Week 4: #100DaysOfCode

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I can’t believe it has been a month since I decided to teach myself programming. There are times that I feel like I have learned so much and times I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface.

The biggest lesson I have learned is the importance of focus. There is so much to learn and so many different ways to learn it that it is easy to get off track.

You might start with a Google search to figure out a CSS problem only to end up reading about which languages are most commonly requested in Indeed job listings thanks to a couple of interesting links. You might intend to work through a certain set of courses on one site only to find yourself deciding that maybe a different site would be better. Maybe you start by planning to learn Ruby as your first language only to decide that PHP would be more useful. Maybe you decide to become a self-taught programmer and end up spending two weeks creating a blog. Okay, those examples might be specific to me, but my point is that it is all too easy to get distracted and I don’t mean by watching cat videos.

It takes more than a simple plan if you want to learn to program. A list of objectives isn’t good enough. You also need to identify and list the steps necessary to complete each objective. Once you identify the necessary steps you still need to determine how you are going to complete those steps. The more specific you are about your goal and the steps necessary to complete it the more likely you are to be successful.

I watched a great video this week that details the steps necessary to become a Web Developer in 2017. The person does a great job of explaining what you should learn and it what order.

This video provides a great roadmap for anyone looking to become a self-taught developer. It certainly provided some valuable information to me. But, you still need to figure out the specific steps.

It is all well and good to plan to learn HTML and then CSS and then JavaScript but how exactly are you going to do that? Are you going to do it by watching videos and, if so, which ones? Are you going to do it by taking lessons online and, if so, which site and which lessons? How will you know when it is time to move on to the next subject? Get specific. The more you can spell out the steps necessary to complete these tasks the more likely you are to stay focused. That was a big part of what I have been working on recently.

On the subject of learning, you should check with your local library to see what resources they have available. I recently discovered that my library offers free access to Team Treehouse and Lynda.com. I don’t plan to take advantage of Lynda.com but I have started working on the Treehouse lessons.

Treehouse was one of the sites I considered when I was first deciding which learning site to use so it is great to be able to have access for free. It also seems to be quite popular with my local freeCodeCamp community. I will give a more in-depth report on my thoughts next week when I am a little further into the curriculum.

While I have been enjoying my lessons, I felt like it was important to do some real coding outside of the structured environment provided by tutorials and their built-in editors.

An example of Visual Studio Code

With that in mind, I downloaded Visual Studio Code with the intention of starting each day with an hour of coding. I thought this would be a great way to reinforce what I was learning while getting me away from the safety net that is built into the online lessons.

The day after I decided to do this I read an article about the #100DaysOfCode challenge. I had seen this hashtag a bit on Twitter, but I didn’t really know what it was all about. After reading the article I decided to officially join the challenge since it matched up perfectly with what I was already playing to do.

I thought being a part of something bigger would also be a great motivator for staying on track.

I spent my first couple of days converting the code from my Tribute Project from CodePen to a stand-alone HTML file. If you haven’t used CodePen before, your code only includes what would normally be the body section of the HTML. Everything else like the meta description, the head section, and links to style sheets is built into the interface. Once I added those sections I then spent some time cleaning up the code.

The original was one big container so I created separate containers for each section. I also added some extra CSS styling to replace the break elements that I had in the original. The last thing I want to do, which I am going to do today, is to rename some of the elements to avoid overusing the div element. Once I finish that, my plan is to start working on my next freeCodeCamp project, which is to create a Portfolio Page.

You can check out my GitHub page to track these changes. If you have any comments or suggestions for how to improve the code I would love to hear them.

I ended the week by attending WordCamp Las Vegas, which was a great experience. I’ll talk more about it in a separate post later this week so keep your eyes out for that.

Until next time, good luck and good programming!

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Author: Lee

Hi, my name is Lee and I am a 40-something who recently made the decision to become a self-taught programmer. This site was set up to chronicle that journey and my experiences along the way. Feel free to contact me with any comments, questions, or suggestions.

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