Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January: It's a Hell of a Month

Just an update on how things are going.

I got two emails from people at codermatch that wanted to pair up. One of them mentioned Free Code Camp. I emailed them back, wanting to know a little more, but haven't gotten a response back yet. I was nervous, but I beat back my hermit nature and reached out.

Tangent: I don't want this to be another social dead end like most of my other social interactions with code learners have been. People don't want to be close and I don't know why. I feel bad about it because I imagine all of these people are city people that know all these people in the biz and are going to just ask some friends for a job when the time comes, and I'm not helpful to them because I'm in the sticks. It makes me feel invisible. I just want to talk some newbie shop. If they're not cool in the end I can break it off, but don't shut me out before it even starts!


Back to the action. This is what's been taking up a lot of my attention, because if I die I can't enjoy that sweet, sweet moolah that coders make.

I've been exercising and dieting in earnest. I've been keeping a food diary and exercising daily. I actually relaunced the food diary again in December, but this month has been more eventful. I overdid it Monday trying to find a yoga tutorial to do, and I took Tuesday off to let my stiff legs have a rest. It felt better somehow, some way and did a 30 minute workout after midnight. I've lost a little weight, so it's encouraging.

I've been trying to make it fun. The workout instructor chatter and music isn't my style, so I have my headphones in while I work out. I need to crochet a holder I can put around my neck, because the pants I wear don't have pockets. I stuck it in my waistband this last time, and I don't think my ipod wants to be sweated on. It's old, and I can't afford another one right now. I think about my future better looking self. I hope to the powers that be that it will help with my menstrual cycle. And I hope I become more energetic.

Besides losing weight, I'm hoping that my mood will change and my brain will work a little better. Exercise is supposed to help with depression, but it takes time. The test of this will be if I keep going after another soul-shattering event hits. It's not a matter of if, but when. It's not being a bummer, just realistic. The last time I started an exercise regimen, dad's cancer diagnosis fucked me up. I was doing yoga and cardio, and at about the month mark, bam. Mix that up with a shitty job that included some workplace bullying and Amy lost anything she may have gained. I put on the same yoga DVD and marvel and how stiff I've become.

Do I feel any change yet? A little. I wouldn't say my brain has been upgraded to an eight cylinder, but I feel a little less bad. I give myself peptalks more often. Walking from the far end of the parking lot isn't such a chore, so my stamina is increasing. Sleep seems to be a bit better. I was getting tired really early and wasn't able to watch my video lessons for a bit, but that seems to be getting better. When I do go to sleep it seems more fitful. I remember my dreams a bit more often.

When I can't focus, instead of clicking around a screen waiting for things to happen, I exercise. It doesn't get homework or tutorials done but at least I'm doing something. By doing this I get more than the usual 30 minutes in most days. Which gives me a calorie deficit, which is good. I can have cheat days if I want them.

Diet soda is my friend. Over the last year I'd always go out for a Coke and a think to get away from the toxic house, and it contributed to regaining the weight I'd lost two years before. Not drinking regular soda was actually the easy part of the endeavor. The hard part is not having any support. I hope my imagination and daydreams keep me going. I bought protein bars last night so things are getting serious. Still no blender. Money.

Tonight's Treehouse session was about arrays. I relearned some things I'd forgotten about, like assigning variables using an array method, like var thisArray = thatArray.pop() to assign and remove in one fell swoop. I think I did something like that before. I'm not sure anymore. And I'm rhyming again. I've got one more section in Javascript Foundations to go, then it's on to the next part.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Treehouse progress: Variable scope, shadowing and hoisting in JavaScript

I got some more detail on how variable shadowing and hoisting works tonight. I had to watch the videos a couple of times until it clicked, but that's completely okay!

Shadowing: What I took from the video was that two variables can have the same name if one is in the global scope and the other is inside a function. If a function variable is set without the var keyword, it could change the value of the global variable when that function is run.

For example:

var name = "Amy";

function myFunction(){
  if(true){
    name = "Nicole";
  }
}

myFunction();
console.log(name);


The result is that name is changed to "Nicole", because the function variable is pushed up into the global scope.

If you set the variable inside the function with var, however:

var name = "Amy";

function myFunction(){
  if(true){
     var name = "Nicole";
  }
}

myFunction();
console.log(name);


name remains "Amy" because the scope of the second name variable is restricted to inside the function.

Hoisting: Variables declared inside of a function are treated as is they were declared at the top of the function, then assigned on the line where they appear. So this:

function myFunction(){
  if(true){
     var name = "Nicole";
  }
}

myFunction();
console.log(name);


Works the the same as this:

function myFunction(){
  var name;
  if(true){
     name = "Nicole";
  }
}

myFunction();
console.log(name);


Best practice is to declare variables at the top of the function, anyway. That's what I've gleaned from my past learning experiences. That habit is (mostly) ingrained.

Gonna watch more videos and see what other insights I gain.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How to Layer Background Values to Create a Blending Effect: Some CSS I put Into Practice.

I'm trying to do CSS layout on my own tonight. I'm not going for pretty as much as trying to reinforce what I learned. This page I'm working on now is prettier than the first one, but it's still not mind-blowing.

Instead of stripes of solid color marking off parts of the page, I decided to use try blending the header into the body to add an ethereal look. I learned this in the Treehouse course, but, of course, I didn't write down what they did.

Instead of going back to try find the video where it was mentioned, I looked at the code that I had saved to my hard drive while I was taking the class. I looked at the sample page that had the effect, and looked at the styles in dev tools to figure it out.

I layered the backgrounds properly: linear-gradient first, then the background image (I used a circuit board to be all "techy"), because the first value declared is the top layer. Still had a sharp line, but the problem was that the gradient color and the body background had to be the same. Changed that value.

Still didn't look right. Ah, I need to make the gradient start from the bottom of the header and go up so the same colors met at the transition point. Added 'to top' to my gradient rule. Reloaded and it looks the way I wanted! YAY!

I haven't had a good newbie a-ha moment in what seems like an eternity. I had a problem to solve, and I used the tools at hand to try to find the answer as efficiently as possible. I'm going to write it down in my notebook, just in case it slips my mind again.

Here's a little snapshot of it. I think it looks cool:








Now to get the rest of the page just as stylin'.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sh*t that people don't like to read about, aka "That escalated quickly", mild flavor

I've been learning a lot of good stuff in my CSS course. Tonight was a lot of fun, with lessons on shadows and gradients. I added these to my test page and it started to look like a website from the 90s. I was tickled by how easy it was to make something look exceptionally tacky.

I saw where manipulating gradients can produce patterns. I want to play with that a little, and maybe create a couple of interesting backgrounds. I set up a CodePen account just a few minutes ago. I want a little break from the type/save/refresh thing. I have a JSFiddle, but this one's more pretty and seems to be more popular. And they have a job board now. I have to put out all the feelers I can if i want to get some paid work this year.

If I keep cracking at it I'll be on to the programming part of the Front End track. Back to Javascript. It seems that in December I wasn't so active. I think it might just be burnout. I can't say I'm missing it that much. I did some online jQuery courses, but not the little project-based stuff I was doing before.

I want to try to work some regular code exercises into my daily routine. All the things I have to add to the schedule to make the new year a success...it's overwhelming. I guess most people go through this every year, but it seems that not that many come out doing those things on the other end. It's so frustrating that sometimes I think fate is pulling numbers out of a hat to see who reaches their goals and who doesn't. I'm sitting around with the little pull tab all crumpled up in my hands.

Some years my number got close to being called, or called then sent to another line to wait in. Never that bomb-diggity, let me post all this awesome on Instagram and humblebrag until people hate me kind of success. I got through most of Heisig's Remembering the Kanji, I re-learned Intro to Programming and Logic. I learned a dance routine I saw in a video and lost some weight...but then i couldn't find another to learn, and the my fire seemed to go out even though I was still moving around every day. Things start and they suddenly dry up. It's aggravating, and I can't seem to break out of it. I haven't been able to tap into my old childhood "let's focus on this constantly" type of zeal. I'm not sure if  I can remember it, actually. I think I had it?

This is where people say go to your support system, but I don't have one. I need a solution for hermits. My parents' version of encouragement was "Sure, go ahead. We won't give you much emotional support, but we'll buy the stuff to get started (as long as it's not too expensive) and won't stop you." I look back on it and feel like the rat in a maze they watched for amusement. Dad's dead and I avoid talking to mom because a fight happens nearly every time. Damn I'm screwed up.

I don't know how "I want to do more with online code editors" turned into "wow I have no cheerleaders in my life at all" but that's how it turned out. It's not for lack of trying, either. I try to connect with people on Twitter and they just stop. Some of them are more fucked up than me, I dare say. I seem to attract people with avoidant personalities and trust issues. I say that because I share those problems myself, but I try to fight against them by trying to be friendly and open.

The part that hurts is that I seem them blabbing to other people nonstop and I wonder what makes me unsuitable. Am I not worth making a connection to?

Someone that used to be in Twitter list all of a sudden disappeared from it. She was kind of a broken record, but that wasn't that big of an issue. She dumped her twitter name or went private or something, I don't know, but I don't see her tweets anymore. I was hurt even though we never connected. I was still trying to figure out a way of breaking through her daily routine. It never worked. I took her off the list. I'm not following a regular person that doesn't follow me back.

I try, I really fucking do. Being on Twitter is like talking to myself most of the time. Occasionally I get a reply, but I've come to not expect it anymore. I've been tempted to ask a couple of people "Do you trust me at all?" and just be blunt, but I'm afraid it will get even more quiet if I do. Did I find some shit online and think I'm talking shit about them? I just don't know.

But yeah, I want do some CodePens, for sure.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dat Obligatory New Year's Post

It's another year. I'll pretend to be excited about it.

Got that out of the way.

Winter break from school has been nice. I've had more time to do more Treehouse stuff. I'm on the CSS Basics class and learning useful things that would have taken forever for me to find out by just searching.

The nice thing about it is that I'm getting an explanation that helps the info stick. Stack Overflow gives me the answer, but it doesn't always give me the backing info that's short and sweet enough for me to remember it all. If I need more detail later I can look up the MDN article or whatever it may be and not have to start from zero when I'm reading, so it goes a little faster. You know, building blocks.

Tonight  I broke out and tried my own layout with the rules I've learned so far. Trying to remember these basics but looking at the notes if I have to. Messing with dev tools to conserve on my type/save/refresh fingers. It's got ipsum text and dummy images and is basic as hell in the derogatory sense, but I'm not using Bootstrap. It's all me.

I started the AJAX basics course around the same time or just before, but CSS sucked me in so much that it went to the wayside. It's a short course and I should get back to it to mix things up. My javascript skills are being all sorts of sketchy right now. I haven't had a good small project idea in a while, and I was thinking I need to learn some marketable skills like AJAX and connecting to APIs. A lot of the first projects I hear about on podcasts are finder apps that use Google Maps and such. Those people eventually started doing it for a living, so thought it would be good to copy. My area is small enough that I target restaurants around here and still check the list myself by hand.

School starts next week. Just the database class, so it won't be hectic as long as I do some work everyday. I might actually try to work ahead a bit if the assignments are all posted at once. There were mentions of internships again, but the combination of getting transportation, having a "I don't know enough!" complex and feeling like something's fishy is making me nervous. Mostly the first two.

The first time I inquired about an internship (and had a mild panic attack about it), I saw the mention of PHP, something they don't even teach at the place. I told them I have beginner experience in the big 3 of HTML5 tech: HTML, CSS and JavaScript and got jack for a reply. I feel like if I jump into another language I'm just going to forget JS, which I need, and have to relearn things. I'm not even proficient yet. Overly paranoid me thinks it's just places around town that want some web work done for cheap, but I don't know. They don't have a job board you can peruse, you have to do this slow song and dance of emailing then going in to interview. I want the details up front so I know what I'm spending my time on because, as I keep telling these people, I DON'T LIVE IN TOWN. 45 minutes to an hour each way (with commuter traffic it's probably worse) plus gas; it's a freaking outing. I pack my bag the night before because if I leave something at home I can't go back.

Plus I can't talk to my mom about it and she's pretty much my ride there because...we're dysfunctional. I honestly don't know if she'd be willing to drive me there every day if need be. If there was money involved she might get off my back and let me drive the old car there, but if it broke down I'd never hear the end of it.

It's not important but I had to vent, because it's an obstacle that needs to be overcome, and so far nothing's working. It's the thing that kills my hope.

What I Hope to Get Out of 2015 (no particular order)

  • Greater confidence: In my dev skills, in everything, really.
  • A new blender: I have to be healthy so my brain works so I can get a job. Leafy greens, y'all. Might help with the energy/can't sleep/depression thing as well.
  • Being able to talk shop: I don't talk when I don't feel like I have anything to talk about, which is often and I need to break that habit. Even if someone says I sound dumb. Fuck 'em.
  • Networking: I have to learn to talk on Twitter at least. I have followers but no one really talks to me, and that makes me feel like I'm an allergen. Maybe everyone else is in their own world, too? I dunno.
  • Possibly some paid work. There's Odesk and all that, just something to prove to people I can do quality work. Even a paid internship from the school would be fine, as long as it's dev work. I guess being someone's social media lackey wouldn't be bad. At least it would be money. And I could study other stuff in my down time.
  • Meditate more regularly. I'd probably see a benefit if I kept to it for longer than two weeks at a time.
  • Hope for my future. 
It's not a resolution list, because those things don't work for me. It's just a list.

That's all for now.