Tag Archives: coding

A Hidden History

I’ve always thought that computers were something created in recent years. It is always correlated with the younger generations of the late 90’s to present day. I was shocked to learn that the use of computers date back to the 50’s. Although they weren’t fast-running laptops for commercial-use, I assumed the technology would’ve been nearly prehistoric. Something as simple as an ATM machine was a huge advance in technology in the 70’s. When someone thinks of a computer, the description is usually a machine used to search the internet. Computers actually come in all shapes and sizes. Their job is to perform tasks that are programmed into them and we fail to acknowledge the other forms that exist around us. I also thought coding was a process that became popular in the 2010’s. It seems like a complicated language of 0’s and 1’s. According to the Software Guild, the first coding system used was Autocode in the 50’s. I found that interesting because during that time there weren’t high-tech cellphones or flat-screen televisions. I thought coding was something too complex for programmers back then to use. Software engineers have been using coding for years to create multiple programs and it provides a set of instructions for the machine. Coding plays an important role in a majority of technology I use today. Reading these articles provided me with an insight into the world of programmers and software engineers. I don’t put in much thought when I Shazam a song or type in a question into Google. Someone had to work the back-end and program the machine to perform my requests. I’m excited to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes and I expect to take away a few skills that I can apply towards my own projects. In our growing technological society, it is important to be aware of all components required to create websites that we go on every day.


HT-a whatta?

After diving into actual HTML this week — I have discovered it is not so hard after all. Of course I save my full review for once I am beyond lesson 1 on Codecademy. Lesson 1 went fairly smooth, with only a few times I had to resort to the “solution” button. It was usually simple stuff that should have been easy to catch. For example, I thought I had this code instruction 100% right and could not figure out why I wasn’t advancing. The issue? I was writing under <h2> instead of <h3>. It’s the little things.

It’s been said that if you can memorize the basic seven tags, you can be pretty fluent in HTML. It’s incredible to me, that these seemingly complex sites can be broken down into a bunch of <p>’s <h>’s and backslashes. I understand that writing will produce an output, but I still struggle with why does the computer/site know how to do that. What does that programming look like?

This week’s dive into (intentional) HTML usage makes me reflect on my youth. I’ll start with MySpace. At the tender age of 8, I was customizing my profile’s HTML with different font styles and colors. How did I forget all that? I have seen interesting literature about these types of introductions into HTML/CSS. That they can actually be more beneficial for adolescents to learn how how to code rather than a Codecademy model. Notably, especially in keeping young girls interested in computer languages. I think this could be an interesting thing to discuss in one of our lectures. In my teen years, I was no longer this expert coder but had my fair share of fun with Google’s inspect element. I once added a class called “Underwater Basket Weaving” to my junior year schedule and posted it to Twitter. People got a kick out of that. I’m excited now, though, to use “inspect element” to actually understand what the heck is going on under this screen. 

Beautiful is better than ugly

I never thought of coding as poetry. I never really thought of coding as anything. My mind refuses to accept that a bunch of zeros and ones can equate to anything other than a bunch of zeros and ones. How the technology we interact with everyday is the brainchild of math and science rather than magic. How can the intricacies of our apps, sites, and platforms be narrowed down to a wire? But the answer is in the term: coding languages. Languages. What encompasses a language? Grammar, technique, vocabulary, and so forth. And what sprouts of a language? Art, literature, film, expression, and poetry. I linger on that last one. The Zen of Python awakened a new meaning to those zeros and ones. A set of 19 aphorisms bordering on the intersection of prose and poetry unravel a complex set of ideas into concise proverbs. After all, simple is better than complex.

It really is so simple. Something created by humans, for other humans. What is a language if not a reflection of humanity?

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.

JavaScript – Help!

The past two weeks, I’ve spent most of my time attempting to learn the building blocks of JavaScript and JQuery. This is by far the most difficult part of Codecademy thus far and has taken me the most time to comprehend and complete. I was able to conquer the first two lessons of Codecademy with a little difficulty; the thought process behind variables made sense. Once we began adding in Functions, strings, and loops, I started to lose the literal connection between JavaScript and a functioning website. I learn by doing and through visualizations.  In order for me to comprehend something, I have to be able to see what the end result is of something…and is the reason why science has never been my strong suit. I am hoping that in the next class, we can take a step back and look at the building blocks of JavaScript from the beginning. While I valued the time you spent teaching Java Script from the w3school code, I think I need to start from the beginning, looking at the big picture and then at each individual piece, because it all builds on each other.

In an effort to not fall behind too quickly, I found a few resources that I thought were helpful in learning more about JavaScript. You can find them linked below. I hope they are of use to the class as well! Please let me know if anyone finds any other helpful resources.

Additional JavaScript Resources:

  • HTML Dog
    • On HTML Dog, they have different lessons and pages that go through similar content that we learned on Codecademy. I appreciated how easy it was to follow along and didn’t feel as lost as I did when going through the Codecademy lessons.
  • YouTube Tutorial
    • I found it helpful to see someone else in action writing the JavaScript code and connecting it back to how it works on a website. That being said, it isn’t the most thorough video.

The second half of the week, I started working on the midterm interview by searching on LinkedIn for potential connections with web developers. Would interviewing a web developer from HHMI’s sister research campus be too close of a connection? I am nervous about this assignment. I haven’t interviewed anyone for a story since college and know that my journalism skills have fallen flat since then. I’m looking forward to the challenge and what I’ll learn from someone who has made a career out of web development.

First Coding Experience — The Struggle Is Real

This week’s assignment taught me several important lessons, the first being that this class is likely going to be the most challenging course I have taken thus far at Georgetown University. As a student in the Public Relations and Corporate Communications program, I have been relatively well equipped for my classes thus far – crisis communications, public speaking, event planning, digital analytics are all skills I use in my daily life. I thought that web development, although not a skill I use often, would fall in line with these other classes as a sort of ‘second-nature’ skill. I can now say, after two weeks and numerous hours staring at my computer screen, I was wrong.

To begin, coding is very rational, as Codecademy explained the abbreviations are largely based on logic (e.g. px stands for pixel), the codes are straightforward (e.g. font-size equates to the size of the font), and almost all of the codes open and close with the same pattern (e.g. <tag> content </tag>). Yet, the system is so, incredibly fickle and specific, that I find myself struggling to understand the nuances between a <div> and an <id> and how an <h1> tag is different than a <div category =intro> if there is only one intro tag in the document? (I could continue with this stream of consciousness for pages, as I struggled with these differences for hours, but I will spare you that pain.)

I also struggled because I would then try to Google the questions in my mind, but I found I did not have the correct wording to find the answers I sought. I could envision in my head the piece of code I saw in previous Codecademy exercises that I was trying to recreate, but my search queries of “how to make a div connect to CSS” or “how to make a picture fit in the textbox CSS” resulted in nothing of use, which was frustrating.

In public relations and writing, there is no one answer to any solution. There are numerous ways to write a speech, pitch a story, structure a corporate campaign, etc. Thus, I think the exactness of coding is something that I will struggle with, especially given that I do not fully understand why one code works whereas another doesn’t, even if they serve (to my knowledge) similar, if not identical, purposes. I am hopeful that as my knowledge of coding grows, this confusion will subside and I will find it easier to differentiate between tools, tags, labels, numbers, etc.

At this point my biggest question is better understanding the purpose of a div, and how to use that div, and the offshoot of a category or a class, in CSS coding.