Let’s put this puppy to bed

I don’t want any design critiques. It’s not finished yet. Demo Day is Friday. But I’ve got to say for the record that I’ve never worked so hard on anything. And 70% of my time has been spent on Javascript code, things like figuring out how to get dates to save to Parse and arrays to render directly to the page without loops but just a simple space after commas…and promises to deal with asynchronous events…I didn’t really get the latter working as I’d like. Keep mind I’m just team of one, so I’ve been dealing with:

  • Parse database
  • CSS/Sass styling
  • Bourbon/Bitter/Neas styling
  • Javascript
  • jQuery
  • Underscore/templates
  • Masonry/layout
  • Account management view
  • Splash screen
  • Parse pic list mgmt
  • Flickr pic list mgmt
  • Vine list
  • Backbone framework
  • Responsive design
  • Presentation TBD, somehow encapsulating all of this, and my overall background in coding and in life, in 5 minutes, this coming Friday

So…not quite done yet. But I need to at least put myself to bed. Moksha has already gone to bed.

pett.io for the soul

Despite what I posted last night, I am really bleeping proud of myself. Every bit of code I write that works immediately or works three days after I got suck, is a bit I feel good about. If you detect some dissonance here compared to what I’ve previously written, perhaps there is, but there is plenty of room for both immense self-doubt and exuberant confidence to co-exist. Exuberant confidence? There are moments, and I’ll live-blog it right now, that think, even if no one else does, that it is remarkable that I have an app, which I could use to:

Upon seeing the following page in Flickr…

Within 60 seconds…

2. Create a pett.io account

3. Add the pet’s name

4. Add the user’s Flickr accont

5. Add the tag the user uses to tag their pet

6. Click View Page and

I’m not finished yet by a long shot. But I can do this…look at the kitty!

The final yard sprint

[Wednesday, early AM] Trying to write about my Iron Yard final project at 2:42am from bed using Android voice recognition for the bulk of my transcription of thoughts is not a recipe for a sterling blog post. But I lack the time to write something adequate.

No matter how much I do it’s never going to be enough. There is so much work that is needed to make this a legitimate website. This work could go on forever, and I kind of hope it does, but I have only had 3 weeks, and I only have a week to go.

Most of my classmates are in larger groups. I’m doing this by myself because I wanted this project to demonstrate all the potential that I have, whatever that might be, whatever I could possibly get done with regard to styling and HTML and Javascript and the Backbone framework and the Parse database back end.

But I know no matter how hard I work–I could work 24 hours a day–the design is going to fall short because I don’t know enough about awesome design and don’t have time to implement an awesome design. Integrating with api’s is going to fall short because there’s simply no time to do awesome things with them. The amount of information stored in the database is going to be limited simply because there isn’t time to build out an extensive data model. The CSS isn’t going to be extraordinary because I just don’t have the experience to make it as elegant as I would like.

I should define a scope of what to deliver at a minimum, and, I have, to a degree. However, it’s really difficult because I want this to be a fully functioning app. I don’t want this to be merely a demonstration where I can fake half of it, but rather a demonstration of something very real and functional that was created from nothing.

I am feeling enormous pressure to deliver something that is a fully functioning, particularly because the large groups will be delivering essentially complete web sites that are going to be functional in the real world. I put all of this pressure on myself because I simply don’t know what’s enough, at what point is it okay to say I will work on making this better later and that it does not have to do everything right now.

I know that no matter what I get done, it may not be apparent just how much effort I put into this. But no matter how much work I put into it, if you compare it to an established website by a very experienced developer it’s going to pale in comparison.

[Saturday, early AM] And my thoughts have pretty much been ditto early Thursday morning, early Friday morning, and right now.

I have been told the past few days to focus on design, which has just amped up the pressure, because, frankly, I didn’t spent nine weeks in the program to learn how to be a better designer. I always value good design, I cringe at bad design, and I feel pained when my own design is inadequate. But I came to the program to code–to learn everything I could about building front end applications with Javascript, and I wish that could be the focus of this final project. Instead, I find myself spending time on making buttons looks better. Why?

Because, next Friday, I have five minutes to present three weeks of work, which attempts to encapsulate nine weeks of work, which builds off a couple of decades of other related experience.

You could tell me to stop putting so much pressure on myself, but the audience for this five minute presentation is a group of local employers who are looking to hire developers. And I don’t expect to be employed by next Friday, so presenting my best self is advisable.

Dogwoome!

There’s no time to blog. And I’m self-censoring. I’d be a lot more blunt and prolific in describing my state of mind as I press forward with my career re-invention if I were still blogging under a pseudonym. I think my last couple of posts have hinted at a strong undercurrent of frustration. (I could go a read them, but it’s never a good idea to read old blog posts, even if they’re only a few days old, let alone a few years old.) I’ll hold off on making another such post now, because I have been meaning to post a link to my game.

Yes, it’s a game called Dogwoome! Dogs must woo potential adopters through a series of licks, cuddles, and barks. That’s it. Most people will see a silly game that does very little. People I know probably assumed I could have done something like this, already. Nope. I haven’t coded anything resembling a game since college. And this was fun. Although, in a fashion true to myself, when I was turning in this homework at the end of last weekend, I was obsessed with what it doesn’t do. I wanted there to be complex algorithms. I wanted it to be multi-player with multiple targets. I wanted my code to be clean. But we only had so many days to work on this. There were some technical requirements that had to be met. I write about this in the past tense as if I’ll never touch another line of code on it. I don’t know if I’ll touch it again. In this class, we’re always charging ahead. We should clean up some of our old projects and be proud enough of them to keep them in our public github repositories for all to see forever. But I don’t know.

was proud of this when I submitted it. But, again (recurring theme alert!), I am constantly overwhelmed by what I do not know how to do, and I can’t help but look at something like this and see how amateurish it is rather than what I was able to put together in a few days having never built anything like this before.

I do not sell myself well, do I? Nor do I hold firm to proclamations that my blog post isn’t going to be “another such” self-critical/defensive/frustration-laden post. (Why couldn’t I just have made this a post about Dogwoome!?)

Enjoy Dogwoome!

Battling the demon of unrealized potential

I’ve had notes for this post for over two weeks now. I just haven’t made time for writing in here, other than that reactionary post the other day about feeling the need to place value on my education and experience. I only happen to be writing in here now because I have a little bit of time. I may actually get to sleep before 1AM tonight. It hasn’t been abnormal for me to be working on a homework project until 2 or 3 or 4AM…or all night, as I did the Sunday night before last. I am consumed by my Iron Yard work, and apart from the real need to look after my health, this is not a bad thing. But it has been stressful. I work this hard, not because The Iron Yard forces me to, but because my future is riding on this, on my ability to tap into and realize my potential as a creative and analytical thinker.

A couple of weeks ago, I began writing about how I had been feeling that I was learning well for the first time in a very long time. I had such positive feelings regarding what I was doing, this career overhaul, this pursuit of knowledge and growth in an area I have real passion for. But then the self-doubt began to dominate. I had listened to a speaker recollect how he had started programming in BASIC as a kid and just kept moving forward from there to conquering the world. I thought about how I had done that (Well, the first part of that.) I had programmed in BASIC as a kid. I kept going. I coded in college. I learned HTML 20 years ago in college. I built my own websites. I did a little here, a little there. But, essentially, I stopped. And thinking of this can bring me to the verge of crumblign. In a parallel universe, I could be the guy speaking to coding academy students about how far a passion for coding could take you. But I’m not. I’m 38 years old, and all I can do is move forward with whatever my brain can do now. I have no choice but to do this, but I don’t know how to avoid being overwhelmed by past failures and self-perceptions of inadequacies.

A week ago, I was hearing the phrase “only been doing this for four weeks” bandied about, with regard to the high caliber of work that my class is doing despite the very limited experience of many. But rather than soak up the praise, I was lost in my own personal equation “four weeks + twenty years”. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, but I’ve been trying to make a go of this for two decades. I didn’t just learn HTML four weeks ago. I learned in back in 1995. And kept up for a few years, and then fell very far behind. So when I start to feel lost, that perhaps I’m falling behind, and I’m spending hours troubleshooting unsuccessfully, and I’m jumping down rabbit holes in search of solutions, I get pretty demoralized. I often feel as if I have some nebulous block to realizing my potential. This block numbs me. It nauseates me. It consumes me.

I didn’t want to write about these feeling while I was too deeply entrenched in them. I’ve muddled through them and think I’m at a better place now. There’s some self-censoring at work here. I don’t want my own struggles to reflect badly on The Iron Yard. Also, for better or for worse, I now blog under my own name. Presumably, I’ll have a main website fairly soon that merely links to this blog, rather than being defined by this blog, so there will be a small buffer between the guy who is trying to impress others and the guy who admits to battling the demon of unrealized potential.

Anyway… I want to write about the game I made, but not right now, because I’m about to fall asleep. Before 1 AM. Go, me.

WordPress, it is

WordPress, it is

Since I failed to gain mastery of PHP in the decade or so I was dabbling in it–first, with my grand plans for the defunct Toastie Radio site (I miss that), and then with my seven years of WordPress blogging–I thought it might be time to switch to a platform that’s Javascript-heavy. After all, Javascript is at the heart of what I’m working on in front end engineering boot camp this summer, and what I’ll be working on going forward in my career.

Aside…I do myself a disservice to imply I’m learning Javascript for the first time right now. I’ve known enough to get by when it’s been needed for web tweaks in my jobs over the years, and I’ve stuck it on my resume. But there’s a dramatic difference in scale between using Javascript to dynamically update a web page element here and there or pop up some dialog boxes and actually building websites. This is a good example of the very vague statement I made about a month ago in which I declared that I did not want to be a generalist. I did not mean that there is anything wrong with being a “jack of all trades, master of none.” I just never saw myself of much of a jack of anything. How much expertise I have in a skill I claim to possess has always been difficult exercise…

You know, I’m going to table this line of thought for another time. I wasn’t planning a mammoth post, and I’m not going to make one, but I’m also not going to censor myself and delete what I’ve started.

My point in posting this link is that WordPress is becoming more of a Javascript-based platform, and that means any inkling I had to abandon WordPress is probably gone. I obviously don’t follow WordPress closely enough to have known this until now. I’ve basically been on auto-pilot for the past couple of years as far as learning anything more about developing for WordPress. But I hate to abandon this platform I’m so used to, despite my mini-rant about some annoyances I have with the .com site. I’ll probably move this to a self-hosted site at some point, but I have absolutely no time for that right now.

I’m really psyched about this.

Ideally, I’d make some time to get to work on customizing this blog some more. (This theme doesn’t put a YEAR on the post? WAT?) But I already have a custom theme to play with on Top 379. (I need to explain that someday, or look for an old post that explains why I have a countdown of songs by the like of Air Supply and Barry Manilow. Or do I have to explain it? So many tangents, Dave…) And, more importantly, I’ve got a quite complex web page to build over the next three days for class. Any activity that diverges from that should fall under categories such as physical activity, basic chores, and Orange Is The New Black.

Identity management part 2

I’ve got a dilemma I need to solve quickly. What is my personal brand going to be? A few weeks ago, I cornered the market on bullcitydave. Well, at least as far as a .com, a Gmail account, a Twitter account, and a GitHub account are concerned. The fact is that, due to my branding via anonymous pseudonym for the past 16 years, I never bothered to try to get daveseidman.com or davidseidman.com. These are owned by a talented web developer and talented artist, respectively. I don’t have any interest in trying to compete with them. And, yet, I realize that I must. But I don’t want to use my middle initial ‘H’. That’s always been too much of a mouthful when I’ve given out my full-name Gmail address, I don’t want to feel like “that other David Seidman, the ‘H’ one” (and there are plenty), and I’m pretty much done with being called David. It’s mainly an issue of phonetics. I’ve never been able to clearly pronounce David Seidman, with the ard ‘d’ followed by the ‘s’. That may sound odd, but Dave Seidman rolls off the tongue with less effort.

Today, I grabbed daveseidman.me, daveseidman.net, and daveseidman.us, on the advice of a trusted mentor. (I’d name you, trusted mentor, but I may not fully embrace your advice.) I also attended a compelled talk today by a guy who knows quite a lot of social branding. John Saddington (john.do) is a successful developer, entrepreneur, and  a partner in The Iron Yard. Contrary to my assumptions about what an expert might advise, he firmly believes in being yourself in your public online persona, of allowing your personality to be available to the public, even though, and even because, the public includes potential employers, clients, and customers. My immediate thought upon hearing this was, “Oh, what I have I done? Why am I abandoning The Old Site? Why did I feel the need to adopt a brand new presence?”

So today I’ve received the advice to use my name in my URL, but I don’t want to abandon my long-time identity and have been encouraged to keep my history, warts and all, and I got feedback that Bull City Dave is a pretty cool name. So, what to do?

I even created a new bullcitydave Instagram account the other day, mostly because I feel I’m missing out on being able to quickly share images like this:

Taking the night off

Moksha and her new toy

I told a couple of classmates that I might “take the night off.” I deserve it. I’ve been working hard for a week-and-a-half and been getting about four hours of sleep a night. I’m not complaining about that, because I love what I’ve been doing. Wednesday night, I finally took the final exam for my online masters course. That coursework had been a huge burden, overlapping with my Iron Yard work. I had fully immersed myself in that course and the winter quarter course prior to that, or at least as much as I could while dividing my attention between that and my full-time job. As recently as six weeks ago, my inclination was to leave my job to pursue that degree full-time. But then I found about Iron Yard, and, well, I decided this would put me on a path to a fulfilling career doing something I’d truly enjoy, whereas the grad program…who knows. I’m being purposely vague. I don’t want to slam this particular grad program here, nor do I want to get into the merits of online education versus face-to-face instruction, let alone the merits of a graduate program offering access to a wide body of knowledge but no explicit career benefit versus a an intensive non-degree program of learning that guarantees employment in one’s desired field. (Yeah, I know I’m on the cusp of launching into something lengthy, but I told myself I’d just blog for a few minutes.)

Anyway, tomorrow, I’ll attend a talk on “Personal Branding & Blogging”, which is quite timely given my conundrum over what exactly to do with this blog. All of us at The Iron Yard are potential free-lancers who will need to market ourselves and build “our brand”. To be quite blunt, I’ve always become queasy over the mere mention of personal branding. I’m queasy as I type this. Why? Because I know that what I was doing on The Old Blog was most definitely not appropriate for building a marketable brand in the real world. Furthermore, I strongly suspect that my blogging “style”, even if somewhat moderated from what I did on The Old Blog, isn’t appropriate either. I have lots of presumptions about what constitutes proper personal branding and blogging, and I’m not sure I’m cut out for it. Overall, I’d say I’ll have a hard time doing any sort of blogging that compromises my authenticity.

For instance, I’m enjoying exploring map and reduce array functions in Javascript, but I don’t feel any inclination to write a blog entry about them.

What I am doing right now, that extemporaneous thing, that could veer from point A to point X, is what I’d rather do.

Anyway (and I’m fond of the “anyway” transition, though it does seem like sloppy writing), I am not “taking the night off”. I would say it’s the first somewhat light night for me since Monday of Week 1. To be clear, just because I am not overwhelmed by the homework assignment I am working on, there is always a mountain of work I can be doing. There are dozens of articles that have been suggested that I should and that I do want to read. My future success depends on how deep I’m willing to dig on my own time. I admit that, for tonight, I’m needing to watch a little Orange Is The New Black. But I still can do, and want to do, some map and reduce work at the same time.

A note on WordPress…I have been using the full WordPress package from WordPress.org for over 7 years, and that’s given me the freedom to explore and customize to my heart’s content. I like being able to go into the file system and underlying database. I’ve used WordPress.com for a private blog for a couple of years (which is a bit ironic, I know), and now I’m using WordPress.com for this, and I find the experience jarring compared to the “full” experience. I hate how if I attempt to create a post from the top menu (“New Post”), I’m presented with this simple interface that I realize is geared towards the millions who don’t care what’s “under the hood”. What would like to post? Text, Photo, Video, Quote, or Link? Um, I don’t know yet, WordPress. I probably want to reserve the right to decide later if I’m going to embed photos and videos and links into my post. Let me figure it out for myself! And then I’ve got to remember to go to the full dashboard’s “Add New” link.

In other words, I so much prefer to have the power to write a post using HTML and styling, and I don’t like to be steered towards a particular workflow.

This is an excellent reminder of why what I’m doing now is right up my alley. I care about how content looks, not just the getting it up there, and I prefer to have complete control. That’s why I loved working on my own webpage back in 1995 that was just plain-old HTML coding. There was no Frontpage, no Dreamweaver, no WordPress. Pico. That’s right. Telnet to godzilla.acpub.duke.edu and pico. (I took a few years to learn vi.) Such tangents…

And I could get into a whole spiel about why a self-hosted blog is so much better than a hosted blog, which is better than merely tossing thoughts out via Facebook or Google+, or, ugh, Twitter. (Ironically, I just dusted off my two-old-year unused @bullcitydave Twitter account.) And that gets me full-circle back to my earlier point about figuring out how to put forth my social media self. To be continued.

Oh, and I should absolutely put a picture in every blog entry. If I have nothing off the top of my head that’s relevant to my writing, a pet photo will do.

Oh, and I must spend some time getting a better theme. I can’t stand that I’m using a default theme.