Hello world

A quick update to note that I am not dead!

How does life get so busy??

I’m attending WordCamp Boston this weekend and it is awesome. I will for sure be blogging about it! AND I have gotten a new MacBook Pro. It’s very exciting to click on a thing and NOT have to WAIT and watch the little spinny thing spin while it loads ….

I’ll be back soon, little blog.

Pull Request!

The milestone project for the end of Phase 2 of the Break Into Tech Skillcrush blueprint is to contribute to an open source project. This entails finding a project with issues on Github, claiming the issue, fixing it, and submitting a pull request to the owners/maintainers of the code.

As mentioned in the directions from Skillcrush, finding an issue for a first-timer can be a little challenging. I did a good amount of poking around on GitHub, and got fairly overwhelmed. The issues seemed waaaay beyond anything I would even know where to start to fix. But, plenty of folks want to encourage first timers to submit their first pull request and demystify the process, so I knew that somewhere out there an issue was waiting for me.

I came across the GitHub home of Public Lab – “A community where you can learn how to investigate environmental concerns. Using inexpensive DIY techniques, we seek to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms.”

Public Lab seems to look specifically for first time and beginner contributors, which is great. But, the other problem seemed that issues got claimed very quickly. I really wasn’t sure how I was going to be “first” to an issue to snag it.

Then one sleepy morning as I was sipping my coffee before work, an email came in for an FTO (first-timers only) issue. I perked right up and went over and took a look, and was like – well, I *think* I can do this. The Public Lab folks are also very much – let us know if you need help, we’ll help you! So I asked to claim it and got the thumb’s up to proceed. The issue was for a project called Plots2, a collaborative knowledge-exchange platform in Rails.

The solution to the issue was to remove three lines of code from an erb file. This would remove a duplicate link to the project’s wiki. YAAAY to the Ruby course in Skillcrush for teaching what an erb file is, and to not be totally freaked out about working in one.

So that same evening, I forked and cloned the project, followed the instructions to remove the lines, created and submitted a pull request, and held my breath! The pull was accepted, and merged a week or so later. Yaaaay! Here’s a link – https://github.com/publiclab/plots2/pull/5653.

Happy to have this milestone wrapped up, and can’t wait to do more contributing to open source!

Refactor

Doing a little re-configuring with my thoughts on how to complete my Skillcrush course. There are required courses in the first and second phases (and then the third is about preparing to freelance, working with clients, interviews and what-not), but a lot of it is what you choose to take on. For sure, my hope had been to do ALL THE THINGS, basically.

I’m 99% done with the Intro to Ruby course but am stuck. I’m taking a (great) online Udemy course to help get unstuck, but have not revisited the stuck issues in the Intro class yet. Was able to get clear on the issue I mentioned in the last post – creating a gem and then actually getting it to RUN more than once – so at least there’s that.

The next class in the Ruby series is a class on Active Record, Sinatra, Postgres, and Deploying with Heroku. I’ve really struggled with the content in the course, and have also struggled to get help. For the Ruby classes in Skillcrush, there’s one Slack channel. I think a fair amount of people take the Intro class, but from what I can tell from the number of people participating in the channel, there’s only a handful of folks for the 2nd class and the Intro to Rails class. So, the odds of getting assistance from another user – as happens in some of the other channels/courses – are slim to none. There is one teacher who responds to Ruby issues, and he and I just don’t seem to work well together – I generally wind up feeling more confused after he answers a question than before I asked.

So I decided not to beat my head in about it. I was able to officially complete a little more than 50% of the Sinatra & Active Records class, and tried to take from it what I could. I wanted to continue with Rails, but given the lack of support and the desire to get this course DONE (I’ve been working on it now for 11 months), I’ve decided to skip it for now. Sorry, ALL THE THINGS. 😦

So, I am back in WordPress, the WordPress Professional Best Practices course. Technically, this is my last course before moving onto Phase 3. The milestone project for Phase 2 is contributing to an open source project by claiming an issue and submitting a pull request, which I am thrilled to say is DONE (and will be getting its own blog post!)

The WordPress Professional Best Practices course is good so far – I’m maybe 1/4 of the way in – and it’s good to be back in a channel that others are participating in, and with a really responsive and helpful instructor. We’re working with a mock client (who sends us emails!) and we’ve forked and cloned “their” site, which are now mucking around in – have started working with child themes, and I’m in the midst of linking GitHub to WP Engine, the host that they recommend (and that I went with).

Whew! It’s been a busy month.

More soon on the awesomeness that was the pull request!

The Knights Who Say Nil

I need a shrubbery – one that looks nice and not too expensive.

If I’m going to finish the Intro to Ruby Skillcrush course and keep moving forward, apparently.

I am stuck. Stuck stuck stuck on two projects in the Intro class, and am at 93% completed – so close! – and so all the more frustrating. I’ve signed up and am taking the Udemy Intro to Ruby course to help get un-stuck. The course is great – review of some stuff from Skillcrush, but new stuff as well, and at a little bit less of a breakneck speed than Skillcrush prefers. I’ve taken to listening to it on my commute to and from work, which is helpful. It’s LONG though – 278 (!!!) lessons and I’ve completed 81 of them, or 29%. Am determined to finish, though, especially if it gets me through this stuck point.

Am in touch with some Skillcrush instructors on one issue – basically, we’ve built a gem using bundler, but I cannot figure out how to get the gem to actually RUN. It’s a handy gem, one that will spit out a random recipe from a certain website when you’re not sure what to cook. I want it to work! And there’s been a ton of back and forth via email and Slack on this one step (have just gotten another response while typing this post, actually.) It seems like to move forward with the task we need to share some code doing certain things, but at no point do we actually walk through getting it to run. What the heck.

I’m still really enjoying Ruby, though, in a way I for sure wasn’t at this point with JavaScript. All the more reason I want to be able to complete these challenges! But the knights who say nil are determined to thwart me …

Ruby In the Sky With Diamonds *

* Yes, I am fully aware and sure that I am not the only one to come up with this clever bit.

Hey there, blog! As you can see from the title, I’m now into my Intro to Ruby course. But let’s catch up ….

Finished up the Intro to WordPress course. Was very into it and very excited to take the next in the series – WordPress Professional Best Practices. So excited, in fact, that I was afraid it might be hard for me to get into my other remaining courses after I’d finished that.

So, I’m making myself take Intro to Ruby first, with the WordPress course as a reward for later. 🙂 Other courses still to (probably) take –
Sinatra, ActiveRecord, and Postgres (about which I know NOTHING – although in glancing at the course page, looks like it is about getting our Ruby scripts attached to the web. Cool.) and Ruby on Rails, for sure.

So Ruby has been pretty interesting! Am glad to have gotten familiar already with some of the concepts that are used in JavaScript and also in Ruby. I think with that JavaScript experience, Ruby feels a little less impossible. It’s still a challenge for sure, but having gotten through the JavaScript course, it’s helping me to freak out slightly less than I did in that class, and to feel like –

Even if it doesn’t all make sense right now, it will at some point, and the key thing is to have gotten some basics down.

One of the things I did about working in Ruby thus far has been working in a text editor (currently using Visual Studio Code – hoping at some point I can take a breath and really understand how to use text editors to the fullest – I’m sure it can be even ore helpful to me than it already is, but I don’t even know what to look for/add) and the Terminal and the irb. Working in the terminal (and downloading things there, like Ruby) makes me feel like a SUPER HACKER and so getting to bounce around between the three of them is really fun.

We’ve just started looking at some gems; started with Nokogiri, which was pretty awesome, even though the word “scrape” gives me the complete shudders.

We’re doing a project with Twilio and then it looks like will learn a bit about Bundler and Gemfiles. A couple of projects to complete after than, and then we will work on making our OWN gem. Mind = blown.

The Loop

Am solidly now in Part 2 of Phase 2. Finished up the bootstrap site for my friend’s biz, and have gotten it up on a hosted git page. Did my counseling session; nice to have ticked both things off the list. Took an evening class on Git and Github and got introduced to GitPod, which was pretty cool.

Now cruising right along at 71% in my Intro to WordPress course. For sure, the prior experience I’ve had with it helps. It’s nice to be working on something that I already kind of get. All the PHP is new to me, though. Have done some good troubleshooting in our Slack channel with another student, which was great as we helped each other and didn’t just depend on a teacher.

We’ve been talking about and working on The Loop in WordPress. It’s a great lens through which to see my life these days.

While the job is my current job, not a web dev job :

  • study as my ass off at Skillcrush and other online and in-person training
  • learn tons of new things and make small but steady gains
  • try not to get discouraged
  • try not to pitch a fit at current job

Endwhile job equals web dev job ;

And then:

I mean, duh, I know it’s not that simple and just switching jobs/careers will make everything so 100% awesome that I will be spilling champagne everywhere. I also know that there will be a loop of looking for and getting a job. But it WILL be super nice to get out of this loop and feel like I am moving forward career-wise.

If anyone is down with recreating the above gif with me once I do get a new job, just let me know. 🙂

C’mon part two of phase two

So, so close to being done with the first part of Skillcrush’s phase two. Phase two is where you choose a developer or design track. There’s required courses for both tracks, and after you’ve done them, you have a counseling session, and then can continue on with some specialization courses. Since I want to learn ALL THE THINGS, I have signed up for some specialization courses (WordPress, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, etc.)

To get to my career counseling session, I needed to get done a “client project,” which for me turned into re-vamping a friend’s website, using stuff I’ve learned in Bootstrap. Took longer than I thought (why am I surprised by this?!) but I am thisclose to getting it up on a hosted Github page.

I also made a mock-up of the site using a template from one of the many mock-ups found online. Have wanted to fiddle with one of these for some time, so nice to actually get a chance to do it:

FANCY

Once it’s up, I can have my counseling session – talk one on one with a Skillcrush instructor – and move on the 2nd part of phase two, the specialization courses.

(And shout-out to Ann, one of the Skillcrush teachers who answers questions on the Git/Github Slack channel, for helping to me to figure out git weirdness – apparently I’d managed to put git on my main users file. How I managed to do that, not quite sure ….)

Also shared a bit in the Fears Slack channel about how I am sometimes overwhelmed by thought of – will I ever feel ready/confident to job hunt? Assuming I actually look, will anyone actually hire me? How can I learn ALL THE THINGS first?

This is by no means a new fear never expressed before; imposter syndrome comes up not infrequently in the channels in Skillcrush. Still pretty paralyzing while you’re in it, though. And really, all I can do is keep on keeping on. Here I go!