Seemingly everywhere you look Amazon is disrupting there way to life changing technology. They’ve changed the face of retail and grocery shopping in an instant and now could potentially challenge Google in voice search.

What started as an online book store over 20 yrs ago has morphed into the most convenient way to interact with the world.

Lets go over some of the most impactful thing that Amazon has done. Try and keep in mind that most people would trade anything for the sake of convenience. If you don’t believe me all you have to do is remind yourself of the Facebook data breach. In that situation, we traded our personal data and behaviors for the convenience of staying connected with friends and family. With Amazon, it’s not all doom and gloom.

They do utilize our data but in exchange, we are saving a lot more time than if we had to do a lot of this in person.

1-Click Shopping

A long time ago, shopping online was more of an inconvenience and people were paranoid with putting their personal information on the internet. Now people just want the quickest most seamless online experience so they can spend more time with their family.

So, with that, 1-click shopping was born so you didn’t have to keep typing in all your personal information over and over again.

Democratizing e-commerce

How does a small mom and pop scale and compete with the big boys? Amazon saw an opportunity by releasing Amazon Web Services which is a cloud computing service. AWS just grossed $7.9 billion in 2015!

Amazon Marketplace

Interested in working for yourself? Amazon made it easy for people to learn how to try it out by selling online. With customer trust at the center of it all, they laid the foundation of how people bought and sold online. In the early days of the internet, there was an all around lack of trust and Amazon did everything they could to change that.

Amazon also allowed for customers to read excerpts from the book before buying on the hunch that they would buy more if they knew what was inside.

In this case, they were 100% correct but most publishers didn’t like this approach until they saw their sales go up.

Return Policies

Returning an item used to be a giant waste or time and in some cases, a very stress filled experience. Amazon changed that allowing shoppers to just keep some items and get a refund. It saved them money on shipping and created a lot of good will among shoppers.

Better Communication

There is records for everything. When you buy something, you get an email, when it ships, you get an email, scheduled delivery comes with an email as well.

Amazon Prime

This is changing shipping by allowing you to get same day delivery and free 2-day shipping on thousands of items. It’s also somewhat of a loyalty program and also comes with entertainment with prime video.

Amazon no doubt couldn’t have done all this without their visionary leader Jeff Bezos. WIth that being said, they also employ an army of the most brilliant engineers on the planet who understand how to code and think critically.

If you’d like to be a part of something that is rapidly changing the world for the better, then join coder school! Our code coaches™ will help you in a focused environment where everyone collaborates and has fun.

We believe coding is about a whole lot more than text files and folders – it’s about learning how to think critically, become more efficient, organized, and change the world for the better!

A common misconception is that coding will take jobs away but that can’t be further from the truth as it will actually create more jobs.  If you’ve ever worked on a website, or looked at a github project with millions of commits, you’ll understand that there’s always something to do in the world of programming, developing, or flat out improving your skill set.

For example, Google is the result of 2 billion pieces of code over the last 20 years and it’s only growing in size! While this is an extreme case, even a small piece of software can result in thousands of pieces of code and hundreds of commits on github.

One of our favorite sayings is “ If you hangout at the barbershop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut.” If you hangout at theCoderSchool long enough, you’re going to understand technology at a much deeper level.

So, even if coding isn’t for you, we thought we’d give you a few more reasons to learn how to code even if you don’t want to code for the next 20 years.

New Language

“Learning to code and work effectively with technology is like learning a new language. If you plan to spend a lot of time working with technology, you should understand the language of your new environment.”

Web developers and programmers are literally speaking a different language. Because of that, their workflow is completely different than, lets say, than the marketing department. If you have an excellent idea or vision, then it’s in your best interest to learn this language so you can set realistic goals. You’ll also need to understand developers to manage people more effectively.

Talent Evaluation

“For any startup that leverages technology (don’t they all?), hiring the right team is mission critical.”

If people are your greatest asset, then it’s important to find the very best to help bring your vision to reality. Understanding how to code will allow you to spot the best talent out there.

Product development

“To build the next great web application, iPhone game or productivity app, you need passion, creativity, a great team and perhaps some special sauce. You also need to effectively schedule and manage projects.”

If you have a product, it may take quite a few iterations before it becomes exactly what you want it to be. It may take months, or even years, for it to even become usable. Even then, there will be a few unexpected surprises that pop up along the way.  Learning how to code will help you map out the development of the project from start to finish setting realistic goals along the way.

Getting your hands dirty

“Rather than having to interrupt your tech team to make a small change to your website or update content in your app, you’ll have the ability and confidence to make a change without fearing a site shut down or interruption of business.”

You’ll run into tight deadlines along the way and because it’s hard to find good help, you will most likely be understaffed as well. Knowing how to code will allow you to jump in and help your team complete the project. It will save you a lot more time and money if you’re able to do this and you’ll have a whole new level of respect for the people who took the time to master it.

Critical thinking

“Strong critical thinking skills facilitate good decision making, and there is no better way to learn to think critically than by learning to code.”

At theCoderSchool, we always say that learning to code is learning how to think. By learning how to code, you’re essentially developing your decision making process for the better.

Parents may be wondering if spending the money to teach their kids how to code is worth it. While average salaries for coding are much higher than most, it would help to at the very least map out a path to somewhat follow along the way. Sitting down with your kids and looking at what others in technology are doing can help you figure out what could be the most fun career path to choose from.

Anamita Guha, for example, is an IBM Watson product manager which allows her to work on the forefront of the AR, VR, and AI technology boom. She describes how she works as “organized chaos”, which is extremely accurate when working in tech, especially if you end up in a startup.

(Hint: A lot of folks in our after school coding program might end up working for a startup!)

 Photo by KeremYucel/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by KeremYucel/iStock / Getty Images

How did she get her start?

Anamita spent most of her childhood moving to different parts of the world, including India and Kansas (of all places).

“I became intrigued by people and specifically, how they think and process situations. I was also lucky to grow up in Silicon Valley, where both of my parents worked in tech, and always brought home the latest tech gadgets or taught me about emerging trends. I actually began designing websites for others as a side job when I was just nine years old!”

This gave her the opportunity to see how people react to different situations in different states. It was during this time that understanding behavior and how people dealt with different situations that laid the groundwork for working with IBM Watson.

She also relishes in the fact that her workday is always different as well as very flexible. While most of her day doesn’t revolve around coding, her in-depth understanding of human behavior and the technology allows her to impact the world from a different perspective. When you learn code, it doesn’t always mean you have to carve out a living in the trenches. You can oversee teams of programmers and developers while pushing the technology forwards in a completely different way.

As a coder, you’ll soon become enamored with becoming more efficient and productive with your time and Anamita is no different. There is a never ending amount of things to do and becoming a master at productivity is the best way to take care of it all.

“I am obsessed with color coding and handwriting notes, so I can’t live without my colorful set of pens, notebooks, and Post-It notes. I also need music or noise to focus, so Spotify is a must-have. Additionally, I rely on my Google Calendar to help me organize my day, and lastly, I use voice-centric gadgets like Siri on my Apple Watch a lot.”

In the coding world, it’s easy to forget that it’s people who are the ones coming up with the ideas and writing it in the first place. Anamita fully understands that as she believes people are “your most valuable assets” so she takes the time to get to know everyone on a personal level which helps build trust so she understands what they do best.

A lot of people may be worried that artificial intelligence will take over the world rendering humans completely useless but that isn’t true!

“Artificial intelligence is not going to take over the world! I like to think of AI to be augmented intelligence, as it exists to make our world more efficient and easier.”

You can get started on a similar career path by joining the Coder School, interacting with the community, and working with our Code Coaches®

By Noah S., Age 16

Game theory is actually not the name of a youtube channel. It is, but that term is actually derived off a complex study called “Game Theory”. Game theory is the study of interactions between intelligent “things”. Whether this thing is a human, AI, or some other kind of rational thinking thing it up to you. Game theory is most commonly used in political science and economics, although its use can also be widened to cover topics like logic and computer science. This is what I researched while I made my battleship, which utilized 2 intelligent things as well, the player (you) and the AI. This topic is very broad, so I will discuss some examples and try to tie them together at the end of this post.

One famous study of game theory is the “prisoner’s dilemma”. Two prisoners, A and B, are being interrogated for the same crime. If both prisoners rat each other out, they get 5 years of prison. If A rats out B, A is set free while B must serve 10 years, and vice versa. If they both stay quiet, however, they each only have to serve 2 years in prison. Even though they both have a significantly better outcome if they both stay silent, the probability of them cooperating is actually very low, and the odds of at least one of them ratting the other out is significantly high. While the reasons are really implied since there is no direct answer (like how in english class there are many ways to interpret something, while in math there is only 1 answer), the risk of getting rewarded by being set free outweighs all other costs, including not receiving the most severe punishment of 10 years, leads many to do so. In addition, mistrust of the other also magnifies this effect.

Another example is battleship. I actually made a program that runs battleship with a complex AI. The board layout is actually determined both a combination of statistics and game theory. When playing battleship, one of the player’s primary goals is to aim for more open spaces to shorten the game and give themselves a better chance at winning. But where should a player aim to give themselves the largest chance at hitting a target? This is determined by game theory. While there is no way to play battleship to give yourself a 100% chance at winning, as it is a luck-based game, there are spots you can fire that give yourself a slight edge. For example, if you see a 4 space opening, you know that a carrier (5 slots) cannot fit there. If you see a spot completely surrounded on all sides by misses, you know that there cannot be a ship in there, and as a result that space may as well count as a miss. This is what I coded into the AI in my battleship game to make it more human-like. By covering the board with probabilities of locations that are most likely to harbor a ship (pun intended) in relation to the amount of ships left and the different types they are, a player (or AI) can use game theory to their advantage to win the game.

To tie these together, game theory is a super broad study that has many different uses. Anything that requires an interaction between intelligent beings all comes back to this idea of game theory. Being able to mathematically predict the most possible and reasonable outcome is very useful in many occupations. I hope I can apply game theory to many different projects in the future. But for now, I will continue to improve upon the battleship game I am making right now.

By Laker N., age 14

CodeWars is an online collection of programming challenges ranked by difficulty. It’s community driven, meaning that, though the problems require thinking, they are satisfying to complete. One problem on CodeWars that caught my attention was “Mine Sweeper” by the user myjinxin2015, a prolific creator and the second highest holder of honor, gained by solving and making the site’s code challenges. “Mine Sweeper” is a kyu 1 code challenge, the hardest on the site. (Kyu, or difficulty, ranges from 1 to 8, with 8 as the easiest and 1 as the hardest.)

Despite its ranking, I’ve always liked the idea of Minesweeper. “Mine Sweeper,” however, didn’t involve programming the game; “Mine Sweeper” is kyu 1, because the task is to program an algorithm to solve Minesweeper. Specifically, given a board configuration with a number of the squares identified, fill in the rest.

Though the problem intrigued me, I was at a loss for how to attack it. After some brainstorming, however, I came up with a rule my algorithm could apply to a board configuration to solve unknown squares. If a square has as many empty tiles around it as it needs mines to fulfill its number, then all surrounding squares are mines. If a square needs no more mines, then all unknown surrounding tiles are safe. In code, I assigned each tile the number of mines needed to satisfy its number minus the number of mines already flagged around it. This number I called the tile’s working number. For example, a tile with the number three and two flagged mines around has a working number of one: any unknown tiles around it can act as though it only needs one mine. With working numbers, a tile with number five, three mines flagged around it, and two remaining unknown tiles knows to flag all surrounding unknown tiles. I call the first rule Easy Logic, because most Minesweeper players rely on it before thinking harder.

In a collaboration with Chicago public schools and Northwestern University, Apple decided to offer free professional learning to teachers in Chicago. This will allow educators a way to bring coding and computer science into the classroom.

“Teachers make a world of difference in their students’ lives, and we owe so much of our own success to their creativity, hard work and dedication,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “At Apple, we believe every student should have the opportunity to learn to code and we are thrilled to help provide new learning opportunities for Chicago-area teachers so they can bring coding into their classrooms.”

If you haven’t been trained yet in something like App Development, teachers can be trained with Swift course to address the national shortage of high school computer science teachers. Through citywide expansion of Apple’s Code program, there will be coding opportunities for up to 500,000 students. Chicago is ahead of the curve with computer science making it a graduation requirement.

As you know, most of the biggest companies in the world got to that point by leveraging their technology. Each company, such as Apple, is essentially a giant community of engineers and big thinkers with marketing, sales, and HR departments sprinkled in.

With all the money that Apple makes (and will continue to make), it’s important for them to invest in building this community beyond their own company. By collaborating with Chicago public schools, they will be able to hand pick the very best talent that comes out of these programs.

The Coder school is also building a community where it’s easier than ever to learn how to code. While online tutorials are great, they aren’t as impactful as having a Code Coach™ right there by your side guiding you every step of the way.

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2018/03/apple-announces-new-effort-to-bring-coding-to-chicago-teachers/

If you’re spending time at theCoderSchool or in and around the dreamers of the tech world you’ll no doubt have heard of Augmented Reality. Snapchat may have started it in a sense while Facebook went out of the way to steal the idea but there are thousands of other companies fighting to get a piece of the action.

Snapchat and Facebook isn’t where this “story” ends but hats off to Evan Spiegal and Mark Zuckerberg for recognizing the value of it all before a lot of others. Imagine if your favorite video game played itself out off screen and in your living room and you’ll start to get a sense of what augmented reality can do.

 Pokemon Go, Augmented Reality at its finest!

Pokemon Go, Augmented Reality at its finest!

One company we’re especially excited about is Magic Leap, which started as a road trip to Austin with the question “what if computing could spill outside the computer?” This is a simple thought that a lot of us have had at some point in our lives but Magic Leap is working to make it happen.

Now the company is at the forefront of the augmented reality boom having raised $2.3 billion in funding so far. One of their recent partnerships is with the NBA and Turner with a goal of helping us move entertainment viewing from a “flat, two-dimensional experience into a vivid, three-dimensional experience.”

Imagine having a life-size Shaquille O’Neal talking in your living room (if he could fit, of course!) and that’s the type of entertainment augmented reality can bring to the table. We’re all familiar with the dancing hot dog that that captivated us through Snapchat. It won’t be too long before our entire entertainment experience is off of a two-dimensional screen and right in front of us no matter where we are.

You too can be a part of this revolution by joining theCoderSchool! Remember, coding is about more than just learning to code–it’s about changing the world for the better while advancing your skill set!

While Elon Musk is anti-Artificial Intelligence for fear it may one day turn against us, it isn’t a direct threat just yet. Right now, we’re still figuring out what it can do for the better while making exciting new discoveries along the way.

Take Google’s DeepMind, for example, which aims to “Solve Intelligence. Use it to make the world a better place.”

There are several interesting projects that DeepMind is currently working on. For example, “teaching itself parkour” for the purpose of understanding the “Emergence of Locomotion Behaviours in Rich Environments.”

What does that even mean? You’ll have to watch the video to get a good visual but to put it bluntly, you’re watching artificial intelligence learn how to run and jump!

Another way DeepMind is helping is in games. The best Go player in the world was defeated by the DeepMind AI powered “AlphaGo” which forced him to re-think his approach.

“After my match against AlphaGo, I fundamentally reconsidered the game, and now I can see that this reflection has helped me greatly,” he said. “I hope all Go players can contemplate AlphaGo’s understanding of the game and style of thinking, all of which is deeply meaningful. Although I lost, I discovered that the possibilities of Go are immense and that the game has continued to progress.”

By getting beat by AlphaGo Ke Jie, who is a master of the game, could potentially develop new strategies along the way that he never thought of. The first time a machine beat someone at their own game was when Gary Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue in 1997. Go, they say, is much more difficult to solve than Chess and most people thought that A.I. was at least 10-years away from accomplishing this feat.

If AlphaGo can help Ke Jie think differently or more efficiently, it could help us do the same with wide scale problems such as global warming or healthcare systems. By relying on A.I. to think through situations, we’ll find new solutions to age old problems.

These simple yet eye-opening experiments will only build over time until we’re able to apply them effectively to large scale societal problems. Here at coder school we’re all about changing the world for the better. By engaging in our after school programs you’ll lay the foundation for a long, lucrative career in an exciting field such as A.I.

By Noah S., age 16

Hi! Today I’m going to be explaining graph theory, a complex algorithm used almost exclusively in object oriented languages that shines when you want to know the shortest path from something to another thing. Some applications include finding the shortest route to a location, the smallest number of moves to win a chess game, and the fastest way to solve a Rubik’s cube. Overall, graph theory has a lot of potential when applied to something large, and can really be utilized in many amazing ways. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

Let’s try to visualize the graphs that are mainly used in graph theory. Imagine a bunch of points, with every single point connected to one or two other points. These are called nodes. Nodes are used in many other types of searching algorithms, such as linked lists and trees. Since there are two types of graphs used in graph theory, imagine these two scenarios. First imagine the same points and connections as stated above. This is an undirected graph. An undirected graph is when every line between the points is unmarked. To contrast, now imagine the same graph, but every line between the points has a direction, marked with an arrow. This shows how one node connects to another. Undirected graphs use unmarked lines to indicate that information flows both ways, while directed graphs use marked arrows to indicate information that flows only one way.

Now that we have understood what kinds of graphs exist, let’s discuss the ways they can be utilized. Commonly known as simple graphs, any graph without a clear pattern or shape, and doesn’t loop whatsoever is deemed so. Most graphs used in graph theory are simple graphs. Other types of graphs are non-simple graphs, which can be identified with their use of loops (for example, three nodes all pointing to the next node to form a triangle shape). Another type of graph is an isomorphic graph. These graphs are just simplified versions of the non-simple graph. Since many non-simple graphs end up showing some kind of pattern, usually it can be arranged to form a particular shape. Imagine a bunch of nodes all pointing to each other to form a pentagram or such.

There is one type of graph that stands out, however. It is the weighted graph. A weighted graph is just a normal graph with a catch: Every line that connects two nodes has a weight, usually an integer, of how much it “costs” to use this line. As a result, a path that connects two nodes might end up being longer than a path that goes through 4 or 5 nodes. Knowing the weight allows the algorithm to show signs of sophistication. For example, maybe you see a lot of traffic going to your destination. Weighted graphs allow you to determine the fastest route, and you may end up arriving there a few minutes earlier. Of all the graphs mentioned in this post, weighted graphs are the most complex, but the most fundamental in properly understanding and utilizing this code.

Now let’s talk about how to actually make this code work. If you have experience with linked lists or trees, or basically anything with nodes, it’s pretty simple to understand. You traverse through the graph, starting with node 1, you traverse through the graph (test out every option) until you hit your destination. Then, it calculates the fastest possible route. If weights are not present, it is simply the path with the least amount of lines. If weights are present, however, it will calculate which path has the least weight.

This is graph theory in a nutshell. There are some other small nuances and such, but knowing the stuff that I have written will set you pretty well off. Understanding graph theory will help you understand other object oriented algorithms, like trees and linked-lists (although I would start there if you have no coding experience with nodes).

Did you know you could make money as a “Bug” Bounty Hunter? Sounding like something out of a Disney movie, this role actually exists in the land of coding and programming. What is Bug Bounty Hunter?’

Bug Bounty Hunters are paid cold, hard cash to find vulnerabilities in software, web applications, and websites. Security teams at large corporations hardly have the time or man hours to find all the bugs that they have to. Instead, they reach out to private contractors for help.

A Bug Bounty Hunter spends their time breaking into and hacking things and then writing up a vulnerability report to the company. You can make thousands of dollars a year in addition to your day job finding bugs and writing reports on them.  The harder the vulnerability is to find, the more you get paid.

How do you become a Bug Bounty Hunter? Well, the first step is to learn to code of course! Hunting bugs is like finding a defect in a big old pile of pretty complex technology, so while it’s not easy, it can be rewarding.  You’ll need to understand some fairly advanced cyber security topics, but if you do and you’re finding real-world defects, you can bet that you’re going to be towards the top of the coder-chain of sought-after talent!