The Week That Went By

A week has passed since I started school again. It’s refreshing to be in classes and around people that are learning that I want to learn. The classes are fun. The professors and students are great. I have to change the final projects that I want to do. My Java programming course doesn’t have a final project.

Each class has an assortment of exams, quizzes, and assignments. My PHP and Swift courses also have final projects. My WordPress course has 2. The blog piece I wrote in the summer about my plan for projects has to be changed.

swiftIn my Swift course, our final project is building a simple app. I wrote about wanting to build a game in an earlier blog post. I still do, but the brick game I want to build will have to wait. With this class, I’m going to build a small game that revolves around a clown throwing a ball up in the air. The user’s goal is to prevent it from dropping. I’ll be writing more about this project in future posts.

My WordPress design course is stricter with the projects that we are doing this semester. First, we’re doing a redesign of a literary journal from North Island College. The second project in the course is creating a portfolio project site, like this one. Both will be great projects to do, and I’m really excited about working on the lit journal because it’s something that I really want to do moving into the next year with publishing WordPress magazines for my business.

There are a lot of good projects to do this semester and they’re making me excited.

Learning Before School

Ever since I decided to go back to school in February I have been learning about programming and graphic design. Most day I would work for five to eight hours a day, then go home and study for five to six hours a night. Back in February, I was almost scared to be going back to school. Now, after studying I feel as though I’m prepared to go back. There are a lot of cool websites out there that can help those who want to start learning coding and graphic design. Here are some that I want to share:

Lynda.Com

In my first year of Graphic Design at North Island College, I was introduced to Lynda.com as a site to supplement learning. For anyone that wants to learn programming, coding, audio, and visual design Lynda.Com is an amazing tool. While it costs a monthly fee, if you’re lucky enough like we are on Vancouver Island, your library might have purchased a membership for you to get in for free.

I have used Lynda.com to learn about Adobe’s Creative Cloud products, coding languages, and graphic design and will continue to use it through school for iOS and Java app design as well as learning game design with Unity and the Unreal engine.

Udemy.Com

This is a site that my friend Remy said to try. It similar to Lynda.Com, however, it is a strictly paid site and has more programs and classes that you can take. The breadth of courses are well worth looking over, I’m using it to learn drawing, unity and the unreal engine.

Humble Bundle

Every month there seems to be a new set of coding books or software on sale on Humble Bundle. This month it’s a tiered set of books on Linux. For studying web design the past series have been great when you can get the full set of O’Reilly Web Design books for $20US when one book in Canada costs $40 and up in Canada it’s well worth it.

These are a few of the great sites out there. They have helped me out and I know they’ll help out those that want to learn programming and design too.

School and Final Projects

Woot another blog post. Two days late but that’s because of work. I’ve been thinking a lot about the classes that I’m taking. Especially the final projects that I’m interested in doing. I wanted to share those classes with everyone.

I’m taking four courses in September:

IMG – 210: Content Management Systems.

The goal of this course is to integrate student web development skills into a large dynamic CMS. Students will learn to set up CMS user access levels, sections, categories, plug-ins, and components. Students will acquire knowledge to activate existing CMS templates as well as to develop their own CMS templates. CMS installation, deployment, backup, and security will be covered. Search engine optimization will be practiced in the context of a course long project.

I really am excited about taking this class. It will help develop my WordPress skills, especially when designing my own sites for the media company that I’m building. The final project in this course is a semester-long blog. I have a few ideas for what I want to do. Some are video games, paranormal, even transferring this blog over. I haven’t picked a final project for this course. I know that throughout the weeks I’ll be updating how I’m creating one.

IMG – 204: Introduction to Programming in Swift

This course provides an introduction to essential skills for development of iPhone, iPad, and iPod applications using the Swift programming language. Principles of a correct object-oriented design and implementation will be emphasized to develop tested and reusable high quality code. The course will also cover elements of the Cocoa and Foundation Framework.

I’ve been in love with Apple products ever since Windows Vista’s blue screen of death came out. Ever since I’ve bought iPhones, iPods, and Ipads for myself and my family. Learning the Swift programming language will help me create iOS Apps. I’ve spoken a bit about the game I want to make, and I can’t wait to start this class to start learning how to make it.

IMG – 100: Introduction to PHP

This practical course introduces students to the development of database-driven web-server applications. PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) scripting is used to define the logic and behaviour of student-developed web applications while SQL (Structured Query Language) is used to communicate with the underlying relational database engine. Students will install a development environment to learn and practice essential programming skills and elements of database design and usage.

I’m worried about this class. We have a sessional instructor teaching this course. A lot of students who have taken this course say how hard PHP is to learn. I’ve been studying PHP for the past four months. I haven’t heard of a final project in this course yet, but I really want to help create that choose your own adventure with it.

CPS – 100: Computer Programming I

This course is an introduction to computer programming. Students will be introduced to problem solving methods and algorithm development using the object-oriented programming paradigm. The students will learn how to apply problem analysis, program design, and program implementation while using the top-down and stepwise refinement design methods. The course also provides an introduction to the object-oriented programming paradigm and recursive functions. This course will provide a sound basis for later courses in computer science. Note: Basic computing skills are assumed.

I’m excited about taking this courses as it delves into the Java programming language. In January, I’ll be taking Android App design. I want to create a random insult app that contains funny insults you can send to friends and family. This is course will help me learn to code and start building the app.

 

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).

 

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

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: