Jul 14 2012

Learning to Code, Part 5

Tag:Tag , Cyn @ 23:40

I just can’t stay away from CodeAcademy. I went back and finished the Web Fundamentals course. I had been waiting because there’s JavaScript involved in the last few assignments, but it turns out I was able to do those without finishing the JavaScript courses. I feel all warm and fuzzy now.

It’s good that I have that feeling about something, because I certainly don’t feel that way about the library book I checked out. JavaScript in Easy Steps by Mike McGrath is useless. Yes, the steps are easy, if you just want to type. There’s almost no explanation of anything, so either I already know the material, or I can’t learn from it. Being told, “Type this in. This is what the result will be,” without any source code to view (the free downloads web site is only available to people in the U.K.) and no troubleshooting tips is silly. Just a screenshot of what the finished code should look like would be a good idea, because the author’s instructions aren’t always so clear, or even sequential. I’m glad I didn’t spend money for this book.

So I’ll be waiting for my friend’s explanation, and wishing all the lessons at CodeAcademy were as well-written as the early JavaScript ones.

Jul 13 2012

Learning to Code, Part 4

Tag:Tag , Cyn @ 23:38

After looking around at the Q&A forums at CodeAcademy and finding that most of the other beginners are as lost as I am, I’ve decided that maybe I’m stuck on the current lesson because the author just isn’t very good, rather than because I can’t understand the content. A friend has offered to write up a tutorial for me going over the same material, and I’ve requested a book from the library, too. Between those too, I should be able to get past this hump.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered that I can link to my profile there as a little brag, showing all the courses I’ve completed! It’s a small thing, but I like it.

I decided to splurge and give Lynda.com, which is NOT free, a try, as it was also recommended by Lifehacker. A monthly fee gives you unlimited access to all of their tutorials, and there are scads of them. They had all the subjects in which I am currently interested, and the fee is less than the price of one technical book.

Unfortunately, watching a video, even while following along with the exercise files, just isn’t as effective for me as doing exercises hands-on a la CodeAcademy. I have gotten a better introduction to the Fundamentals of Programming from Lynda.com, I think, but then I watched a video course dedicated solely to that topic. Of course, if you learn better from videos, you might find it the bees knees. I am liking the fact that I can watch the videos on my iPad, and apparently I could also access them from my phone if I wished to watch on a tiny screen.

I’ll keep using the site for the rest of the month, since I’ve paid for it, but I don’t think I’ll be renewing after the one month.

Jul 12 2012

Learning to Code, Part 3

Tag:Tag Cyn @ 17:52

I got a response from CodeAcademy acknowledging that the problem I experienced was on their end. They gave me some code that would let me get past that lesson, but it contained a variable that wasn’t mentioned in the lesson. That’s frustrating, and I don’t know that they’ve fixed it for everyone else yet. At least the response was fairly fast and friendly, with an explanation that they’ve been doing a lot of edits on the site lately. And what can I say—these exercises are free.

While waiting I went further in the HTML/CSS lessons and really learned quite a bit. CSS is powerful! I’m back to the JavaScript now, and I did fine until I hit the Object-oriented part of the course. That has thrown me for a bit of a loop.

I should mention that each lesson at CodeAcademy is written by a different person, so they can be a little uneven. The overall quality is quite good, though. Still, that leaves me wondering if my trouble with the OO issues has anything to do with the author of the exercises, or if I’m just getting in over my head now. Either way, I’m pressing on and intend to get through all of the lessons offered.