Back to Learning Coding

Hi! It’s been a while, I know. Katie is near­ly fin­ished with col­lege now, but I’ve been busi­ly learn­ing online again! 

  • Codecad­e­my still rules as far as the resources avail­able and the qual­i­ty of the lessons they offer.
  • FreeCode­Camp is either new­er or I’ve just dis­cov­ered them. In any case, they’re great! 
  • Skill­crush has some good resources, but as far as I can tell only the 10 day boot­camp, which is very basic, is free. Still, it would be a good intro­duc­tion for a total beginner.
  • Dash is just about HTML, CSS and web design, but it’s quite nice.

Learning to Code, Part 5

I just can’t stay away from Codecad­e­my. I went back and fin­ished the Web Fun­da­men­tals course. I had been wait­ing because there’s JavaScript involved in the last few assign­ments, but it turns out I was able to do those with­out fin­ish­ing the JavaScript cours­es. I feel all warm and fuzzy now.

It’s good that I have that feel­ing about some­thing because I cer­tain­ly don’t feel that way about the library book I checked out. JavaScript in Easy Steps by Mike McGrath is use­less. Yes, the steps are easy, if you just want to type. There’s almost no expla­na­tion of any­thing, so either I already know the mate­r­i­al, or I can’t learn from it. Being told, “Type this in. This is what the result will be,” with­out any source code to view (the free down­loads web­site is only avail­able to peo­ple in the U.K.) and no trou­bleshoot­ing tips is sil­ly. Just a screen­shot of what the fin­ished code should look like would be a good idea because the author’s instruc­tions aren’t always so clear or even sequen­tial. I’m glad I did­n’t spend mon­ey on this book.

So I’ll be wait­ing for my friend’s expla­na­tion, and wish­ing all the lessons at Codecad­e­my were as well-writ­ten as the ear­ly JavaScript ones.

Learning to Code, Part 4

After look­ing around at the Q&A forums at Codecad­e­my and find­ing that most of the oth­er begin­ners are as lost as I am, I’ve decid­ed that maybe I’m stuck on the cur­rent les­son because the author just isn’t very good, rather than because I can’t under­stand the con­tent. A friend has offered to write up a tuto­r­i­al for me going over the same mate­r­i­al, and I’ve request­ed a book from the library, too. Between those two, I should be able to get past this hump.

In the mean­time, I’ve dis­cov­ered that I can link to my pro­file there as a lit­tle brag, show­ing all the cours­es I’ve com­plet­ed! It’s a small thing, but I like it.

I decid­ed to splurge and give, which is NOT free, a try, as it was also rec­om­mend­ed by Life­hack­er. A month­ly fee gives you unlim­it­ed access to all of their tuto­ri­als, and there are scads of them. They had all the sub­jects in which I am cur­rent­ly inter­est­ed, and the fee is less than the price of one tech­ni­cal book.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, watch­ing a video, even while fol­low­ing along with the exer­cise files, just isn’t as effec­tive for me as doing exer­cis­es hands-on a la Codecad­e­my. I have got­ten a bet­ter intro­duc­tion to the Fun­da­men­tals of Pro­gram­ming from, I think, but then I watched a video course ded­i­cat­ed sole­ly to that top­ic. Of course, if you learn bet­ter from videos, you might find it the bee’s knees. I am lik­ing the fact that I can watch the videos on my iPad, and appar­ent­ly, I could also access them from my phone if I wished to watch on a tiny screen.

I’ll keep using the site for the rest of the month since I’ve paid for it, but I don’t think I’ll be renew­ing after the one-month trial.

Learning to Code, Part 3

I got a response from Codecad­e­my acknowl­edg­ing that the prob­lem I expe­ri­enced was on their end. They gave me some code that would let me get past that les­son, but it con­tained a vari­able that was­n’t men­tioned in the les­son. That’s frus­trat­ing, and I don’t know that they’ve fixed it for every­one else yet. At least the response was fair­ly fast and friend­ly, with an expla­na­tion that they’ve been doing a lot of edits on the site late­ly. And what can I say—these exer­cis­es are free.

While wait­ing I went fur­ther in the HTML/CSS lessons and real­ly learned quite a bit. CSS is pow­er­ful! I’m back to JavaScript now, and I did fine until I hit the Object-ori­ent­ed part of the course. That has thrown me for a bit of a loop.

I should men­tion that each les­son at Codecad­e­my is writ­ten by a dif­fer­ent per­son, so they can be a lit­tle uneven. The over­all qual­i­ty is quite good, though. Still, that leaves me won­der­ing if my trou­ble with the OO issues has any­thing to do with the author of the exer­cis­es, or if I’m just get­ting in over my head now. Either way, I’m press­ing on and intend to get through all of the lessons offered.

Learning to Code, Part 2

I’m still explor­ing Codecad­e­my, which has proven to be a very inter­est­ing site.

I made it through their JavaScript Fun­da­men­tals and found that I want­ed to know more, so I start­ed on their Code Year project, which picks up right after that with JavaScript Con­di­tion­als. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I seem to have hit a bug­gy les­son on the third sec­tion of that area and am wait­ing for a response from their peo­ple as to why my code is work­ing and return­ing a cor­rect answer but their auto­mat­ed sys­tem still says, “Oops! Try again.” From their Q&A forum, it seems that quite a few peo­ple have had trou­ble with that lesson.

So I decid­ed to regroup and see what else they offer. I men­tioned in the ear­li­er post that I need­ed to update my HTML skills, so I moved on to that part of the site. I cer­tain­ly learned to cre­ate web pages before CSS days, so I need­ed to learn a lot more about that, too, and I am. I’ve got­ten through the HTML por­tion and the first CSS sec­tion, and I don’t see any of that as wast­ed time.

At this point, I would hap­pi­ly rec­om­mend Codecad­e­my to any­one who wants to learn the basics of cre­at­ing a web­site. I feel that I’m learn­ing the basics of pro­gram­ming, but I’m not far enough along to opine about that bit yet. We’ll see whether or not that issue is resolved in a time­ly man­ner, first.

There are cer­tain­ly oth­er alter­na­tives, but that’s what I’ve learned in the last 24 hours.

Learning to Code, part 1

I’ve decid­ed that I want to learn basic pro­gram­ming, and I’ve decid­ed to doc­u­ment my jour­ney here. 

I already know basic HTML and some CSS. I don’t (yet) know HTML 5, but that’s going to be part of my even­tu­al cur­ricu­lum. I want to learn to pro­gram, though, not just fresh­en my web cre­ation skills. I know enough about JavaScript, PHP, and SQL to get in trou­ble right now and use scripts oth­ers have cre­at­ed, but I can’t cre­ate my own scripts or make a use­ful data­base from scratch.

I start­ed with Life­hack­er’s Night School arti­cle Learn to Code: The Full Begin­ner’s Guide, which uses JavaScript and has links to addi­tion­al resources. There are four lessons and an adden­dum, and it serves as a pret­ty good intro­duc­tion to some basic pro­gram­ming con­cepts. I felt the need for some­thing a lit­tle more in-depth, though.

I was sur­prised by the admon­ish­ment NOT to use W3Schools in the Life­Hack­er arti­cle. In fact, there was a link to W3Fools, “an inter­ven­tion.” I had planned to stop by there, so I’m glad to find that warn­ing. It’s unfor­tu­nate to learn that such a big site isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, though.

So, next stop: Codecad­e­my, which also starts with JavaScript. My only com­plaint here is that you don’t get mul­ti­ple exam­ples for each con­cept, which would help me (that’s just how I hap­pen to learn bet­ter). You learn at your own pace and the site awards lit­tle badges and such as you progress. It’s inte­grat­ed with social net­works like Face­book if you want to give it access to your accounts on those sites.

Those will keep me busy today, and I’ll let you know how it goes using them in the next few days.