Author Archives: Vickey Casey

What’s Next?

This class was definitely a challenge. I was not sure I would make it to the end, grades are not out yet so we will see, but the prospect of making a site for my dad got me through. He absolutely loves it and wants to add a picture of us to the “About Us” page, which was suggested by someone in the class. Like I said a few posts ago, I’m not sure if I want to continue doing web development.

This has been an educational experience and I enjoyed doing the more cosmetic coding. But there is something unpleasant about JavaScript, jQuery, and PHP. If I continue developing skills in this field, I would need to go back and spend some time reviewing these languages because these are the ones I want to work with.

I will take some time to recover from this semester, my last one at Georgetown, and then start my learning again. I will be supplementing the courses on Codecademy with those on the Odin Project. They seem to offer free projects and the opportunity to actually build things. I’ll let you know how it goes.

A big thing I want to work on is creating a working contact page from scratch. I still have not figured out how to make it link to a “Thank you” page and still email the message to the account’s email. Especially once I change it over to my dad. I want to continue working on this site, create more content and possible make it a little more interactive if possible. I’ll be working on the host site, along with my learning and probably start both in October when I return from traveling.

I hope to be relatively proficient, if possible, by December or January, so that I can write code more quickly and efficiently.

Nearly There

After weeks of trial and error and tears, the site actually looks like something! Well more than something, it looks pretty good. I never really thought I would get to this point but I am excited to be here.

This has been an experience. For the last few weeks I have been focused on the code and design. Ensuring that the everything works. I had a lot of trouble creating the child theme but found a plugin, Child Theme Configurator, that writes the necessary top code for you and allows you to make edits. It even saves the files in the appropriate folder.

Lots of Googling as always, to keep thing moving forward when I get stuck. I will be testing the site again today to ensure that I really have not broken all of WordPress. It is a terrifying though as I finalize the last few details. I’m not sure the API will be a part of the site, but if all goes as planned between today and tomorrow then it will be there.

On a completely different note, I an very excited to remove XAMPP from my computer. My system is seven years-old, basically on its last legs, and running the server is hasting my laptop’s death march. The freezing is getting pretty old and I need this computer to last a few more months. However, the class will be over soon and I can lighten my system’s burden. The GitHub app is not much help either.

Will I voluntarily do this again very soon? Probably not. But who knows? When I’m not in my last semester and go over everything we have learned this summer, I might find myself wanting to do this. The process was not completely unpleasant, and thankfully there are wonderful things like plugins and widgets that make life much easier.

May Not Want To Do This Again

So this process is still going and I’m not a fan. I’m still in the process of simplifying the page and giving it that professional and clean look. It is also very tempting, and I often fall into this temptation, of doing a lot of the edits directly on WordPress. It’s easier than jumping back and forth to do the simple things like changing the font or doing quick simple fixes.

However, I’m very sore I will not become a web developer or do this for fun. After fighting with FTP and trying to get WordPress into my GoDaddy, I’m very over it. I’m not a fan. I really don’t think I will do this from the developer side again. On the other hand it is nice knowing I can. It is rewarding going into Sublime and being able to do things, or looking at the ridiculously complicated code and sifting through to the place I need to edit. That’s cool.

What is not is trying to figure out how to make this PHP code work. I’ve been fighting with it for ages and I’m not sure how much longer I can before giving up. I barely got the code to work when we added the few lines to our web pages so I doubt I will actually make it work. I have looked through a few plugins and I’m choosing among a few. I might just use one and stop stressing myself out.

Again, I am not a fan of this process. When this is done, I’m sure I’ll be very proud of myself and happy I did it, but it will be a very long time before I CHOOSE to do this again. I jokingly told my friend that if I ever did this for anybody, that is how they would know our friendship is solid.

Coding, APIs, and Trudging Through

Thank God for YouTube. Out of all four of the readings and videos, the “What is an API” one was the clearest and most helpful. It was also a little funny. I like the idea of data being carried by a waiter on a platter to and from the “kitchen”. Although I do not think I will use one for this project they do seem useful. I like the idea of incorporating something like Google Calendar into the site. How this will work and whether or not I will be able to adapt some the code are two different questions entirely. I would like to add something like a map and pin drop, which you mentioned we could do with a plugin, and the calendar attached to a form. Again, the next few weeks will determine whether or not these things happen.


Now for a little bit on the final.

I have finally chosen a parent theme. I’ll be using a cinema graph, an idea I got from Molly, where a still image is layered over a few milliseconds of video. I want the site to be dynamic and engaging. However, I will be using a regular WordPress theme. I will just be adding the cinema graph as the header image. It will not be scrolling, since running the server on my computer has already slowed my computer down a lot. If I change this in the code, it will be on of the last things I do.

I am still playing with the other planned features. I know I have not created the GitHub repository, yes, but I will. I just want to play with the code a little more before putting it up there. I want to have something a little more substantial that I do now. Don’t worry it will be there soon!

FTP Sadness

FTPs are the worst. They really are. FileZilla, after I spent 30 minutes trying to get from step one to step two, it kind of made sense. I understand why they exist, I understand (now) how to use them but I don’t like them. I did not understand how to use it until I watched the video. Also why are the instructions so complicated? There is no need for all of this!

Why did they make it so complicated? And, yes there are a lot of files but would it crash the system if I just transferred it directly into cPanel? There are just so many systems and so many new applications with unclear purposes that the actual joy (is there joy in this?) in the process.

Safe to say I did not like using FTPs. It was very frustrating, needlessly so. The instructions were very unclear and unspecific that it took so much longer than I thought is should have to actually get the program going. Really did not like this. And I transferred the entire folder into public_html in cPanel and it wouldn’t work. Apparently there was one folder too many for them. Again, very frustrating process.

Is there an easier way to do this or a more straight forward program to use for this? Would it be a good idea to use a different one for the next class?

At this point the site is coming along. I’ve been fighting with php for awhile to make my contact form work. I’m close to just finding a plugin and editing that but since most of what I want to do is front end, that might work.

The WebMD of Web Development

This exercise was not as terrible as I thought it would be. For the first time in seven weeks I can say thank you to Codecademy for leaving me with a boat as I did the homework. As always there was a necessary assist from W3Schools, the paddle, but I was not completely in the dark this week.

That being said, I have to thank W3Schools for explaining how to connect my PHP file to the HTML page. I looked back at my notes, and reflected on our class, and realized that the explanation from Greg was the only one we had to go on.

Now there was some confusion, which showed up when I sent my repository. Every now and then Googling the answers feels like looking to WebMD for a health diagnosis and falling down a rabbit hole. Since Codecademy gave no instructions, I looked to W3Schools. They helped me get some of the code but showed several different ways of connecting and referencing the PHP and getting it to do things. Naturally, I chose one that did not do what I thought it did. This explanation, among the four others available, seemed to make the most sense though. Well now it’s been fixed and the code does what it should.

I am definitely happy to be moving on to editing code instead of writing it from scratch. I am narrowing down the themes and am ready to adjust the child theme to be what I need it to be. I’m also excited to see my dad’s reaction, hopefully a happy one, when the site is done. I am not excited for the many more bottomless pits that Google and W3Schools will be dropping me in. Yes, trial and error are all part of it, but doctors tell patients to avoid WebMD, we seem to be doing the opposite.

Oh well. C’est la vie.

PHP Hasn’t Sent Me Through A Loop, Yet

I say this often, and then regret my words days later, but I did not find this very difficult. PHP does not seem as bad as JavaScript and reminds me a lot of jQuery. Like these two languages, PHP seems easy to use  in the Codecademy setting. Again, like with jQuery and JavaScript lessons, putting the pieces together to create something more complex might be difficult. I imagine having the same issue, struggling to know where to start and how to put the many these we are learning together.

Now for some reason the jQuery and PHP lessons have been extremely buggy. It if had not been for the Q&A I would not have finished the lessons. This set did not have the same impending update warning like jQuery, so the bugs were unexpected and unexplained. I did, however, have to reload the page a few times to make the code work. Even after writing mine identically to the example or the hint, it would not work. Hopefully by next year, or the next time you are teaching this class, they will fix the bugs and cause their students less anxiety with unnecessary error messages. I also hope they add the button that gives the code so that we can see it and try to do it ourselves.

I did do something different this time around. I got the idea from the class forum while we all struggled with jQuery and the slideshow. Instead of just doing the lessons and hoping to remember them later, I began copying the notes and the correct code so I can reference it later. I’m not sure why it has taken so long to do this and I imagine the last few assignments could have been significantly easier if I had.  They will be great as a reference moving forward.

Final Project

For the final I want to build my dad a website for his business. My dad is a contractor and has needed to put one together for his business. I want to make a site that will showcase his work and also help his business to grow. Once the class is over I’ll hand over the domain to him.

It will need to be interactive but but have a simple and clean look. There will be navigation bar with subheading to each area of the site, a blog with various tips for quick fixes, a contact form for enquirers, and a slideshow of completed works.

  • Promote his work through a easy to use site that both informs visitors and encourages them to contact him.
  • Create a functional site! I’m really excited to build and customize something that will be on the internet and actually work.
Anyone needing electrical, HVAC, water heating, handyman services, etc. in New Jersey and New York. Those using the site will be regular owners and renters of residences and businesses. It will also be a source of information for anyone curious about what makes the light bulbs glow or air conditioners run.
Theme: Twenty Seventeen 
Track: front-end
Planned modifications:
  • Editing child theme: looking for a theme that I like
  • Blog plugin design and functionality
  • Slideshow design and editing
URL: In progress, still working with my dad on this.

Q&A with Tiffanie Johnson

Tiffanie Johnson is a developer who made a late career change after working for a defense contractor. She is currently working for Forum One, a 21 year-old digital company that helps organizations build and extend their reach through innovative web design and development.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I was born in D.C., but my father is in the Marines so we moved around a lot. I consider San Diego, California to be my home town. I miss it, especially on days like this when it’s humid, hot, and sticky.

Were you working in web development when you were out there?

No, I wasn’t. I wasn’t really interested in web development at school. I went for Physics and Math. I got my Associates in Electrical Engineering and I got my Bachelor’s in Mathematics. So I’m not a classically trained computer scientist, like a lot of my colleagues are. My senior year of college, I was trying to decide if I wanted to go to graduate school or if I wanted to teach. Neither of those really sounded appealing to me, and that’s kind of what you do if you have a degree in STEM. I was like, I better teach myself a skill. And so I started watching tutorials on YouTube about web development and I sort of taught myself. Through my school I was able to obtain an internship with a defense contractor. That’s where I got a lot of experience from. Things just kind of snowballed after that.
The job I have now, is the first one that is web development focused.

Where are you working now?

I’m at Forum One.

How long have you been at Forum One and what has your experience there been like?

I’ve been at Forum for a little over a year and my experience there has been mostly positive. So even though I’m not doing defense contracting anymore — you have to get the contract to get the work and that’s something to do — in the private sector it’s a lot like that. We have to win contracts. There are down times. When you’re busy, you think about all the things you could do if you had a little more time. And then when the slowdown hits and you get all that time, it’s so boring.

What is it about web development that you really love?

I think the fact that I’m able to touch so many people with the work that I do. When I worked in defense contracting, if I was building an application, 20 people would see it. With the work that I do, billions of people see it every day. So we build the new Smithsonian African American History Museum’s website, the Red Cross’s site, and Peace Corp. So I’m not only building these websites, but I’m also helping to spread goodness.

What are some of the things that frustrate you about this field?

Being new to web development is difficult because there’s so much technology out there. And that’s fun and it’s exciting, but it can also trap you. You start researching. For example, for JavaScript there are gazillions of frameworks out there and you start researching them and it’s like, which one do you use? Why were these created in the first place? What problem are they trying to solve? What are their pitfalls? Why might you not want to use them? Stuff like that is frustrating to me because the answers are not always clear. It isn’t alway clear which solution is best. That could be because I’m fairly new. As far as web development is concerned, I have about a year and half of experience. I’m sure that I’ll get better at it, but technology’s changing very quickly.

So if you come into web development with an open mind, know that what you learned today might be obsolete in three months. That has to be okay with you. Otherwise you’ll get pretty discouraged.

In your profile on Forum One, it says that you are working toward becoming a Subject Matter Expert. What is this position and why do you want to be one?

I want to teach people how to use it and I don’t want to have to ask anyone for help. So if I’m the expert in that field, then all the JavaScript decisions would come through me. I want to be an expert at it because I want to know more than the person next to me who’s doing the same job. JavaScript is the language of the internet really. I think that’s the perfect language to do it in.

What projects are you working on now?

Have you been introduced to StackExchange? It’s a forum where you can ask other developers questions if you’re having problems? So I’m building a copy of that. Not to really put it out there, but for myself to play with.

Any advice for anyone who is just starting?

Yeah, code every day. Code something, even if it’s a “Hello World”, or something like that. Read an article everyday. Because it’s very easy to forget why you made a decision. Always comment your code, for you and for the person after you. Realize that everybody that’s coded before you has felt the way you felt so don’t give up. This is just the process of becoming a developer. And it’s fun too! It’s a very powerful feeling to control a computer and that’s what you do.

Midterm Reflections

Small update: Since interviewing Tiffanie Johnson and writing the Q&A, she has left Forum one and will be joining the Washington Post’s Web Development team on July 12.

One of the first things I noticed about Johnson is that she has a background in math an engineering. While neither of these are required for this career, it definitely helped her when she started learning. The other thing I noticed was how passionate she is about the field. She is driven to more forward, improve, and be an expert in her area. I did not add this the Q&A but she mentioned a specific need to be the best, to create the hardest to break software, and to develop something that has a positive effect on the world. This is why she left the department of defense.

I was encouraged and amused by the knowledge that, outside of this class, I can learn more about web development on YouTube. The fact that she did all of her development learning there is just funny. But she did stress the importance of coding daily and practicing. Where she found the time to do this while working, no idea, but it is good to know that it can be done.

I have never had to bid for work. I have never competed for an assignment, not this way anyway, so I don’t understand the challenges that come with having to do this. There is always something to be written, large or small, but I do want to become a freelancer. I want the flexibility that this type of working affords but it will mean that I will have to compete for stories.

At the end of the day, Johnson’s journey was inspiring in that she took an unconventional path to what I can only describe as the career of her dreams.

*This post has been backdated*