Popping a Wheelie

One of my favorite podcasts is Reuben Ingber’s How to Hold a Pencil.  He continues to deliver interesting interviews with web designers and developers with a focus on how they got started and how they learned the skills they have today.

I highly recommend it to my fellow coding beginners.

I was listening to his latest episode with Aubrey Johnson and heard them talk about an issue I faced when I began learning how to code.  And still do to some extent.

Aubrey called it a “Pop a Wheelie” moment.  He went on to explain that when he was so excited to learn to code and his motivation was at its highest the problem with the resources he was using was they showed you the basics of how to ride a bike – whichis boring if not terrifying in my opinion – when they need to show you how to pop a wheelie.

I couldn’t agree more.

Software is eating the world and there is a huge gap between what companies need (more programmers) and what those learning to code need (some inspiration) and if we solve the second problem we just might start solving the first.

I’m not arguing that every new student of code needs to think they are the next internet hero, but if code is beautiful beginners need to see how that beauty can come from them if they learn the skills to master it.

The wheelie might not get us through the dark times (and here I equate dark times to searching for that missing ; or ? or / or #), but it would help stoking that passion when it is most needed – in the beginning of our journey.

I’m still trying to learn to ride the coding bike, but I know I have a few wheelies in me and I think Threehouse and Codecademy and CodeSchool and Skillshare and all the rest would be well served to remember that a small push in the beginning can pay huge dividends down the road.  For them and their wheeling-searching students.

 

Paralysis by Analysis

There is just so much out there these days when it comes to learning to code.  I keep hearing there is a shortage of programmers, but you wouldn’t think that with all the resources being built and advertised to teach anyone to code.

I will build a “Resources” page with this blog because others who come after me might find it helpful.

And I love organizing information.  I mean love it.  Give me a mess and all I see is all the fun I will have organizing it.  No joke.

Just since yesterday’s post here is what I have come across:

1.  Dash – learn to make websites with HTML/CSS/JavaScript (HT How to Hold a Pencil podcast)

2.  Again from HtHaP, Jennifer Dewalt built 180 websites in 180 days.  Wow!  She blogs about it here.  Can’t wait to dive in to that.

3.  I asked Reuben Ingber from HtHaP about other useful podcasts and almost immediately he gave me a few, including Novice No Longer.  Listened to the first podcast and it looks perfect for someone who wants to build their own app.  Which of course I do, along with 10 other things.  And thank you to Reuben for continuing to be awesome.

4.  I’m a big reader so I’ve started compiling a list of books to read.  One that caught my attention and held it after I read the introduction was “Learn to Program” by Chris Pine.  May have to swing by B&N on the way home.

5.  Scratchpad.io is a cool looking realtime HTML/CSS editor.  Nathan Bashaw is the proud creator of it.  Another HtHaP interview btw.  Seriously, if you are starting out like me, listen to this podcast.

So yes, I will not want for information in my coding quest, but I need to decide on something and commit to it.

Front-end, back-end, what do I want to build, etc. etc.  I think I’m going to finish up Codecademy (PHP and JavaScript) and then pick one program and stick with it.  In the meantime I’ll continue my research to make sure my time and money is well spent.

I know after picking up golf and poker over the years I get addicted to learning, I just want to make sure I learn the “right” stuff at the right time.

More to come.

Where I’m At

Here is the Cliff Notes of my coding journey so far:

About six months ago I started at Codecademy.  I did the HTML/CSS tutorials and started PHP (because my blog is on WordPress).

And then my son was born in September 2013.  That is a whole other story, and probably a whole other blog.

So I’m finally getting into the swing of work, baby duty and husband duty.  My wife is amazing and so far we have been lucky enough to have her stay home with the baby.

But a few things happened that have brought me to this point:

1.  I wanted my blog at www.bookleverageblog.com to look cool…

2.  So I read “HTML for Dummies”…

3.  Which helped and allowed me to make some basic changes to my posts and pages, but I realized I needed some CSS education.  I like the way Codecademy says if HTML is the bones than CSS is the skin of a website.

4.  Codecademy helped, but I didn’t learn how to take the limited HTML/CSS knowledge I had and actually change my blog.  In other words, what the heck is an editor?  I’m still working on this btw and have started reading WordPress for Dummies.

5.  I discovered WordPress (which my blog is built on) uses PHP, so I started the PHP tutorial on Codecademy.  But the baby came and coding was the last thing on my mind.

6.  So I’m at work one day recently and I get my daily email from Very Short List.  And one of the links is to How to Hold a Pencil.  I forget why I clicked it, I think it was something about a guy who built his own app after he taught himself to code.

7.  Eureka!  The saying is when the student is ready the master will appear.  So I download one podcast and another and another.  These people are doing what I want to do.  Reuben Ingber, I don’t know if you drink, but if we every meet, I’m buying you a beer.

8.  So one of the podcasts is with Natasha the Robot.  She is amazing.  I went home that night and bought her e-book.  And I reviewed it on Amazon and Goodreads.  Loved it!  She makes you feel like learning to code is worth the sacrifice and can be done by mere mortals.

9.  The latest podcast on How to Hold a Pencil is with Mattan Griffel, founder of One Month Rails.  I’m thinking I may sign up for the course, although I’m still researching options and haven’t decided just yet.

10.  I also read Josh Kaufman’s book The First 20 Hours and one of the skills he teaches himself is programming and the language he chose is Ruby.

And finally, as I mentioned in my About G page, I had a relative tell me that learning to code was near impossible if I didn’t study computer science in college.

I’m learning to code for myself and my family’s future, but that comment really stuck with me and just made me burn.  Still does actually.

It may take even longer than I think with all my responsibilities (I’m thinking 2-3 years easy), but I’ll see that relative someday and we will have a much different conversation.