Thoughts After 9 Days Of Coding

I took 5 days off work, split either side of the Easter bank holiday weekend and the plan was to do as much coding as possible, and end up with quite a few websites.

Things haven’t quite gone to plan.

For the Easter weekend, I was relying on my Surface to be able to do some coding – I was hoping I’d get 3-4 hours a day done over those 4 days, as I was visiting family so couldn’t spend all day coding.

Unfortunately after an hour on the train, my surface decided to restart without warning. It then proceeded to take 2 hours until it finished restarting, by which point I had almost arrived at my destination.

Frustrating but I managed to usurp it by leaving my charger on the train. Really not helpful!

Then after the Easter weekend, I managed to develop a mild illness, which is progressively getting worse. I did still manage a reasonable amount of coding the last couple of days but my brain really isn’t up to it today – not sleeping isn’t helping either.

Needless to say, I have not achieved my goals.

That said, I have made good progress.

Firstly I have almost completed the website for my first ever client. I am just awaiting some product photographs from him so I can complete it. Though he has gone very quiet! I don’t even know if he likes what I’ve done.

I have also almost finished my weather forecasting website. There is just one thing annoying me that I cannot work out how to fix, which is the jquery that manages the various navigation aspects. I’ve taken a step back so I can think about it.

Then I finished the website for the house/techno event that I help run. That was quite simple, though it took some time to make it look right. I think it is finished, but being a bit of a perfectionist, I’m still not ready to accept that it is done.

My random fruit generator offered me different types of challenges. One I haven’t yet worked out is my wonky flexbox with 5 or 8 items. I also had to get to grips with TweenMax for some animations which had me stumped for a short while. Still a few bits that need sorting so only 80% done.

Finally, I made a valiant attempt at my Sunshine Design website. I have big plans for this, though it needs quite a bit of JavaScript and quite a lot of animations. I spent all day yesterday on this and didn’t seem to make that much progress. I’m miles away from actually finishing it.

Most importantly though, I’ve really enjoyed my time coding.

I’m under no doubt whatsoever that this is my future. I can spend 2-3 hours coding, researching, testing things – completely in the zone. Something that simply does not happen in my current non-coding job. I can use my creativity, I am constantly challenged and continually have a sense of fulfillment – excitement too!

There is still a way to go until I have a portfolio that I’d be happy with, and there is only a month until I intend on starting to apply for jobs. Progress has been made.

9 Days Of Coding

I haven’t touched a style sheet or a html tag for over a week now. Various reasons – work getting in the way as usual but also a massive lack of sleep has meant I’ve just constantly been catching up with myself. A heavy weekend on top of that hasn’t helped either.

I am wondering how I am going to get back into it. The longer it goes on, the harder it is to take that first step back into it.

Tomorrow is the start of 9 days off work (I have a non-coding job). And the start of 9 days of coding. The intention is that the 5 working days will remain so, my 7-8 hours of brain-numbingly boring work replaced with 7-8 hours of brain-inspiring fun and creative coding. Along with the odd swear word.

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The first day may be quite tricky. I’m really tired and I need a rest. I think I’ll do well to do 4 hours. Plus I have an Ikea delivery.

The 4 weekend days I will try to make sure I do 3-4 hours studying too. Although I call it studying – it will more likely be actual coding, but coding is a learning process for me so it is technically studying.

So the plan is to finish my portfolio by the end of March. Or at least the websites to go on my portfolio.

First up is to finish the website for my first ever client.

Then to finish my weather forecasting website. The desktop version is 60% complete. The largest test will be to make it work for mobile – this is probably the last time I will do a website without a mobile-first philosophy!

Next up will be a website for the house/techno events I help run.

And finally I want to create a random fruit generator with plenty of TweenMax animations.

Oh yeah and I need to create my Sunshine Design website.

At which point I feel that I will have enough websites, using a variety of different languages/frameworks, etc, that I can use for my portfolio.

This was always an ambitious deadline and I may not achieve it. But I need to work my backside off the next 9 days to come as close as possible – by May I want to be applying for my first junior web developer roles. Wish me luck.

Ups And Downs

Yesterday evening I was quite excitable as I’d made my first ever favicons and they looked quite good. Well I like them, anyway. Here and here if you want to have a look yourself. If you don’t know what a favicon is, it is that tiny picture on the left side of the tab in your browser.

I also finally decided upon a new font for my weather page. I’d originally decided upon “Exo” on the basis that it was striking and a little unusual. But I had some negative feedback and decided they were right.

So then I went through dozens of Google fonts before settling on Open Sans Condensed. It was actually one of the first ones I looked at yesterday – at first I wasn’t so sure so ploughed on through the fonts for another hour (amazing how quickly time passes when designing websites) and at the end had no font.

I started going back over them again and re-discovered Open Sans Condensed. It then made sense. It was lighter, softer on the eye, instructive yet gently persuading. The big issue with running a website asking people to pay money for a weather forecast will be trust. Design is clearly going to be important to win over potential customers and as a web developer – not designer – I am going to have to go by my own feelings, and feedback of those around me, as opposed to a degree in graphic design theory.

So I think I’m making progress, I’m confident that I will get my dream junior web developer job this year.

Then I do something dumb. I forget how to change the title of my website – it was defaulting to show the website address. I asked on a forum, feeling stupid and yes it was missing the tags. Absolutely elementary. I learnt that 4 years ago.

Then someone posted “that is just a test website, isn’t it? It isn’t responsive”.

My heart sank. I have made efforts to ensure it re-sizes, recalculating fonts, boxes and buttons in respect to the width, and repositioning some elements for small screen widths.

I checked on my phone and the font does need re-sizing for mobiles but apart from that I do not understand how it isn’t responsive? I know the photographs do not resize. Maybe I need totally change the layout for mobile. Or maybe I am just not getting something. That junior web developer role then seemed further away than ever.

The next website I make I think I will do it mobile-first, and then upscale it.

Emotionally there are lots of ups and downs doing this, especially with the pressure of needing to find my first job this year. I cannot stand my current career and the morons I deal with – though that is just one of the many drawbacks of chasing payment for a living.

One hour I’m full of confidence – the next hour I’m dejected and despondent. Onwards.