Tag: learning

A well earned break

A well earned break

I’m still here, I promise. It’s been 2 weeks since my last post and until a couple of days ago had been 10 days since I’d done any sort of coding.

It wasn’t an intentional break but in hindsight I think it was need. Since I discovered Free Code Camp my coding life had been pretty full on. Bearing in mind I still hold a full time, non coding related job as well as everything else that goes on in life,  I’d perhaps been neglecting some other aspects of my life. Now I’ve had time to address those as well as get a bit of relaxation time I now feel rejuvenated and ready to crack on.

Im currently working on Javascript algorithms (such as this one), a series of challenges designed to make you think and put various coding elements together to solve a problem. For the first time since leaving school I feel like algebra has a purpose. No, I realise this isn’t algebra but it feels to me like the same way of thinking. If I have a and I want to get to z then I need to combine a with b and make ab do something… That kind of thing.

It’s difficult but I’m learning so much through doing them. Again it’s the idea of solving your own problems and having to apply what you know that makes things stick.

The break has done one thing, it’s made me even more determined to do more of what I love. My current career has taught me a lot but I don’t love it. I look around at work and see people who are more passionate and energised than me about their work. That’s how I feel about coding.

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The King is dead, long live the King

The King is dead, long live the King

Codecademy is dead, long live Free Code Camp

OK, maybe dead is a little extreme. Codecademy isn’t dead but I have moved on. I owe codecademy a lot. It was the first site I found that could help me to code. It’s started my coding journey. Unfortunately there were a couple of reasons our time together had to end. 

Firstly it was very regimented, by that I mean you had to do all of this, then you had to do all of this slightly differently, then you had to do all of this another way. As an example I remember having to change font color using names, then RGB, then a hex code before I could move on. So many different ways to make my name a shade of red. 

Secondly, there didn’t seem to be a structure. For some people looking to learn a specific skill this may be useful providing they know what they’re looking for. If you’re a beginner like me though this isn’t the case. Also I completed the first course on HTML and CSS (as mentioned in my last post) but after that there didn’t seem to be an obvious way to go because of the lack of structure – there wasn’t a second course. 

For these reasons I haven’t done lots of coding recently. I felt there had to be a better way so rather than blogging or coding,  I’ve spent the last week or so reading and researching (some of which I will use for other posts – watch this space). 

This led me to discovering Free Code Camp. Based in San Francesco, USA this non-profit aims to teach people how to code while helping other non-profits with their computer based needs. Essentially you learn a certain amount of code, then you get released to work on projects for various non-profit organisations to prove your skills. Everybody wins. 

It’s a simple and in my opinion fantastic idea. The reason I think this is the way to go rather than codecademy? Not only is it a great way of supporting non-profit but the way it teaches is better suited to how I learn. Early on they say that the best way to learn is to do and this is something I really agree with. 

So far the general idea is similar to codecademy but I only had to make my font red once (technically twice but that was to demonstrate another element, not just for font color). It also explains what to do in enough detail to understand but without spelling it out. I still have to think about it a little bit, which I like and keeps me engaged. 

It’s also much better structured. There’s a genuine path from A to Z, and while you don’t have to stick to it, you always know what to do next. It’s laid out in a “map” that clearly shows the stages and let’s you skip any sections you’d like to. 

Finally it’s more interactive, while I haven’t needed to use it yet you are encouraged to join the very active community early on. A dedicated chat room is constantly being used. It makes what you do feel collaborative and helps make you realise you’re not on your own. 

I’m genuinely excited about what’s next and where this will take me. 

Feature image credit: Github