Morgana Carter's first code will send you straight to Nationals Park - Technical.ly DC

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Apr. 6, 2015 9:16 am

Morgana Carter’s first code will send you straight to Nationals Park

For her first major project, Morgana Carter lets Nats fans know when and how to hit the ballpark.

Morgana Carter started coding because she wanted to solve problems more efficiently.

(Photo by Ashley Nguyen)

Morgana Carter’s first job out of college was on Wall Street — and it was terrible.

“It was the worst job,” Carter said. “I was crying in the bathroom because you can’t cry on the floor.”

But one day, she took a meeting with the California state government. Carter found herself deep in conversation about how to restructure the state’s bonds and debts. After the meeting, Carter recalls her boss saying, “You should be doing more of that rather than crying as you’re selling bonds.”

Carter realized she wanted to work at the intersection of quant and public policy, so she took a job at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as the deputy director of data.

After using programs like SQL and Excel in her work, she decided to take the formal plunge into programming. Now an information-analyst for a healthcare association, Carter uses Python and Ruby on Rails at her day job, but her best work was born out of laziness.

Here, she tells Technical.ly DC about her first code.

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How she started coding

Carter began Hear Me Code classes in January 2014 and attended as many DCFemTech and Tech LadyMafia meetups as possible. She pushed herself to sign up for hackathons and began experimenting in her free time.

“I was self-taught and always working through books and tutorials,” even though it wasn’t always easy, Carter told Technical.ly DC.

When she first started coding, she considered herself the Harry Potter of programming.

“Let’s face it,” Carter said, “He’s a one-note wizard. We had Hermiones in the class, and it was my first time doing it.”

Her first code

Carter calls it the Ferris Bueller app.

Sitting in bed one day, she thought about going to a Washington Nationals game. Was there a game that day? She checked and found out there was. Should she had left 20 minutes ago to get to Nationals Park in time for that game? Absolutely.

“It was the height of laziness,” she said.

Luckily for Carter, her laziness led to an app for Nats and Orioles fans to track when there are games, when they would have to leave using public transportation and what bars and restaurants they could hang at before or after the game. The Ferris Bueller app/MLB scheduler also accounts for rain delays and cancellations.

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“This MLB scheduler was born out of a self-interest of mine,” Carter said. “I think baseball games are so cool, and I think the Nats stadium is better than other stadiums. They do a good job trying to cater to the fans.”

“There are some teams I would love to catch,” she added. “I’m from Ohio, so if the Reds are in town, I would love to go to that. Tell me where that is, and tell me how to get there.”

Hardest thing about the project

Finding a way to access ESPN’s tightly locked information.

Carter soon found out ESPN isn’t quick to hand out APIs for scores and schedules unless you’re willing to pay what most — including first-time developers — would consider big money.

Instead, Carter scraped data through the front end of the MLB teams’ websites to get the information she needed. In the near future, she plans to use teams’ official Twitter accounts to find daily schedules, rain delays and cancellations.

“There are workarounds, and that’s where I think programming lets you get creative,” Carter said. “If a door’s closed, go in through a window and figure it out.”

A preview of Carter's MLB tracker. (Courtesy of the programmer)

A preview of Carter’s MLB tracker. (Courtesy of the programmer)

How long it took to complete

The baseball fan/programmer started in July, “right after the all-star break,” and began to show friends in mid-August. She dedicated herself to the project on weekends and on Tuesday and Thursday nights. She originally aimed for it to be ready on the Nat’s Opening Day today, but as programmers know, plenty of curveballs can change a scheduled release date.

Where you can find her work

Keep an eye on the domain below, as Carter says the app should be ready this month in time for baseball season.

Check out the app

The app will most likely be for Android users only, but Carter envisions a front-end with a corresponding URL if she expands the scheduler to other places with dual team opportunities (i.e. New York, Chicago or even Oakland/San Francisco). Check out Carter’s GitHub page here.

Side projects

During the winter, Carter created an OPM alert to tell your alarm clock that there’s a one- or two-hour delay so you needn’t disrupt your sleep. Carter calls it the “government worker app” and worked on it with a fellow programmer.

Advice for current/future coders

Don’t be afraid to step outside of the programming world to get the answers you need, Carter says.

“I think non-programming friends are some of the best resources you could have,” Carter said, noting that her code-free friends gave her a different perspective on the MLB scheduler.

“Sometimes [programmers] like to be really technical and complicated when it’s more helpful to be creative,” she said.

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