A Website’s Journey: mineplusnine.com

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step….whatever the f*** that means.” ~ From the movie Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire

While studying to become a teacher, Bloom’s Taxonomy is crammed down your throat.  The taxonomy has many purposes, but it can be used to ascertain the depth of student learning.

The lowest level of mastery according to the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy is simple remembering.  Can you recall new terms pertaining to what you have just learned?  Can you provide accurate definitions of these terms?

This is the level of rote memorization.

The highest level of the revised taxonomy is creating.  It is considered higher-order thinking to use something you learned to create something novel.  You are operating on this level when you design, write or formulate something original inspired by something learned.

I am beginning to view my burgeoning technology skills through this lens.  I love working with HTML and CSS.  I want to challenge myself to operate on the highest level of Bloom’s, so I have decided to create my own website from scratch.

I have been working on this site for sometime and I am finally please with the result.  My original plan was to build the website using Twitter Bootstrap, but that is a bit beyond me at this moment.  Instead, I built the site using only HTML and CSS that I wrote myself.

However, getting a site onto the internet takes a few steps.  Today I would like to share my website’s journey.

Step 1: Get a hosting service.

Simply put, a web hosting service is a company that will provide you with space on a server. This allows your website to be accessible via the World Wide Web.  I selected a service called A Small Orange.  I chose them because they were highly recommended in the book I am reading on HTML and CSS.  A Small Orange was described as “the perfect starting place for the new web content publisher”.  That is me.  Signing up with A Small Orange was a snap.  I went to their website, created an account, selected a domain name, and purchased my service for $50 a year.  I was even able to purchase security for my new site at the same time!

Step 2: File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Now that you have web hosting, you need a way to get your HTML/CSS files from your computer to your web host’s server.  You can do this via a File Transfer Protocol (FTP).  To use FTP, you need an FTP client- a program used to transfer files from your computer to a web server.  Again, I went with one of the FTP clients recommended by my HTML/CSS book.  I am using a client called Classic FTP.  Classic is easy to use with a great interface that makes it really simple to transfer files from one place to another.  I am completely new to this process and had no trouble at figuring it out.

Step 3: Get a Text Editor and Write Your Website!

Now you are all set to go.  The only thing you are missing is a website to publish!  This part is the most fun.  First you must decide what your website is going to be about.  I decided to make a website about my family’s nine cats! Next you need to design your website.  What do you want it to look like?  I designed my website on paper first, sketching out the layout and deciding on a color scheme.  Finally it is time to write the code.  To do this you will need a text editor.  I am using Sublime Text 2 because it has a lot of great features.  But if you use a Mac, you can also download TextWrangler which is free.

Step 4: Publish your website!

My website is www.mineplusnine.com. I hope you will check it out.  It is still under construction.  Right now I only have the home page.  I have not yet created the individual pages for each cat.  That is coming soon! Right now the page is static.  As I learn more about JavaScript, I hope to make the site more dynamic and interactive!

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Curve Ball

Long I’ve endured the gale force winds,

Tears cutting tracks upon my gritty face

Hands hard pressed, knees bent I pray

And pray and pray

For the eye of the storm.

***************************************************************************

“Hello?”

“Mom, its me. I have breaking news.”

“What is it?” “Are you ok?”

“I’m not sure. Mom, my Bootcamp is gone.”

“Gone? What do you mean…gone?” “Are you certain?”

“I’m looking at the Codeup site right now. There is no longer a link for the Night Full-Stack Bootcamp.

“Check again my daughter. I will check as well.”

We both poured over the site that night. Finally we came to the same conclusion. Codeup is no longer offering an after-hours Full Stack programming Bootcamp.

I began to hear the high-pitched whine of my dream escaping like air from a shiny red balloon.

Until that moment, I had it all figured out.

When oh when am I going to learn? When I have it all figured out, it is about to change.

I should have known.

To verify what I was seeing online, I called Codeup.  They confirmed my suspsicion.  The camp has been cancelled.  The reason? Low enrollment.

Disappointment doesn’t come close to expressing how I felt when I got the news. I didn’t realize just how much I was looking forward to starting class until now. Why is it when something is snatched away from us at a moments notice, we want it all the more?

The camp I originally signed up for was an evening full-stack course. This means that we were going to learn front-end development (like how to make a beautiful, interactive website) as well as back-end development (like how to create and maintain databases in addition to much more.) I was going to lean HTML/CSS Javascript and JQuery as well as PHP.

It was going to be quite the commitment. The camp was going to be 9 months long. We were going to meet every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evening as well as every other weekend. I was going to have to do this while working as a math teacher.

But that option no longer exits.

So here is what I have decided to do. I am going to switch camps. Instead of going to camp after work, I’m going to do the full time, full stack daytime Bootcamp. The daytime camp meets Monday – Friday from 9-4pm.

The next daytime camp begins June 8th. This works perfectly for me because the last day of school is June 5th. So I will have all summer to work on my programming skills.

The downside? Well the camp is 4 months long. This is longer than my summer vacation from school. So I will have to do some deep soul searching about my job. I can’t teach and do this daytime Bootcamp.

Decisions will have to be made.

Diverged

Diverged

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth

Before me are two paths and how I hate a duality! As I am one being, in one body with one mind, dualities inevitably lead to dilemmas. Physically, I can only move in one direction at a time, forever leaving the other option to rot in the land of “What Might Have Been.” And that question. That haunting, tearing, immobilizing question.

What do I choose? Option A or Option B? Door Number 1 or Door Number 2? The Road On The Left or The Road On The Right? North or South?

The vexing truth of duality is this: though there may be two, you can choose only one. And what you do not choose becomes a fertile ground to cultivate regret.

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same

If you are listening, oh how I long for unity! For one. For the clouds to part and one radiant path to present itself before me. No choices because I inexorably choose the wrong one. No forks in destiny’s road. Just a clear ribbon of endless light with a sign post saying “This way and only this way.!” No tricks. No possibility of doubt. No regret.

But we know this doesn’t happen. Every road seems to dead end in a fork. Leaving us to choose. That devastating blessing: choice.

And so I make my choice. I choose web development.

I choose computers and bits and bytes and programs that don’t work half the time, and websites that amaze all the time. I choose quiet but for the tap tap tapping of keys in the semi darkness because I have been working all day at my terminal and the sun is gone now. Or it is early morning and the sun cannot yet be convinced to rise.

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

~ Robert Frost

 

I don’t know why life makes us choose with no guarantee that we have chosen the right.

The only thing I know is the unity I long for will never materialize. We live in the age of endless options, and you simply cannot choose them all.

It is my fervent hope that “somewhere ages and ages hence” I will not be telling this tale with a sigh. With women drastically underrepresented in tech, I am definitely taking the road less traveled. Will it “make all the difference?” I am certain that it will. The only question is will it be a difference I can live with?

The Gap

So there is this gap. On one side, non-techies who really want to understand computers, learn to program and potentially land a wonderful, high paying job with benefits in tech; on the other side, employers desperately searching for passionate, curious, ready-to- hire, entry level developers.   The two sides are often unaware of each other and the gap seems insurmountable.

Software boot camps act as a bridge over the gap. They are popping up all over the country like flowers in a desert after a rain. I am not exactly sure how or where it all got started, but someone took a look around and realized that there are a lot of jobs in tech, and not a lot of qualified people able to handle those jobs. The next bright observation was this: just because a person does not have the skills, it doesn’t mean that they do not want the skills. Finally someone realized that most adults willing to transition into the technology field do not have the time or the resources to go back to college and get a degree in computer science. The solution? Short programs for those willing to commit to learn the fundamentals of web development: software boot camps.

That is the good news. The not so good news? They are intense. Really intense. Most claim to be able to take a person with zero tech savvy and transform them into a junior level web developer in (on average) 4-6 months! It must be a scam you say? They are not. Graduates from these boot camps are getting hired and starting jobs as junior web developers. I do not have figures for the entire country, but for the camp that I will be attending 100% of their first graduating class have jobs or job offers.

Are these graduates perfect? I am sure they are not. I am sure the learning curve is still quite steep for them and I imagine they will do some struggling during their first couple years on the job, but they did get a job. They are developers like it or not.

So here I stand on one side of the gap. I really want to learn how to program computers. My dream is to build something useful that other people will use. To get to the other side I must take my first tentative steps onto the bridge. It is time for phase 1 of my boot camp journey. The Pre Work.

A Life Without Challenge…

smallmer1The new year dawned with chill wind and grey drizzle.  I watched the sun creep up with my epileptic cat MaryGold who often wakes between 4 and 5 am for some as yet unknown reason.  I often keep a close eye on MaryGold even though her seizures are controlled, so when she stirred on the morning of January 1st 2015, I woke up.

The first thing I thought about was the camp.  Fear and excitement churned in my stomach as I once again wondered out loud, “Did I make the right decision?”  MaryGold did not answer, though her eyes always seem to suggest some deep wisdom.

My decision to sign up for a web development boot camp will strike anyone who knows me as odd.  Quite odd.  I am NOT tech savvy.  I barely know the difference between a router and a modem.  If my computer does not work, I sacrifice a chicken to the computer gods and hope the animal’s blood will be suffice.  Just kidding about the chicken, but you get the idea.  Computers are a complete enigma to me.  They might as well be powered by some kind of dark magic.

This. Is. A. Problem.  I use a computer everyday.  I am using a computer right now to type out this very sentence.  I feel that it is somehow wrong to be completely ignorant about something that has revolutionized the world and is so vital to my everyday existence.  For me, computers represent a challenge.  The gauntlet has been thrown.  I wish to understand how to program computers and how the internet works.  In short, I want to become a web developer– from scratch. (Perhaps less that scratch.  If there is something that comes before scratch, I am actually starting from there.)

The camp that I signed up for starts in March.  The purpose of this blog will be to chronicle this (mis)adventure.  It promises to be…(painful, embarrassing, frustrating, potentially deadly) interesting to say the least.