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HTML, CSS - The Basics


I’m not sure where I came by or developed the notion that HTML and CSS are simple. Simple to understand and simple to implement. Simple to make the markup and code you write do what it is you intend for it to do. But I did. And I think it has made learning more about them more difficult. Because while compared to other aspects of web and application development, they may indeed be somewhat easier to understand, in and of themselves they are not. Which is what I have discovered over the past few weeks. I think it’s important to look at this, to understand why I thought what I thought, because unchecked assumptions can be dangerous.

I don’t have a really solid answer or reason for this particular belief. I think it stems from the fact that I’ve been exposed to and messing around with HTML and CSS for years. I know and understand some of the foundational concepts, elements, tags, attributes and so on. But the interaction between all the various parts, coupled with CSS, make it so much more challenging. And when you start to introduce the various frameworks things just scale up from there.

As I mentioned last time, I’m working through a book by Shay Howe. It’s been great thus far and has served to reintroduce and reinforce things that I only partially understood. I’m going to keep plugging along and hope to be able to make use of what I learn in a project that I’m about to start. I’ve got the rough scope of work laid out and am hoping to begin in the next week or two.

GitHub Challenge

I’ve managed to make some sort of commit everyday for the past week. They haven’t been great commits, mostly updates to existing repositories, but they weren’t totally superfluous either. Once I have a project up and running it’ll get easier and I’ll be less concerned about the exactly nature of the things that I’m committing. The whole point of the challenge is to get you looking at, learning, and writing some type of code everyday. And in that respect I’m doing okay.

GitHub Challenge

GitHub Challenge

Building new skills is important, as is maintaining or refining existing ones. It’s something that I’ve been doing for quite a while now. It’s challenging, though, for all sorts of reasons. Deciding what to learn can be difficult. Finding the time to learn can be difficult. Staying motivated can be difficult. I run into all these issues at various times which is why for the next thirty days, I’m joined a group that is committed to learning something every day for the next month. Not only that, we’ll be coding and committing that work to GitHub every day. Hopefully. That’s the plan anyway.

I’ve decided to spend the next month working with JavaScript and a bit of HTML and CSS. I feel like reviewing some of is considered the basics of web development will be a good place to start. I plan to review the two Shay Howe books as well as Eloquent JavaScript by Marijn Haverbeke. I’ll likely branch out into other things, too, but that’s where I want to start.

We’ll see how it goes.


Four weeks

It’s been more than a month since I finished the program, since I graduated. I had initially hoped to develop a routine focused on finding and applying for jobs as well as continuing to learn and code. A balance of those things. But doing so has proved trickier than I thought. I’ve done some learning and some coding but the majority of my time has been spent looking for and applying for jobs. It’s an ongoing process, and while I hope to find a job that meshes well with my current experience and focus, it might take a while to find something that’s a good fit. So I need to find a way to balance the job search with my desire for continued learning and coding.


What does a balanced workload look like? How can I divide up my day to ensure that I have time to learn and time to code and time to devote to the job hunt? I’m not exactly sure. I have to admit that looking for a job is hard, challenging work. If all I was doing was randomly sending out my resume to various companies, that might not be the case. But my process for applying typically involves researching the company, the type of work that they do and how their development teams are set up. It involves trying to get a sense of whether I would be a good fit for their team and how long it might take to be a productive, contributing member.

Which all takes time.

Putting all the application materials together takes time, too. I try my best to tailor the resume and cover letter to the position that I’m applying for. The cover letter is what typically takes the most time. All these activities have stretched what ought to be a relatively straightforward and short process into something much longer and drawn out. Which has made it difficult to then incorporate the aforementioned learning and coding.

Language Overload

I discovered early on that there are no shortage of positions to apply for. What’s been more challenging is finding the ones that are relevant to my skill set and aspirations. I’ve found that while there are numerous jobs out there, few companies are looking for junior developers. Most postings state that they are looking for people with mid to senior level skills, folks with three to five to seven years of experience. Which makes it challenging. I’ve also found that many positions are focused on languages and technology stacks that I haven’t worked with or have much experience with. It seems like the Minneapolis market is geared more towards the LAMP stack, Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP or the Microsoft stack, including .NET and ASP. Another one is Ruby and the Rails framework.

There just aren’t as many pure JavaScript based jobs. And while I think that, given some time and assistance, I could pick up any of these languages, it doesn’t seem like many HR departments or recruiters share that same view. Even though the underlying concepts I know and have learned would, in many cases, transfer over. So it’s been hard. Moving forward, I don’t know what the best approach is. Do I dive into other languages and frameworks in the hope that I’ll be considered for a specific job or do I just keep learning and working on my JavaScript skills? I wish there was a clear answer, but I’m afraid that there’s not. These are the things that I’ve been working through over the past month, though. I do have some ideas, but for now I’ll leave it there. I’ll share some possible solutions in a separate post.