Author Archives: Isa Thompson

The Wrap Up!

Class Overall

I was not sure what to expect from the Web Development going in to the class, but I was definitely excited about the opportunity to learn. Maybe too excited. I feel like i should have run with the rest of the people who dropped week two, but I remember thinking, I am a Consultant in the IT industry, this class should be easy. Was I wrong. Not only was the subject matter difficult to understand, but the non-structured  approach for the class made it a challenge to follow. On a more positive side, now that the course has come to an end I can appreciate all that Greg worked hard to teach us. Greg, I really appreciate your commitment to exposing us to a well-rounded set of Web Development concepts.  It was a lot of information for such a short period of time, but it was worth it.

What I Learned

Throughout this semester I learned a lot, and had some personal breakthroughs. I decided that I am not cut out for Web Development. It is fun and I know that I can make progress and possibly become an okay developer, but it is just not for me. Development requires patience and complete commitment. It is a lifestyle which drives me crazy and which I do not find rewarding.  The course definitely helped me learn a lot about myself  such as sometimes we just have to walk away.  If something is not gratifying walk away and find someone does enjoy it. This way you both win.

Why What I learned Matters

What I learned will save me time and headaches in the long-term. I have accepted that yes JavaScript, CSS, and HTML are amazing and important to this era. Expectations for myself going in were very high so I am currently dealing with disappointment; however, the bits that I did grasp such as how to make updates to WordPress sites from a child template, creating taxonomies, and making design modifications to a page will help me make an impact.  In fact, earlier today, I started showing my 17-year-old brother David how to update the template files for my site and talked to him about sublime, and cyber-duck.  I could have not done this three months ago.

What you’ll do with the new knowledge and skills

My plans are to leverage what I learned to help small business obtain an online presence. The knowledge which I have will help me get Clients started and will enable me to orient them in the right direction. I may not be extremely savvy on web development, but I am passionate about people and seeing them fulfill their goals.

Thoughts on re-reading the initial readings

These readings were a great way to closeout the semester.  They helped reinforce some of the concepts learned through the semester, specially about troubleshooting and thinking. they also refreshed my memory on the key concepts and practices which must be applied not only to be a great developer and/or developer journalist, but to have a great impact on life. My favorite pragmatic approach being:

Be a Catalyst for Change – You can’t force change on people. Instead, show them how the future might be and help them participate in creating it.

This approach definitely works, I use to kill myself trying to fix situation and was not getting anywhere. Today, I find myself taking a different approach – showing and action and it is really helping me make breakthroughs. We can never assume people understand what we are saying. We all speak a different language, by doing and being an example, we rid ambiguity.

What you want to learn after the class ends

Websites are extremely important to a business. For my message of health and fitness to have the impact which I seek my Web-site can be nothing other than SOLID. As a result, I will be looking for someone to help me recreate the GroceryCoach site. I do however plan to take on other development projects which are independent of my business site. Developing interests me and it is always good to have the knowledge so I will continue practicing the fundamentals on my spare time and will hopefully learn how to create drop down menus cause they make websites handy, I also want to learn about advertising and e-commerce sites as well as incorporating Amazon pages like the one Luis’s site. So much to learn and do, so little time.


In closing, each experience in my life has made me realize that everything is much more similar than it appears. Foundational principles listed below apply regardless if coding, serving in the military, or Consulting for the Federal Government and/or Commercial companies

  1. When faced with a wall walk away, re-strategize and try again,
  2. Your thinking has a lot to do with results
  3. Thinking through the process before attacking is much more effective.

Cheers to Web Development and all its quirks! And remember to eat your veggies, get your sleep and reward your body with cardio!

Developer Profile – Angela Banks: Simply Amazing!

Angela Banks

Angela Banks-Beach Body Coach, Engineer at GE

Angela Banks achieved her Masters in Information Technology, May 2012 from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VT). Angela began her course work as a student of Computer Science, but decided that she preferred to have a higher level understanding technology  versus hands on. As a result, she changed her degree to Information Technology.

Her degree, hard work, and commitment to success have helped Angela overcome barriers. She obtained a Human Machine Interface (HMI) Engineer position at General Electric in Salem, Virginia, a predominately male occupied position. On top of serving as an Engineer, Angela for the past two years has been working on defining a new path for herself as Beach Body fitness Coach. She has found that aside from developing and testing she enjoys helping people achieve fitness goals.

The programming skills, which Angela obtained at VT, have been key to her career.  As a Validation Engineer (a position held by Angela early on in her career) she used programming to modify and/or create automation scripts that were used for testing.  For her current HMI position Angela leverages her programming skills to configure switches.

For her Fitness business as a Beach body Coach, she created a site using Word Press. There she called on her programming skills to create a site, which had the look and feel that she desired for her customers. “By knowing what to look for in the common gateway interface (cgi) code I was able to modify the template for my website”.

The Programming Journey 

During our interview Angela and I talked about her journey from learning programming in school, leveraging her learned skills at work, and leveraging the skills for her business.  Per Angela, programming is all about continuous learning. Programming languages are similar in many ways, but not identical, leaving room for learning.

At work, programming skills allowed Angela to achieve career advancement, strengthened her ability to communicate with business and technical personnel. Her programming skills and her ability to push through obstacles have made her a valuable asset to General Electric.

Angela became a Beach Body Coach about two years ago. Upon embarking the journey, she decided to create a blog which enabled her to communicate upcoming events to her clients and to increase client involvement. Angela started the journey to create a WordPress site for her Beach Body business with foundational programming skills.  She soon found herself depending on research and trial and error to standup an interactive site. And troubleshooting solutions that would enable her to produce to her goal.  The concepts which were the most difficult for Angela include:

  1. How to make her site interactive
  2. Personalizing Widgets
  3. Personalizing frames

The WordPress journey was professional and personal to Angela. The further she advanced in the journey the more she learned about herself.  The journey led to learning new programming concepts and to the realization that she enjoys troubleshooting and seeing her development work come to life. The most important concepts which she learned was knowing when to walk away from the computer and the criticality of making decisions at the right time.   The effort to launch the Beach Body had just kicked off when Angela found herself updating code and making progress and then she found herself hitting a huge wall.  At that moment Angela found herself devoting a lot of time to fixing her site and not building it up. That is when she made one of the most difficult decisions anyone can make regardless of the field: Starting Over. No one ever wants to start over, just think of all the time that she had already invested. Anyone that has ever developed knows, it is a huge commitment. Regardless of the time already invested, Angela decided that starting over was best, so she made the call. Beach Body WordPress take one was aborted.  Angela very quickly launched take two of the effort.  She is very glad that she did not give up.

Angela’s site is up and running and has become a gateway for adding new clients to her Beach Body portfolio. It has helped her keep existing clients informed, and enables her to maintain a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook.

Angela’s Lessons Learned 

Know when to walk away from your computer.  According to Angela, hitting walls and/or barriers is part of the development life cycle and knowing when to step away from your computer to re-strategize is just as important of a skill as programming.

  1. Research and learning are never-ending. Angela obtained her Masters in Information Technology, but she still spent time researching and learning new tactics for developing as she created her WordPress site.
  2. Don’t give up. One thing that Angela is known for is giving it her all. Never give up applies to everything. Angela when developing her site leveraged this modo and now she leverages it for her Beach Body Coach business.

Angela plans to continue leveraging her programming skills to make a difference in her life and that of others.



Humbling Experience

I truly cannot wait for this phase of my journey to reach its end. The class has been quite humbling. It has brought to light those things that I do not comprehend. I mean, there is no hidding, even if you thought you got it, you really didn’t because when you click on view site, what you thought you got isn’t displaying. To top it off, you get a message which reads this is embarrassing. Wow.  Oh, then there is the fix that breaks something else on you site. Totally disappointing.  At this point, I really do not even want to go to my site. It depresses me. I am not a quitter, so I will not be giving up, but I will be stepping away from it for a while. Even if this site ends up just being about random thoughts.

Plan B for my business site. Upon registering for this class my hopes and expectations were to pick-up web-development skills quickly in order to launch a sophisticated interactive site for my business. Boy, was I wrong. I should have applied one of the mantras that I use to apply while in the Army: expect the worse, but hope for the best. My high expectations led to complete disappointment, but at the same time, I have accepted the situation. I cannot afford to be in denial. Time is too precious, so I have decided to call it what it is: WEB DEVELOPMENT and/or WORDPRESS Development is not for me. I like it, but I find myself devoting too much time to trying to find solutions to problems, which at times have been left unresolved because there are not enough hours in the day. To become better at development, I will need to devote more time than I have and/or possibly quit other things that I care about mentoring children, health and fitness, small business consulting and those things that I do to sustain my day job, consulting.

There are plenty of people out there that have a passion for web development, I pray that I find the right one to partner with to create my business site. The theme that I want is definitely innovative and interactive both are far from where my site is today.


Counting down the days and hoping for a miracle that will address my local site to live site sync issues. Not to mention my inability to see past the hurdles.

This course has been quite the adventure. I wish I could say that I have the key concepts down, but I still feel all over the place. I hope to continue learning and strengthening my knowledge of WordPress with the hope of one day seeing the light and laughing about all the hours which I have dedicated to figuring out customer posts, and taxonomies, etc. I feel that I am confused with the subject matter as a result of being able to include the same functionality from the admin site. At least that is how I see it at the moment, but I am sure that as I learn more I will understand the reasons why it is good to learn how to create custom taxonomies. I read several blogs, which speak to the benefits, but I cannot say they have convinced me and/or that I even understand what they are saying. What a humbling experience this has been.

On another note, this class has helped me get a step closer to what I definitely do not like. The subject matter is interesting, but the tradeoff between the time I spend trying to figure things out and how I feel when I figure it out are just not aligning to something that I want to continue learning and pursuing. The only reason why I would want to continue learning about development and WordPress would be to help small business owners establish an online presence. Then again, I can probably just find someone that does enjoy this type of work to help.

Looking forward to seeing everyone’s creativity this coming week. Good luck everyone.




Keeping it Simple

My website is coming along, but am finding that most of the foundational changes which I want to make to the site can be done from the admin screen.  All the other changes, seem to be to advance for what is asked for this class. As a result, I am having to find the delicate balance which requires that I change code without having to modify and/or write JavaScript. This means taking a progress hit as I aimed to have a registration screen and an animation specific to my subject matter. Reducing my scope was difficult to accept, but it ended up being helpful. I no longer feel as overwhelmed as when I first started.

Next steps for my site

Sticking to my keeping it simple theme, I will work on adding one custom post type, modifying the menu bar on the right side, changing fonts and tab colors and  creating the context which will be displayed on my tabs.


The agile training video came at a perfect time as I just joined a project which supports a client which works in agile. The term comes up several times a day and I always nod my head to relate to the client that I am familiar with Agile which I am, but not in-depth. The agile course validated some of which I knew, but also introduced new concepts such as product owner involvement. In the work environment there is definitely room to improve how agile is executed. I have never seen product owners be highly involved throughout the build of their products. Changes within a sprint are very common and lead to timeline extensions sprint cycles run for about one month to one month and a half.

Looking forward to the finish line, but as with all races, I find my self sprinting the last lap. Lessons learn: I need to improve my pace.


Terminal seems like a function that can really make a web developers life easier. I would actually like to learn more about it as it seems to cut down on the number of sites and folders one has to logon to complete a function. As I went through the GitHub Terminal tutorial, I started feeling more comfortable with the functions and was very impressed by what it can do. The one gap that still remains in my mind is:

How do I start using it to submit updates to files for my application? To create branches?

Does one logon to GitHub, or does the terminal recognize a command and automatically update the file based on the command entered?

Exciting News

My site is starting to look like a site, but I must admit all the changes made thus far have not required changes to code, that is next. Using the admin site to make updates has once again motivated me. Now, I just need to take my motivation to the next level and start updating code, specially moving the menu on the right side to the bottom of the page. Well not all fields only some.

My goals for this week are to update the following on my site:

– Include a Flash plugin, find someone and/or figure out how to complete an animation which I can post to my site, upload images, create a custom post.

– As far as custom posts, I will be looking into Custom Posts tonight while on my flight back to D.C and deciding if I want to use them on my site. As of right now, I think custom posts will be useful, but I need to look into them prior to making a decision.

Overall, I am so glad for the WordPress Local Site admin menu. Thank you admin menu for helping me regain some motivation.



Making Changes

I am not sure what is going on, but since Andy’s lesson, I have felt overwhelmed. I really do not feel like I can actually stand-up a site. I am missing structured type of class settings that follow a book and/or a lab. It has been so hard for me to follow and make any progress with my development skills because the class and subject matter has been all over the place. Last week, I went into class feeling like I understood what was going on, this week I am feeling lost. It might have been information overload.

It would be great to use class time to work on our sites.  Maybe we can discuss and work on functionality which is common to all our sites during class. This way we can practice and ask questions as we encounter problems. Some of the key functionality that are probably very important to a class filled with Journalists and Public Relationists are: Social Media links, ability to rate and/or leave comments, registration to gather reader information.

As far as the assignment to create a plugin – I have no clue how to create a plugin. The steps discussed in class last week did not register. I also took notes, but they do not seem to be helpful.

I spoke to a friend last week who is going to NoVa about an introduction to web development class she is taking. One month into the course and the class already has their sites up. They are using Google sites which I am guessing are much easier to use than WordPress or it might be that the course is focused on developing the site and not building developers. As I do not aspire to be a developer and want to continue being an entrepreneur, I wish this class really focused on teaching us how to create our sites and not everything development. Covering all the different concepts which have been covered is overwhelming and I do not feel more of a developer than on day one. I cannot wait for this semester to be over.

Changes that I want to make to my site:

Change the title – to Grocery Coach, font color green, add the company modo below the main heading, modify the tabs row either the row fill or the tab colors. For these changes I will be updating the HTML and CSS files. I also want to add social media capability which i am not sure how to add. I would also like to update the layout of the page, I do not care for the menu too much. I rather have a cover page that just contains a picture, the header, and footer. I want to put details on the different tabs.

Attempt to make updates

I tried to make updates to my site and found it to be confusing. I was not able to find root files, it was a lot of code referring to master files, and arrays. I made an update to the footer in order to not break anything and found that the change which I made did not update on my site (sad face).


Assignments this week were somewhat challenging, but interesting. What I enjoyed the most about them was my progress towards learning how to think in code; well, PHP. The best lesson of the Codecademy assignment was the arrays. I feel like I actually understand the reasons for arrays, the concepts, and how they may facilitate sustaining a developed site. I may use arrays on my site to develop lists in the backend and only highlight one item on the list to call out a weekly concept and/or special. However, I am not sure if I will use them to build my site and/or incorporate them later on after my site and business mature.

The assignment to outline the site which we want to create was tough, but it forced me to dedicate time to think through the image that I want my company to portray and the services which will be offered. Thinking through these key concepts  has been quite difficult as I have a tendency of wanting to take on the world.  I still have not made all the key decisions, but I was able to create an outline and identify a modo for my web-site development and business to follow: the KISS principle. I definitely feel that the less information which is displayed the more impactful. The key next steps for me are to discipline myself to keep things simple. It is so easy to get carried away with information and/or trying to tackle too much at once.

For the most part, I understood all concepts covered this past week, but I am still not completely comfortable with everything we have learned. Concepts which I am unclear about are:

1.  How do I update a template from WordPress using Sublime?

2. How does the database and WordPress work together? If I stand up a second WordPress site, would I have to create a new database?  As I maintain and further development my site, will I have to go back to Github and do anything to the database? 

3. Is there a way to run spell check from Sublime?



Journey into Web Dev

This week’s Codecademy and mid-term assignments were easier to understand than last week’s. While completing this weeks Codecademy assignments, I actually felt like I understood the logic and got the hang of the strings covered in the assignment. This is exciting as last week I was ready to quit web-development.

Not only was this week’s assignment comprehensible, but it was also valuable. Creating and adding buttons, and having the button complete an action are functions that I definitely want to include on my site. As for the fade in and fade out functions, those were fun to learn, but I am not sure that I will be including them on my site, at least not without the hide and show feature. Ideally, what I want to include on my site are images which transition on their own. Is this possible with WordPress?

The mid-term assignment of purchasing a domain and a hosting space was easy to complete and a lot of fun. Now I just have to start developing my site which I thought would be easy, but I am finding it difficult because I want it to be perfect whatever that means. To get past designers block my plans are to create a high-level outline of my site on paper. Once I finalize the draft, I will start developing my site on WordPress. My goal is to keep my site simple, yet modern.

There are so many things to consider when creating a site that it can be somewhat overwhelming, especially since I am just learning about HTML, jQuery and CSS, and not to mention web-sites are public. For now, I know that I want my site to have a home page, a link to register for newsletters, and membership, contact us information, the ability to order products, and a place for uploading videos, such as testimonials and/or video clips, and most importantly, I want my sites to be accessible via smartphones – iPhones, Galaxy, etc…