This blog is moving!

Not only did we just complete a big move from California to Maryland, this blog is moving too! I’m going to be focusing on WordPress work now that I have some more mental bandwidth to spare. Come visit me:


Useful CSS links

Finally dedicating some time to learning to code! I’m consolidating my at-home jobs to focus on web work (yay!).

Last night I went to the North Bay DevLadies Meetup. It feels like they are lightyears ahead of me, but they are inspiring me to get my act together and start building my own WP themes.

I would like to go into detail about what I learned, but I don’t have time now. Better to at least give you the links!

Meetups, RailsBridge, and a soaked laptop

It has been an eventful week around here.

We had two meetups this week for the CAHM Facebook group, one online and one in San Francisco. It was so nice to talk to people who understand what it’s like taking care of a baby while learning to code and working at the same time! Talking to them inspired me to get my portfolio together, which I will be working on in a couple of weeks when my Salesforce project winds down (more on that later).

Things were going great until I spilled water on my laptop on Friday afternoon, which is one of my worst nightmares as someone who works from home. I turned it off right away and turned it upside down. The same thing happened to me a few years ago when I happened to live with a Mac tech. He took my laptop apart and we are letting it dry over the weekend.

Of course, it is always a disaster to spill on your computer, but it was especially bad because I was supposed to go to a RailsBridge workshop the next morning! I called around to various repair shops and only one place had laptops to loan, which I found surprising. My sister ended up letting me borrow hers (thanks, sis!), but some Facebook friends offered to let me borrow their laptops as well, including people I rarely talk to. It was so nice to see how many people were willing to help. It gave me something to smile about on a pretty terrible day.

Baby Z and I drove to the Apple Store to see if they would take my laptop apart to dry. They wouldn’t. They will only ship it out to replace the parts. I was pretty mad about this and it was getting late. I ended up calling Mac Advantage in Rohnert Park. The owner, Tam, was so nice and patient with me (I was pretty frustrated by then). He popped the hood and said it didn’t look too bad, but I will have an official prognosis tomorrow. Hopefully St. Jobs is smiling upon my dear little MacBook.

Thanks to my sister, Baby Z and I were able to attend the RailsBridge frontend yesterday at Carbon Five. The office was very cool, with vintage hardwood flooring and lots of standing desks. (I really want a standing desk!) Baby Z was the only kid again, so she had her own personal babysitter. Have I mentioned that the childcare is free? And the food is free? And the workshop is free? Seriously, they are bending over backwards to teach women to code. It’s an amazing opportunity that I wish everyone knew about.

Anyway, I went into the intermediate group, but probably could have gone to advanced. I ended up switching to a quicker intermediate class. We went through setting up a simple HTML site with CSS and then started on Javascript and jQuery. Honestly, the most valuable part of these workshops is learning how the developers talk about what they do. We spent some time talking about what you need to know and do in order to get hired as a junior developer. There really is hope for us newbies! I have met many women who taught themselves to code and are now working as software developers. So, what do you need to do to be hired as a junior developer? Everyone I have spoken to says you need to build something. It can be simple, but it needs to be public. Start pushing to GitHub. Ask and answer questions on Stack Overflow. Go to Meetups. Just get yourself out there. I even heard that some companies prefer to hire people who are not advanced programmers so they can train you the “right” way. If there are any tech recruiters in the readership, please share your thoughts!

This is a long and rambling post, but I feel caught up now. Thanks!


Opportunity cost of getting in over your head

This post may be incoherent, as I am up past my bedtime. (Yes, 9:15pm is past my bedtime.)

I spent most of the day trying to complete the homework for my Startup Engineering class. I made it through the first two parts, but I am lost on the third part and have resorted to trolling the forums for useful bits of code. Maybe it’s time to throw in the towel on this one?

If I spent 4 hours on an assignment that is over my head, wouldn’t it have been better to spend that same 4 hours studying at the appropriate level? I could have finished the entire CS 101 class or the entire Chris Pine book in 4 hours. Granted, I learned how to push to GitHub today, which is certainly worth something, but it probably shouldn’t have taken 4 hours. 

I really wanted to complete this class, but I’m not sure what to do now. Yes, I waited until the last minute to finish this assignment (such is the life of a CAHM). Tomorrow the FB group is doing a Google Hangout, so I will talk to them and see what they think. Right now I wish I had spent my time on something more productive. Yes, it would be very satisfying to finish the Stanford course, but it will be pointless if I don’t actually learn anything. 

I want to really understand what I am doing, not just Google everything until the automatic grader accepts my answer. I’m feeling overwhelmed by how much there is to learn. We’ll see how all of this looks in the morning…

The Command Line Crash Course Review

I did Learn Code the Hard Way’s Command Line Crash Course (CLCC) to try to get up to speed for the class I am doing on Coursera. Learn Ruby the Hard Way has been recommended to me a few times, so I was happy to give one of the shorter tutorials a test run first.

CLCC is definitely for beginners. It was great for me to practice the commands that the professor in my other class is glossing over assuming we know them already. CLCC also asks you to make flashcards, which was a perfect opportunity to get going with Anki.

My only problem with CLCC is that some of the sequences don’t go exactly as planned. For example, the instructions will ask you to remove everything from a directory and then you need those files again in the next exercise. There were a few of those little issues that might trip up someone who is brand new to coding. Overall though, a good, quick overview of the command line. It has helped me already as I am returning to the Startup Engineering assignments.

Meetups for Mommies

Here in the Bay Area there a ton of tech Meetups. Many of them meet on weeknights or at child-unfriendly places (bars). How are CAHMs supposed to get in on the action?

We are going to have a CAHM Google Hangout next week with moms all over the country joining the conversation. Hopefully it will be the first of many. The members of the FB group have already had some great ideas for continuing to learn to code and balancing programming and parenting. 

If you are a CAHM who would like to join in, please check out our Facebook group.