you use to render Charts and Graphs. D3JS helps you bind your data so you can visualise it. You’ll have to become familiar with SVG, which can take time to learn but it’s really cool.

Check out these cool examples:

Polymer JS

This a library if you need easy web components. For example if you want to drop a Google Map in your website, you don’t need to do something like this.

You just do it like this. Just give the include Polymer JS and it’s dependencies then just add the google map component and give it some coordinates…Simples!

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed this. I did give you 2 more libraries than promised so feel free to comment below.

Teach yourself how to code without breaking the bank!

A black and white picture of a hand on a mouse, keyboard and a coffee cup

I’ve been curious about web and app development for a while now. I switched my career from Cardiac Nursing to UI Developer/UX Designer 2 years ago. If you’re like me, it takes me a while to grasp concepts as I’m a bit of a slow learner. But sometimes the commitment to learn in depth courses can really set you back in the back pocket. So here are some interactive tutorials that won’t set you back while keeping it fun and interactive.

Online Schools

There are so many places to get started for FREE. I highly recommend

Code Academy

I started out with Codecademy, it’s grown a lot since I first started using it. It only used to have basic HTML, CSS, Javascript, jQuery, PHP, Rails…when I first joined. It’s grown immensely and cannot recommend it enough. I was still a nurse and coding in my spare time.

Code School

This is also a great place to start. It’s got really funny videos and instructors. I first learnt AngularJS with this course. I also have more in depth resources on learning AngularJS here. But in all honesty, it’s a got more than just AngularJS tutorials.

Udemy

I’m a bit of an addict to Udemy courses. Pro-tip: wait until they have a sale to buy courses. You can go through the video curriculum, wishlist them for later then buy them when they go on sale.

Khan Academy

Free large courses, not just coding. So sign up to get learning.

Lynda

(Free trial, not so free)

If you live in QLD, sign up to the SLQ website to get free Lynda courses.

TreeHouse

(Free trial, not so free).

Their videos and courses look really good. But I have never tried because of pricing, they do have a free trial. They do have a blog that does come in handy as well.

Free Code Camp

I “met” with Quincy Larson who reached out to me when I was answering questions on Quora a while ago. He’s got an awesome community called Free Code Camp. I’d recommend these courses for absolute beginners, it’s pretty good. Don’t be off put by the number of hours estimated to complete the course. Coding can be hard and it can take time which is why I like Free Code Camp so much…I felt like an idiot when I was trying to learn by myself a few years ago. It took me 9 months to build my first app. I could probably build it in 1 week now that I have more experience. I wish this was around then to help me out.

I’ve signed up just to learn the Backend Javascript.

Disclaimer: I did not get anything for mentioning this, Quincy and Free Code Camp are awesome.

HTML CSS

(client side / front-end )

Is essential in web development. HTML is your mark up that structure your website or web app. CSS makes it interactive and look pretty. Think of HTML as your bones, and CSS as the meat on that bone.

Basic HTML & CSS courses (FREE at the time of posting this blog…hopefully still free):

CSS Diner: Fun and interactive way of learning CSS

CSS Diner

CodeSchool:

HTML CSS Path

Learn Web Development

Udemy:

HTML Workshop

Learn HTML5 from scratch

HTML and CSS for beginners crash course

Javascript

(client side / front-end, except for Node.js)

Javascript is a browser language…it’s the most versatile language and gaining momentum as it has so many frameworks, libraries etc. If you’ve heard of AngularJS, ReactJS, EmberJS, BackboneJS, KnockoutJS, jQuery, Typescript, CoffeeScript…these are all built on top of Javascript. A special mention to Node.js of course as this is Javascript in the backend (server-side Javascript). Along with HTML and CSS, you can build some pretty interactive and awesome apps and websites.

I’m currently very familiar with Angular JS…although I’d like to try Ember and React. I’ve written another blog post on Helpful JS libraries for any project.

Ruby on Rails

(server side / back-end language)

Ruby is a great language to get started with development. It’s been made popular by packaging it up in the Rails framework. Google Ruby on Rails tutorials to get started there are plenty around for you to dip your toes into. You’d be surprised how easy it is build something of value with ease. So just to clarify again Ruby is a language, Rails is a framework built on top of Ruby to get started…seriously if you want to dip your toes into development try Ruby on Rails.

Try Ruby here

Rails for Zombies

http://railscasts.com/

Clojure

(server side / back-end language)

I’m not familiar with Clj (Clojure) but found some great resources.

http://www.tryclj.com/

http://clojurekoans.com/

https://learnxinyminutes.com/docs/clojure/

Python

(server side / back-end language)

I’m not familiar with Python but found some great resources. Python seems pretty similar to Ruby syntax to me but here’s a tutorial to see for yourself.

http://www.learnpython.org/

Git

(is a version control tool)

Version control is probably one of the hardest concepts to grasp as a self-taught coder. Luckily there are some great tutorials out there that are interactive. If you want to become a developer of any kind you need to learn git. Although there are apps for git such as SourceTree and GitHub Desktop to help you out, I’d recommend learning Command-Line Tools version of git as it is very fast to learn.  (I’ll be posting more on git in another blog post).

Code School’s try Git course

Atlassian has a great interactive tutorial

a more in-depth tutorial by Atlassian

Once you get familiar with git create yourself a GitHub account and a BitBucket account.
I recommend a bitbucket account for free private repositories but definitely first create your Github account to link to.

Youtube

Free videos that you can search how to get started with coding. It’s incredible what you will find on here to get started. It can be a bit scattered, but there are some gems in there that people have taken the time to make good tutorials so invest some time and pop those headphones on to get going.

Stackoverflow

Stackoverflow is the developer forum for all your needs. It’s likely when you first start coding that someone else has run into the same problem. Stackoverflow is your friend, rather the awesome people that contribute to this awesome community are your friends. So if in doubt Google it but also Stackoverflow it.

Vim

(a text Editor on steroids)

I know a lot of Developers swear by Vim, I’m unfamiliar with it as I use Sublime. (I have post coming soon on my favourite IDE’s)

What Is Vim?

Vim is a highly configurable text editor built to enable efficient text editing. It is an improved version of the vi editor distributed with most UNIX systems.

Vim is often called a “programmer’s editor,” and so useful for programming that many consider it an entire IDE. It’s not just for programmers, though. Vim is perfect for all kinds of text editing, from composing email to editing configuration files.

Despite what the above comic suggests, Vim can be configured to work in a very simple (Notepad-like) way, called evim or Easy Vim.

What Vim Is Not?

Vim isn’t an editor designed to hold its users’ hands. It is a tool, the use of which must be learned.

Vim isn’t a word processor. Although it can display text with various forms of highlighting and formatting, it isn’t there to provide WYSIWYG editing of typeset documents. (It is great for editing TeX, though.)

http://vim-adventures.com/

http://www.openvim.com/

Overall, this post is supposed to give you a range of ways to learn how to code for free. I hope you find what you like and what you don’t like so that you get a taste of coding. I still love it. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing this.

So there you have it…if you have your own suggestions to add please comment below!

New Adventure begins…

I said goodbye to my Cardiac Rehab Nursing Job yesterday, and honestly it’s a bit surreal. I’ve left jobs before, usually with another one ready to hop into but this time is different. I’m leaving to pursue a career in web development, but ultimately I’d really like to have a start-up software product that solves real problems for people. I’ve got a few ideas in my mind, but they mainly relate to filling in the gaps with crappy software used in the QLD health (HBCIS, Journey Board etc). The problem is that I don’t think the health industry (in QLD anyway) is prepared invest into solving these problems. I’m also a big fan of cloud-based software, but there is a perceived (and very valid) risk of security of such sensitive health information in the cloud.

I guess health is all I know at this stage, so I’m stepping out of the health industry because it just isn’t lean/agile enough for me. I’m not saying I’m an agile expert or anything, but If there’s one thing I know about the health industry it’s that change for the good does not happen quickly. The people making the decisions about the way it is delivered do not have a clue about what goes on at the ground level, also there is no trust in the people doing the ground work to make good decisions. Even from a high level managerial point a view, the lack of control is ridiculous…freezing on recruitment, cutting front-line staff, cutting specialised teams, merging teams with no real direction. Take the Payroll Bungle for example, some idiot who probably still works at QLD Health/Politics decided to roll in a new payroll system without testing it. You don’t need to be an agile/lean expert to know about the impact of not testing something as important as a Payroll system for the whole of QLD Health. To this day, no one has taken responsibility for this action. It resulted in employees getting $0.00 per fortnight and others getting extra thousands of dollars. They handled this by giving people $200 dollar coupons which we had to pay back later…ridiculous. Ultimately, the motive of the health industry is $$$ not taking care of it’s workers or patients (I’m not talking about the private sector either)…it just doesn’t make sense to me.

So that went a little bit off tangent, so back to new adventures…

I’m currently preparing for an interview at ThoughtWorks on Monday for a front-end dev/design role before I work today at the Hospital (yes, I still work for QLD Health once a week). I’m trolling through the website gaining insights into the company which looks like a great place to work as my values match up with theirs. I’m reading Lean Startup by Eric Ries which is so far very insightful and interesting. I am also attending a course at Udemy User Experience: The Ultimate Guide to Usability by Dr David Travis which is a great resource for learning about user research and UX in general. I thought it would be a great idea to see what my interviewers have to say on their blogs/presentations, which gives me an insight to their perspectives on UX design.

I’ll let you all know how I go on Monday, looking forward to the experience of being a possible Thought Worker. In the meantime I have lots on my mind to keep me occupied such as my wedding in less than two weeks.

2 weeks to go!

It still hasn’t fully sunk in that I have quit my main nursing job. But I am pretty excited about finishing up in 2 weeks. I thought making a blog post will help me come to realisation that I have indeed closed one door to open another.
Looking back I do not regret taking the cardiac rehab position as…

  • I have learned a lot and in the process and met some great people who have become good friends,
  • I wouldn’t have ever made the 6mwt app which ignited my curiosity into web apps and coding,
  • I wouldn’t have met my good friend Steve who I consider to be a great mentor and fellow bro-grammer. We built brizinga in 3 weeks for the hack::Brisbane competition in 2012.
  • I wouldn’t have started to think about problems such as duplication, lack of automation and decreased productivity in the health industry…which is pretty bad and quite common. Having the experience gives me the drive to help solve these problems. I just want to make software that shifts the focus back on to the patient/client and not the paper work that is needed.

Things I’m looking forward to…

  • More time to increase my skills
  • Creative Freedom
  • Solving problems in a different way

Things I’m tentative about…

  • Trading in the money for time
  • Keeping Motivated
  • Keeping Focused

Since I gave my notice to resign a month go, I have not looked back since. One of the major things that really pushed me over the edge to pursue this path was that I had applied for another nursing job (quite similar to one I have now, but in a different speciality), thinking that this would solve my angst in my current job. I got an interview with the panel and was very motivated to do well in the interview. But when I finished the interview I couldn’t shake this feeling that I was going to end up in the same place asking myself “Will this make me happy?”. I ended up withdrawing my application as I felt I was going to have the same dilemma…feeling stuck in another nursing job I did not necessarily enjoy and only dreaming of being a web developer. In the grand scheme of things, the best time to start is now before I have any more responsibilities…such as having a mortgage and kids.

It’s about leveraging my time and staying focused on the goal. I plan to take my Udemy Courses (that I have purchased over several months, but never had the time to do), I have a lists of goals on my Trello account to achieve, I will continue my education with CodeAcademy (PHP, Ruby), hopefully get into the Ruby Code School at NetEngine, apply to Thought Works Grad Program, I’ll also consider Lynda.com, CodeSchool.com and Tertiary Study.

The last month has been reassuring as I have been getting interviews and face-to-face contact with potential employers and clients. Overall I’m looking forward in pivoting my skills in a totally different environment.

If you have similar experiences I’d like to hear about it…the good, bad and the ugly…