1 Simple Path to Learn to Code For Free

People keep asking me what they should do to learn to code.  Usually I say, “Well, there’s Codecademy, MIT OpenCourseWare, Free Code Camp…”  It doesn’t take long for my listener’s eyes to glaze over as I inundate them with choices in an attempt to make sure that I help them find the best possible option for them.  

No More Choices

I’m not going to overwhelm you with options because it really doesn’t matter much.  They’re all great options, so why put one more decision between you and your education?  The important thing is that you start learning - today!  Once you have a solid understanding of coding and a basic fluency with one language and toolset, it will be ten times easier to learn new tools and languages.

Free Code Camp

From now on, when someone asks how to learn to code, I’m going to tell them to use Free Code Camp; I’m not going to give them any other confusing options.  Why pick them?
    •    It’s free. There are plenty of times when it makes perfect sense to pay someone to teach you to code (i.e. attending a Hack Reactor bootcamp), but not everyone can afford the time or money required to learn at a bootcamp, and I don’t think there should be any barriers between a person and the skills she needs to improve her life.
    •    They help charities.  You must build real-world applications to really learn to code, which means you need real-world problems to solve. So why not solve problems for charities that are making the world better?  At risk of sounding cliche, that’s a win-win.
    •    They only have one learning path.  Presenting a single learning path prevents learners from being confused by too many irrelevant choices.
    •    They have an active, free support community.  Only having one learning path has the added benefit of establishing a much larger community of learners (and potential mentors) who have learned exactly the same material and have already solved the problems you will face.
    •    It’s new to me.  Free Code Camp teaches the MEAN Javascript stack, which I haven’t learned yet.  I’m a senior Java and Groovy developer, so if I’m going to help people learn something, it might as well be something that expands my own horizons.

My Experiment

I’m going to teach myself to code (again) using Free Code Camp.  If you would like to join me, I’ll be learning in the Sharptop.io classroom in downtown Lynchburg from 10am till noon on Saturdays.  If you’re not local, you can find me streaming video questions and answers live on my periscope channel during that time.

Learn to Code for Free

Our bootcamps are a great way to learn and get hired. But what if you’re not ready to commit to a paid program? Free Community Meetup Days are gatherings held every other Saturday here at Sharptop; this Saturday we’re excited to continue our learning as we focus on CSS.

We’re building a real community around software development with our Community Meetup Days. Two weeks ago, over 25 learners came together to collaborate and learn from each other. We heard from Caner Uguz as he described the usefulness of jQuery and JavaScript, then spent over an hour working together and learning more about development.

So if you’ve thought about attending our coding bootcamp, or just want to learn about the process of building apps and making websites, Community Meetup Days are the perfect forum for you. We welcome beginners and professionals alike.

So don’t miss out! Hope to see you here this Saturday.

Hour of Code at Academy Center of the Arts

Software Development is a booming industry. The most in-demand jobs in this field average out to about $88,000 a year. Studies show that by 2020 the demand for these jobs will increase by over 30%, leaving a million more jobs than Computer Science students. Why does this matter?

Learning how to code is not only advantageous for adults looking for employment; it also has many positive effects on children. It teaches them to follow instructions, inspires creativity, and gives them a basic knowledge of Computer Science. Teaching children to code is an investment in their future.

We’re very excited to partner with the Academy Center of the Arts on an event that will teach the basics of coding in a simple and fun way that everyone can understand.

What is the Hour of Code?

Hour of Code is an opportunity for anyone to learn the basics of computer programming. It takes coding tasks and makes them fun by adding a game-like aspect. You can help R2D2 catch stormtroopers when you code with Star Wars or get a lesson from Mark Zuckerberg when you code with Angry Birds. It’s an hour of practical knowledge being taught in an easily-understood way.

So don’t miss out! All you need is a laptop or a tablet and you can start learning.

Tuesday December 8th
Thursday December 10th
The Academy Center of the Arts
600 Main St. Lynchburg, Va 24502


4 things we like about LoopBack

LoopBack is a modern, full-featured Node.js framework aimed at speeding up development of RESTful APIs and client side integrations. With the help of LoopBack’s CLI (command line interface), even the novice programmer will be able to quickly define a RESTful API.  

LoopBack has all the integrations you will need for databases (SQL and No-SQL based) and authentication, as well as full integration with StrongLoop Arc, which provides you with database visualization, application builds and deployments, scaling, and real-time monitoring.

Developernomics - What Is the Value of a Programmer?

Is becoming a software developer worth it? We’ll admit it, the road to learning the ins and outs of development isn’t for everyone. It takes passion and commitment, and more than a little bit of plain stubbornness. Read more about what our founder believes are the most important traits of a successful coding student.

A common fear for programming students is that they’ll put in months or years of work and never see results in the form of a respectable job. We’d like to let Forbes Magazine put those fears to rest.

In the article “The Rise of Developernomics”, Venkatesh Rao tells investors that “The one absolutely solid place to store your capital today...  is in software developers’ wallets.” He argues that software skills are the most portable high-end skills on the planet, and that good developers have immense bargaining power.

What does this mean for you? If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, and have what it takes to learn how to code, then a bright future awaits you in the world of software development.

 We at Sharptop are eager to help educate future developers. We recently announced a Coding Bootcamp beginning soon and a Mentorship Program available immediately. If you think development is for you, and want to learn more about how to write software, set up a meeting with us with us today.

Software is Eating the World

You’re reading this post from a device: perhaps it’s a smartphone, maybe it’s a laptop or an iPad. And when you leave that device or put it in your pocket, this post will be waiting for you, until you decide to use any number of other devices to pick up where you left off. The world is now powered by the cloud, and on-demand access to people, documents, and media isn’t just a perk any more, it’s practically a necessity. Why?

Because software is eating the world.

It’s hard to think of a major industry that doesn’t rely on software: banks, retail stores, manufacturers, schools, shipping companies, and on and on. The New York Stock Exchange, the center of the world economy, recently came to a complete stop for 4 hours because of “a technical issue”.

For some, this revolution in how the world works is frightening. Those who are uneducated about technology and unaware of how software works might feel helpless to control even their own devices. Entrepreneurs and businesspeople with dreams to change the world may find themselves unequipped in this new software-centric world.

We at Sharptop Company are proud to be a part of the positive change that software can create in our communities. Our founders have been deep in the world of software for over 15 years, and part of our mission is to help others learn about this world and enter it for themselves.

A huge step for us in this effort has been our involvement with TechHire, a White House initiative that seeks to empower local communities to fill technology jobs in their region. We recently became the only site in Virginia (and in the coastal Southeast) to be an approved TechHire training facility.

If you’re looking to become a developer, or perhaps you want to expand your skill set in your current role, we invite you to give our programs a look. Our coding bootcamp will train you about the basics of web development, and our mentorship program will immerse you in the world of software development. Our mission is to educate you and help you achieve your technology goals.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a meeting with us today.

Entrepreneur of the Year

Last night, I received the honor of being named Entrepreneur of the Year by Virginia's Region 2000 Technology Council.  It is a great honor, and I credit the Sharptop Company team and their tireless efforts to bring top quality software development to Central Virginia.  

Of course, none of this would be possible without my beautiful wife, Laura, who supports my demanding schedule while heroically managing our household of six biological, adopted, and foster children.  If anyone deserves an award, it’s her.

A large part of the reason we received this award is due to our participation in Lynchburg’s designation as a White House TechHire community.  Our team has been doing amazing work to support this initiative, but the Lynchburg EDA is really the organization that made TechHire possible.  It was last year’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Dustin Slightham, who recognized the congruence of our abilities and the EDA’s mission and connected our organizations.  I’ll always be thankful for his friendship and the connections he’s made for us.

I’m actually very surprised at the award.  The other finalist, Stefanie Prokity of Successful Innovations, is doing amazing work to increase family engagement in education that deserves to be commended.

I’m really excited about the future of Lynchburg and Sharptop.  The White House predicts that America will have a deficit of 1 million software jobs by 2020, and traditional four year institutions simply cannot keep up with the demand.  Lynchburg is a city with a blue collar ethos, which will be an amazing asset as a new class of blue collar technologists rises up to meet this national challenge.  Lynchburg’s work ethic combined with innovative education methods and fearless leadership truly makes Lynchburg the City of Opportunity.