Learning to Code – 4/12/14

I finished the HTML piece of my Web Design track last Friday.  So long @nickrp, you will be missed.  Treehouse is my defacto training source currently, as I’ve been away from Codecademy for a few weeks now.  I think the short (5-10 minute) videos on Treehouse, along with the quizzes and objective challenges are great for those short bursts of time where I can focus, complete something and then move on.

I continue building my library of coding books, technology books, design books and business narratives.  I finished 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know last week.  I’ll try do to at least a short review of every book I read.  97 Things seemed more geared toward an experienced programmer, but as part of my immersion program I’ll read everything and anything I can get my hands on.

I’m going to try to build out my lesson plan section of this site to include all the websites, tutorials, books, podcasts and whatever else I’m finding useful on my coding journey.  I know personally that there is so much material out there that just knowing where to jump in is a big decision itself.  I want to make that decision easier for others.

Finally, I heard a great interview on Dann Berg’s Novice No Longer Podcast with Steve Young (no, not that Steve Young sports fans) from Mobile App Chat.  Steve talked about wanting to start a podcast for a long time, but it wasn’t until he just booked a guest that he figured out what he had to do to actually record a podcast.  I loved that he just jumped in and it was either sink or swim.

He also talked about going from someone with a passion for a subject to an expert just by hanging out and interviewing other experts in the field.  I have no designs to start a podcast, but that mindset can be helpful in so many ways when we are trying to go from beginner to pro.

That’s it for now.  I’ll try to post more, even if they are shorter updates.  

My coding journey continues and I wish you all the best on yours.

The 36%

I got a nice offer from Freelancer the other day to take one of their exams and earn a badge on my Freelancer resume.  I had taken the Editing exam and earned a 100% a few months ago so I appreciated the opportunity to add to my presence there.

So naturally I chose the HTML exam thinking that 40 questions in 15 minutes would be no problem for a budding genius programmer like myself.  I mean I’m enrolled in Treehouse after all, and I spend all my free time on coding-related activities these days.

15 minutes later I was left with a large “FAIL – 36%” flashing before me.

But.

A few years ago such an unexpected failure would have left me upset and looking for excuses long after the test was over.  Luckily, I read a great book by Carol Dweck called “Mindset”.  In it she argues that we have two mindsets, a fixed or growth mindset.

A fixed mindset views intelligence as a set number and anything, any feedback we get that goes against this fixed construct can shake us to our foundation.  Because we protect this image of ourselves it keeps us from trying new things or taking on new challenges.

A growth mindset looks at failure as an opportunity.  What went wrong?  Where can I improve?  What did this experience show me so I can learn from it?

I got a 36%.  I’ve never gotten a 36%.  But I’ll learn from it and redouble my efforts in learning to code.  What that 36% represents is feedback, not a judgement on me as a person or my worth as a human being.

And the simple fact that I’m willing to share this experience on my blog is a success for me.

So much of what I read on other blogs is an endless loop of someone’s greatest hits that being brutally honest (hat tip to James Altucher and “Choose Yourself”) shows that I’m confident enough to say I know I’m smart, but learning something new like coding is hard and there will be failure along the way.

Just not too much failure because that 36% sucked.