I was reflecting a little bit about thankfulness. Usually when you go around the table telling each other what you are thankful for people say “family, food, God, a job”, and those are all great things to be thankful for, but they are kind of surface level things. Then you dig a little deeper, and say you are thankful that you don’t have <disease X> like <person Y> has, or thankful you haven’t gone through <disaster Z>. Er, no zombies involved. The deeper you think about thankfulness the more it really changes your perspective.
Thankfulness isn’t the same thing as happiness. You can look back on things and be thankful to have gone through them, even when they did not cause you any happiness at the time. Gratitude is such a healthy thing; a thing I need more of. I’m so caught up in complaining! How can I really show joy and complain at the same time? I can’t.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! I am truly blessed to have so many friends, and a God who has promised to never give you more than you are able to handle, but always provide a way to make it through and do the right thing. (I Cor 10:13)
Two weekends ago my associate pastor and his wife, myself, and two other leaders, took a group of 14 senior-high teens down to Mohican State Park in Loudonville, Ohio, from Friday evening until Sunday morning (returning in time to attend Sunday School – I teach the preschool kids, and I sure was tired!). As a group we hiked Hog’s Hollow, and (most of us) climbed the all the stairs of the 80-foot-high Mohican State Park Firetower. Even I managed to finish the climb this year (last year I couldn’t make it to the top)! Maybe next year I’ll actually remember to take photos.
During this time of food, fellowship, training, and fun, the teens learned something we all need to be reminded of: the importance of setting a good example. It was a leadership retreat, because no matter who we are, to someone else we are a leader. These senior high teens are the ones that the junior high (and younger) children look up to. We reminded them that you may never know how much you are influencing someone else’s actions, and that you must make good decisions because others are watching you for guidance.
While there were plenty of study sessions and free time, the teens also learned the importance of solitude. Each teen had a span of 45 minutes out, alone, away from others, disconnected from phones and ipods, and a questionnaire with hard questions about the future, and what motivates them, and what changes they need to make. These are precious things to do that we rarely take time for in our frenetically connected world.
All in all it was a wonderful trip, and I am excited to see how it impacts these teens in the future as they become the leaders and examples to the other young people in our church youth group – and at home and school.
“There is no easy way. This is so much harder than you think it is going to be. Do it anyway because it is so much better than you dream.”
– Howard Tayler.
“Rejection is not negative-validation. You should not be requiring external validation to continue working on your craft. Keep writing. Those things you are tempted to see as negative validation will happen throughout your professional career, and if you can’t write while this is happening, you will have a problem. Learn how to keep writing.”
– Brandon Sanderson
On Quora I have been seeing some negative comments on the likelihood of becoming a web developer in mid-career. While that may be true, I am going to take these writing quotes and apply them to everything. I know I crave too much validation (I have been compared to Rarity, I’ll let you Google that one.) I want people to say my art is pretty and my story is cute and pat my head over the tiniest thing. No one but your mother will do that in the real world (though, on the Internet you can surround yourself with a circle of people who always like your work, but that’s just a bubble).
That may sound like a very depressing title, but keep reading.
I’ve been listening to Code Newbie podcast, especially Episode 60, Impostor Syndrome (an interview with Alicia Liu). I, according to the episode, really don’t have Impostor Syndrome. Few people do. She’s pointed out that it has become a buzzword. Right now my feelings of “code inadequacy” are not from any syndrome, they are from learning new stuff. Of course I am not good at new stuff, I am still struggling to learn it!
That being said, I do wonder if “this is the right thing to pursue”. Alicia Liu does touch on this, that while coding is the new hotness, it really isn’t for everyone. The thing she said that resonated with me, is that coding as a job is (paraphrase mine) living in a state of failure. Nothing you code is going to work right the first time. I think it’s good to know this going in. I am kind of a perfectionist. I don’t like failing. I don’t like error messages. When I was a full time technical editor/writer my goal was to comb every document so well that the QA department wouldn’t find anything to bleed red ink on. But, after years, I finally realized that when someone marks everything you did up and changes it, it really isn’t personal. A second set of eyes is always going to see things to change, or point out how they would have done something differently. I’m still learning this, honestly, it’s hard to get it to sink in. But I’m hoping that this will help me for code reviews in the future. Knowing that your ugly code is being changed, not because you are a failure, but because that’s part of the process, and that you’ll get better with time. The code is still going to get thrown out, but it isn’t a personal attack.
I have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as Ten Quick Tips for Success.
You can go to The Daily Muse and Monster.com or Ask a Manager (or anywhere else) and find nothing but articles on “These 6 Social Media Tips will Get You Noticed” and “Ten Phrases that Spell Death On an Interview”. I have decided that, while some of the tips have value, my problem is that, my internal monologue says “YES! follow this and you’re golden! This one tip is what you were missing!”.
No one can know what is going through an interviewer’s head. No one can say “this one skill will get you hired” or “this one soft skill will get you hired” or “this one secret word will get you hired” or “this one crazy tip will cut down belly fat every day”.
There is no one easy answer that works for everyone, or everyone would be doing the same one thing.
Sure, I’m not speaking as a hiring manager. And reading all of the “X Easy Tips” blogs can help you come up with some useful suggestions.
But don’t worry about “that one crazy tip”. Use common sense, and if you can, it’s wise to get a second set of eyeballs to look over what you have written before you hit ‘send’.
Well I haven’t blogged for a long time, and for this I apologize! In September I took some vacation time and went to South Dakota. It was gorgeous, and the weather was amazing! (I also went to Salt Lake City Comic Con.) But I’m not going to turn this into a “someone else’s boring vacation photos blog”.
I also have been, in October, participating in Inktober. Participants create (or are supposed to create) an original ink drawing every day in October. I didn’t manage to do all the days, but I had a good time anyway. If you want to see more of my art let me know in the comments.
I spent a few days re-evaluating my study path. I’ve been frustrated by Udacity and have canceled my subscription (at least for the time being). In the interim I’ve discovered The Odin Project.
The thing it offers (and Udacity also offered this) is a plan. I must face that you can’t learn an appreciable amount of web development skills just by noodling around taking online tutorials. I really need a path and a plan. I just don’t have self discipline. I’m sure some people have learned this way, but it doesn’t work for me.
Another useful thing I have discovered is Cold Turkey. It’s a program that helps you focus on what you are doing, and not spend all day reading random things on Twitter and Wikipedia. (Oh yeah, that focus and plan thing.) I’ll let you know how it is working.
A final kick-in-the-pants motivation tool is basically everything Shawn Blanc ever wrote. He has a course on living a focused life. I haven’t taken it, yet, but I get his motivational e-mails, and they are always full of passion and challenge! You may enjoy them too.
Zenva has a class on making an HTML5 game from scratch. The instructor is fantastic and goes over every line of code. I highly recommend this.
This week I have discovered a really great podcast, too! It’s called Lostcast by Lost Decade Games and is all about game development. It’s from a very realistic perspective, unlike some of the other podcasts I’ve found. You can join their forum too, they are great guys. They have encouraged me greatly with art tips.
Lately I’ve felt like I’ve had to concentrate on studying coding, and leave my art and craft skills to rot on the back burner (…that’s a kind of mixed metaphor). But it sounds like there are plenty of reasons to keep honing both art and coding hobbies together. Thank you Matt Hackett! I also look at Rob Stenzinger, another “coding artist”. Also add The John Su to the list of “coding artists I admire who are far more talented in their sleep than I am while concentrating very hard on something, like coding and art.” It’s a surprisingly long list.
I feel bad that all I do is link you to other people, but all these resources are really great and I want to pass them along!
There will be times when reading this book feels terribly frustrating. If you are new to programming, there will be a lot of new material to digest. Much of this material will then be combined in ways that require you to make additional connections.
It is up to you to make the necessary effort. Take a break, reread some material, and always make sure you read and understand the example programs and exercises. Learning is hard work, but everything you learn is yours and will make subsequent learning easier.
I have found some good resources in books.
Not one of of them have I completely finished reading, but I think they were all good resources and I don’t regret any money spent on them.
I wish I had them all in hardcopy print; trying to read for comprehension on a Kindle is just not the same.
Now, once I had randomly purchased some of these books, I realized that you can’t just dive deep into code books indiscriminately.
When you are struggling to follow the book, do not jump to any conclusions about your own capabilities. You are fine—you just need to keep at it.
I didn’t really understand what jQuery was until this week.
If you are just getting into front end web development, maybe this will help the light-bulb turn on for you as well.
Here is how I came up with the logo for my “Identiflora” project.
I know normally I would have some pencil sketches, but my idea was all vector fonts from the moment it entered my head, so I didn’t sketch any lines. I imagined question marks rotated around a circle, looking like flower petals – since my project is about identifying flowers.
The first thing I did was do a cursory Google search, and didn’t discover anyone else using anything like that idea. (Whew!)
Next I decided to check the iTunes App Store both to get an idea of what a good, clear logo would look like, and to see which logos are already out there. I also consulted this article on How to Create Better App Icons.
So with that in mind I started making my vector question marks. I began with a base font, and squashed it around a bit so it is “mine” and not a specific font.
I like where this is going but, hey, those question marks are all backwards!
So I flipped them. I also decided this orange color is not reading “flower.” It looks more like “sun.”
I switched to green and red, like red rose petals. But it just wasn’t working for me. I tried some more colors and even added leaves to emphasize “flower.” But I don’t just want a flower, I want a question too. So I finally realized I should make the question mark stand out!
But that doesn’t read as a flower. It’s just a “weird octopus made of question marks”. So I went to my secret flower weapon: pink. This one is a keeper.