Upcoming Trip to South America

How I coped with leaving my family and beginning my 2 month trip exploring South America - through code!

And so it has begun! My friend Charlotte and I have boarded our flight for Lima, the capital of Peru. Saying goodbye to my family and extended family brought tears to my eyes.


My own cat picture

I couldn’t help but feel bittersweet as we drove out of my driveway towards the airport, leaving my family waving at the doorstep of the house. Going on big trips is always bittersweet for me, I always hate saying goodbye to those I love but at the same time I can’t wait for another adventure to begin. For me, there is nothing like new sites to see and new experiences to be had, all the while meeting new and interesting people.

Like most other people on the internet, I’m obsessed with my cat. She is my pride and joy, even if she can be a bit peevish sometimes. I swear, with the rate of cat pictures being uploaded daily, the percentage of Mr. Whiskers pictures might surpass the amount of porn to be found on the web.

Since I am going to miss my little feline buddy, I decided to practice some of my new coding skills, using the few tools I have in my tool kit. In the following code (with the help of Chris Pine’s example as a template) I created a little virtual cat that I can take care of while I’m away from my living, breathing fuzzball. I named the program Thea, after my precious fuzzball.

The items I used in my recently aquired tool kit: variables loops recursion creating a new class *defining methods

And…that about sums up my entire tool kit. Hopefully one day that list will be longer!

My most recently aquired tool is defining a class. A brand new and exciting concept. This time I initialized the class Pet Note that class remains lowercase while the new class that you are initializing is capitalized. One thing that was stressed in Chris Pine’s book is the difference between new and initialize. It’s not a horribly confusing concept but I want to go over it real quick. new comes first. You cannot initialize something that has not yet been created! new creates the objet that the computer will then initialize. new creates the object only, it is never used again while initialized needs to be defined because you need to explain to your poor computer what you want to do with this brand new object. You can only use new to create a new object, if you use initialize in order to create a new object, the computer will freak out, looking for some nonexistant object to start up, and will spit out a panic-stricken error code. Yes, personalizing the computer and its languages makes it easier for me to understand, hopefully it does for you too!

This one class is 155 lines long and it only takes one to initialize it and to get it running.

Within the class I have defined over seven different methods; * initialize * feed * play * walk * put_to_bed * code

In each def (define) I clearly lay out the groundworks for how I want the computer to respond in different scenarios. In this code I only have two possible environments; asleep and not asleep. I can only imagine this makes it easier to keep track of all the possiblities and possible behaviors. I definitely suggest if you try writing this code for practice and you’re new like me, start with only two different possible scenarios until you’re able to effortlessly keep track of all the different possibilities.

There’s one thing that confused me when I first read the template and started writing my own program. What the heck does “ @variable mean? In the first 5 lines of code there is this new symbol that I’ve never used before: ”@“. Much confused. I decided to look it up and explain it to other newbies: the @ signifies an instance variable of the specific class. It is important because it only functions within the class and you use it to tell the computer that you want something done in that particular instance. It’s also cool because it is the same variable but at different defined instances you assign it a different value.

Here’s a quick snippet from one of the def methods:

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def feed
  puts "Thea purrs as you pick up her food bag."

  puts "She winds in between your legs as you put a handful of food into her food bowl."

  @stuffinbelly = 5

  passageoftime

  peeve

end

I think in the big picture this is an amazing thing about Ruby. This is line 13 to 20 of the code. I have in no way defined the variable passageoftime or peeve. I don’t define them until line 91 and line 125. To me, this is so not intuitive. Imagine going up to someone and being like “Remember that blubber story?” and then laugh. That person is going to look at you like you’ve lost your freaking mind because s/he has no context or no idea what you could possibly be referring to. Later that day you walk up to that same person and tell him/her a hilarious story about how you were living with some Inuits up in Alaska and you thought the blubber they offered you was ice cream until you took your first bite. Now this person has context and can laugh with you. But this is only after you have taken a random variable of “blubber” and put it into a context. It doesn’t need to work this way with Ruby! You do the same thing with Ruby and she will know to laugh earlier in the day even before you told the blubber story just because you told it later that day. It’s as if Ruby is living in a world where she processes your code so fast that time doesn’t exist in a linear fashion. Whether something happens in the past or in the future doesn’t matter to it, as long as it is all in that one instance of code. If this isn’t cool to you, then well, you lack imagination and excitement in your life…

Taking the fuzzball for a swim and a walk

A new thing I learned while writing this code is the (method/function?) private. It means that the following code and its functions can only be modified in the code itself and the user running the program can’t access it. It’s like the hidden part of the code that is running behind the scenes and makes the interface run smoothly.

Here’s the loop that I threw into my code!

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def ask question
  thea = Pet.new 'Thea'
  while true
    puts question
    reply = gets.chomp

    if reply == 'feed'
      thea.feed
    elsif reply == 'walk'
      thea.walk
    elsif reply == 'put to bed'
      thea.puttobed
    elsif reply == 'pick up'
      thea.pickup
    elsif reply == 'code'
      thea.code
    elsif reply == 'play'
      thea.play
    else
      puts 'I\'m sorry, but that is beyond virtual Thea\'s capabilities.'
    end
  end
end

I love the concept of while true. I’m sure a lot could be written about just that one concept but I’m tired and this kid behind me keeps hitting my seat and crying. Has anyone ever been on a flight without any kids? I feel as if that is as rare as finding a wild unicorn. Anyways I used this loop here in order to keep the program continuing until it terminates on its own either because the virtual cat becomes too hungry or too peevish. My cat can become a monster when she is cranky and peeved by us humans messing with her, so I decided that the program would end if she became too upset with the human interacting with her. No one likes a grumpy, cranky cat, unless of course you’re the owner of Grumpy Cat and you’re making it rain from all the royalties. One thing that I really enjoy about this loop is it’s incredibly simple and that you can keep piling on the elsif. Truly, as many as you want. As long as the if gets a counter else and you put the correct number of ends all is good in the computer world.

The link to my full code can be found here on github! I’ll also write a post about how I got github to work for me, since it’s not user friendly to those who are new to the tech world.

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puts 'Congratulations! A baby Thea has been born! You can do a lot of cool
  things with this interactive, virtual Thea while you\'re away. You need to
  take good care of her and make sure she goes to the bathroom and eats well.

  Here are some of the things you can do with Thea:
    1. feed
    2. walk
    3. put to bed
    4. pick up
    5. play
    6. code - you can even practice your coding while she\'s around!'
puts nil
puts 'What would you like to do with Thea?'

P.S. I would like to note that I am going to miss my family more than my cat but it felt weird writing a code in which I fed my sister and would have to take her to go to the bathroom. <3 you Lanjing!

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