Date Archives March 2017

Programming and Parenting [images]

Leveling up while raising a family:

Recently I read a thread on Hacker News where someone asked “Developers with Kids, how do you skill up?” . I was a little surprised to see so many childless individuals and parents think it would be almost impossible for parents to really learn to code while they have little ones running around, keeping them up, sucking all the fun from their lives… Yeah some of these comments were a bit dramatic. So…

How do parents level up?

The short answer?

[Magic]

But in all seriousness, learning to code while raising a family is feasible. I would say the biggest step to learning any new skill while you are also keeping little people alive is figuring out your priorities. And my husband and I have made learning to code a priority for our family.

When do I find time to code?

This is something I get asked often. I really like what this person answered on the Hacker News Forum:

” Be honest.. before kids, how many nights did you
“stay up working on stuff and exploring new technologies?”
My bet is most of your time pre-kids was “wasted” on non-career things.
If you were actually spending many nights studying then having kids won’t
really stop you from learning. My anecdotal story: Before my kid, I spent roughly 80% of my time outside work
“wasting” playing video games,
watching youtube, twitch, going out, things like that. The other 20% was spent
learning and progressing my skills.
Since having a kid, I haven’t really touched video games nor really miss them,
though I may pick up a switch soon.
I tend to spend about the same time, maybe more now, on studying and picking up new skills.
What i did find is having a kid helped me sharpen my focus when I do study and helped me put
my life in perspective of his. *I use “wasted” as you used it, but I personally don’t think that time was actually wasted.”
-eazenberg

I wake up early now. (My kids are up early anyway.) I spend my kids’ nap time studying instead of reading novels (no more Jane Austen stories for the 100th time), sewing, or watching Netflix like I used to. I keep articles of things I want to learn up on my phone so I can read them when I sit to nurse my youngest or finally escape to the bathroom. I stay up late studying. All those little moments where I used to constantly check Facebook or “waste” time some other way really add up and I try to use each of those moments to study. I am by no means perfect. My kids are still not sleeping through the night so there are many days I do just sit and check Facebook or do anything that doesn’t require too much thinking. 

However, overall I have learned to manage my time more efficiently because I have made programming a priority. I have also learned to simplify all of the less important things parents often get caught up in.

How to simplify your life and learning.

Like so many moms I love Pinterest. I wanted to be a Pinterest mom. But after my 3rd was born, reality set in.

[^accurate]

I cannot do everything. My kids don’t get reindeer-shaped treats (at least not often) but they do have a mom whose mental health is a lot better now that I am not trying to do ALL THE THINGS. As a side bonus, I have noticed that their creativity has flourished now that I am not telling them exactly what to do with my various Pinterest crafts. It frees up my time and allows them to learn how to enjoy their own imaginative play.

I have also learned to simplify my learning. I took Coursera’s Learning How to Learn Class early on in my programming journey. I have learned to study in smaller chunks instead of trying to cram. I often spend a good amount of time playing with my kids and then set a timer for 20 minutes and tell them that is my study time. More recently I picked one challenge to focus on to help me level up. See my previous article on #100daysofcode. Before I spent a lot of time jumping from tutorial to tutorial and trying to do to much without really focusing and deeply learning anything. Once I took the time to pick one challenge and stick with it I saved a lot of time and have progressed a lot quicker.

So can you learn to program while you have a family?

I would say yes. Of course you can. You may not live the hustle life while you have children but you can steadily progress and achieve your goals if you take the time to figure out your priorities, organize, and simplify your life.

 

100 Days of Code. Is it worth it?

What is the #100daysofcode challenge?

On January 3rd, 2017 I joined a multitude of coding newbies and seasoned programmers for the 100 Days of Code challenge. The rules were pretty straight-forward. We would work on coding projects for one hour every day for 100 days. In addition to the projects we would log our progress on GitHub and post about it on twitter to keep each other accountable. Study time and work projects did not count toward our hour. The complete set of rules and guidelines can be found here.

Is it worth it?

For me #100daysofcode has been a great motivation to actually create projects with code. I began my coding journey in August 2016 with
freeCodeCamp. I powered through the HTML and CSS sections and completed the first two projects quickly. But I soon became lost and stuck on the basic JavaScript section. This definitely put a damper on my motivation. I kept going back and doing tutorials for HTML and CSS on various websites because it was familiar and easy for me. I realized my coding was becoming static.

Around December 2016 I saw a job listing I was interested in. To my dismay my portfolio was seriously lacking projects. So I rushed to build a few web apps to show the prospective job what I knew. This was not the best idea but it did push me to get out of my comfort zone and gave me the desire to build projects. Shortly after this experience, I read about the #100daysofcode challenge. It really got me excited to level up agian. I liked how Alexander Kallaway (the guy behind #100daysofcode) suggested taking a few days to think about the challenge and not just rush into it. I know I have a tendency to jump in and start a project when my interst is piqued but my motivation usually fizzles out quickly (as my many half-finished crocheted projects can attest). So I took his advice and prepared myself for the next 100 days. I worked on understanding line command, git, and GitHub because I thought they would be important to use during the challenge (they have been). I also talked a lot about it with family and friends so that I really didn’t have a choice to back out.

I am now 60+ days into the challenge and I would say it has completely been worth it. Through this challenge’s twitter group I found the #dailycssimages challenges that really sparked my desire to code fun and exciting projects. I have a better understanding of advanced CSS like animations and transition. I have learned how to deploy sites with Jeykll to GitHub pages. I contributed to my first open source project and I am currently learning Vue.js. Best of all, I now have a lot of projects to add to my portfolio.

Should you join?

If you are feeling stuck with your programming progress or if you just want motivation to work on side projects #100daysofcode is a great challenge to join. The community is very encouraging, even for code newbies. So if you want to level up, join. You won’t regret it.

 

Weekly CSS Paintings

Week 1: CSS gradients and The Son of Man

Inspired by how much I have learned from the #dailycssimages challenge by the Coding Artist , I decided to start a new challenge for myself. Each week I will try to recreate famous painting with CSS. I will try to focus on an area of CSS I want to improve on. I might also begin to add SVG or Canvas as I progress so I can learn how to use these tools as well.

For my first CSS painting, I chose The Son of Man by Rene Magritte.

Here is my interpretation

See the Pen Paint with CSS: Son of Man by Christina Gorton (@cgorton) on CodePen.28314

For this painting I wanted to tackle CSS gradients. I have used gradients on many of my #dailycssimages but I didn’t really understand how to create stops and manipulate the colors exactly how I wanted them. I thought this painting would be a good one play around with.

For my background, I set percentages to create the look of an ocean, sunlight, and the sky. I also used repeating-linear-gradients to get the look of stone blocks for the wall. I even used a stop on the jacket to get the look of the seam running down the middle of the jacket.

I had a lot of fun with this image and now have a better understanding of gradients. If you want to learn more about CSS gradients check out Mozilla developer docs  and themarklee.com

Also if you are interested in learning more about creating pure CSS images check out the Coding Artist  and  #dailycssimages. They are a great place for tutorials, inspirations and a 50 day email challenge if you want to join along.