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Today’s blog is presented as a page on Codeacademy

24 Sep

Today’s blog is presented as a page on Codeacademy

Practice makes perfect, right?

And speaking of Codeacademy, when will someone make their badges all open and portable via Mozilla Backpack? I can’t believe there’s a way to put your Foursquare badges in your backpack, but not your Codeacademy badges.

Challenge #6: I’m live!

20 Sep

Thanks to some help from Mr. Runeman and other classmates over at P2PU, http://diy.veronicabeaty.com/ is up and running. I’ve even written a little css code to make it look more interesting.

I’m faced with a strangely strong kind of writer’s block though. I want to learn more about how to make it look nice, but I have no idea what sort of content to fill it with. Which is extra silly, since I create web content of one form or another almost daily on social networks. I guess this is the problem with keeping my blog at WordPress. I’m also facing up to a certain about of design elitism — I’m used to using the looks of  a website as a little heuristic for the veracity and quality of the content. This leads to me feeling like a simple website such as mine is only fit for conspiracy theories and maybe a homemade candle business.

Ah well,  I’m sure I’ll get over this judgmental mindset soon enough. If nothing else, I’ve been meaning to learn how to make candles.

Challenge 5.5 & 6: My (Sub)Domain and Hosting

13 Sep

I’ve been stymied in my webcrafting lately. As I discussed in my last post, I registered my domain by upgrading a WordPress.com blog, which I found out means I don’t have FTP access to my domain. That meant I couldn’t in good faith, say I’d completed Challenge 6, since I WordPress had taken care of all that for me. After completing a challenge a day for almost a week, being stuck was frustrating. Learning about web publishing and HTML had been exciting, but I didn’t want to gamble this tidy and understandable blog on my sustained interest in building and maintaining my own website. I talked about this problem with my web-savvy friends, my disinterested friends and various houseplants, and eventually came up with this list of demands:

  • I wanted to keep veronicabeaty.com as a blog, looking and acting as it always has
  • I wanted hosting I have FTP access to, so that there’s a piece of the web I where I can publish html and css files and whatnot
  • I wanted that sandbox of my very own webpage to connect to veronicabeaty.com
  • I wanted to keep paying what I’m already paying and no more, i.e. not pay for hosting

At first these seemed like an irreconcilable collections of desires, but after many sleepless nights and fruitless Google searches, I came up with a solution.

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Challenge #5: Your Domain

2 Sep

I had a leg up on today’s set of School of Webcraft challenges, since I’d already chosen and registered a domain name. I did so by upgrading my existing WordPress blog and blindly choosing one of their suggested webhosts. I started a blog as a portfolio, a way for potential professional connections to see a little more about me. As such, it made sense to just register my full name. As the description for Challenge 5.b says “this approach may not be the most exciting method, but it is very versatile and to the point.”

At the time I didn’t really understand the difference between, say, upgrading my blog to a custom domain and registering a domain directly through GoDaddy or the like. If pressed, I might have likened my choice to renting a room that’s already been decorated: someone’s already figured out how to make it nice, and for a small fee I can call it my own. I thought registering through GoDaddy would give me an empty warehouse space, and I’d have to learn how to build walls, and plumb it, and paint and whatnot before I could get on to the important business of inviting people over– i.e. using my website to market myself as a young professional.

I still don’t understand all the implications of using a WordPress upgrade as a means of planting my flag in a chunk of cyberspace. I think I’ve found a small clue in the WordPress Domain Upgrade “Important Notes” section: I don’t have FTP access to your files. Could that be part of the mystery? Can I finish the next set of challenges with only a custom-domain blog, or will I have to do something more complicated? Do I “have a domain name that can be used to further explore DNS?” I’ll answer those questions soon, I’m sure.

For now, all I have to do is understand DNS.

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Challenge #4: HTML Hunting in the World Around You

1 Sep

For my fourth School of Webcraft challenge, I looked for HTML-like things in a walk around the block. I came up with the idea for this video quickly, because I felt it conveyed what my thought patterns were like post-HTML-lesson, suddenly seeing things in terms of tags. My bi-weekly dessert quest, transformed!

It’s been a while since I’ve worked with video editing software at all, so I probably spent more time fiddling with that than I did learning the basic HTML tags. This is also the first thing I’ve shot in stop motion, which was easier to do than I expected, but also harder to do well, particularly on a public street where you don’t want to be the creep with a camera. Where’s my Google Glass already?

Under the cut are my explanations for my choice of tags/object pairs and some credits from the video.

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Challenge #3: Choose Your Weapon

29 Aug

For the third School of Webcraft challenge I was tasked with choosing a text editor. After a brief consultation with the remarkable tables in the Wikipedia article on the subject, I downloaded both Notepad++ and ConTEXT. After typing out a couple little html documents — from memory, thanks repetitive writing exercise! —  I ran both in Chrome.

hello world

I may have been a little preoccupied by cupcakes.

Below are the highlights of my observations about text editors. Keep in mind these are all provisional observations. If you’re more experienced with these programs, you might want to interject “well, that can all be changed in settings!” or “of course it does that, why wouldn’t it!” but I’m bringing the gift of ignorance here. I want to see how intuitive the programs are, how quickly I can figure out how to do stuff without looking it up.

  • ConTEXT highlights errors more intuitively
    • To my mind red = error, which seems true in ConTEXT
    • Notepad++ put “charset” in red, which I thought meant I’d done something wrong when i hadn’t
  • ConTEXT scrolled through my Items when I pressed backspace once
    • Going with the Harry Potter wand analogy, this is like sparks shooting out of my wand when I was trying to levitate a feather. I may someday want sparks, but having them happen unexpectedly is startling, and I don’t want to be startled
  • Notepad++ looks cleaner
  • Notepad++ made it clearer how to run my code in a browser
  • Notepad++ highlights tag pairs
  • Notepad++ lets you collapse text
    • This is a main advantage of Notepad++ according to Wikipedia. I can’t yet imagine personally having such a big chunk of code that I need to hide parts of it, but it does seem useful generally.

On the whole, i decided to stick with Notepad++, at least for now.

After reading through other students’ comments, I realized I wanted the option of a Live Preview. It’s been exciting to move beyond the What You See Is What You Get* kind of website creation that, say, WordPress usually provides me, but it was tedious to resave and reload my html document each time I wanted to see how I was changing things.  After a bit of quick searching, I found this Preview HTML plug-in that provides exactly that for Notepad++. It seems to work quite well.

All told, not bad for someone who started out thinking that “text editor” was synonymous with “word processor.” I rewarded myself with a delightful cupcake from Pushkin’s bakery. Mmm, learning is tasty.

Although it was vegan and gluten-free

Don’t worry, I did get my cupcake.

* All-knowing Wikipedia says the acronym WYSIWYG is pronounced whizzy-e-wig. Really?

Challenge #2: Writing HTML by Hand

28 Aug HTML by hand

HTML by hand

Per the second challenge in the P2PU School of Webcraft Webmaking 101 course, I spent about 15 minutes today copying some basic HTML by rote. I haven’t used repetitive writing as a mnemonic in a long time, and I was surprised at how effective it was. I’ve also been thinking about the efficacy of writing (although not necessarily writing any more) thanks to this blog post titled “How to Stop Reading and Start *Doing*” over at Barking Up The Wrong Tree. Spoiler alert: the answer is write more.

Astute observers may notice I went a little above and beyond in my HTML by Hand assignment. I printed the text to copy on my way out the door last night, so that I could do my writing without the temptation of the internet. I failed to notice that what was printed wasn’t exactly what was on the screen. Apparently Chrome (or perhaps the P2PU website?) takes the liberty of adding the destination of a hyperlinked piece of anchor text in parenthesis after the anchor text.* I can totally see this being a feature rather than a bug in most cases, since you lose a lot of information when you print a document that includes a lot of hyperlinks. On the other hand, I ended up copying out the addresses of link the lesson includes to give learners more information about certain web elements.

Having done a little HTML work before, this seemed fishy to me, since the links weren’t surrounded by the usual

<a hef> </a>

but I thought there might be some pedagogical end to justify the means, and so diligently copied all the very similar URLs over and over. I suppose the exercise and later realization did make me think about the loss of information that happens when moving from the web to hard copy. I think In my perfect world, hyperlinks would be added as footnotes or endnotes when a webpage was printed, but including them as parentheticals works pretty well too.

One last thought: i really enjoy the way indentation works to make code legible, and I wish I’d taken the time to use different colors for each tag.

*I’m still new to this terminology, please feel free to offer corrections or clarifying edits.

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