Category Archives: 2013 Summer class


I am glad to be getting done with this class because it is the natural progression of things; to move forward we have to move on from where we are. But I will miss the class because I have found the learning to be, all at the same time, fun, fast, frustrating, and fulfilling. The thing I have found most exciting is the fact that I know I will use this class in the future. I cannot say that of my other classes. I really enjoyed both Covering Capitol Hill and Crime Reporting, but the odds of being a journalist in both of those fields is slim (with the exception that many Capitol Hill stories are about corrupt politicians…).

I interviewed Patty Tompkins, who has worked for numerous companies as a contractor, consultant, and developer. She is one of a small number of women who started programming early in the computer era. She started in the late ’70s and has kept up on the cutting edge of the industry all of these years. She now owns her own company that contracts out to other companies. I met her during my trip to New Hampshire, which is where she is based out of. She was really funny and nice, and I could tell that she is someone who is able to get things done, no matter what. I think she summed it up best when she told me that she doesn’t see it as work, but rather an enjoyable hobby.

She has also found a way to be a ski instructor for over 20 years, and it really made me think about how I want to have my career path go. I want to make sure that I don’t get stuck in a rut doing work that I don’t enjoy, when I could be out doing fun things that I could make a career. This course has shown me that I could find that combination with writing and programming. I want to make sure that I keep my head up and look for the latest in technology and stay at the forefront. Once you get stuck in a certain technology, you can stay there for a long time, and I want to be always adapting.

Web Developer Patty Tompkins

Jennings Web Developer Profile

Patty Tompkins, 58

President, Autumn Software, Inc

Applications Developer/Web Developer

Patty Tompkins started at University of Bridgeport, graduated pre-med three schools later, went to intern at a programming company, took a left turn as a ski instructor, and then worked her way up to building her own company that she runs today. Her career has seen the beginnings of client-servers, PCs, and the internet, and she has had to change along with the technology.

Tompkins feels that only certain people can be good programmers, and that it is a state of mind rather than a simple learned skill. “I don’t want to stereotype men or women either. I have met many men who were terrible developers, and I have met many women who were terrible developer,” she said, “I think that it is a matter of how they think; how they solve problems that makes them good.”

Owning a company puts Tompkins in a position where she has to be the PR representative as well as the president. She is always thinking about how she is showcasing herself and her company to possible clients.

Being a woman in a male-dominated profession has not been lost on Tompkins, as she has felt the need to prove herself to men who haven’t seen her work. “They were like, ‘She can’t do that,’ and I think they pre-judged me before they even met me,” she said. She has made significant contributions to the programming community, leading multiple seminars a year to give developers experience in many different languages or skills, teaching at New Hampshire Technical Institute, and helping those developers in her employ to gain new skills that will help them be more marketable.

Tompkins wonders what effect the next generation of developers will have in the programming careers. “They have grown up with the internet always being there, and we have gone from having nothing, to having all of this,” she said, “They might be great or they might not understand.” She thinks that a lot of the things that are hard for someone older will come more naturally to a younger developer, but that they might not have the experience of how it all came to be, and why things are put together the way they are.

Many people go to college with no experience and little idea of what they want to do as a career. Tompkins was in that boat. She was a pre-med student who got disillusioned with the university, took a year off and then took classes out of the University of New Hampshire, Notre Dame, and Saint Anselm’s, ultimately graduating as pre-med but finding an internship programming for a database company.

Once she started programming, she found that the work was more fun than simple work, and she wanted to continue in that career path. “The guy asked me at the end of the six-month internship if I wanted to make some money at it,” she said, “I was like, ‘YES!’ and from then on I’ve been doing this.” After a few years, she started a team for her company that was based out of New Hampshire, and when the company got sold to Lockheed Martin the owners wanted her team to move to Texas. Since no one on the team was willing to do that, they started their own company, Chestnut Hill Software, with Tompkins as their president, and worked on in artificial intelligence for six years, until the company finally folded and she rebooted with her current company, Autumn Software.

Tompkins finds the freedom of having her own company to be its greatest asset. “I’m not becoming a millionaire with my own company,” she said, “But I am able to stay on the cutting edge of technology because I can decide which direction to take the company.” She enjoys the work because it is always changing. “In a company with a lot of employees, you can get bogged down in maintenance, where the development is all done,” she said. It’s easy to find developers in situations where they aren’t doing anything new, just maintaining the status quo, and she doesn’t like that. She prefers to find the projects that test the boundaries and challenge her company to keep up with the current trends of technology.

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!

It’s not over yet!

The class overall

In some ways, I’ve learned more than I expected to in this class, and in some areas, I’ve learned less. The local server/FTP setup was way, WAY more complicated than I expected it to be, and I still feel in the dark about the whole process, and surprised every time it works the way it’s supposed to. Part of me just thinks that, with legions of programmers, designers and UX experts using the system, somebody would have been able to devise a more intuitive way to make the interwebs happen. Still, I feel like I’ve internalized the WordPress editing process/taxonomies/codex far more than I thought I would. I feel confident going ahead with editing the CSS of my site, at least, and at least I know I’m capable of learning this stuff.

What I learned

I learned a great deal of CSS stuff that I’d never been exposed to before. I also learned the basic structures that make up the JavaScript and jQuery languages, so if I look at some script, I can probably figure out what it’s doing. I learned how to open the hood of WordPress and edit stuff outside the admin. I learned a lot about how computers and the interwebs work with each other.

Why what I learned matters

It matters not just because I’ll be able to do more and better web projects, but because a person who is web-literate is better able to find and distribute information – an integral skill in a democratic society.

What I’ll do with the new knowledge and skills

I’ll be able to make and edit websites without simply settling for the default options WordPress offers. I’ll be able to better communicate with the developers on my team at work and suggest new solutions to the problems we face. I’ll also be able to offer informed opinions on the quality and effectiveness of our web projects.

Thoughts on re-reading the initial readings

When I first read these a couple of months ago, I enjoyed them on a philosophical level, but still got the sense that I was on the outside looking in on something I didn’t quite understand. Now, I feel like I count as the target audience for these readings, like part of the “in-crowd.” It feels great.

What I want to learn after the class ends — either new skills/tools/platforms, strengthening current ones, a mix of both, a list of problems you want to solve, etc.

I want to continue learning jQuery, improve my CSS literacy, and look into Ruby on Rails at the suggestion of the developer I profiled. I also want to make a more complicated site on WordPress, try to emulate some cool online projects I’ve seen and try using some social media APIs.

Developer Profile: Rafael Reynoso

Rafael Reynoso, System Administrator at Lockheed Martin

Rafael Reynoso, System Administrator at Lockheed Martin

Rafael Reynoso graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering from George Mason University in 2012. He is now a System Administrator for Ballistic Missile Defense at the Lockheed Martin Corporation. He is currently pursing his Masters in Systems Engineering from St. John’s University.

What inspired you to get into Web Development and Computer Science?

I wanted to become a software engineer in 10th grade at Garfield High School in Woodbridge, VA. My computer science teacher had been in the Army and was trained in computer science. He always told really awesome stories about software development and it made the subject come to life. I remember him telling a story about how he had written code that was used to take down a missile. From that point on I was hooked. When I got to GMU I originally wanted to be a software engineer and that was strictly code, but I also really enjoyed working with my hands so computer engineering gave me the ability to use my hands and also write lines of code, the perfect mix of the two.

What is you single most favorite coding language and why?

My favorite coding language was Java. It was the second coding language I ever learned and it became an almost universal language for me. It incorporated assets from a lot of other languages. It was my favorite because I like the concept of object oriented programming. Before I learned this language, everything was written linearly and I think modular is a better way of writing code. It makes debugging a lot easier when your code is separated into pieces. It has a more real world approach. If you take a car for example, linearly you’d have to write, turn the key > shift into gear > press the gas pedal > turn the tires > move the wheel. Everything is dependent on the other, by writing code for each piece if one thing breaks you can go in and change that piece instead of going back through and adjusting everything.  I also like that Java runs on a lot of different devices and it is very easy to create a GUI (Graphical User Interface.)

What’s the longest you’ve spent debugging a piece of code you’ve written?

The longest I’ve spent debugging a piece of code was an entire three days. It was a project while I was in school and I slept an entire eight hours for the entire three days. The most frustrating piece of debugging is just when you think you found the solution and then you adjust it and it turns out that you were wrong. It’s like giving yourself false hope over and over again. What’s even more frustrating is when you find the solution, it makes you feel dumb that you could have miss-typed a letter, and even worse that you didn’t find the mistake after staring at it for hours.

What’s your favorite web development tool?

I’ve been getting into mobile application development in my spare time. My favorite development tool is Phone Gap. With so many devices and file types out there, this program eases the transition from one platform to the next. They have a developer forum as well with a great active community that speak in plain english for self taught first time developers.

What’s the most enjoyable project you’ve ever built?

In my Masters program we used Visual Basic Programming Language, which is a language for creating applications for Microsoft Windows. We were interfacing with the Microsoft Kinect and we connected two Kinects to one computer to monitor a bigger space. We used them to monitor the movements of robots we placed on a field. The idea behind it was if there was some type of emergency situation like a school fire drill and you put all the children in a field monitored by the Kinect, so that the limited staff can tend to the emergency situation instead of using those human resources to babysit the children. Should a child/robot leave the field we set up an alert system that would alert a phone with the application we built installed on it. It would increase efficiency in a emergency situation leading to possible saved lives.

How often do you come across code during your day job at Lockheed?

Almost everyday, even when I’m placed in a role where I don’t think I will be using code. I find myself trying to simplify processes using code. On one team we received a large data set of errors from certain programs. We then have to take those errors and remove the duplicates, and finally prioritize them by typing them into excel. That process often took an employee 20-25 hours to go through that information and prioritize the errors in order of importance. I wrote a piece of code that did the entire process and now writes the errors in excel in a fraction of the time. It was my biggest accomplishment at Lockheed thus far because it has been used a dozen of times in different verticals.

You mentioned you were self-teaching yourself more about mobile application development. Why the sudden interest?

It’s timely for me because it’s so prevalent in the market today. It’s important for me because I want to stay relevant in my industry. Having a life-student mentality is crucial because if you don’t adapt to the changes you could be rendered useless in your own profession. It also gives me the opportunity to have a side job to pay off all my student loan debts a lot quicker.

What’s your favorite website?

The content on makes it my favorite website. I recently read an article on connecting the brains of mice and transferring information between them. Another favorite of mine is the Space Jam website. It really shows you how far web development has progressed.

Inception: Coding Philosophy

Thoughts on re-reading initial readings

I’ve always enjoyed first perceptions and seeing the beauty in everything the first go around. I’m not the type of person to film experiences because it takes away from enjoying the experience and making memories. I do my best to avoid watching movies over again and I’ve never gone through and re-read a book in my entire life (including Dr. Suess). The movie inception was an interesting one because it involved planting a seed or memory in that of another person.

Going back and rereading these articles with a certain type of experience has completely changed how we perceive these articles. It’s like an entirely new first perception and experience going through these coding language articles.

In my first analysis post  of the summer I made a comment about how the Pragmatic Programmer Quick Reference Guide was anything but quick. Through an inception of sorts and becoming literate in programming terminology it was a quicker read than the first time I read it. It all made much more sense and it should continue to make more sense as I continue to learn about web development.

What I learned

While we never got the chance to learn and practice python the philosophy rings true for other languages. The concept of abstraction and writing modularly is a concept that I’ll continue to use in everyday life. Making everything independent of itself should lead to less complication should any one thing fail. Writing code linearly or dependent on itself could lead to hours of frustration.

Why what I learned matters

Abstraction applies to everyday situations like balancing school, work, personal, and gym time as independent times and forcing one time into another can possibly lead to negative results. I’ve been known to forgo the gym during a tough week at school or work. Scheduling time well in advance for gym, school, and work should lead to better time management and productivity.

I’m thankful for this class because I really feel like I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the web development process. The tools that we’ve learned like GitHub, Sublime, Command, MAMP will really help me communicate with web developers and should a problem arise that they can’t dedicate their time to I feel confident enough to go in and make changes and update to the live server.

What I’ll do with new knowledge and skills

Reducing project length time from agency processes is always a struggle but it now feels like I have the tools and skill set to do so. This is invaluable as a young online marketer to really understand the web development project life cycle. It’s an asset that not many people have or are willing to learn so it should assist me in professional ascent. Perhaps my next endeavor will be partnering with someone for a mobile application.

The Class Overall

This program to me has always been a measured risk as a professional studies degree. It’s still unknown whether the cost of the degree will be worth the monetary and time investment. It is a very practical degree unlike an MBA, but the negative side of that has been some fluff courses like Social Media. Some of the courses in this program have only solidified what I already knew or gave me some minor insight. Unlike those courses, this course has taught me a tremendous amount that I will be able to use in everyday life.

What I want to learn

  • Python
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Mobile App Development
  • Strengthening knowledge of what we’ve learned already

Rob’s Interview with Google Search

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 9.01.11 AMIt is perhaps the most identifiable screenshot ever taken from a computer. The Michael Jordan “jump” logo of the Internet. For over a decade it has served as a door for billions, into a new world with endless possibilities and information. A world without demands, and one without prejudice. With its simple design and single fill-in field, Google Search asks only one thing of its visitor: Where do you want to go?

Since 1998, Google Search has received billions upon billions of answers to that question, using some of the most complex coding to provide its answers. However, everything that makes Google Search work its magic has been humbly hidden by its single, and mostly blank page. The process is transparent to users. Aside from the occasional defacing of its brand logo, Google Search has stuck to its simple and original approach to coding: “I’ll worry about the back end. You just enjoy yourself.”

So on August 4, 2013 I sat down to ask Google Search a few questions of my own, about the future of web development, why it matters, and how our lives will continue to be shaped by the greatest communication tool ever known.

Disclaimer: Google Search is not an actual person or web developer. This was a mock interview conducted using Google Search to answer the exact questions you see below … because I don’t know any web developers. Enjoy.

You’re an Internet giant. You answer more than 60% of the world’s questions. How does Google Search handle the workload?

This is a complex question, and honestly one I don’t get asked too often. So serving a Google query is truly a multi-phased process that begins with multiple clusters that are distributed worldwide. This helps me get the answers as fast as possible. Let’s say you want to know something about “society.” I’m going to check terabytes and terabytes of raw documents for your answer, after spell checking it of course. This is uncompressed data, mind you, so the index results are terabytes as well. Then I’ll form that data into pools that are split amongst several machines, which will back each other up in case one goes down during the process. It is a very efficient process, and one designed to serve the user the best results as quickly and reliably as possible.

You seem so simple in person, though, not complex at all. Why the plain appearance?

Ha! Now you are getting to the juicy stuff. The truth is that I didn’t know much about coding when I first entered the scene. I didn’t have a webmaster, and I didn’t really do HTML. So I put together the simplest design I could in order to test myself out. I didn’t even have a search button back then, which is kind of embarrassing. The enter button worked just fine. I remember I met a group of Stanford students one day, and asked them, “What would you guys like to know?” They just stared at me quietly. I asked them, “What are you waiting for?” They said, “The rest of you to load.”

Have you ever considered advertising?

You know, I was going to Starbucks the other day to check on some guy’s rewards account, and I saw this young man waving a sign around on the side of the street. I think it was for Domino’s or some mattress sale. I thought to myself, “I could do that, and I could probably make millions a day.” The truth is businesses would love to run an ad on the most visited webpage on the Internet. But that’s not what I want people to know me for. I’m not here to let the world invade your life, rather I’m here to let you invade the world.

You have been accused of collecting personal information from your users, though. Doesn’t Google Search collect personal information?

Yes, I do retain some log files that record search terms used, websites visited and the Internet Protocol address and browser type of the computer for every search I conduct. However, I have a policy of making money without doing evil, and I believe that infiltrates every bit of coding that makes up my existence.

So then, what’s the future of web development?

Wow, I can think of about 207 million things in about .44 seconds that could answer that question. Some people think responsiveness is the future of web development, but I disagree. I really think the future of web development is in web components. I think this is a technology that has the potential to change how developers write web apps. What web components do, essentially, is give developers an easier way to great websites and recyclable widgets on these sites with the help of the HTML, CSS and JavaScript they already know. This is a completely new way for developing web applications, but I think it will open the door for more developers and speed up the browsing experience for users – which is right down my lane.

With the creation of websites such as CodeAcademy and Treehouse, the doors are opening for people to create their own sites using stable platforms such as WordPress to build from. Will there be less jobs for web developers in the future?

Smashing Magazine actually did a good piece on this, where they discussed the future of web designers and developers. They even threw me in there, claiming I want to take over the Internet. I think there was a lot of truth to what they said, however. It’s true that sites like WordPress, Facebook, and even I can aggregate much of the content that would otherwise be spread across the Internet. And with a single design, it doesn’t leave much room for independent design. However, that doesn’t mean the field will die. The Internet is an ever-expanding and living thing, therefore there will always be room for people to make it a vibrant and fulfilling experience. Content is growing at an exponential rate, as more and more people use the Internet to communicate and help them with many aspects of their lives. Someone has to help keep all this organized, and I certainly can’t do it on my own. The most important thing is for those who want to work on the Internet, is to stay up to date and be willing to change. The basic concepts will always be there as a foundation, but the surface is ever-changing. If a web developer remains engaged and forward-thinking, she will undoubtedly be included in the future of the Internet, through all of its transitions.

This Interview was conducted by Rob Snyder for Web Development at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. For more about the future of the Internet and web development, or to ask Google Search your own questions, visit and type in your question.



Class Reflection

Class overall: I was excited to take this class because I knew it was going to be quite different than my other PR/CC classes. Overall, I’m coming out of class with a better understanding of the fundamentals of web development, and why it’s important for today’s marketing/communication professionals and journalists to be well versed in this field.

The first few weeks were overwhelming and a bit difficult to grasp everything. Coding is very detailed with so many moving parts, so when Greg told us to only concentrate on the bigger concepts — it was challenging. But, I’m happy Greg reiterated this throughout the semester – by learning the broad concepts and utilizing WordPress, you are capable of creating a customized website.

What I learned: My expectation of the class was to learn enough coding skills to create a website, as well as learn how to better communicate with developers – and I think this was accomplished. In addition to learning basic coding skills (HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript), I gained knowledge about how to actually setup a website. I never heard of MAMP, GitHub or CyberDuck before this class, so learning these applications was tremendously helpful. I had some WordPress experience prior to class, but now I feel much more comfortable with the Admin and Codex. I also learned that taking a class like this is going to be very frustrating at times, but I’m happy that I’m coming out of it with better problem-solving/troubleshooting skills.

Why it matters: Learning about web development is going to matter more and more as we progress in our careers. From the developer profile assignment, I learned that the working relationship between developers/designers and digital marketing/communication professionals is extremely important.

What I’ll do with the new knowledge/skills: I plan on drinking more wine so I can add additional content to my site 🙂 There’s also more customization that I’d like to do, such as incorporating a photo slideshow. The knowledge/skills gained from this class has already helped me in my current job and will continue to in the future. My department at work is implementing WordPress by the end of the year, and I will have a key role in the CMS/front-end. I don’t think I would be as excited about using WordPress at work if I wasn’t for this class. Clearly companies are catching on by investing in this platform, so it feels good to know that I have experience working with WordPress.

Thoughts on initial readings: I feel much more comfortable about the concepts explored in our readings from week one. The readings about “thinking” talked about looking at programming from a broader perspective… I can appreciate this idea much more having lived through creating a website. I also enjoyed re-reading the WordPress philosophy and really took to the 80/20 principle:

“The rule of thumb is that the (WordPress) core should provide features that 80% or more of end users will actually appreciate and use……That should allow all users to find the remaining 20% and make all WordPress features those they appreciate and use.”

After the class ends: Although we covered a lot of different topics in class, I don’t recall learning about Python. I keep hearing that it’s the “latest and greatest” language to learn. Maybe I’ll check out a Codcademy lesson or tech blog to see what all the hype is about. After this class, I think there’s going to be a lot of that — reading industry blogs — to further my skills and knowledge.

Snyder’s Reflection

The Class Overall

I chose this class, because I wanted to learn a new skill. Something I could walk away with and use. Something tangible. Overall, I think the class gave me that. I think I was a little thrown off by the style of the course, which seemed to involve a lot of self-teaching. However, when I think of my wife’s experience during her MBA, I remember it being much the same. If that’s the idea behind a masters program – that you go through it with a little more independence – I think I can appreciate that. And I think, overall, it worked well in this course.

What I Learned

I learned to struggle through new concepts on my own, which isn’t such a bad thing. I think I couldn’t have learned a lot quicker with more hands on during class, but perhaps the hard lessons of identifying and correcting my own mistakes made the lessons all the more permanent. Obviously I learned a lot about coding. I think the best lesson I learned is to ride the backs of people that are dedicated and know what they’re doing. That is why, for example, I was happy with my decision to use a WordPress theme. I think if I would have gone with a random developer’s theme, I may have missed out on the responsiveness and constant updates, and probably would have run into a few bugs.

Why What I Learned Matters

It doesn’t really, right? I mean if I don’t put it to use, why would it? So, I think the answer to this question is that I have to make it matter by using it to make a difference in my work, my personal endeavors, and possibly even the endeavors of family or friends. Like Luis did. He built that site for his mother’s family business. Who would have done that for her? I think that’s what will make what I’ve learned matter – when I use my newfound ability to do something that no one else could have, or would have done.

What I’ll Do With the New Knowledge and Skills

I think I’ll just build on it. I have a site now that I’m pretty happy with. I think I’ll continue to work on it when I have time, and perhaps build another site. I think I’ll volunteer to help people with their ambitions to have a presence on the Internet, and perhaps even study the coding of some of my favorite sites. I’m also thinking of creating a T-shirt company that sells shirts with random code, written in short witty ways. <!– my back end rocks –>

Thoughts on Re-Reading the Initial Readings

Obviously a lot of it made much more sense. Some of it was still a little out there, perhaps intended for a more professional developer. However, most of it seemed to hit on some key points we covered in the class. The underlying theme being how this all relates to journalism, which I think at least one of the readings discussed. Some of the readings will serve as a good reference for future projects.

What I Want to Learn After the Class Ends

Honestly,  just want to fix the remaining issues I have with my site. I think if I can do that, I’ll be happy. Perhaps in the future I’d like to learn how to create a phone application. It seems like the new “get rich” thing to do (and yes, I’ll throw you a couple mil’ when I sell my big application to Apple). But other than fixing my site and getting rich, there’s really not a lot more I can think of right now. Honestly, it would probably be a waste to try to learn more while I still have so much more to learn and practice with the topics we covered in this class.

See you Tuesday …. don’t cry.

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.