Author Archives: Capricia Alston

Final Thoughts

The class overall: Although it may be extremely hard to scope out based on my posts throughout the semester, I did find this class helpful. I learned that web development should not be feared as long as you have time, patience and a close relationship with Google. My negative feelings toward the class came from an expectation of mine that I now see to be completely unrealistic. I registered for the course expecting to be taught how to code and although I have basic knowledge of coding, a lot required me to Google(self-teaching) and I am nowhere near pro status. What I learned though is going into a summer class, or really any class, thinking that you’ll automatically leave as a coder is the first mistake of a non-coder mind(although I’m still trying to figure out  Luis’ technique in accomplishing this. Congrats!). This class covered everything that the syllabus said it would and I not only have a better understanding of what web developing is all about, but I also learned a little more about how I learn/function.

What I learned: The very basics of HTML, PHP, CSS, a lot of things about WordPress that I never knew existed, Github/Sublime/Cyberduck, that Codecademy exists and what questions to Google. I also learned that I do not want to be a web developer. I said this in the beginning of the semester and I’m sticking to it that the feeling I have after getting my code to work does not outweigh the misery and annoyance I feel when my code fails.

Why what I learned matters: Knowing even a little about coding not only helps journalists within their job, but it also looks good on a resume. I cannot and will not put on my resume that I know any code languages, yet, but I know enough to identify the language and work through certain issues. Also, with the disappearance of newspapers and the increase of news being consumed online, there could not be a better time to know some code languages.

What I’ll do with the new knowledge and skills/What I want to learn when the class ends: Shockingly, I do plan to learn and practice more once this class is complete. I do want a better site and I think I may want to change my theme to 2012 after Rob so graciously pointed out to me that there is just way more support with that theme. I have no immediate plans, but by the time I graduate(2 more semesters) I intend to have a site that I’m proud of as well as a better understanding of the codes I mentioned above. JavaScript may still be a lost cause.

Thoughts on rereading the initial readings: They make a  LOT more sense now that  we know what they’re referring to. I really wish I would’ve paid more attention to the reading Rethinking our Thinking. The quote below sums up this entire class for me.

“Your mindset impacts thinking which impacts mindset which impacts thinking… etc for infinity.”

My mindset was negative and therefore my thinking was negative. I believe that knowing code and being able to create sites on your own, even if just for personal use is extremely beneficial for journalists. I also think it is is something that you really have to WANT to do. If you really want it, you will be able to conquer it, even if it takes months. If it is nothing more than a curiosity of yours and you are not willing to put in time, it will kick your butt and your mind and you’re whole approach is negative.

Better planning means less wasted effort

The statement that popped out to me in the video you assigned us to watch is that better planning means less wasted effort. Looking back at my prior entries, I noticed a trend. That trend was that I often mentioned that I should have done something earlier.

This statement can pretty much be applied to anything, but regardless, it is an important concept to keep in mind, especially in code world. The second statement that popped out to me is that it’s important to have a shared definition of done. As DJ’s post says, you’re never really done with your site/project. When referring to agile practices, it’s most important that everyone is on the same page and understands the point in which they are trying to reach. I have kept this in mind when thinking about/referring to my site. There are so many improvements that can and should be made to my site, but all of those changes will not necessarily be made by Sunday. I learned that it is important for me to set a goal of what it is that I want, and just get there. Everything else that may come to mind later on that I want to add can be added at a later time as well.

What I learned most through the reading/video is that the teachings are close to identical to what you’ve taught us from the beginning of this class. We were asked to pick the functionalities of our sites (keeping them realistic) and we were given a deadline. We were encouraged to test them before deadline to ensure all of the bugs were worked out. As we critiqued one another’s sites, we played the user role.

I can honestly say that now that I’ve seen not only my progress, but my classmates’ progress as well, this whole coding thing is starting to make sense to me. Initially it is hard to accept that you’re taking a class that you’ll probably still leave as a beginner in. You repeatedly warned us that by no means will this class make us coders, but it is not until very recently that I was able to piece together the reasons why we did a lot of what we did. I still hate JavaScript, and it may still take me hours to figure out how to fix my broken codes, but I have made so much progress. I understand concepts, how important it is to Google and so many other things that I would have never touched on without the push of this class. And with that being said, me, myself and I have agreed that this post is DONE.

Not so finished finish line

I have made a lot of changes to my site from WordPress admin and I’m excited about all that I’ve learned about WordPress. Going into this class, I’m realizing I knew very little about WordPress and learning all of its capabilities was a really cool process. Code on the other hand has kicked my butt for the most part and I’m pretty sure I’ll be extremely happy when I’m done having to do it.

The good thing is that the majority of what I wanted done for my site has been completed, minus learning how to code. I’m starting to become a professional copy and paster and I’m so grateful for all of the coders that have so graciously put out the codes that they felt best worked for them. What I’m not so happy about is that I don’t really feel like I know how to code per se. I believe there are far more things that I don’t understand than those that I do. Regardless, I’m happy that I will leave this class with a site and that’s what I ultimately wanted to get out of it.

I have not finished my site, and am a little nervous about what you’ll say but looking forward to seeing everyone else’s site and the progress that they’ve made. I think the main thing that I’ve learned from the course is that coding requires google and a lot of it. I’ve used Lynda and google like crazy but the huge problem is that it takes up so much time watching and learning and once it doesn’t work, it’s become 2:00 a.m. in the morning and I’m completely defeated. I have made a lot of progress by watching online tutorials, but I think I’ve learned more from those than in-class. That is not a jab at you at all, but I think I’m more of a visual person and I needed a lot more run-thru’s than what we received. Hope you like my site!

Bad Planning

Looking back on the list of things I wanted to do to my site, it couldn’t be any more evident that my planning is just completely off. I intended to have photos and videos from my upcoming New Mexico trip. The only problem is, I will be in New Mexico while the site is due. My hope is that after the first critiques, I will be able to add all of that content in. If that does not work out, I’ll be a little bummed because I’ll either be using seriously old work that I’ve done, or using dummy content to throw in the mix. I can’t imagine me being very proud of my site if majority of it isn’t what I really want to be on there though.

On the brighter side, progress is taking place, very slowly but surely. I feel like I have similar dilemas as other classmates, in being that WordPress allows for us to do so much, that it is difficult for me to think of codes that I want to add in. I have completed about half of the things I wanted to do for my site (although I did it through what WordPress already had available), so my main goal tonight and tomorrow night will be to add my gallery and create at least one button that can be hovered over and look snazzy. Because I feel like there is only so much for me to add to my site code-wise (that is realistic and what I actually want on there), I will try to make significant changes display content as well.

I’m starting to feel like I’m making my site more for grading purposes versus what I truly want my site to look like, but at the same time it gives me the opportunity to play around and see what I like, so all-in-all this is good for me.


You have to love time savers

Although I have not yet memorized even a quarter of the commands that exist, I have a way better understanding of command lines and why they would be used. I even read from the assignment that there are ways to make changes to all of your folders at the click of a command, saving tons of time. When Greg first introduced this to us, I was confused on how web development and these commands related to one another. If I understand correctly though, we could essentially access and change files even in our WordPress folders and at a much quicker rate if we have a similar thing to change in all of them. Needless to say, anything that eliminates extra/unnecessary time has a good rating in my book.

For my site, I am currently in the works of adding a widget for my Facebook and Twitter account. I have not made any local to live updates yet, but I’m hoping to do so tonight after I CORRECTLY add this (crossing my fingers). For this week and hopefully even tonight, I plan to add the widget and I’m considering a taxonomy plugin.

One issue I’m having is I’ve noticed the example provided of my theme differs a lot from how my theme actually shows up. I chose this theme because it placed the slideshow right in your face, but it also showed feature stories on the right side of the page. I like it because each story had a a picture adjacent to it and it reminded me of a more professional news site. Now I’m trying to figure out if that’s something that I will have to add in through coding or the admin page. I will update this post when I finally get my plugin to work.


Loads of Codes

After going through what seemed like thousands of free themes, I ended up choosing a WordPress theme that was already featured(go figure). Choosing my theme and getting a visual idea of what my site will look like really made me feel like we just matured from newborn to toddler. I was extremely excited, and then I started going into the files of my theme. In these files were loads of code, some that I understood immediately and others that I have a strong feeling will take me a while to figure out. I am still just as excited to get the ball rolling on this project, but we went from like 30 lines max in Codecademy to, in my case, 573 lines of CSS and that’s just one folder. Looking at all of the files was a little overwhelming and I must say, thank you Greg for NOT making us do this from scratch. I remember asking in the beginning of the semester why in the world other coders would share their codes for free. I look back now and wholeheartedly understand the reasoning. They do it for people like me and I’m extremely grateful these people exist!

What I found most interesting is that I thought I’d have more difficulty understanding the codes but I actually had more problems understanding the comments explaining the codes. Everything has an official/proper name that I’m sure all veteran coders know. For example, in Codecademy when we’d practice, I often found myself commenting like “change box thingy” or “moves grid thing to the left”. That kind of language won’t get me very far in the real world of code and also won’t aid in my understanding of what others are trying to pass along to me.

I meant to ask this in class but when we are in GitHub and preparing to update and sync things, I remember we have to write a note saying what that change does. I’m finding that I may know what something does, but I may not know exactly how to say it. I’m sure the solution to this is just practice, but I probably need to figure that out sooner than later.

Capricia Alston

My vision for my website is still to create an online portfolio. I want it to include the work that I’ve done while in this program, as well as clearly display that I know how to design a website. In order for me to show the latter, I’m hoping to make drastic changes to a common theme page and make it my own. Along with this class, I’m taking Reporting in the Field, so by the end of the semester I will have tons of pictures I’ll want to share on my site. I plan to have a gallery on there from the trip we take as well as a section of my video clips.

I plan for my focus to mainly be on the development rather than the design/look because I’ll be taking web design next semester and will continue to add to my site the more I learn. However, I do want to be able to show that I know how to create an interactive site, so I’ll definitely have buttons and a couple of other designs that need to be clicked or hovered over in order to function. If I leave this class with a site that is clearly mine, displays quality work and requires a few clicks here and there, then I will be completely satisfied with the progress that I’ve made.






Description: My site will include any and all work that I’ve done or have been involved with while in this program.


  • Have something beyond a resume for employers to have access to
  • Prove that I am capable of managing and troubleshooting a website
  • Finally have one place that all of my recent work is stored
  • Make a site that I’m proud of
  • Eventually this transitions to a site that attracts sports enthusiasts as well


My primary audience will be employers or people curious about me and my work. Hopefully I will be able to expand that to sports enthusiasts also. This expansion will only occur once I have the basics of my site and how it works understood.

Conceptual Level:

  • I will have a gallery of pictures I’ve taken, focused around the New Mexico trip I’ll be taking in three weeks
  • The option to view my resume will be one of the header options on my page
  • An About Me page
  • I will have a section of videos I’ve edited or done stand-up
  • Eventually I will have a blog section as well which will be centered around sports


Custom Community –


  • I will definitely be changing the entire color scheme and designs at the top of the page. Still debating if I want the top of the page to be a photo
  • I want to make the pictures on the side expand when the mouse is hovering over it.
  • Find an appropriate place to import my Twitter posts

PHP: Another Good Week in Code World

I’m not sure if the concepts were simple or if the exercises were just a breeze, but either way I’m feeling invincible after this week’s Codecademy lesson. PHP has by far been the easiest language for me to grasp. I can even go as far as to say that it was the most enjoyable language for me to work with thus far.

I do recognize, however, that we only completed half of the lesson and it still has the potential to get more difficult. Regardless, I see why Greg taught us in the order he did because it seems like a lot of what we learned and struggled through in “code that shall not be named” applies to other code languages. “Conditionals” and “control flows” seemed far less foreign because we had already been repeatedly tortured with them before. A very small part of me even considered going back to JavaScript and finding out if it is still as torturous as I remember; then I woke up. In all seriousness though, transitioning from jQuery to PHP was pretty much as smooth as it could get.

I enjoyed reading the WordPress Codex because I understood a lot of what they meant when referring to a language or a certain code and I felt like I was finally in a special club. Some of the readings I think I’ll have to actually apply before I understand, but it’s nice to know that there are places to refer to when getting started with our own pages.

The concept of child theme reminded me a lot of what we talk about in class with only making changes on our server and not going live until we’re sure about it (I think I said that right). I’m not sure if it is the same idea or not but I’m quickly realizing that the common theme is to avoid making live changes more often than not.

jQuery: The Week of Transformation

This week was a complete transformation for me in the world of Codecademy. I think I understood jQuery for the most part, and not just how to get through to the next page, but also the actual concept of why it’s used. The only thing that worries me a little bit is that there were times when the page said my code was successful but it wasn’t actually doing what it was supposed to do. Boxes that were supposed to vanish would just sit there. Whenever that happened I made sure to go back and figure out the correct way to do the code, but I’m still a little confused as to why it allowed me to move to the next page.

I’m not exactly sure when/if I’ll apply jQuery to the page we’re creating for class. I like that I understand jQuery (or at least I think I do) but the assignments that we did in class didn’t really get me excited to add to my page. Also, from a portfolio standpoint, I feel like simple is better, but maybe as the semester goes on I’ll change my mind.

At my job, only one person codes and he doesn’t know jQuery, so I’m not sure if that means that it’s not a necessity or if we’re just behind the times over there. Regardless, I would like to continue to practice with it to make sure I have it down because I think it does some really cool things. I’m not sure why it was so much easier for me to grasp, but I had such a more enjoyable week with jQuery than I did with JavaScript. Also, I really appreciate Codecademy for filling in the JavaScript for us so we could focus only on jQuery. Had it not been set up that way you would all be reading a far less enjoyable blog post from me.