Reflections part III
This class has been a whirlwind. I might have said that before, but it deserves saying again. I’m glad I have these skills–the basics. I know what a markup language is. I know about abstraction and the incredible importance of having a community of fellow coders–people who are trying to figure it out and are willing to discuss (except, something tells me that real coders aren’t like that) and the vast importance of semicolons in the right places.
It may seem silly, but I was amazed at the amount of similarity between learning coding and learning a language. Repetition, repetition, repetition. I did think it would be more like math, but it is so much more like a puzzle or just understanding the basics to know what works with what and why.
This class really revealed how much more I want to learn. That was both eye opening and daunting. There are so many things I want to be able to do well, so that’s going to take some effort on my part. I’m thinking of looking into one of the local workshops or bootcamps so I can continue to learn more about the languages I mentioned. (I was disappointed that the “hard way” series doesn’t have any visual books about yet!)
I think the best way for me to continue learning this stuff is simply to have a project or two that I continue to putz with and work on. I’m happy to have learned about all these new resources so that I can try and make the ideas in my head come to fruition.
The project has been finicky, but things are rolling right along.
I’m worried about being able to successfully manipulate the slider plugin I’ve chosen, “MasterSlider”–it’s kind of fussy. I’ll go in to change certain things and then the changes don’t show up. (Edit: I sent them a message to ask a question, but they didn’t reply until about five days later. So. A note for customer service via WordPress plugins!)
I’m also concerned about each of the pictures being the correct size, so that they aren’t totally blown out of proportion or blurry or some such. I’m having trouble finding a way to make them “full screen” without them being totally blown out of proportion. Honestly, in retrospect, it might be helpful to build the slider completely from scratch, but at this point I simply don’t have time.
My final finicky issue is the text, which is somewhat related to the picture issues. Again, with the slider plugin I downloaded I should be able to add text directly to each slide, but it’s not working. So, I’ve gone in to another application in an effort to add text over the slides. But, I think it looks sort of clunky. And there aren’t good options for text overlay so that they’ll be able to show up over the pictures.
I also had to go in and resize each picture individually through a data compressor type thing I found online, because each picture was too big for the WordPress media library. Another frustration, but I think I’ve found a solution without having to compromise the quality of the photographs.
Overall, I enjoyed working on my project. I just wish I had more time—just to putz on it and see what works and what doesn’t. Actually, I can see myself fiddling with it over my vacation, because I’d love to have it more finished and to display it on my website along with my portfolio. Of course, that means I’d have to figure out some way to continue hosting it. I want to be able to use this—or a similar format—to tell other visual stories. I think it’d be a great way to showcase any sort of group of individuals. (I’d love to do a thing that showcased each of the tradesmen at Colonial Williamsburg. They’re really pretty. And interesting.)
If I were to reflect on the whole class, I’d say I’m just so glad to know the vernacular of this business. I feel like I can actually talk about it. I had to sit down with this girl the other day to start work on a blog via Google Sites, and I was able to solve problems she had come across, or at least I knew what to look up later.
I definitely need to focus more on the details and how each tiny element relates to each other tiny element. I need to learn to be more patient with it—along with having more time! I will be curious to see how the data visualization class links with this one. And I look forward to be able to continuing to immerse myself in these new languages. I don’t want to lose what I’ve learned.
Well, I didn’t realize I was supposed to write a post this week because I thought we only had to submit our final site. Whoops!
Ok, so this was truly a blood, sweat and tears process. I’ve learned that coding itself is really not that big of a deal, it’s the figuring out how it all strings together that’s the true challenge. I’m not going to lie, this was really hard for me, and I also had to put in hours upon hours of effort into figuring this out. For example, I spent about four hours just trying and failing to select the correct class to modify an element.
Honestly, in retrospect, I feel like I got hung up on your “don’t try and re-invent the wheel” comments, so if there was a plugin version to try, I would try that. But, I feel like I should’ve just started from scratch instead of wasting lots of time trying to figure out how to make tiny adjustments to the plugins and wading in horrible forums (why can’t everyone’s customer service be like Squarespace’s?). Master Slider is stupid and clunky.
But! The fact that I even got a website up in any capacity is sort of a miracle. This was such a maze of an experience. One step forward and fifteen steps back.
And, I am really looking forward to being able to putz around on my own time and make tweaks–and honestly just being able to do things without having to do anything in particular. Like, while this isn’t exactly what I pictured, it’s definitely closer than what I thought I’d end up with. It’s minimal, which I like. That’s definitely my style, and I love the idea of going to all the different tradesmen in Colonial Williamsburg and make slideshows for each of them. (Who knows what for, but I think it’d be fun.)
So. Whilst I plan to take a break from coding for a bit, I definitely want to continue working through projects and learning through that process.
This is the broccoli of classes.
Well, it took me until today to realize that I’d completely forgotten this.
I think I overall understand API’s? Or, at least the general idea and what they’re used for. It was helpful for me to look up different kinds of API’s etc. Honestly right now I’m mostly feeling very head-in-the-sand about the final project. (Like the feeling after a fun weekend and you’re scared to actually look at your bank account. So, I know I’ll feel better and like I have it more in hand once I’ve actually confronted it.) I’m quite confused and need help with the whole adding a subdomain thing. I’ve looked up the “adding a subdomain” page on Squarespace, but I’m not entirely sure about some of the things they’re saying. This misunderstanding on my part is majorly slowing me down.
I spent most of this week both reviewing and editing the photographs I’m trying to use/writing up the content, and muddling through the WordPress/Squarespace subdomain issue, and also ruminating on some of the stuff Andy suggested last week–ways to make the whole site a slideshow. Last week, Jaclyn very kindly sent me a site that has a file converter for MP4s to GIFs.
Another issue I’m having is just that my idea seems to be quite different from everyone else’s, so the questions asked in class don’t necessarily pertain to what I’ve been working on (or lack there of, given aforementioned issues.) But, it has been helpful to hear about HOW people are going about solving their problems–where and how to look at certain problems in order to solve them.
I have noticed that without doing Codecademy and with feeling kind of frozen on the final project that I haven’t been coding as much, and that has definitely been detrimental to both my understanding and output. So. I definitely need to commit to diving back in. Something I plan on doing starting tonight!
As far as web development goes, I’ve spent the last week mostly focused on preparing and gathering materials for my final project. I’ve already had to change some of my plans. For instance, instead of being about the process of making mead, it’s now going to be about the process of eighteenth century weaving. It turned out that the day I was in Williamsburg was much too hot to open or really approach my friend’s beehive. (Opening the hive on a dave that’s 95 degrees or above is really really bad for the hive apparently. Something to do with the queen and cooling.)
Of course, this same friend happens to be the weaver’s apprentice at Colonial Williamsburg. She offered to let me come in after the tourists were gone so I could get some photographs. I’m rather pleased with the outcome for the stills, but the videos are just okay. It was insanely hot and humid out, which both made for an impatient photographer and difficulty in effectively capturing good light. I did, however, get one good one of a spinning wheel spinning. It’s pretty cool, and I look forward to you seeing it. There’s some good negative space that I think would be good for a title bar.
Anyway! On to project management. (Thank you very much for recording the class and sending it to me. I greatly appreciate it.) Watching the Agile video really drives home the fact that project management is a delicate balance—especially in coding. I read that Jaclyn wrote that the Agile Manifesto reminded her a lot of the Zen of Python. I felt the exact same way. It had the same clear constructs that attempt to manage and define seemingly abstract ideas.
I also read the article on design thinking—I loved how Jared Spool compared design thinking and designers to the children’s book Stone Soup. It really helped it make sense to me. Also, since my final project is going to be fairly design-heavy, it was a helpful read. (I’m fairly self-conscious about designing things, but I’m also quite picky.) As long as I thoroughly research the issues I face and stay focused on the product, it should be okay.
Okay, so I’m really frustrated at the moment. I’ve been trying to upload my PHP stuff for the last couple of hours and it’s not working. I think it’s all rooted in the fact that my desktop GitHub app is somehow messed up. (I spoke to a classmate, who looked at mine, and said it looks different from hers–so, I’ll be emailing you about that as soon as I post this.) I have, however, written some PHP and that’s fairly simple. The only thing that’s kind of confusing to me is the “why” behind PHP, but I’ve been reading about it and found some things that make some sense. Especially, of course, the natural aspect of it being server-side as opposed to client side.
I’m really interested to delve deeper into my project. I read through the WordPress articles, and and while I appreciate each of those elements, I don’t think those are necessarily what I’ll be using or focusing on. There won’t be posts or a sidebar. It will be much more like a quiz you can’t comment on–a la Pottermore or North.
This week, I have an interview with someone who works at Silver Hand Meadery in Williamsburg. (Actually, I think it’d be great if I could get them to promote the project once it’s complete.) One of the biggest aspects of my project isn’t even coding related–I’m going to be implementing the photographic and design elements. So. My biggest challenge is going to be to balance that out. I want to get that out of the way as soon as possible so that I can focus on the code and making the whole thing seamless.
I’m looking forward to working in this new medium–hopefully master the process with this project and then apply the same method and process to future projects and stories!
URL: www.mollyhunterkorroch.com (Although there will probably be some sort of /historyofhoney sort thing added.)
Description: A visual story on the process of making mead.
- To learn how to tell a story in this way. I’m very interested in pursuing other visually stimulating story topics that can be told in this manner.
- Explain how mead is made in the most aesthetically pleasing manner possible
- Easy to use and understand
Audience: People who are curious, foodies, anyone who enjoys aesthetically pleasing things
- Make and edit still photos and “Cinemagraphs”
- Research and write story
- Create “slideshow” using jQuery– a prettier one than the test project. I realize the issues will be creating a slideshow of automatically playing mp4 files. I’ve found ways to do this via jQuery plugins.
- Use CSS and HTML to upload and style the text overlaying the slideshow
- The slideshow–I’m hoping for a vertical slideshow, but we’ll see what I can finagle
- Start and stop video motion. (Although hopefully it’ll run on a loop and you can’t tell when it begins and ends. Again, this may be a high hope.)
- Fade in of text
- Possible sound behind the still pictures (but, I’m going to film all this later this week and it depends if I found cool clean sounds.)
- Also hoping to implement some responsive design elements–again it will depend on the video situation
- I will probably end up using the WordPress Twentyseventeen theme, because it’s the most simple.
- I won’t have the infinite scroll
- Most likely, I will be dismantling many of the aspects and just keeping it like a simple webpage–a file under my main website that can be visited and cross-posted onto social media, etc.
This weekend I took the deep dive into PHP. I so appreciate you, PHP for being similar to HTML. I understood how to do each of the exercises–how to add in words using echo and such. However, I don’t exactly understand why PHP and HTML would be used. I assume we’ll get more into that? I understand it on a basic level–like, you wouldn’t necessarily use PHP to specify text color or something, and PHP runs on the server. Not the client. But, this is probably, to me, the most difficult aspect of coding thus far: the idea of “best practice”. I am not yet familiar enough with the general languages and their formats to decide what is most best in a given situation.
I’m really looking forward to diving into my project. I know if will be difficult and my vision is rather grand, but I think that–as you’ve said–the practical application and the self-taught nature of coding can oftentimes be the most effective. I’m quite excited to both apply what I’ve learned to something I’m actually interested in (no offense, Codecademy–I did appreciate the Harry Potter themed exercise), and to learn more based on researching new methods to accomplish what I want to do.
The sections regarding loops were pretty helpful. I’d actually like to go back and do them again so that I can get more practice. I think the more I run that concept through my head the more it will start to make sense. It helped to have Codecademy spell it out and explain it at a more practical level because I think I’ve got a grasp on the basic theory from class.
Overall, I appreciated this week’s assignments. It was a moment to come up for air!
For my final project, I’d like to create a site that serves as a story. (Sort of like North or Choice and Chance.)
A good friend of mine works at a meadery–where they make mead. I want to go there and take video and photographs of the process then basically create a full-page slide show with text over it.
Particular challenges will be the automatic start and stop of the video clips and making the video and photographs fill an entire screen (depending on the screen). I’ve looked up different methods though, and I think I can do it. I think there will be about ten slides, and some sound.
I plan to check out the fancy cameras from school and head down to my friend’s and take some of the video. They’ll be very portrait-like. I’ll just set up the camera on a tripod and let it sit. I want the design to be aesthetic and minimalist.
Audience: Nerds! Really, anyone who enjoys aesthetically pleasing things and history. I really enjoy behind-the-scenes, and I think that’s sort of what this is. I think this is a project that the ladies who run the podcast “Stuff You Missed in History Class” would find interesting. And their audience.
So, I did it. It was perfectly exactly how I pictured, but I did it. I wish it were more full screen, and I didn’t do any of the cinemagraph stuff because, while it’s super cool, the app I found to do it (so I didn’t have to do it myself via photoshop–with which I have no experience) charges like fifty bucks. And I am poor. But, the version with the watermark is still pretty cool to look at. I just can’t include it.