Online Learning Tools (Part 2)

After I wrote that blog post on Online Learning Tools, I realized that I knew there was a site called Udacity that I had never tried. So, in the interest of being thorough, I went there to check it out. Let me tell you, I’m glad I did!

Udacity
Now I hesitated to try Udacity since I was already enjoying Udemy and I thought it would just be “more of the same.” They aren’t the same. Udacity has aspects of Udemy, sure; it has online classes at your own pace. But it has them arranged to form “Nanodegrees“: comprehensive sets of courses, developed by a key set of teachers working together. They aren’t random “this class looks interesting” buffets (which is how I am/was treating Udemy).

In Udemy there are sub-sets of classes within the classes, by “teaching group”. Say, you can group classes by “Infinite Skills” brand, and often they will go on sale that way “all Infinite Skills classes are 20% off with coupon AWESOMECOUPON“. But you could also find Infinite Skills classes at www.infiniteskills.com proper. Udacity, on the other hand, is very focused in what it offers, and who teaches it. I would say “which gives an overall more consistent learning style” but I haven’t actually enrolled in any courses yet. But I’m so convinced that Udacity is quality stuff, I’m about to enroll in the Front End Web Developer Nanodegree when enrollment begins. Wish me luck!

And Many More
Now there are so many more education options out there that I didn’t mention, like Skilledup and Coursera, edX, who knows how many others. I’m just going to add a link to LifeHack’s list of 25 Killer Sites for Free Online Education.

Online Learning Tools (Part 1)

I’ve been learning some new skills, because I need to stay relevant in this job market. I have been a technical editor/writer for years, but suddenly that isn’t “enough” to keep a job. So, looking into other things that interest me and mesh with those skills, I picked web development.

Right now is a fantastic time to be teaching yourself new skills; there are loads of resources online, and here are a few:

W3Schools
This site has been around since 1999 and is constantly being updated with tutorials about, well, just about everything! I use this resource all the time, it’s like a Wikipedia of computer information. W3Schools is full of interactive tutorials that give you immediate feedback about whether you are putting in a line of code right or wrong.

Codecademy
This site is much newer that W3Schools, though it also has interactive tutorials. Codecademy takes learning to the “Gamified” level, by giving you badges for completing tutorials, logging in on consecutive days, and other things that help give you the push you may need to really complete a course. They even have a space to post and show off your projects. (Something like a tiny version of Github.)

Udemy
Now this is more of a “Pay to learn” site. I really like this one too. I have invested quite a bit of money — but don’t let the “$199” price tag scare you; these courses are on sale very frequently. And once you sign up they will often give you coupons for items you have wishlisted. This site gives you close to one-on-one dialogue with your instructor, through comments. I can’t say it’s exactly like being in a classroom, but it really has made me work my way through classes and feel like I have accomplished something by looking on the projects. This site offers more than programming courses, everything from “Logo Designing for your Business in an Hour” to “Everyday Mind Mastery” (whatever that is) . Check it out, some classes are free!

A final note: READ THE REVIEWS.
Each of these sites offers classes taught by pretty much anyone who wants to teach you. You can sign up to teach at the same time you sign up to learn. Check to see which class has more star reviews. Read the “This course is using Bootstrap 2 instead of 3 and should be updated” type comments before you invest money. You’ll be glad you did.

2014: A year of changes.

I haven’t made a post for a long time, and I apologize. This year has been really tumultuous. I mean, at the beginning of the year I was so excited to get to participate in OddMall. It’s hard to believe this is still the same year. God is good, but I sure can’t predict what He will allow into my life next! My father was diagnosed with two different cancers this year. Both are under control now (and the thyroid is gone), and now I know a lot of good low-iodine recipes!  I am the only one left in my immediate family with a thyroid, weird. This is a great site for recipes: Thyca.org

I have been pretty frustrated with the contradictory lists of foods that are allowed/disallowed when you are on a low iodine diet (LID). Some say “nothing in cans” (canning machinery is washed with iodine to disinfect it) some say “no beans” some say “no dairy including butter” some say “butter is ok, just not salted butter” some say “all beans are ok except these specific beans..” As a family we just did the best we could and mostly conformed to “no milk/dairy, no seaweed (carrageenan, algin, agar, nori, etc.), no seafood, no sea-salt, no salt-added-by-companies-when-you-don’t-know-what-kind-it-is (so basically “no prepared foods”), no skin on your potatoes (that one is weird, but it was very consistent, so I had to believe them), no soy (but soy oil is sort of ok.. sometimes).” We found hemp milk was allowed, if not a fantastic flavor. Most of the other ones were either soy based or had seaweed in them. It wasn’t really that bad a diet, which is good, since we were on it for about a month. Lots of fresh/cooked/roasted vegetables and meat, and even pasta was ok – you can find salt-free ketchup, salt-free tomato paste, salt-free potato chips, salt-free peanut-butter. It’s not a perfect diet, but it’s not “two weeks of oatmeal”.

I’m never sure whether this should be a “my personal stuff” blog or a “only come here for art updates” blog. Either way 1) I don’t update it enough and 2) I thought some of this information could genuinely be useful.

My day job has been strange too. It hasn’t gone the direction I wanted, so now I am actively teaching myself web development skills. I think I will make that its own post, listing all the fantastic resources I have found to help me learn. I mean, I don’t want to search for it and hit this article every time.

God is faithful, and life is unexpected.

Portfolio

I have an online portfolio that shows all the best of my best in sculpture, jewelry, photography and art. I wanted to make sure it was linked here for you to find. It is this: Glimmerville Portfolio, and I would be tickled if you would check it out. I also placed it in the permanent side-bar links on this page.

I do think of myself as an artist. Though I don’t currently create art for a day job, I can’t ever expect to do more art if I don’t show others my work, can I? So please, check it out, and feel free to ask about commissions and sales!

Portfolio

OddMall 2014

I had a table at OddMall!  I was next to SikRik Masks.  OddMall was held in the John S Knight center in downtown Akron Ohio, because it outgrew its old venue. I had never been there before, though I am acquainted with the guy who runs the whole show, Andy Hopp, from attending his other conventions. It was exciting to be in a big juried show like this!

Unfortunately I didn’t sell very much. But it was a good experience! If you are interested in buying any of my jewelry or dragons, some of the jewelry is up on Etsy, but it is better to just ask me about my dragons via glimmer [at] glimmerville.com.

Here be Dragons

Glimmerville at Odd Mall

A Painting of Dragons

Usually I post sculpture, but here is a little watercolor painting. I was THIS CLOSE to buying new watercolor pencils because new ones are always better, right? Then I realized that I really should just use the ones I already own. I fall into the consumerism trap so easily! But if I sell this for enough money to buy new pencils, I will: compromise!

The watercolor pencils I used on this are Prismacolors, and the new ones I am interested in getting are Derwent Inktense. They are VERY bright (“intense” even), and turn to “ink” when wet. Watercolor pencils turn to watercolor paint, so a second layer of color can interact with the first layer. But ink pencils don’t interact at all, so layering the effects is different.

If you are on the fence about buying Inktense pencils, I can’t say whether you will like them, but they are very bright and different than Prismacolor pencils. I am also greatly enjoying the Derwent Coloursoft pencils. Sorry to sound like a Derwent advocate.

Gentle Mother

Tea Party

I don’t just sculpt Steampunk dragons. I create original Steampunk jewelry. I haven’t made as much of it, since the market seems to be full of it, but I can definitely do commissions if you have an idea!

I admit I may sculpt too many dragons, but people like buying them, and I like making them. I never make any two alike, so you can always be sure you will have a unique dragon, if you get one from me. Did I mention I am going to be at OddMall Ohio this year? I hope to see you there! (It has free admission – what more do you need?) This necklace will be there for sale.

Tea Party