Most people never get past their first 100 days of learning to code. I'm trying!
How This Works
This blog that charts my first steps, links I liked, and how I felt. When you feel stuck, I hope it helps you move along more quickly
Who I am
In 2020, I joined Hack Club, a nonprofit that helps high schoolers start after-school computer clubs. My job is Chief Operating Officer, which means I work directly with the founder. When hired, I was the only non-technical person on the team. In fact, I didn't even know what HTML was. Often, in working with others, I couldn't understand what they were saying.
Growing up in the early 1990s, no one in my NJ town had computers or internet access. The school tech club was all boys. I never learned even how to type.
My senior year in high school in 1995 (on right). No phones or devices
Today, fewer than .5% of the human population can code. Fewer than half of schools even try to teach any tech.
Deeply understand computers and the internet
Learn to code so I can build and do more amazing stuff
Chronicle my learning journey
Share so others can do the same.
Can I do it? Let's go!
Here are the most important things I learned in the first 3-4 months of becoming technical. Codecademy supported me in learning html/css basics, but Hack Club helped me learn the rest
Understand that technology is just a tool and how real programmers think/talk/use tech
Understand how to use Repl.it/or VS Code
Learn HTML basics
Learn basics of styling w CSS
Learn how to be self-taught (how to use Google/YouTube/GitHub/Hack Club Slack and workshops)
Learn the landscape: history of computers/ operating systems / servers/ folders / browsers/the internet.
Learn basics of GitHub and how to commit and push but also WHY use GitHub?
Learn how to create a domain name for myself, link my code to it, update my code, and then build out new sites on my domain
Begin to understand what else I could learn, ie other languages
In 2019 I built my first html website after meeting Hack Club founder and feeling curious about coding. I went through Hack Club's How to Build a Personal Website workshop on Hack Club's website. Had zero idea what I was doing. Didn't know what html was; how the internet started. Who built all this internet infrastructure???? I needed context and love reading so fortunately one afternoon at Barnes and Nobles I purchased "The Innovators", a nonfiction book that tells the story of the people behind the computer/internet. Suddenly, I saw the internet not as something from space, but rather as the result of humans building and experimenting over hundreds of years.
Following Hack Club's tutorial, I build a website in repl.it but then I gave up and did other things for a year. Felt like i couldn’t do it. Or worried it would take to long. Forgot about it.
Decide I want to give coding another try
Asked my 1st question on Hack Club slack
Joined Codeacademy.com and pay like $14/month.
Working my way through the HTML class in Codeacademy. It's at least a month long course, and it's filling in the gaps for me.
Signed up for GitHub. I have no idea what it is
Bought a domain name at Google. Friends from Hackclub.com help me every day with questions, or I would have gotten very stuck
Finished the intro on HTML from Code Academy and started my own websites with span, line breaks, italics, bold and unordered lists
It's May 22nd and I earned a "badge" at Codeacademy but i'm only 4% into my htm lesson. UGH. That took me two days. I'm taking their tutorials and applying what I learn on my personal repl.it site and that's been great. I'm practicing styling tags inside html and hrefs to add hyperlinks. I just went to hack club slack to see if someone could recommend how to build a blog. Some people are recommending Jekllrb and another site But honestly I don't know how to build those into my code.
It's so great to have Sam in Singapore bc someone is always awake, but that advice is too far advanced for me. So I guess a cool goal would be to figure out how to get that into my code. Hack Club is great for support when I get stuck, but it's not a place to fully learn how to code. Both those are really valuable though. Also, i want to ship this, but I don’t know if I should ship my repl.it link, my github link or connect it to christina.cool and ship that. I have to get my personal site together…. I wish i had the whole day to code- its so exciting.
Loving going thru codeacademy while simultaneously building my site. This morn I created tab links at the top of my site that will allow me to click on them and go somewhere else on the site.
Christina's top 10
Still hitting questions, like my push to github isn’t uploading my active website. I slacked my expert friend w this question. Without that, not sure how I would have figured it out. Also, my daughter and i posted on our town listserve that we’d build you a website for $50, and we got a client. Having this pressure will be awesome.
Still struggling w divs but adding them to my site. My main worry atm is how will i remember all this. When will it become second nature. Also, my code is getting so long-- i’m struggling to not feel overwhelmed by it.
Do you ever want to just code all day? It’s kind of addictive!
Made this website public.
continuing Codecademy course. I'm 53% finished with HTML beginners course
Practicing styling my CSS, including lists, tables and forms
Moved to Visual Studio Code from Repl.it. This was not easy, and I had a lot of support from my friends at Hack Club. This is a more advanced coding editor, and there were a couple days of frustration as I learned a new system, but using the same tools as professional developers is pretty great.
Here's some more detailed info on how I synced up VS code with my GitHub account. This will be one of my first detailed blog accounts.
I begin downloading Visual Studio Code- and that’s easy and free. Now I want to start building a new website, and I’d like to create that in VS Code. How do link up VS Code and my GitHub account?
First step: Go online to my GitHub account and open a public repo in github (if you want to make it private you have to pay) Click add a README and name your website.
Use lowercase in listing your website name...
Then click the green button Create repository...
Click the green CODE button, open w Github desktop... Then said YES to Clone. So I've created a repository in GitHub called example1...
Then hopefully you'll see the button that says: Open in VS Code...
once you click that, it should open up a new thing in VScode like this below, and I've added files index.html and styles.css so I can start coding
I typed in a little sample code just to keep this going. And now i will see if I can get my website online
If you open up GitHub desktop, you should be able to go through a familiar flow now of committing and pushing
and then push:
do you find this confusing and wonder why its so complicated? I do. My co worker Zach Latta helped me through every step of learning this. I would call him and screenshare so he could walk me through, step-by-step, and I would write it down and commit it to memory. Here is a screenshot of him helping me. Look at my chaotic screen and how frustrated I look!
(I look frustrated)
Built christina.cool/parents This was a way to implement some stuff I'd learned in codecademy, including Divs and Tables. Shared it w friends. This is the first "real" thing I've built and while it's not useful, it's really important to have the confidence to build and share projects as a way to push myself to keep going. Sharing publicly matters a lot. On the ship
Built a fundraiser presentation for a donor and got live advice from a talented webdesigner (Lachlan) that pushed me. I also learned to 2 things: two use Hack Club's font, and to pull the colors and a graphic from another website and put it in my own.
I also shared the website on a call with colleagues at Hack Club, which was fantastic. Having a community to share the milestone moments of coding is really important. Presenting that made me feel amazing, and motivated me to keep going. This was a private fundraising doc, so I can't share it :(
Watched a Hack Club ama presentation with Dylan Field, founder of Figma, and saw a bunch of students using Figma, which inspired an idea in me that one day i could create my own designs for my sites, and not rely on others images existing on website. This is unlocking a creativity in me that I'm excited to explore.