Contact Forms with PHP

I’m in the middle of the WordPress Development track on Treehouse and so excited to get a proper introduction to PHP.  I had started the PHP track on Codecademy, but stopped mid-stream to switch to the Javascript module I’m currently in on that site.

PHP is my first introduction to a server-side language and luckily for me the syntax makes sense, so far at least.  That is one benefit of having already completed the Web Design and Front-end Development tracks on Treehouse.

I had always wondered how an HTML document “sent” its information to a server and luckily for me I learned how when we recently covered adding a contact form to the t-shirt shop website we are building.

The proverbial light went off and another small part of the front-end suddenly made sense to me.

I covered forms while learning HTML, but seeing how a small HTML snippet made up of label tags, input types, names and id’s could connect to a PHP snippet that Posts that name information filled in some huge blanks in my code knowledge.

Sorry if my code example is janky, I promise to get on Codepen this week and start showing some classy code examples.

Nonetheless, seeing how plain, old HTML “connects” with PHP really got the gears moving for me and made me even more exited to keep building on top of the HTML, CSS and Javascript knowledge I’ve accrued so far.

It’s great when one language you are familiar with gets built upon or connected to another you are just learning.  It reminded of how I felt when I learned that classes and id’s from CSS could be used in jQuery.

I know I have a ton more to learn, but little achievements and connections like these really make learning to code exciting every day.

Resistance is Futile

I read a great book a couple of years ago called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.  In it he talks about Resistance.  He defines Resistance as anything that keeps us from achieving our dreams.

The beauty of his argument is that Resistance is not an exterior force, but all the thoughts, emotions and millions of excuses that we create ourselves that keep us from achieving our goals.

I thought about this book recently because I can feel the Resistance building in me when it comes to my learning to code journey.  I know enough HTML/CSS, web design best practices and even Javascript that I could technically build a website.  I’m not talking about a massive responsive design behemoth, but rather a small multi-page site that I would be proud of.

But I haven’t.

And I like to think that I have so much more to learn (I do) and with all my work, family and social commitments I can’t squeeze the time out of an already hectic schedule.

The reality is though that I’m afraid to build something and have it look amateur.  The truth is I am an amateur and until I build things (and break them?  No, I’ll leave that to FB), I will be doing myself a disservice by learning all these great skills and letting them atrophy and wither away.

I’ve learned three cool things in the last ten years.  Golf, poker and Crossfit.  All very different and all opened up new and exciting worlds to me.  But I wouldn’t have learned anything about any of them if I didn’t try.

A golfer who doesn’t golf isn’t a golfer.  And a coder who doesn’t code is what, a project manager?  Kidding.

So along with my regularly scheduled Treehouse and Codecademy lessons, and my reading sessions and my late night surfing of Medium, Zite and Feedly, I need to make the time to build.

A goal without a date is a dream and another chance for Resistance to win.  So by the end of this month (July 2014) I will have my personal site at http://www.george-rodriguez.com up and ready to show off.

It’s time to Build!  Resistance is futile and I won’t let it or me stand in the way anymore.

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.

Learning to Code – 3/25/14

So I’m a few weeks into my coding journey and here is my latest update:

GOING GREAT

  • Codecademy and Treehouse are great resources and their material, and especially their different methods of teaching, are proving useful and have kept me interested.
  • I’ve been listening to great podcasts that have helped with my immersion program.  The deep technical conversations lose me, but overall they are worth the effort.  The biggest take away has been the realization that although coders are capable of amazing things, they are still people like me.  Hearing Mark Otto of Bootstrap fame tell Jeffrey Zeldman that he feels intimidated by Javascript (or something to that affect) actually made my day.  Maybe my week.
  • I’m reading great books on coding, which I will add to my Lesson Plan page, and the few times when I read something and have not only heard of it before, but understand it, is such a great feeling.

COULD BE BETTER

  • There have been more days than I’m comfortable with when I haven’t done any studying.  The Treehouse blog had a post recently where they talked about keys to remembering the code you are learning.  I kept thinking you have to learn it first before you worry about forgetting it.  What I keep in mind is with a full-time job, a six-month old at home and other responsibilities, there will be days when I can’t stick to my learning plan.  I just need to remember we find time for those things we value, and I value learning how to code.
  • I used a great video from Dash that walked me through setting up a website on Bit Balloon just by dragging your site files over.  I used it to build my Mom’s retirement party site, but I haven’t cleaned it up enough to share it with others.  I keep waiting for this mythical block of a few hours to show up so I can sit down and totally focus on it.  I just need to work on it in bits and pieces and ship it already.
  • HTML and CSS are making sense.  Javascript I understand after clicking the help button on Codecademy, but I need to stop using that crutch.
  • I want to blog everyday about my journey, and I would if I accepted the fact that every post doesn’t have to be a world-altering manifesto.  I love reading about other’s journeys in learning to code and that is what I need to remember.  It is the journey that counts and it is my journey that could have value to those that come after me.