Week 2: Learning how to use Git and GitHub

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One of my first GitHub repositories. As you can see, this one was just for learning purposes.

Going into this week, I’d heard of GitHub, and knew it was a place where developers share their code, but that was pretty much it. So I assumed the process would be like creating a blog post, or posting something to Facebook. And I was wrong.

Adding things to GitHub requires using Git commands, which requires using the command line. For anyone who’s like, “WTF?” (which was me a few weeks ago), that’s basically using a set of commands to say, “Hey, put this new file, (or changes to a file) in this project that lives on GitHub.

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Week 1: HTML forms and working with the command line

The first week is finished, and so far, so good with balancing work, homework, and home life. On Thursday night, I met all the other students in my Code Louisville class and it was cool to see a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and prior experience levels.

Each week, we’re assigned two courses from the Treehouse curriculum. For this week, it was HTML Forms and Console Foundations. Here’s a little of what I did in both:

HTML Forms

Don’t laugh, but I was kind of excited about this one. I really like forms and surveys and stuff like that. (Yeah, I know.) So it was cool to see how to create one from scratch. To practice, I decided to create a signup form for a series of races that they do at Iroquois Park every year.

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Pre-program excitement and nervousness

I’m writing this on the Sunday night before I officially start the Code Louisville program. I was on the waiting list for several months, and working on the pre-coursework for a couple months, and now it’s time to really get into it.

I’m excited about it, but I’m also a little nervous about how I’m going to maintain some kind of balance in my life. I’ll still be working full time while I work on the online courses and project, so that will be about 60 hours of my week. Plus, you know, trying to do normal life stuff like keeping the house clean, having time with my husband and cats, and getting some exercise. (Believe me, my brain can’t function to do all the other stuff without physical activity!)

I think this is one of those situations where I’m just going to have to learn what to do as I go. I’ve never worked full time while taking classes before. I have no idea what that’s like. But in the past couple years, in my personal life, I’ve faced a lot of situations that were new and scary. And I got through them. So I’m going to try and use that confidence I’ve gained and apply it to my work with the program.

Updates about coursework and my front end development project coming soon.


Learning how to be bad at things


This post could alternately be called “Learning how to learn things,” or something like that. I’ve recently realized that pretty much all my life, I’ve been bad at learning things.

If something doesn’t come quickly and easily to me, historically, I’ve said to myself, “Okay, you suck at this. Might as well give up now.”  So I’ve given up on a LOT of things in my 32 years. (Pretty sure there were no TED talks about grit, resiliency, growth mindsets and all that when I was growing up in the 90s. Those might have been helpful.)

Part of the reason I got into journalism as a career was because I just naturally gravitated toward writing and communicating. Not saying journalism isn’t hard work — it can be very hard work. But the basics came naturally to me, so I stuck with it.

Continue reading “Learning how to be bad at things”

My first dive into HTML and CSS

There’s a podcast I like, and that you will probably see me reference quite a bit, called User Defenders. As the name suggests, the focus is on the UX profession. On one episode a while back, the guest was a designer named Femke, who talked abut why we shouldn’t be afraid to show our crappy work.

Her point was that doing crappy work is how you learn, and that by looking back at that crappy work, you can see how far you’ve come. (Her article on the topic is here: We need more shitty work.)

Well, all I’m really skilled enough to do at this point is work that would probably be considered crappy, so I’m going to show you that. Here, ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary folk, are a few screenshots of the very first web page I made from scratch:


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It has a header image! With rounded corners — very fancy.
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There’s also an HTML table in there, and some borders.
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And links! Plus, a copyright symbol.

I created this page as a homework assignment for the Girl Develop It workshop I mentioned in an earlier post. (Fun fact: I love reading about northern Canada and the Arctic, so I created a page about the capital city of the Canadian territory of Nunavut.) And even this took more work than you’d expect. As you might have noticed, there’s no link to the Iqaluit site because it’s not online. It lives in a file on my computer.

The most important part is, I learned from it. Before I did this project, I knew a few HTML tags, but that was about it. I had no idea how the structure of a page came together, or how CSS factored in at all.

Anyway, the thing about showing your crappy work, or works in progress, really spoke to me. Nobody’s ever going to pay me for work like the above. But it’s a step on the way to work that somebody will someday pay me for.

My journey with coding so far

From all my educational and professional experience so far, I’ve learned that I like to try things.

I had seven majors in college. I’ve worked several types of jobs, and even tried out starting a couple businesses. Sometimes I like to berate myself for this lack of consistent, linear progression. But I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with the fact that the need for constant learning and experimentation and new pursuits is part of the way I’m wired.

Which brings me to my latest learning endeavor: learning to code.

Last year, one of my tasks for work required me to learn the teeniest, tiniest bit of HTML. And that sparked my interest. So I signed up for a two-day HMTL and CSS basics workshop through the Louisville chapter of Girl Develop It. In the workshop, I created a site that looked like something on Geocities in 1997, but I was so excited about it and proud of it. (In fact, I’ll do a separate post all about it later.)

I’ve always liked putting stuff out there on the internet. It’s what I do in my day job. It’s what I do incessantly in my personal life, via Facebook and Instagram. Creating websites is another part of that, and I wanted to learn more, so I signed up for the Code Louisville program.

I officially start the program in exactly a month, but I’ve been taking classes from the program’s curriculum on Treehouse for a while now.

So far, I’ve tried some projects, including creating a sample website for a retreat center in Asheville, North Carolina, and an online sign up form for a series of 5k races at a part near my house. They were both pretty messy, and they both taught be a lot. (Yes, more on those later as well.)

But for now, I’m just excited to be learning something new and expanding my ways of thinking.