For the love of learning

So here we are at the end/beginning of a brand new week. Sometimes I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. But other times I feel like I’m making progress. This was a week of finding errors. In my resume, in my web site, in my email address.

But now I get to correct them. I’ve finally got some great feedback on my resume, actionable things to rework. I need to set up a more professional looking email for myself on my domain. Part of my website got overwritten with Lorem Ipsum, but I forgot to recheck it so time to fix that. I’m going to nuke and pave. I need the practice in installing it from scratch anyway. Besides I was planning on redoing the site anyway.

I always feel better when I’m working on a plan, when I see a path forward. I spent most of the day working on things that should have been easier. But that is how one learns, and that is exactly what I love to do: learn.

More of the Same

More PHP, more job applications, more wondering if I am destroying my family financially. I remember my sister-in-law telling the story of some guy who got his doctorate at the age of 60. His dream was to break into academia. Well at 60 absolutely nobody would hire him. Is this me? I know I can do the work, but if nobody will hire me does that matter?

Still working on the PHP class. Gotta keep going forward so I don’t slide backwards. Keep upgrading my skills so I can be ready to hit the ground running when I land a job.

Additional skills courses with the Kenton County Library system. Interview skills Tuesday morning and navigating the ATS — Applicant Tracking System — Thursday.

I’ve been riding my bicycle and meditating to keep my head on my shoulders straight and that seems to be working. As long as I see a forward path I’ll be OK.

PHP studying

I spent most of the week studying PHP. PHP seems to be at the center of most web development, Drupal, WordPress and small online retailers such as several Gun Shops that I’m aware of. I’m not really going much further in depth as I would like, but it is very important to not get rusty.

I purchased OxygenBuilder. I haven’t spent as much time as I really need to in order to become well acquainted with it. Going to run through several tutorials then clone a couple of websites with it.

Meanwhile I’ve got to make contact with some of my group from the boot camp. I’m to the point where I need a bit more human interaction. Maybe an online happy hour, code a problem together or just see what everyone else is studying and working with.

Tools for Professionals

Has it already been 4 months since the end of the Boot Camp? How time flies when you’re looking for a job and growing skills.

I purchased OxygenBuilder and have been working tutorials. It is very powerful and will allow me to use my programing skills in PHP, JavaScript and CSS to their fullest. Plus it is going to be a whole lot faster and less error prone than coding it all by hand. But it is not a tool for beginners. It is designed, and marketed, to professional web developers.

Lots of work on UpWork. Many people want a bunch of work, or a miracle, for very little money. Well they will get what they pay for. Actually they will get a bit more because the platform is totally saturated. Too many hungry programmers looking for a start and needing a good review as much as a bit of cash. This will be a “hard row to hoe” as my Mom sometimes says. I believe that the opportunity is out there, but it will take a LOT of hard work.

My plan to break into the freelance market is to build some websites. I’ve got one I’d like to clone, just make it much faster than it is now. First I’ll make a Loom video to show the current site, then clone it so I can show off a before and after version.

Gotta keep studying, PHP this time.

Kenton County library sponsors the Gale courses. Bunch of subjects, but the computer and technology interests me. Included in the list of classes are JavaScript and PHP, both basic and intermediate. So I signed up for PHP intermediate. Eight weeks, sixteen lessons, two a week, Wednesday & Friday. Included is an actual instructor to answer questions and grade the final. The course is pass/fail, with only the score on the “one shot” final exam determining the outcome. Assignments every class. In the end we will be building an online store. This is going to be fun.

I dabbled my foot into the COBOL waters. I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed it. I think I’ll devote an hour or two a day to doing a comprehensive tutorial I found. Maybe then code something like Will Crowther’s “Colossal Cave Adventure” to show what I can do with it.

I need Oxygen

The past several days have been spent in a deep dive researching various WordPress site / page builders. There are an amazing number of them out there. Each has its target market and marketing strategy. Often that strategy involves paying professional bloggers to write reviews of their product. Unpaid reviewers are just as unreliable; often they don’t know the ins and outs of two products and their review reflects more on which they decided to use, however long ago that was.

I’m looking for something which gives me loads of control, options to tweak any code myself, and does not add megs of bloat. And I’ve got to be able to afford it. Oxygen it is for me. Very light. Extremely customizable to the point of some complaining it is too much. Uses the standard grid and column layout. Responsive layout automatically. No additions for an additional fee. Ability to allow the client to use Gutenberg while locking down the rest of the site so they can’t break it. No yearly fees. WooCommerce.

Now to practice, practice, practice. I also have to set up an UpWork account and look at what jobs are listed.

Next I’m going to build a federal resume and apply to some federal jobs. I got one of the coaches from the Kenton County Library to walk me through what is needed to apply for one of those and how to maximize my chances. The first step is to make sure I don’t eliminate myself by not submitting EVERYTHING required. Then there is the matter of HOW they want the resume written… I think it will take me three weeks to get it like I want it.

Blog changes needed

For starters I need to decide how to restructure my blog in order to make it generate business for me. I mean the most likely reason a person would wind up here is that they are interested in a web site or some customizations or they are thinking about hiring me for something or other. They want to see my portfolio of websites, coding projects, and learn what kind of person I am. Time to clean up some of the more personal posts. Perhaps I will separate those into a different blog in a subdomain.

Meanwhile I spent the past week fighting Google Cloud Engine. I’ll know all about WordPress and Bitnami’s Multisite setup. For example I now know that in order to SSH into GCE I need to use Chrome, not Firefox. I had to install Git manually. My SSL certificate needs to be fixed. I would like it to validate my entire site rather than having to setup a separate one for each subdomain.

I’ll spend the first part of this week getting two demo web sites up. Both will be subdomains of my site. I also need to link to them from my site. The other thing to be done is to figure out how to get the SSL certificate properly certifying the subdomains. No site looks good if you have to pass through a “GO BACK. DANGEROUS SITE AHEAD” warning.

On a more personal note I made homemade ice cream using the “shake the Ball jar” method. Delicious!

Big Breakthrough in understanding

I spend the week pounding away at learning Redux, specifically how it interacts with React. The first half of the week felt like an exercise in frustration and futility. Then, suddenly and without warning, it just seemed to click. I could get things to work. I felt good about this for about two days. Then Redux went south, without me. Redux DevTools suddenly reported that the store contained none of my data structure. Seems like I changed the basic app and added in a second store, so the wrong store was being listed. Less strangely my attempts to map the store into props just did not work. I got it to work in one section, but not in another.

So now here I sit over the weekend pondering whether to nuke and pave with the project or put it aside and study another tutorial to gain more insight into what isn’t happening. I’m leaning toward doing both actually. I really want to get this project done so I can port/refactor it into React-Native.

My job search continues. I’ve passed my info to a neighbor, who is a newly retired recruiter. She still has contacts in the industry and will pass my info to them. Hopefully I can at least gain a few leads. I’d love to chat with an insider about what it would take to put my COBOL knowledge to work. Or if that is not even possible I’d like to know so I don’t waste my time trying to upgrade my chops.

On the home front I’m going to put some effort into some projects around the house. Namely getting the table-saw sled built so I can finish the shelves in the master bath. Hooking the fridge up to the other water supply should fix the low water pressure of the water it delivers so that will be nice during this summer’s oppressive heat. I want to get back into drawing so I’ll start with a sketch a day project starting Monday. And it is time to bump up my Esperanto studies.