The next project after the score app was to build a quiz app. Given my medical/healthcare background, I decided to produce a Medical Quiz.
The app preparation and creation included plans with drawings, spider grams, lists, pseudocode and a variety of other planning tools before writing any code. Taking those drawings and creating an xml layout (single page) by creating, positioning and styling views then creating interactivity through button clicks and Java code – commenting and documenting the code as you went.
My six question quiz incorporated questions with radio buttons (one choice from four or five possible only), check boxes (as many possible choices as there are questions) which were used when multiple right answers were required and one EditText where the person completing the quiz would type in the correct answer – hopefully. After each question had been answered the submit answers would be pressed. When the “Submit Answers” button was pressed a pop-up message would tell how many points had been achieved with two points awarded for each correct answer, even if there were two or three correct answers per question. If all of the answers were answered correctly, a different pop-up would be seen saying “You have scored a maximum of fourteen points!” The pop-up messages are officially called “toast messages” because they pop-up – neat!
There was a problem; I gave it to my son to play with and he pointed out a problem very quickly – it has to be said that my son was in his late twenties and was already a software coding god! He had earned his living as a senior software developer for several years at that point. He said, “If I fill all of the check boxes, I can get full marks even if I have also checked the wrong answers”. I learned how to put the check boxes for a particular question into a group and then limit how many check boxes were allowed to be checked in that group. Sorting out the scores was largely about a whole load of if(namedButton.isChecked) flow control statements with the instruction to add two points to the variable “score” if it was true (the condition had been met – boolean). I submitted the project and that was the final project for the “Google Developer Challenge” part of my journey. There was a lot of speculation and activity surrounding who would be accepted onto the full Nanodegree scholarship. There had been 20,000 people chosen for the Android Basics Track and only 2,000 would go forward to the next part. They were looking for those who were able to progress with the work but they also stipulated that those most supportive, communicative and active on the various forums that they had provided. I mentioned in an earlier post about the Udacity based forums but there was also two Slack channels; one was a general Udacity Student support channel and the other was a channel for the track that we were on – so I was on the Android Basics channel. There was a lot of support on the various channels from other students, we were encouraged to support other students and there were a few mentors who helped out with queries too. In order to progress, we had to be seen to be active participants – there was a flurry of activity when we neared the end of the challenge.
Fortunately for me, I made the cut and I was invited to continue on to the next phase. There will be more about that next time…
I started my Nanodegree on the 6th of November 2017. The course was administered on-line as so many of these courses are and I was assigned a mentor.
I was first shown how to install Android Studio and then set about creating my first project – a birthday card. It was really an exercise in getting to grips with the user interface and XML. Android Studio created a Main Activity (Java) but I wasn’t expected to go anywhere near it at that stage. I was encouraged to play around and make a variety of designs of birthday cards/Christmas cards in XML using LinearLayout and Relative Layout. Very soon it was time to sent off my first project for “marking”:-
The first project was a single page “Business card” or similar using various styling instructions in .xml – margins, layouts, sizing of text, pictures and “views”. This was mine. The address is that of Udacity in Mountain View, the logo – Udacity and the photo; an appropriate one was found with a web search. Quite fetching, don’t you think? Unfortunately, it wasn’t interactive yet.
The next step was to learn how to get our designs to do something which meant getting into Java coding. I was guided through an app called Court Counter – a score keeping app and was encouraged to code “as you go”. In the end I had a score counter based on the the game of tennis to refer to before creating the next submitted project, but I’ll tell you all about that next time…
As you may well have read in my “About” section, I was once a Registered Nurse and later, a Resuscitation trainer – this little factoid will come in useful once I get to the bit where I describe what I have been working on recently. Please bear with me. I had always taken photographs and thought that it would be a jolly wheeze if I was to retire early and make a living as a photographer. I have a photography blog which gives a fuller picture of the photography adventure (link on header to each page if you are interested – please visit at least once) but suffice to say, it didn’t bring the fame and fortune that I craved. During that time I started to play with Android photo editing apps on my phone after a very talented photographer called Gerry Coe came to the local camera club that I attended. He had won numerous awards for his photography and had moved on to win awards with his iPhone photography. I was hooked. I started to play with Snapseed, Picsart, PhotoLabPro, Prisma, and a whole lot more using my photographs and posting them on my Photo Instagram page*. My next thought was to see if I could find out how to write an Android photo app for myself. I mentioned this to a friend of mine one evening at the camera club and the following morning, he sent me a link to Google Garage where they were offering scholarships to study for one of four Google Nanodegrees.
Android Basics Nanodegree
Android (advanced) Nanodegree
Android Basics Web development Nanodegree
Android (advanced) Web development Nanodegree
At the age of 56 I decided to apply for the Android Basics Nanodegree; I did not have any previous experience of writing code, just a kid with a crazy dream!
I applied and was accepted. The course was run by Udacity and the first stage was “The Google Developer Challenge”
The scholarship was for three months and there were 20,000 selected across Europe for each of the two basic strands and 10,000 for each of the more advanced strands. I did well in the first phase and was given another scholarship to study for a further six months for the full Nanodegree. There were only 2000 people on each strand invited to continue and I was one of the fortunate ones.
There will be more about my journey through my Nanodegree with Udacity in my next post.
*I have two Instagram pages; a photography page (@paulcullenphoto) for which there is a link through my photography website and a new “Developer” page (@cullendevelopment) to which this website is linked.
I have a third site “uncorked bottle” (link under header on each page) if you are interested in my wine blog.