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Cover image for Day 0: Welcome To My Blog

Day 0: Welcome To My Blog

caitlineelliott profile image Caitlin Elliott ・2 min read

I always used to think I wanted to blog as a teenager/college kid, but then I would get done designing everything and bail. I think I had more fun messing around with Wordpress templates than I did blogging, which seems like a pretty strong indicator that I might enjoy web dev more than writing a blog... so here we are.

I'm 30 years old, and I'm learning to code in the hopes of becoming a web developer. I thought a blog (that I can't get caught up in designing!) would be a good way to document my progress, as well as network and continue to learn more about coding/programming/etc.

So, by way of introduction, here's a bit about me, as told through my teenage coding experience:

Age 11: I downloaded a maze maker from Neopets, and I worked for WEEKS on making my own maze for other users to play. My dad deleted it because it was going to cause ~viruses~ on our family computer.

Age 13: Not to be deterred, I told my parents I wanted to Make A Website. I can't remember if it was on Angelfire or Geocities, but something like that. Anyway, it was biographical in nature. The background was red. Most of the content was devoted to how Legolas from Lord of the Rings was dreamy.

Age 14: Does anyone who grew up in the early 2000s remember buddy4u.com? The name sounds mega sketch, but I did code a dope profile on there for myself with rainbow text that I linked to in my AIM away message, like a classy teen. I was strongly inspired by a friend at the time who figured out how to get "My Boo" by Usher to play on her profile.

Age 15: Got deep into Myspace customization. I made my own top 8 and put my crush at #2 instead of #1 so as not to seem too thirsty.

Age 17: ADAMANTLY resisted the big move to Facebook because you couldn't make it pretty, gave in eventually.

In the years since my teenage coding explorations, I hopped around several college majors (graphic design, government) before settling on English. I've since earned two English degrees, and I now work in higher education.

Though I've enjoyed my career thus far, I'm feeling the time for a change. The landscape of higher ed is changing in some ways I don't love, and quarantine has taught me that I love working from home. I'm hoping to spend the next year or so teaching myself how to code so that I can become a web developer and hang out in my house all day with my dog who would rather be left alone but also all up in my business, as her mood dictates.

Dog (Jinx) and Husband (Coleman)

So this is the beginning of my journey. I'm excited for all I will learn in the coming months, and I hope I actually keep this blog up like I'm planning to!

Posted on May 29 by:

caitlineelliott profile

Caitlin Elliott

@caitlineelliott

Future web dev who enjoys hanging out with my dog, running, and dystopian science fiction. She/her

Discussion

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Awesome! I remember getting the same vibes when I was younger, then feeling that it was time to buckle down and properly learn to code.

I can suggest a small mental exercise that can help in proving to yourself that you can actually code, even if you're a total n00b in your own opinion. Try the following:

Imagine you're a big-time manager at Acme Corp. You have dozens of employees working for you, have an awesome time at work and generally love your life.

However, there is this pesky little problem in the back of your mind. It's not really worth any of your employee's time, but it's bugging you since like a month or so.

There's this piece of data, coming in via e-mail from a customer, that you're tired of copy-pasting into some Excel sheet on some OneDrive somewhere. You'd really, really like to have that automated, but since it only takes like 5 or 10 minutes of your time once every few days to properly extract the information, format it, then put it into the Excel document, you let it slide.

Now consider that you took up some coding on the side, just for fun, because you enjoyed the challenge. You kinda know how you can manage to extract the data from that email, massage it with a little bit of code, then put it in the Excel sheet.

And now, for fun and profit - assume that you've got all the extracting from e-mail + inputting into Excel parts pre-created for you. All you have to do is get the data from one format (the one in the email) into another format (the one in the Excel sheet).

Sit down and actually make this data massaging happen. It might take a while, you might sweat and curse, but I believe you will succeed. Actually, you might find a smart way of doing it that is quite fast. And in fact, you might show that to a programmer friend or some weird dude with a red hat on the interwebs, and they will tell you that you can actually make it a bit shorter. A bit nicer. A bit cooler.

And then, out of the blue, you have a working piece of code that solves a real problem - one that you have encountered in the wild, and have solved with code.

Take a step back from the dream, and open you browser. Take a small stroll down Google-lane, looking for "How to get information out of E-Mails in JS" and "How to get information into Excel in JS". These are solved problems, with a plethora of tutorials and tools to help you get 90% of the way.

The remaining 10%? That's the code you already wrote.

If automating your life in that way is not what programming is all about, I don't know what it is about. And if you can do it, aren't you a programmer already?

 
 

Welcome, I totally remember customizing myspace, then looking at Facebook and thinking how do I customize it?

I then didn't touch code for years, didn't get a degree in software, and got my first job in software at 28.

 

Oh this warms my heart! I've been seeking out a lot of stories from people who are getting into coding "later" in life (meaning not right out of college), so it's great to know there are several of us out there!

How did you get into things? Were you self-taught?

 

I went to college for Mechanical Engineering. Programming was a small part of a class or two but far from the focus. An overgeneralization of Mechanical Engineers is that most of them are allergic to code and want to stay as far away from it as possible. Not I, I was addicted and self-taught Matlab enough to do all of my assignments with that rather than excel. After college, I became a mechanical engineer where the high price of a Matlab license deterred me into using the usual Microsoft suite of tools like my colleagues. About 3 years in I really saw a strain in my workflow. Days lost from excel crashes, spreadsheets getting too big. Access queries ran slow. A colleague of mine at the time recommended python. He had never used it, but heard it was better than what I was doing. I don't think he knew the can of worms he opened. I spent the next couple of years diving head first into python hardcore until I left ME to become a full time Data Scientist at 28. While I do have a degree in a technical field it was far from programming. I made the switch about 5 years after college.

That’s so awesome! Sounds like an interesting journey, for sure.

I’m coming from the humanities, which is a bit farther afield than ME, but it is definitely encouraging to hear that others have made the career transition without a CS degree.

 
 

Congrats on launching your blog! (I just did the same yesterday). I'm a career changer myself, learning to code. Best of luck to you!

 

Best of luck to you as well! What career are you transitioning from?

 

Currently I work in healthcare as a X-ray Technologist. Looking forward to a career as a Frontend Developer.

 

Welcome to the world of endless frustration, interspersed with moments of profound joy and surprise. To be honest it will probably drive Coleman more mad than you... Best of luck, I'll be following along!

 
 

I'm a Dec 88 born, same age. Seems like irrespective of the geography, we've all pretty much been into comical situations like not moving to Facebook because you couldn't make it pretty, creating your first blogger site, the first game, hell running your first shell program. All too exciting. Brings back good memories.

All the best for your new journey. You'll kill it. Congratulations on your blog! Cheers!

 
 

Recovering Higher Ed refugee here, too. You’ve got a good plan.

Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals. MDN (Mozilla Developer Network) is your friend. You’ll find great stuff here on Dev, too. My last teaching gig was actually fundamental HTML & CSS and something I’ve really, really enjoyed around here is seeing folks put together educational pieces. Look up Stephanie Eckles (@5t3ph ). She’s been doing some pretty solid stuff.

The thing to keep in mind is that HTML, CSS, and JS are either drinking age or getting there soon. They’ve evolved. But they’re ultimately the outcome of the longest academic committee meeting ever. I think that’s why I like the MDN documentation so much: it explains the why along with the what and doesn’t confuse the two.

It’s a good time to be coming into all of this. Back in the late 90’s when I started teaching web development it was a process of saying “here’s how it works except for all the times it doesn’t.” There’s less of that now. There’s enough new stuff coming along that folks who’ve been at this for a while are having to learn new ways of doing things, so in one way this is the Golden Age of tutorials and explainers. The dark side of that is that a lot of that material assumes a deep familiarity with the “old way” and it makes it tough for someone just coming at it. Rachel Andrews & Jen Simmons are both really good at avoiding that trap. I also can’t recommend the collected works of A Book Apart (and its progenitor A List Apart). Zeldman. Meyer. Marcotte. Folks who basically invented this stuff, are still active and around and still freely share what they know.

But go at like you have so far: all your examples start with the fact that there was something you wanted to say. I’m the world’s worst about going down ratholes, but they tend to be productive ratholes if what I’m researching is a means to an end (as opposed to the other way around). I’m not sure being a web developer is a great goal. Being able to communicate via a medium with a lot of moving parts is.

Looking forward to watching the journey! Always happy to help if I can. But you got this.

 

Thanks, Tom! Your perspective is very helpful! I'll be sure to look up some of the resources you've mentioned.

 

Yay!! So happy to see you on here sharing your story! So excited to follow your journey ❤️

 
 
 

I just remember how can I write code for the first time! In 8 y/o printing out strings "Hello World!" then my brother teach me to create a Simple Calculator.

That's my first insight about code and coding from my brother, then now I am a Website Developer in a professional.

Good luck with your trip! Let's dive deep in!

 
 

Awesome; at your own pace, please post all your projects and things you're learning; ya never know, one of the fine readers here on DEV may be looking for someone just like you to fill a position!

 
 

Why is there a hacker kinda image in the thumbnail?😅
Anyway, it was a good read though, and wish you all the best.😉

 

Hahah I did it as a joke 😅

Glad you enjoyed the blog!

 

Inspiring article! I hope you enjoy through your journey.

Happy coding :))