Coding Through A Crisis

Mike Pottebaum
3 min readMar 16, 2020

As someone who is very new to programming, learning software engineering at a coding bootcamp is already a trying and, at times, overwhelming experience on its own. Attempting to maintain the bootcamp’s quick pace of learning remotely while also navigating the first global pandemic of my lifetime feels nearly impossible.

Following the spread of Coronavirus throughout the United States, my school switched to fully remote classes just as our curriculum was switching from Sinatra to Ruby On Rails.

As a result, I spent most of this past weekend avoiding Rails. There are so many files and folders. It felt like too much to handle while also scouring the city for groceries and trying to figure out if we’re going to be able to get toilet paper.

This was weird for me because, from the beginning of the program up until now, I’ve been spending almost all of my time coding. An unhealthy amount of time.

After our first Module where we learned the basics of Ruby and ActiveRecord and built full CLI applications, I spent the following weekend building my own CLI game, Badgers And Gyms.

The ‘&’ symbol is the player and the ‘%’ symbols are the badgers

The premise of the game is that the player is stuck in a gym with murderous badgers. The player can either kill the badgers with grenades or escape through the exit at the top of the screen.

Choosing the grenade throw angle

I was especially proud after building the grenade throw. The player first chooses an angle (pictured above), then a power level between one and three. The game then shows an animation of the grenade toss.

The ‘@’ symbol is the grenade

Followed by the explosion.

Got ‘em

The more you win, the more badgers that appear in your gym.

This game was a lot of fun to build, and it really helped me rediscover the joy in coding after that first module. So this weekend, after avoiding Rails for all of Saturday despite being in my apartment (social distancing!), I tried to figure out something fun I could do with my very new and limited Rails skills.

My first Rails app

I dug around for an API I could use to make something simple and found this one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The app is very simple. Every time the user refreshes the page, the app displays a different piece of art on display at the Met with some information about the piece, including its location in the museum.

While the app is still a work in progress, I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish in a day, and I feel ready to explore Rails further going forward.

This social distancing thing is a real drag (as a friend said recently, “War and disease never seem to come at convenient times”), but as long as I remember to play around with the very cool things I am learning to do right now, I think I’ll be all right.