Changes

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote a piece for the blog. Injuries at work led to my hours going up. That left few hours to read coding books and get ready for the new academic year. I’m back now though and I have been reading over some of the past pieces that I have written.

I really want to change this blog into something that I can use to share my experiences while going back to school, something that I can create a portfolio around as well. That said I really feel that there are too many pieces on programming, and not enough design talk (even though the majority of my classes this academic year are deal with Java, JavaScript, PHP, and Swift).

I feel like there’s so much more than this blog can showcase, especially around my ideas and design, what I think of major designs (like getting mad at the current gen iPhones and they’re thunderbird cable). I also decided to change the posting schedule on the blog as well, with Thursday and Saturday throughout the summer till September, it’ll help with work and keeping my mind sane.

Here’s some good news though, people always talk about that “Eureka!” moment when a topic becomes clear. It’s taken me three months of reading on coding and programming and I can finally say I understand it and it’s becoming clearer. I think practice and pushing myself has finally paid off (especially on JavaScript).

Meet My Nemesis: JavaScript

The single biggest reason why I’m studying before going back to school is JavaScript. In my last semester before I took a break I was in a class on it for 3 weeks. An assignment that I had to finish caused me to drop the class. It was the most frustrating project where I thought I knew what I was doing. After 6 hours of attempting to implement an HTML table through writing JavaScript code, caused me to pull my hair out.

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I’m Starting small with JavaScript and becoming comfortable.

Okay, so maybe JavaScript isn’t that bad. Maybe I just haven’t given myself a chance to learn the language. I was frustrated that in class we dove into the deep end first. I’m now reading about the JavaScript coding language. I’m determined to conquer the language and not let it beat me. Having spent the last two months learning other coding languages, I can say that JavaScript is incredibly similar in syntax, style, and writing.

This fact is very cool, it makes learning easier. Still, I’m lining up books to read about JavaScript before my class in January. These books include JavaScript for Kids, which is an intro to JavaScript aimed at kids. I’m reading it as an opener before I move onto to books that are in depth. Three other books I’m using this summer are, JavaScript & JQuery The Missing Manual, JavaScript: Visual QuickStart Guide, and JavaScript and JQuery: Interactive Front-End Development (which will be the class’ textbook).

 

Reviewing HTML and CSS

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 10.47.43 PMI first learned web design in my last year at Vancouver Island University. I had taken most of my classes in my Creative Writing Bachelor’s Degree and had a few electives left. I decided to take a few courses in Interactive Media program learning about audio, video, and web design. I knew that the publishing industry had been going through changes and I wanted to be learning about them through understanding the role digital media played.

I loved learning about web design especially HTML5 and CSS. The only problem, we were learning half of what was needed to code web pages. Through my Interactive Media program at North Island College, I learned that there was so much more. Web designers used programs like JavaScript, PHP, Ruby to create full websites (many of which are included in classes that I need to take).
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This month I started reviewing HTML5 and CSS through the textbook we used in the first web design course, Basics of Web Design. Found that I knew some things (the basics) since my year-long break, but I needed refreshers on a lot of other coding techniques and elements (forms, CSS rules). It was good to review it before moving onto other web design languages.

There’s a lot of work to be done before I head back to school in September. While reviewing more of HTML5 and CSS properties, but also moving onto JavaScript and PHP.

 

Word Press Headers Incoming

It’s been a heavy week of reading, especially website design and revisiting HTML and CSS. Have to say that Humble Bundle has a great bundle of web design books on sale right now. I did start making WordPress Headers for the site and wanted to share a couple with you today.

They are still a work in progress but they’re a good start to showcase the topics I cover, and I now have something that will show up in links 🙂

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One of the My Favourite Class Projects

Before I took a year off from school I remember doing one of my favourite class projects in school. It was to design a self-portrait through learning aspects of Adobe Photoshop. I think I spent about 20 hours on this piece, learning curves, image masking, different blending techniques. It still is one of my favorite pieces that I have ever done.

Peter_SelfPortrait Good

Lego for Design

Why? That was a question I asked myself when I was 18. My mother gave away all the Lego that my brother and I collected since we were toddlers because we hadn’t played and built anything with them since we were 8 years old. I was more interested in writing and acting, throughout high school, than with building things.

 

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The start of a new Lego collection

I didn’t understand how Lego could be used creatively until a month ago. I always thought that they were only for play. However, there is an amazing amount of Lego design inspiration on Instagram, Twitter, and blog sites. From architecture to robots, to fantastical creatures you can find almost any build online.

 

A month ago, there was also a great humble bundle package from No Starch Press, in amongst their books on maker culture and programming they had four books on Lego Design. These books included “The Lego Technical Idea Book Simple Machines” and “The Lego Technical Idea Book Fantastical Contraptions” by Yoshihito Isogawa that provide great ideas on using Lego for design.

A week ago, I bought my first box of Lego in a long time. It’s another avenue of creativity that I want to tap into while building and designing other things. I know it will help with creativity especially when I have some free time from school and work. It also helps me get into another cultural spectrum that I have been looking at, maker culture.

 

Starting to Program by Learning Swift

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Learning how to code my first app

When I begin to learn something, I like to start with simple explanations and examples. Things that I can work through step by step to pick up concepts. If there was a “Sesame Street” style show for learning programming languages I would be all over it. Especially if it has Muppets.

Two weeks ago, I began learning the Swift coding language and Apple’s XCode. I’ve had ideas floating in my head for the past couple years on apps that I wish I had while using my iPhone and iPad. Loving Apple’s products I wanted to learn how to code mobile apps on the iPad and iPhone first. I could learn how to program on devices I love and test them on products that I own.

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Learning through doing, Coding iPhone Apps for Kids provides great examples

Thanks to a great deal on Humble Bundle, I picked up “Coding iPhone Apps for Kids” by Gloria Winquist and Matt McCarthy. This a great book for those who want to learn how to code and it’s not just for kids. There’s step by step instructions for coding two apps with explanations on why you’re doing things. A great intro to the Swift Programming Language and a rundown of Xcode as an IDE (Interactive Development Environment).

Starting in September, as part of my college program, I have a yearlong course on iOS app development. I want to be ready for that class. In the first year, we are told to expect to do a lot of self-learning. A professor cannot cram everything about a program into thirteen weeks. To continue understanding programs and design we need to learn outside of school as well. I want to get a head start.

These are the next steps I’m going to take before taking my yearlong Swift Course and iOS App design:

Two books that I want to study:

Three learning paths on Lynda.com that I really want to finish:

  • Master Swift
  • Improve Your Xcode Skills
  • Build an iOS Application

Thumbnailing Logos

It wasn’t until my second semester that I fell in love with thumbnailing my designs. Like many other students, I never understood them. I just wanted to design, not create pre-

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Working on Thumbnails helps to create ideas for the finished design

designs. Many believe that it wastes our time, time that could be better spent doing something else. We were wrong.

Thumbnails are short sketches of what could be. They’re like brainstorming, allowing you to push ideas to be creative and understand what you’re working on. When finished they allow you blend the short sketches together to create an entire design. For me they allow freedom. Freedom from my boundaries so that I can work to design concepts that I love.

I realize how useful a tool thumbnails are, and now I can’t stop using them. For every project, I create at least ten different thumbnails offering different ways of making a piece work. Cola Creative-01Looking at different sketches and styles allows me to pick the ones that I can work on and the others that l don’t like. Thumbnails give designers the ability to weed out good and bad choices.

I like simple and relatable logo designs. When I started Cola Creative 2_Cola Creative Logo Prototype 2 Black and Whitebrainstorming ideas for a media company I wanted to keep the design simple and fun. The first logo I came up with was trying to work the top of a soda can into a design. The second idea I had was using playing around with the letter C while using bubbles to create another logo.

When starting design school many students do not understand design concepts. Thumbnails help charge our creativity and learn the concepts that we need. There is a great way to begin any design.

Learning to Code

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Learning to code through my first program in Java 😀

I know that I lost a year when I decided to go back to school. In the two months since then, I became worried about how much I missed. What would I retain? What did I lose? How far behind was I? I wanted to work on anything that could catch me up before I go back to classes in September. I went back and read textbooks, started learning on lynda.com, and decided that I was going to back a little earlier than September. I’m taking classes in May.

Still, I want to learn more. When I looked over the course possibilities that I could take in my second year I decided to learn more coding during the summer. In our program, we have three programming course chains, one for web design, two for mobile app design. I decided to focus on the programming languages that I will be learning including:

  • HTML5
  • CSS
  • PHP
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • Swift
  • Python
  • Ruby

Learning programming languages is like learning the world’s cultural languages. There’s a lot of syntaxes, similarities, and they all fall along similar lines of variables, objects, loops, statements. There are few differences too. It’s fun writing and then seeing the process it takes to make apps and web pages. I can’t wait until September when I focus on this in school.

For those wondering about the books, some may be basic but they’re perfect starting off points, I’m learning from here’s a list: