Learning to Code, Part 2: Don’t Start with JavaScript


For someone coming from the tiniest background of HTML and CSS, JavaScript was a monster. And it’s not the easiest language to start learning the concepts of programming with. I think that Codecademy does a good job explaining, but JS, as previously mentioned, is a beast.

After plugging through the JS tutorial on Codecademy, I took Harvard’s CS 50X from edX.org. Amazing course. Take it. It’s hard and throws a lot of information at you, but it’s an incredible course, and I learned a ton. I can’t recommend it enough.

Since then, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the support of so many people as I learn. I’ve been able to ask questions of them, including what I should learn next. Since the summer of 2012, I’ve learned HTML, CSS, JS, jQuery, Jasmine, Ruby, rspec, ClassicASP, C, C#, XML, python, php, postgreSQL, MySQL, MSSQL, TFS, git/github, and I’m currently doing an AngularJS tutorial as well as working on a nano-degree from Udacity. I’ve worked with third party service providers (Digital River (well, tolerated, in DR’s case), CyberSource, OpenText), various stacks (MAMP, LAMP), and so much more.

Recently I took a moment to think about all that I’ve learned in such a short time. Part of it is due to the job that I earned after getting laid off. There’s only so much you can learn from tutorials and writing your own small scale versions of what you’re learning.

My first day at this job vs today, is light years of difference in knowledge. Even signing in to a DEV server was terrifying on day one. Now, I am perfectly comfortable signing in to a LIVE server during a meeting to fix something that’s gone awry. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a healthy dose of fear (“oh god, what if I delete the entire website on accident!”).

But confidence is built by repetition, and that’s something I wouldn’t have gotten from just continuing to tool around at home.

All of this isn’t to say that my journey to learn to code is over (hooo boy, it’s not even close!) or that it’s been a walk in the park (can you hear the uproarious laughter at this one?) but I wanted to show that it’s not impossible.

Some Tips

If you write code, and you love it, do it.

If you get discouraged by a problem, walk away from it, then come back to it. Distance from the problem is your friend. So are walks. Walks are good.

Ask questions. Ask, ask, ask. StackOverflow, Google, other people you know. Someone’s run into this before.

Speak it out loud. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just started talking out loud about the X to someone, just as a sounding board, and all of a sudden, it dawns on me what I was missing.

If you can, teach it to someone, even if they already know what you’re saying. It will help you understand a little better.

Coding is amazing. It’s not for everyone, but everyone should at least try. At the very least, you will have a better understanding of what you’re asking someone to do.

When I started at my current job, I felt like I was coming home. Everything that I’ve learned since has cemented that feeling to me. I just wish I had discovered coding and stuck with it sooner!


Learning to Code, Part 1: Early Beginnings

Learning to code is one hell of an adventure.

I’ve spoken about the start of my journey often, and I think it’s a fun story, mostly because I end up with a free tablet out of it!

I’ll write it all out here, and leave it for your perusal, and hopefully I won’t need to write it again. Or, if I do, at least I have the story in one place to refer to!

In 2005, I earned my Girl Scout Gold Award by creating a “program” in power point to help younger girls earn their Bronze Award. This was my first introduction to programming, in a strange way. A few months later, I was telling my new boyfriend about it, and he had me look at getting it on the web and I started learning HTML, and CSS.  At the time, my career goals were to become an athletic trainer for the best hockey club in the world, the Detroit Red Wings, so I didn’t really dedicate a lot of time to learning it. I gave up easily when I ran into issues because it wasn’t what I wanted to do professionally.

Well, I went to college, dreams changed, I decided I made a better fan than athletic trainer (plus, I just did not enjoy the coursework). I changed majors to something that I enjoyed, but knew I’d never work in. A year and a half later, I graduated with my BS in Theatre, Interpretation, and Dance. I do not regret this time at all. It was some of the most enriching time in my life. The people I met, and the experiences I had will be with me forever, in a special happy place in my heart.

I graduated college not knowing what I wanted to do for a living, I bounced around to various temp jobs, ended up in a permanent position at a non-profit, but I discovered that it wasn’t *quite* what I wanted to do. I got very lucky there though, because they wanted to do various techy type things. Which I am being vague about on purpose, because they wanted tiny bits of everything. Web, mobile apps, internal work, very multi-faceted. Unfortunately, money was not on their side, and I ended up getting laid off.

However! Before I got to the point of losing my job, the summer of 2012 happened! My husband at the time (the aforementioned boyfriend) had gotten a ticket to Google’s developer conference, I/O. They are well known for their swag, and I had a hunch that one of the giveaways was going to be a tablet. But he didn’t want to wait for that, and wanted to get a tablet before then. After much back and forth, the deal was struck: he buys the tablet, and if I was right, and he got a free one at I/O, it would be mine.

I have a Nexus 7 2012 I/O edition. #win

Because of this deal, I ended up watching the keynote on the first day of the conference to see if I won. I was fascinated. I saw how Google was changing the world, and thought to myself, I want to do that. I want to change the world.

I started learning JavaScript the next day.

Trello Bytes5 – Life Experiences!


I use Trello. A lot. At work, at home, any possible way that I can use it, I do. And I preach (annoying, I know) the amazingness of Trello to everyone I meet. I have seven boards on my personal Trello account. Yes, you read that right. I have seven.

This is a short series of how I use Trello to over organize my life. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

For my final post about how I use Trello, I’m going to tell you about my Life Experiences Board. This is a special board. An important board. It’s my bucket list, my plan, it’s how I want to live and experience life.

It’s my dreams, my hopes. And I love being able to see them, laid out, the ones in progress, the ones that I’ve done, and the ones that I’ve got coming up.

Living life, just like I should.

**This is the last post in this series, I hope you enjoyed it! And one more reminder: I was not asked to write or compensated in any way by Trello for this series. I just love Trello that. much.**