Return from Hiatus

I think I left off last time while I was still working on my HTML “final” project. I got that up and running, and you can see it by going to jessierohrer.info.

It’s been a couple of months, and I have been sporadically working on the next thing in my Codecademy learning path, which is JavaScript. It is less satisfying that learning HTML or CSS because there’s no visual element. You just get really excited about the computer spitting the correct number or string back at you. That said, it’s not the reason my progress stopped.

In March, I organized and ran a consignment sale that raised several thousand dollars for local charities. I volunteer with the local MOMS Club chapter as the treasurer, and that has been time-consuming following that sale with documenting everything, writing checks, sending letters, and basically making sure everything gets wrapped up in time for the end of the fiscal year.

In the last couple of months, my daughter has finished pre-school, I’ve gone camping, and there have been some private issues distracting me from my daily coding exercises. I’m hoping today is the kick-start I’ve been needing πŸ™‚

I completed the section of the JavaScript lesson on functions today. I’m going to try not to let that get me down πŸ˜‰ It was not very exciting, and it felt like a roundabout way to do math, but I can see how it will save time inside of a larger application. The next lesson is on writing a game app for rock, paper, scissors. That should be a fun way to spend the kids’ naptime tomorrow πŸ˜‰

I also got back to the gym this morning and listened to an old episode of the Code Newbie podcast where Kinsey Ann Durham is interviewed. She talked about speaking at conferences being a key task for developers, which I don’t think is in my near future. Mostly because I hate public speaking. She also spoke about how she’s focused her work on getting women, and especially women of color, into the world of coding. She talked about Women Who Code, so I’ve gone over to their website and become a member. If you are a woman who codes (or wants to learn!) go over to their website and get access to their resources πŸ™‚

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Final Project Part 2: Building the Portfolio Website

I’m a little embarrassed that it’s taking me so long to put this together. The instructions said it would only take a few hours. But I keep running into issues that require research and reading, especially if they weren’t covered in the lessons. I know it’s impossible to cover EVERYTHING, but still…

Anyway, I settled on a main page with a header/nav bar, jumbotron image with a header, then thumbnails of 6 of the projects I worked on at the end of the HTML/CSS course. And here I ran into an issue. None of the sites I made for the projects were made live. So I had to figure out how to copy the code for six sites into the file system for my portfolio, create thumbnails, and then set the thumbnails into a grid and make them link to their respective project pages.

I stumbled through making everything link together…I didn’t understand how relative linking was supposed to work (more reading required) and knew that direct linking wouldn’t translate when I made the page live. But, with a few hints from Tim, I got all the links working. All of the project pages open in new tabs, which was very easy to do. And all three pages (home, about, contact) link to each other perfectly.

The footer was no problem– just some links to the blog and linkedin, and a copyright statement. But getting rid of the gap between the footer and the bottom of the page had me panicking because people kept mentioning “sticky footers” or using tables in the forums, which seemed like overkill. I finally came to the right CSS command: overflow: hidden. And that did the trick. *whew!*

Now all that’s left is getting the About and Contact pages filled in, and then I can tackle how to get all my hard work where the world can see it!

Final Project Part 1-Planning a Portfolio Website (or CV)

I finally finished all of the coding challenges and free-form projects at the end of the HTML/CSS course on Codecademy. The final project is to create our own portfolio website outside of the Codecademy learning environment. Which means that I spent part of my morning setting up Visual Studio Code and figuring out how to use it. Codecademy recommends using Sublime Text, but my husband, who is a back-end software developer, recommended that I use Visual Studio because it’s more flexible and there are a large number of extensions you can add to customize your coding environment. It also has something called “Zen Mode” where you can block out any on-screen distractions. Major bonus– it’s free!

Then I moved on to general planning. What do I want the website to accomplish? How should it look? What elements do I want to include? I’ve decided to make it into a website-resume where potential clients or employers can learn about me and my work. As I go through the rest of my courses, I’ll keep adding to it. I drew out a wireframe plan, hunted down some stock photos, and decided on a color scheme (using some of the tools on the Resources page).

I’m excited to get started on this πŸ™‚

HTML/CSS

When I signed up on Codecademy, they recommended I complete the “Full Stack Developer” learning path. First up is HTML and CSS. I started the course a couple of weeks ago, and have finished the lessons and quizzes. I’m currently working on what they call “free-form projects” where I’m given code to edit with the end goal of replicating a given webpage. So much of what I’ve done working on these projects is based in Bootstrap, so I’ve put some helpful links on the Resources page (for future reference).

That said, I am a little frustrated with my own timing– the HTML/CSS course is being discontinued this summer and replaced with an HTML5/CSS3 course, which means I will have to re-do everything later. Also, Bootstrap 4 is on the way. At least I will be well-versed in web development!

Hello, World!

Last year my resolution was to figure out what to do with my life after both my kids are in school. My oldest, 5, starts kindergarten in the fall and my youngest, 2, will be headed to preschool soon. All I knew for sure is that I did not want to go back to what I was doing before they came along, which was social work. While the work was rewarding and so, so worth it, it took an emotional toll on me that I am not willing to begin subjecting myself and, by extension, my family to.

So I thought about what I like to do. I like to make things. I enjoy work where, at the end, I have something tangible to show for it. The best thing is, in my opinion, when you finish something you enjoyed making and the person who receives it loves and enjoys using it.

My first idea was to go to trade school and study drafting and design. The thought of seeing actual buildings go up or things be made from the plans that I drew was extremely enticing. Then the only trade school that offered a program that suited my family’s schedule closed suddenly. So I scrapped that idea, since there were very few resources available for learning the skills required on my own.

Finally, a series of things happened that solidified a path in my mind’s eye. I watched a college classmate struggle to get assistive technology for her son with cerebral palsy. And I remembered working with children with autism who relied on the use of a special tablet to communicate with their families. Then, I had a quiet dinner conversation with my husband about how hard it would be to create something like what these children were using. Why are these items so expensive? What do I need to learn to make them? Do I need a degree to break into the world of coding?

My better half was adamant that I did not need to go back to school, but that there are plenty of resources (blogs, podcasts, tutorials, books) that would help me learn literally any programming language I wanted to. I was skeptical. But he sent me some resources to read and podcasts to listen to, which I did.

The answer to the question, “Do I need a computer science degree?” was a resounding NO. Software developers are apparently in such high demand that, if you can prove your knowledge through the use of a portfolio, you can get a job coding.

For the past few months, I have been listening to podcasts (mostly Developer Tea and CodeNewbie), reading books on software development, and working through the full-stack learning path on Codecademy. I’m starting this blog as a way to organize my thoughts as well as store resources as I come across them. I’m going to be sharing my path as I walk it, so please bear with me. I will make mistakes, which I’ve heard is what makes you a true coder πŸ˜‰

-J