Category Archives: 2017 Summer class

What’s Next?

Given all that we have learned in this class, there is no doubt we have a strong base for our web development knowledge and now it is our responsibility to continue growing, learning, and developing our skills. My plan is three-fold:

First, I plan to continue working with WordPress to better understand the different available plugins, updates, minor coding edits, etc. that can make a generic site more personalized. Even though I don’t have a specific site I hope to create, I have no doubt that at some point in my career it will benefit me to have a strong understanding of WordPress and site development so I am starting at level 4 or 5 as opposed to level 1.

Secondly, I plan to continue using Codecademy to learn more about PHP and jQuery. It is clear that there will always be more to learn and more to do, especially since coding and web based products are continuously growing and changing, but I think staying up-to-date on where these languages stand will be extremely beneficial. Additionally, as sites like Codecademy come out with new lessons, I will follow those classes so I maintain a basic knowledge of coding.

Lastly, I plan to register for a Python training class, as many colleagues and friends have mentioned that Python is widely used in the business world and is one of the most beneficial languages to know. I am glad that we learned PHP and jQuery in class, as I think my understanding of those languages will make the learning curve with Python much easier.

My timetable is slightly fluid, as I will be working full time while continuing my master’s degree and was recently told by new employer that I may have to apply for business school as soon as I finish my MPS degree (yay). Thus, being realistic, I don’t know if I will have time to commit 5 to 10 hours a week to maintaining my coding. Rather, my goal is to keep a continued drumbeat of coding in my life – not necessarily learning a new skill every month, but when I have an hour or so, taking that time to follow a Codecademy class. Similarly, when I have a slow week at work, or during winter break at Georgetown, signing up for a Python training when I really have some time to commit to focusing on the language and giving it the necessary attention.

A Functional Future

Looking Ahead

Now that class is over, I’ve been thinking about what’s next for my travel site and beyond, and I have come to the conclusion that “functionality” is where it’s at. I certainly need to strengthen and expand my understanding of, as well as continue practicing, HTML and CSS. But I shied away from JavaScript because I found it difficult — where in truth, once mastered, it may be the most useful language we learned.

I was playing around with my new site, A Life Surfeited, this weekend and it came to my attention that there are a few functionalities I want to add to enhance my plugins. This of course will require that I modify the JS (or find new plugins!) For example, in my World Map plugin there is the option to link a specific pin to a post. This is super great and helpful, but I want to take it further to have the post title, location, and date pop up when the user hovers over the pin. This will require some JS magic!

Beyond my site and JS, I am thinking about venturing into the land of Python or Ruby on Rails. I took intro classes on both languages about a year ago from General Assembly here in DC and will try either Codecademy or Learn to Code the Hard Way this go around. I think they will make more sense now that I grasp the larger concept of programming and know some basic skills.

As far as what I’d use them for, I am unsure. I have yet to find a language I am super pumped about, so I’m going to keep at it. I hear Apple’s Swift is pretty intuitive and easy to learn also. For me, I think my adventures in coding will serve me personally as I delve deeper into the blogging world, and anytime I need to communicate with the web developers in my office or any future career. Who knows though — maybe I’ll end up following a path towards working in code. I’m old enough now to know that the choices we make (aka. taking this class) have meaning and drive the direction of our life in some way. I’m not running away from programming, so that’s a good sign!

If nothing else, this class opened my eyes to a world I was always curious about and knew so little of. As a connoisseur of any/all knowledge, it was very satisfying and is what kept me going even at my wits end; “Maybe this challenge will teach me something I didn’t know before.” Including teaching me a little more about myself;)

Best of luck in all your future endeavors classmates! And thanks for a great, mind-expanding semester, Greg!



My Next Steps…

I can’t believe the summer semester is already over! It’s been such a challenging semester because this by far has been my hardest class at Georgetown. Still, I don’t regret taking it because it pushed me to learn a new, invaluable skill I never thought I could have.

As I’ve mentioned several times in class and on the blog, I plan on using the website far beyond this summer. As my firm continues building out our podcast division, I will add more cover images to my slideshow, more SoundCloud embeds on our podcasts page, a new version of the logo and will possibly change some of the HTML and CSS.

My boss liked my website but he will probably have some more suggestions for me before it goes live.

We have a bunch of new podcasts in the works. One new episode of a podcast is launching in a couple of weeks; and several more are coming in the fall so my greatest hope is that the website could be live for current and prospective clients by the fall (around October or November 2017).

Also, I hope to get better at code: maybe I could get better at Python or Ruby? If I were to really commit myself to coding more, I would prefer to take some kind of bootcamp. I see so many advertisements online, that that is what I would probably prefer if I were to get better at this.

In D.C., I have two jobs, school and also am active in the community, so I am constantly busy. Learning how to code was no easy feat. I probably would prefer to recommit myself to learning the basics on Codecademy again. Oftentimes, I used to rush and be “against the clock” to finish assignments, so it would be nice to get better at coding without feeling rushed.

Overall, I’m excited for the future and cannot wait for what’s next.

What’s Next — Future Plan

Now that we’ve wrapped up the class and I have been able to take a moment to reflect on everything we learned, the trials, the tribulations, the blood, sweat, tears, even shingles diagnosis, I’m really happy I took this class. In looking to the future, I am looking forward to taking some time off from school, class, and code. On Monday, I finished my Capstone class, and I feel pretty brain dead.

With that being said, I don’t want to let Three Cheers Four Food or my new coding skills go to waste! First, I paid for both–to learn and to host the site. Second, I think it’s a pride thing right now. So, below is my plan for the next six months for continuing to learn code and update my site.

[Take a two-week break to do more reflecting and mostly to sleep! This time will be used to give my brain a break from the work and school life, and let myself get reenergized for what’s to come!]

Month 1-2: Refresh myself on the following languages:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • PHP
  • I want to focus on these three languages because they are the languages that I primarily used in the development of my site.

Month 3-4: Start website updates:

  • There were several comments that my classmates made about updates I could make to my site and I want to be able to do complete these. These include:
    • Updating the navigation bar
    • updating the colors and fonts for the custom post types
    • revisiting the custom post type code and getting the information to echo
    • adding pictures to my recipe page
    • creating a plan for content creation
      • for this, I have a personal plan of doing weekly updates.

Month 5-6:

  • Continue learning new languages. I’m interested in learning more about Python as it’s a commonly used language that I’ve heard the web developers use at work.

In conclusion, as hard as the semester was, I don’t want to lose the skills that I’ve gained over the semester. I like the challenge and I think that now that I have more time that I’ll be able to dedicate myself (and with a different mindset). Like learning a new language, you have to practice or you’ll lose everything you’ve learned. SO, that’s my plan! I hope that my classmates can hold me to it.

And here are some pictures of my cat, because she’s magical (Sorry they’re blurry, it’s Apple’s fault):

Continuing My Web Development Journey

Now that the semester has come to an end and I’ve had a chance to reflect on my web development journey over the last thirteen weeks, I’m looking forward to what’s next. I definitely plan on continuing to hone my web development skills over the next few months. My goals and timeline for the next six months of my coding journey are as follows:

September and October 2017:

  • I want to (finally) figure out how to get my custom metabox fields to show up nicely within my custom post page. This is something I spent the last week-and-a-half of the semester working on, but the format in which the data is echoing out to my page is still not to my liking. Getting this to work and look good is my first goal in this post-class web development journey.
  • Alter the colors in my child theme, specifically the main menu/navigation bar.
  • Reduce the size of my post container to make it a bit more narrow.
  • Determine how my web development skills can be worked into my communications plan for my capstone client. My client is a relatively young nonprofit, and I’m hoping this will be a good opportunity to demonstrate firsthand all that I’ve learned throughout this summer.
  • Revisit the JavaScript and jQuery courses on Codecademy to see if I can actually complete the lessons without the hints and answers. I relied on the hints the first time I did these lessons, and I want to take these courses again to see if my understanding of the concepts has improved at all since first completing them back in June.

November and December 2017:

  • I really want and need to develop some basic skills in the Adobe Creative Suite. I will use my basic Illustrator skills to create a custom logo for my site header.
  • Complete the tutorial on programming foundations. (Tip: Lynda is free for Georgetown students!).
  • Register and begin training for the 2018 Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon, which is scheduled for March 10, 2018. I’ll document my training leading up to this race on my blog.
  • Use my week off during Christmas to explore the Bootstrap framework and see how I might apply it to my site.
  • I plan to meet up with my cousin to talk about web development. She will by that time have completed an intensive 16-week program at the DigitalCrafts coding school in Atlanta. I want to get her thoughts on what programming language I should learn next and how I can continue to develop my coding skills.

January and February 2018:

  • I hear a lot of people talking about Python, so I plan to dig into the Codecademy lessons for that language. I will (fingers crossed) be done with school by then, which means I’ll have a lot more free time on my hands. I’m considering registering for a Python-based data analysis course through SCS.
  • Listen to some coding-related podcasts while I’m doing 15+ mile runs. This will be a good way to zone out while learning something useful and interesting to me.
  • I’d love to tackle the development of a WordPress plugin that uses the Strava API and that is actually mobile friendly and responsive. The lack of such a plugin was frustrating to me as I worked on my final project, and I’m eager to see if I can figure out a solution and maybe even register my first plugin on WordPress.

I’m excited about pursuing these goals and look forward to growing my skills in web development. This is a field in which I am truly interested, and I want to learn all that I can in the coming months.

Throwback Sunday: What class looked like on week 3

This weeks’s introduction to JavaScript felt like a dumpster fire. After reading some of the blog post entries it seemed like I wasn’t the only person who felt overwhelmed so that was helpful.
Codecademy is a great learning platform to a point. At the beginning of the JavaScript lessons I felt like I was getting all the concepts, but it quickly escalated to concepts that I felt needed more explaining. Especially on some of the directions for control flow and functions, I felt like the “hints” were information that I would have liked to have before I gave my first attempt. Other than that, its still wildly annoying that Codecademy gives you ALL the code when you’re just stuck on one specific thing. It really makes its hard to absorb all the information, especially when you have a 3 or 4 step activity.
Beyond that, I also had some issues with the interface. The Codecademy interface had some really weird bugs this time around. Either it would say things were wrong before I began, or it would say things were wrong after I ran something even if it was correct. Perhaps the most alarming thing was it would give me all the code at different steps before I even began. That made it really hard to learn things, and it makes me considerably stressed that I don’t have a good foundation to move forward in the class.
Overall I have a lot of concerns about my performance in class. With how fast things are moving, I feel like I have questions about CSS, let alone JavaScript. So, moving forward and doing things on my own, like a gallery or something really concerns me. I want to be able to do good work but I just feel incredibly behind. Hopefully things will level out soon, because I do want to learn these concepts its just taking a little but more time than the class is allowing, it seems. But, hopefully things will look up soon!

Where to go from here

Its been a wild ride. Our last class was a really nice way to end the semester, and talking to Emily Chow helped to distill how far we’ve collectively come in this course.

Looking ahead, there are some things that I want to accomplish in the near future. While I don’t think I’ll become a web developer, I do know that I want to finish out my portfolio site with the comments I’ve received from a few people in the class. I definitely will add a PDF viewer for my resume, but I also want to populate my site with clips I’ve written. Currently, the blog portion only has things I’ve written for graduate school. I’d like to make my site a well-rounded reflection of the things I’ve done, and what I’ve written.

To do that, I want to restructure a few things with my website. I’d like to add a page that explains how and why I made the site, and silo written items by graduate coursework and published stories. I also want to make my final project template smaller portion of my blog, and explain what it was designed specifically for. To do that, I’ll  need to to a little more coding.

As for a timeline, I’d like to get this all squared away within the next few months.

As early as this week, I want to add the explainer page to showcase my web development skills, and also to explain where my clips come from.

In the next few weeks I want to work on manipulating the page structure more so I can add explainer pages that go before my graduate school work, published articles, and final project template so people visiting the site have a seamless transition between different parts of my site.

Finally, while I’m working on my capstone this upcoming semester, I want to add a blog about my reporting process and showcase the photojournalism that I’m going to have as a focal point of my piece. I’ll need to create a slideshow, similar to Molly’s, where I can post updates about my reporting. I’ll also want to make this a much more prominent part of my website. The build out for that will have to come in about a month or to, when I start going out in the field.

Overall, while I won’t be diving into teaching myself Python or Ruby, I will use my portfolio website as more of a living document. I’m going to make sure it stays fresh, and will update the content with my best work.

I’m really thankful to now have these additional tools that I’ve learned from class, and will be excited to see where by skills will take me.

To infinity and beyond!

Reflections part III

This class has been a whirlwind. I might have said that before, but it deserves saying again. I’m glad I have these skills–the basics. I know what a markup language is. I know about abstraction and the incredible importance of having a community of fellow coders–people who are trying to figure it out and are willing to discuss (except, something tells me that real coders aren’t like that) and the vast importance of semicolons in the right places.

It may seem silly, but I was amazed at the amount of similarity between learning coding and learning a language. Repetition, repetition, repetition. I did think it would be more like math, but it is so much more like a puzzle or just understanding the basics to know what works with what and why.

I hope to continue learning these languages. I’d like the concentrate on CSS, HTML, and JavaScript–front end stuff so that I can continue to work on better versions of the site I created. I mentioned in one of my more recent posts how I hope to focus on other subjects. I’m also very excited to be taking the data visualization class–maybe I can combine all these elements to tell a story more effectively. I’d love to create my own custom slider with JavaScript, and learning to use PhotoShop and the rest of the Adobe creative suite for the visual elements.

This class really revealed how much more I want to learn. That was both eye opening and daunting. There are so many things I want to be able to do well, so that’s going to take some effort on my part. I’m thinking of looking into one of the local workshops or bootcamps so I can continue to learn more about the languages I mentioned. (I was disappointed that the “hard way” series doesn’t have any visual books about yet!)

I think the best way for me to continue learning this stuff is simply to have a project or two that I continue to putz with and work on. I’m happy to have learned about all these new resources so that I can try and make the ideas in my head come to fruition.

Thoughts and Questions

The project has been finicky, but things are rolling right along.

I’m worried about being able to successfully manipulate the slider plugin I’ve chosen, “MasterSlider”–it’s kind of fussy. I’ll go in to change certain things and then the changes don’t show up. (Edit: I sent them a message to ask a question, but they didn’t reply until about five days later. So. A note for customer service via WordPress plugins!)

I’m also concerned about each of the pictures being the correct size, so that they aren’t totally blown out of proportion or blurry or some such. I’m having trouble finding a way to make them “full screen” without them being totally blown out of proportion. Honestly, in retrospect, it might be helpful to build the slider completely from scratch, but at this point I simply don’t have time.

My final finicky issue is the text, which is somewhat related to the picture issues. Again, with the slider plugin I downloaded I should be able to add text directly to each slide, but it’s not working. So, I’ve gone in to another application in an effort to add text over the slides. But, I think it looks sort of clunky. And there aren’t good options for text overlay so that they’ll be able to show up over the pictures.

I also had to go in and resize each picture individually through a data compressor type thing I found online, because each picture was too big for the WordPress media library. Another frustration, but I think I’ve found a solution without having to compromise the quality of the photographs.

Looking Ahead

After taking this class I have a newfound respect for web developers, their knowledge, and patience. After spending countless hours this semester whether it be on Codecademy, W3Schools, or coder blogs, I have only skimmed the surface. The thing with coding and really any technology-related material, it is always being modified or multiplying in functionality.

With that being said, I really feel like to move forward in coding, I should revisit the basics. My plan would be to go back and redo the Codecademy tutorials. During the class, I have class on Thursday nights and then coached on the weekends so on Saturday and sunday nights I would be cramming to make sure I would complete the modules on time to send in. By doing so, I think I rushed my brain and it wasn’t able to fully digest the information being thrown it’s way. Now I did learn a lot, don’t get me wrong. But throughout my final project I would have to go back through Codecademy and re-do some of the modules to remember the right steps to take on certain coding elements.

After taking my time and fully redoing my Codecademy models, I would love to keep my website that I created for my final project updated and add more design elements to it. I think that coding is a skill that is hard to come by especially in the PR industry, and I would love to showcase what I know while creating access to my digital portfolio.

Other than that, I might look into another Codecademy-type of online learning, however- realistically, I will probably stick to Codecademy.

Thanks again for a challenging but educational semester.