I will learn to code

When I was in highschool, I read Microserfs by Douglas Coupland, one of my all-time favourite authors. I used it in my big English project in either grade 12 or my OAC year. (Aside: remember when you thought you’d never forget the details of your highschool existence? Well, you totally do.) I don’t remember the whole point of the project, but I remember that one of the points I was trying to make was that Internet-speak (short forms, emoticons and LOLspeak) was going to dumb down communication and make us all terrible spellers. Keep in mind that this was circa 1996-1997.

Maybe I should have gotten into futurism as a career. At least I can still spell.

The description of Microserfs from Douglas Coupland’s website is this (emphasis mine):

Microserfs first appeared in short story form as the cover article for the January 1994 issue of Wired magazine and was subsequently expanded to full novel length. Set in the early 1990s, it captures the state of the technology industry before Windows 95, and predicts the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.

The novel is presented in the form of diary entries maintained on a PowerBook by the narrator, Daniel. Because of this, as well as its formatting and usage of emoticons, this novel is similar to what emerged a decade later as the blog format.

When I was in highschool. I could have taken a basic intro to computer programming course. I think it covered Pascal and Fortran, but I’d have to confirm that with Sean who did take the course. I thought programming would be too hard so I didn’t take it. I took a word processing course instead (WordPerfect in DOS! Don’t miss that!). That course – along with my journalism class that wrote and designed the school newspaper and yearbook for that year – put me on a path to my eventual career in graphic design and document layout. But now I’m kicking myself for not taking the programming course too.

That last paragraph makes me feel like such a feminine cliché. Remind me to tell Flora not to underestimate herself when she is a teenager. I could blame the general slacker culture of the 1990s for my own hesitance, but ultimately, I know I was lazy. I could have done better in school and tried harder. I just didn’t want to.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Codecademy, a site that teaches basic coding skills for the web, and in various programming languages. I’ve been working  through the Web Fundamentals track because my HTML skills are woefully out of date. I took my first HTML course on a Saturday afternoon in 1999 back in college. I learned the basics and ran with them. I created several shitty websites. Including the one that got me an interview for my first job as I had posted my resume on it. With my full mailing address. How naive was I?

Today I saw this video from Code.org. It’s less than ten minutes so you should watch it.

I’m not so sure of what I think about little kids learning to code (they get so much screen time as it is), but now I’m finally diving in. I’m desperate to create something I’m proud of. Learning to code adds another tool to my arsenal.

Learning to code is teaching me patience and perserverance. Those are skills I need away from the computer. Being able to create something is almost a bonus.

New design for hellomelissa.net

I did a little redecorating around here this weekend. (If you’re reading via an RSS reader, click over and have a peek.)

This redesign is actually a bit of a big deal. I actually purchased a theme and modified the CSS myself to make it look more like me. I learned the basics of CSS years ago, but my skills got rusty as websites got more automated. I’ve been taking lessons at Codecademy to catch up to how things are done today, and it’s coming back to me bit by bit.

(I designed the new logo and background too, but I usually do that so that’s not really news.)

For me, blogging is writing, design, and technical skills coming together to create something interesting and usable. Since I’m a hobbyist, anything I pay for comes out of my pocket. I don’t have the money to hire a pro to do it right the first time.

I’m doing this for love people. Like a sucker.

I’ve learned a lot about patience and have built my skill set by doing my own website for the last 13 years*.  To be clear: I’m not a pro developer at all. To say otherwise would insult so many talented craftspeople and I don’t want to do that. I’m a print designer by trade so I understand the importance of making content visually appealing. I’m always surprised at how much easier it is to create websites that look like real websites – not the Geocities-style stuff of the late 90s and early 2000s I produced. It’s honestly getting easier and easier in a lot of ways. It’s more complicated in other ways, but I love learning how to uncomplicate it.

I got this site completely redone in less than 24 hours. I did a lot of other things in those 24 hours too – I wasn’t completely glued to the computer. It’s the fastest revamp I’ve had in years, if ever. The future really is amazing.

* There was a period between 2007-2009 where I was on a web service that provided pre-made templates that didn’t allow for much deviation. Whenever a customization feature was introduced, I always tried it out. I discovered I liked having more control over the output.

My pictures from yesterday’s #12photos photo challenge

I took these photos for the #12photos challenge hosted by Andrea at A Peek Inside the Fishbowl.

Twelve photos in twelve hours on 12/12/12. I took longer than twelve hours, but I got all twelve before I went to bed. Most pictures were taken with Instagram, but some were done with Hipstamatic. You can hover over each picture to view the caption if you don’t want to click over to Flickr.


7am - on the train going to work #hourlyphoto  #12photos


8am #photos12 artwork on my desk at work (cc sideshowami)


9am #12photos - more desk inspiration


10am #12photos - northwestern view from my office building


11am #12photos - workspace #Hipstamatic #Chunky #BigUp


1pm #12photos - mini Christmas tree


2pm #12photos - cubicle decoration from Flora #Hipstamatic #Hornbecker #DreamCanvas


3pm #12photos - fun stuff in my cubicle (Don't worry. This will be the last pic taken from the office.) #Hipstamatic #Chunky #Sugar


4pm - #12photos - I've wanted a picture of this sign ever since I started commuting.


5pm #12photos - parking lot. Workday done.


6pm #12photos - art on the table next to me.


7pm #12photos - a little late. Almost time for bed.

#12photos, a set on Flickr.

A note from management: RSS feed address has changed

Do you read hellomelissa.net using a feedreader? I’ve recently changed the address of my RSS feed so you will need to resubscribe if you want to continue getting posts from me.

You can click on the RSS icon in my sidebar, or copy http://hellomelissa.net/feed/ into the subscribe field of your feed reader of choice.

You can still read this blog by coming directly to the site or by visiting links from either my personal Facebook feed (hi family and friends!) or the hellomelissa.net Facebook page. You can also subscribe to get an email every time this site updates using the subscribe option in the sidebar.

Isn’t it neat that there are so many ways to get great content from many sites automatically? I love the efficiency of the web.

Some backstory. Like many other bloggers, I previously used Feedburner to manage my RSS feed. Service has been shaky and rumors of its demise have been rampant. (See these posts by Schmutzie and Cecily for more context.) I’ve opted to stay with WordPress’ built-in RSS feed rather than move to a paid service for now. If I decide I want more data about my feed (everyone loves stats right?), I may move it again, but for now, this is where it’s staying.

Saying Yes

Something weird happened to me today. No, really.

I was having a perfectly ordinary day at work when I noticed this tweet:

Intrigued, I checked my email. I had a note asking me if I could do something online in about an hour. It was really short notice (especially considering I had never done it before), but I thought “why not?”. (Note to my work peeps: I made sure I was reasonably caught up with my work first.)

This is how I ended up being part of a panel on HuffPost Live earlier today. The subject was ‘changing your name after you get married’. I believe the producer found me via my post I wrote last year about why I hyphenated my name after I got married.

I’ve never done one of these segments before. It was done via a Google+ Hangout, which I had also never used before (they’re easy). Once I got the confirmation I was in, I hustled to a spare office with my laptop so I could set up and talk without interruption and my cubicle mates thinking I was crazier than normal, talking to myself about my choice of nomenclature.

Here is the link to the discussion.

 I chatted with the other panelists beforehand and they were lovely women. I hope the woman who couldn’t decide what to do about her name (she’s getting married in a month) comes to a decision that works for her and her husband.

I’m not so sure how I did as a first-time panelist with no experience or guidance. I am happy that my microphone worked. I didn’t say a lot – the joys of being an introvert.Too much listening.

I’m proud that I went for it though. If they had caught me on another day, I probably would have just said “No, I’m at work – can’t do it”, and spent the rest of the day wondering “what if I had done it?”

Saying yes can be just as powerful as saying no.

I need to say yes more often. Get out of my rut. Try something new. Have adventures. This feels like a good start.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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