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.