Tag Archives: week6

Midterm Szn

This week was dedicated to finishing our midterm assignment, which turned out to be a bit of week off. Coming off of last week, where most of my classmates and I were confused, it was nice to research on something a little different. For me, I was able to focus on a project that combined my love of law, and the very intriguing things I am learning in this class. It was quite enjoyable to see these things mix. Along with seeing this, it sparked my interest to see if I could find different law schools that had similar design teams in their schools. It was one of the best aspects that came from the project that has opened my eyes to more things available. This school year has started to pick up and I am already feeling the pressure. While this class is a bit difficult, it is a change of pace compared to my other classes. While it has to deal with aspects of journalism, that is not its complete focus. It is an opportunity to engage in something new — almost foreign — and it helps end my weeks. The challenge is also something to look forward too, since I am not hearing the same jargon like in the rest of my classes. Having to find my own solutions to issues rather than just explaining it or convincing someone of an argument is something I enjoy about the class. The middle of the semester is almost here, time to buckle down and finish the semester off strong.

Getting Over the Mid-Semester Hump

The midterms are in. The gallery assignment was rough and left my confidence a little shaken.

However, writing the midterm restored a little confidence in my ability to get into development. My subject, Diana O. Eromosele, had a journalism background but switched careers (for the second time) after noticing that the journalism world was changing and there might be no room for her.

Her confidence and determination made it seem like a real possibility to get into that field, or at least learn some more basics. She used her coding skills to build an application that categorizes politicians and influencers’ tweets by issue. Because of her unique perspective, she was able to create a tool that was helpful to change a social atmosphere.

Just imagine what kinds of things we could be building if we had diversity of thought in that white male-dominated field. I don’t know what I thought web development was before, but I had it all wrong. I never realized the power in knowing what’s “working underneath the hood,” as Eromosele put it.

If an urban girl from New York City with a liberal arts background can do it, so can this New Orleans girl. I want to leverage that power, not only in journalism but in social change. I don’t know how yet, but I just know I feel like the wool has been pulled over my eyes for far too long.

I’ve also been using the principles I’ve learned in this class in my everyday life, especially the DRY principle. I’ve found countless ways to automate the things I’m doing and it’s been very helpful in this stage of my college career. I’m a senior with e-board positions/campus involvement, an editor of the newspaper and I’m taking 17 credits, on top of being out of town multiple weekends throughout the year. It’s been vital to create processes that make my jobs easier. Thinking like a web developer has been my saving grace this semester.

Where to Start?

I was overwhelmed when I first started this project. My biggest challenge was finding a web developer. I was thankful to get in contact with a woman named Jessica who was a software developer but still had background knowledge in web development. I was so focused on finding someone that worked in the media, so when that didn’t work out I panicked. I had to broaden my search and thanks to my sisters experience as a nurse, she informed me on the presence of developers in the healthcare community.

I was nervous before the phone call, because I wasn’t sure if I would ask the right questions to get me the answers I needed. I learned some interviewing skills when I worked as a producer for my school news channel, so I was able to put them to good use. Jessica was very helpful and guided me into a part of computer science that I knew nothing about. It was interesting to see the many ways developers utilize code to complete a broad range of tasks. I didn’t think I was going to hit 800 words after we completed our conversation on the phone. It was kinda quick and her answers weren’t too long. Doing outside research on the programs she used did help with allowing me to reach my word count goal.

After the conversation, Jessica asked if I was interested in entering the programming field and I was unsure. The programs she uses sounded complicated and I barely have a grasp on Javascript. She did put me at ease by explaining that it wasn’t something she learned overnight. Her skills were learned through trainings and lots of practice. Her first job hired her, even though she only had a little bit of experience from taking one introductory course to coding in college. She expressed the need for diversity in the workplace and that it produces a more productive environment. Here is the profile: https://wp.me/p3hpaQ-DG

An Uphill Battle

It is no secret that the gallery assignment was a tough one. The entire class — not an exaggeration — struggled with completing it. So what is the gallery assignment, anyway? Our class was tasked with creating a homepage (easy-peasy) that contained a slideshow of photos (not so easy-peasy). The HTML portion of this assignment was like a walk in the park. A few brackets here, a heading there, and throw some divs in the mix — you’re good to go. The CSS was a little tougher. Figuring out the exact numbers I need for “top” & “width” (what the heck is auto??) & trying to decide if my position should be relative or absolute probably took me a solid two hours. But, CSS turned out to be no match for the evil-two-headed-monster that is JavaScript & jQuery. Missing class didn’t help, but I think even if I were there I would have still had issues. Dollar signs, squiggly brackets, and commands that didn’t make sense to my human brain — all hope felt lost.

I tried, tried, and tried again to understand how to make it work. The internet was helpful, but also confusing. Every source had a different way of doing a slideshow, so there were no basic commands I could turn to. I was plugging and chugging in different things from W3 schools, Youtube, Wired, and some smaller sketchier sites. I spent hours trying to make it make sense. I left and came back. Still nothing. I left again and came back again, and still nothing.

It just didn’t work.

So how does my tale end? I eventually gave up. I plugged in an automatic slideshow from W3 schools and begged for forgiveness in the /* comments */. It wasn’t a proud moment.

Still, all was not lost. We took the time in the class period following the assignment to really dive into how to do it. All was explained, untangled, unmangled, and demystified. For now, the battle was won and our men could return home.

But, whispers lingered in the air of a more terrifying conquest looming in the near distance. The natives call it: “A whole entire website, like seriously.” I fear what is to come, will my men survive?

PHP…Easier Said Than Done

For our PHP Codecademy assignment this week (though I accidentally completed it early!), I was pleasantly surprised as to how simple moving through the different modules were. Greg pointed out in class that it definitely could be our growing knowledge of various coding languages, which I certainly hope is right, but I also think that this particular Codecademy assignment was also a lot less buggy than jQuery, so I could have just been feeling the pains from completing those projects in a timely manner.

Though the assignment on Codecademy was simple, I found that incorporating it into our website page was very difficult. First, I wasn’t even sure what kind of PHP I would be able to add in a simple manner onto my page (should I try to code something to show up on the page? Or just add back-end elements that wouldn’t be seen on the client side?). After Googling I was able to piece together a very rough contact form, but the syntax for coding this also proved difficult. It might have been easier had I done the Codecademy assignment closer to the date the project was due, but I felt more in the dark about starting this assignment than I had in other previous ones. Perhaps this can be discussed more in class.

Final Project: I have decided that I’d really like to add on to my current website and make it a portfolio/profile page about myself for potential future employers. I’m excited to dive back into HTML and CSS (languages that feel a lot more comfortable to me) to build out the bones of the page, and then do some digging about what additional elements I can include with PHP, jQuery, and more to make my page more robust and custom. Looking forward to seeing everyone else’s projects as well!

Learning How to Communicate with a Server

Like many of the other posts this week, this week’s lessons on PHP in Codecademy were pretty simple and straightforward. I’m guessing that has more to do with familiarity than with ease. I really am amazed at how much I know or understand about programming in such a short amount of time. It’s starting to feel like learning a new romance language — once you have a grasp on one, the next is somewhat intuitive albeit particular.

I don’t really have too much to reflect on this week. I haven’t had a chance to read the WordPress articles yet, but an eager to. And eager to start playing around with PHP and WP more in class on Wednesday night. And get a good sense of how WP works, what it can do, etc. Then from there, to begin building out my final project.

I am (probably too) excited to start working on my final project. I know I have some more practice and learning to do, but I really think a lot of what we have learned so far will begin to make even more sense and all come together. I am planning on creating a travel blog which I have been thinking about doing for years now. And I can already see al the interactive and style possibilities that I would have never even considered before taking this class.

Anyway, happy 4th everyone. Enjoy and be safe.



PHP as compared to jQuery

When completing this week’s assignment, I have to say I was constantly waiting for the tough PHP lessons to role around and, to my pleasant surprise, all four Codecademy sessions were pretty straightforward and easy to complete. Similar to something I mentioned in some of my JavaScript/jQuery lessons, the concepts and logic behind PHP coding made sense to me. If you have the term “array” and then list several objects, items, numbers, etc. that list makes up the array – logical. Similarly, an “if” “else” statement is pretty direct. Depending on the first variable, the computer should execute the code behind “if,” otherwise do “else”. What I liked even more about PHP as compared to JavaScript/jQuery is that the actual execution of the code is also relatively simple (thus far). I think the loop content was especially easy to execute as compared to jQuery coding. It has clear variables linked to clear actions (e.g. the first in line is the starting point, second in line is the end point, and third in line is how much you should add or subtract each time to move from start to end).

I think the one piece of PHP I hope to gain a better understanding of is how, exactly, it differs from jQuery and in what instances we should use one as opposed to the other. I understand that PHP is meant for the server, whereas jQuery works with the web browser, but I am still unsure when we should use each in our coding. Is one preferable for a larger piece of code? Is it a matter of the coder’s preference to use once versus another? What are the pros and cons to each if they, ultimately, achieve the same task just in different languages? I think this will become clearer as the class goes on, but at the moment that is my biggest outstanding question as relates to PHP.

I am also pretty excited to start work on our final assignment! Originally I wasn’t sure what type of website I would want to build, which made the task feel daunting and uninspiring as building a website just for the sake of it seems like a lot of work. Once I thought of a recipe blog, however, I realized that is something I would enjoy updating, maintaining, and potentially sharing with others one day, which makes the project much more fun.

Because I’m All About That PHP

This week’s Codecademy courses were not bad at all. In fact, I found them way easier than JavaScript and jQuery. I actually liked doing it because I found it to be the most flexible of the courses we had. It didn’t feel overwhelming. The only part that was frustrating was the very last exercise of the 5th course. I was having so much trouble with the echo.  I pressed “reset” over and over again until I realized Codecademy was telling me what my errors were on the right side of the screen.

After doing several of these courses, I realize my problem is that I can do the code, but I want to learn it fast and right away. When I was at an event this past weekend, I spoke with a woman who works at a foundation that works with women in tech. I mentioned that I was learning code and she commended me because she said it takes an “extraordinary” amount of patience to be able to do it.

Reflecting on it all now, I realize that’s my biggest problem with web development: getting flustered and having patience. In an age where we want things fast and right away, it’s hard to look back at your problems and figure out the one mistake that you did wrong. It’s probably a sign that I need to think twice, slow down and take my time. I’m lucky I got through it.

The readings this week were interesting. I worked some with WordPress at Wake Forest and through building my own website. The information that stood out to me the most were the debugging, what themes do, what they are made of and the plugin.

I also thought our class last week was interesting. After downloading and working some with MAMP, I’m excited to learn more and grow my skills in technology. I’m slowly but surely getting better at this coding after all!

PHP Lessons and Introduction to WordPress

I found this week’s Codecademy lessons on PHP to be much easier than the previous lessons on jQuery and JavaScript. I was able to move through the lessons without too much trouble. I’m still wondering what the exact purpose and advantages are of using PHP (other than users not being able to see all of your HTML code because it is being run on the server instead of in the browser), but perhaps this is something we will address in class this coming week. I found Greg’s lecture on PHP and his step-by-step tutorial for setting up a local server on our laptops to be very helpful, as I am typically able to comprehend things better when I have the opportunity to directly and immediately apply the steps and skills being taught.

The introductory lecture about WordPress also urged me to think in greater detail about what I’d like to work on for my final project site. As I detailed in my brief pitch post, I’d like to use this as an opportunity to create a blog about the topic of running, which will serve as a sort of digital/online accountability partner on my quest to run a full marathon in 2018. I’ve been having some trouble getting the motivation to run consistently over the last few weeks, and I’m hoping that having this site as a place to document my training and progress will motivate me to get back on track.

I went ahead and did a few of the readings that are now listed on the syllabus for next week, and I found these to be very useful in terms of helping me to decide how I want to structure my final project site. The reading about creating plugins was interesting because I think I’d like to attempt to create a plugin that links between my Strava profile and shows my most recent run. I did a little bit of research and found that at least one Strava plugin for WordPress already exists, but I’m hoping to either create my own or to customize an existing plugin in some way. Further customizations to my site might also include creating a child theme, which will enable me to alter some aspects of my site’s theme. I’m a bit confused about when it is appropriate to create a parent theme versus a child theme. WordPress indicates that if I want to make extensive customizations, then I should consider creating a parent theme, but I’m not exactly sure what is considered to be extensive. Is there a clear explanation for when it is appropriate to create a parent theme versus a child theme?

Overall, I’m looking forward to learning more about the features that WordPress offers and seeing how I can apply them to my final project site.

PHP and WordPress Intro

Compared to the past couple of weeks — having to navigate JavaScript and JQuery — this week’s Codecademy lessons on PHP were actually fairly simple and easy to understand. Besides the foundation I could draw on from our previous work, I think what really helped was that I was very conscious this week about spacing out the work and coding a little each day. I know several of my classmates have been experiencing issues with Codecademy being finicky in these lessons, and I ran into a similar issue for the first time this week when the site took too long to read the for loop I created. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the program and eventually had to reset the code and refresh the page several times for it to finally work.

Overall, I think the one thing I’m still really struggling to understand with PHP is its function: how it fits in with the other languages we’ve learned and  how all of these come together to form a website. I understand the idea that PHP is read by the server and HTML, CSS, and JavaScript by the browser, and I understand the functions of the last three and some of the functions of the first. However, I’m struggling to see the big picture and exactly how we’ll be utilizing all of these in our final project. Hopefully, as we delve more into WordPress and our individual sites, this will become clearer.

This week, I also started delving into the WordPress readings, as suggested, and the reading on themes really helped clarify some of my lingering questions from last class — like what exactly the difference is between a theme and a plug-in. I hope to finish most of these readings before Wednesday.

For the final project, I submitted a pitch for creating a personal site. I am looking forward to this week’s closer look at WordPress so I can get a better understanding of what I want. Right now I’m worried my ideas for what to create and how to modify my site will either come out too ambitious or not ambitious enough.