A new direction

Sad to say and write that I haven’t really been working on my Bachelor’s Degree in well over a year. Why? Part because I haven’t looked at other schools that I would like to attend online and the other part is because I have thought hard about what it is that I really love doing. Is it graphics or coding?

I’m not saying I don’t want to get a degree in web design but the more and more I read about programming the more and more I start to think it will be a better fit for me. Programming, too, has its own beauty and art form.

When I think back and reflect on the years I spent in front of a monitor I slowly realize that a good portion of the time I was merely looking at code. Graphics were a mere second to it all. I love both but I think that programming may just be my final decision. It almost reminds me of the era when it was one person that did everything when it came to printing.

Reading the history of graphic design in one of the courses I took was extremely enlightening to me. It not only helped me see type/typography as an art form but as an extension.

Reading more and more about functions, arrays, variables, and cases makes me realize that I really do want to be programming more often and lean more towards web development and not design as much. So I’m thinking of a major in the science and minor in the art of virtual communication? I call it virtual communication because it’s not quite visual communication and not digital visualization.

Anyway, with so much running through my mind I have headed in a new direction and I think that I will actually like where this takes me.

Making some progress

Slowly but surely I am making some progress about how my site is looking. Don’t get me wrong I like the look at the moment but I want something that is very simple since it is just my thoughts and nobody elses that I am writing about. The next phase will be expanding the theme to support a good part of WordPress functionality and capabilities.

Yes, I have worked on this for far too long and I think it is now time to really finish what I started nearly six months ago. Has it really been that long? I know I am nearing a year with Web hosting hub and I have been pretty happy with them. Granted I haven’t experimented as much as I would like to but I have learned quite a bit from the things that I have done.

Site's header portion

The site is slowly coming together and I like the progress that I have made thus far. There are a few things that I still need to modify but it will all come together pretty soon. There are just a few more things to modify and it will all be done.

The one thing that I will have a bit of an issue with will be creating a good JavaScript gallery. Thankfully it is all making sense to me now. Now to try to get some sleep so that my brain can make sense of all the things running through my mind at the moment.

My blog site

This blog site has been a great thing for me. I have learned so much about myself by actually writing about my thoughts. It has opened my mind to how I really feel about life and the world around me.

I have been experimenting more and more with web design and development. I can’t wait until I finally finish my site’s final design. There are so many resources that I have used in order to create the final look of the site. When I get a moment or possibly the next day that I have off I will try my best to create a simple tutorial on how to create a simple local server to test websites. Granted there are plenty of tutorials out there as well but this one will be more suited to me since it dealt with my experience.

The one thing that I am debating is what fonts I want to use because there are so many elements that I want to include but I don’t want to throw off the feel of the site entirely. As many people have come to know I have fallen head over heels about type. I am in the midst of creating a post about how type has influenced my daily life. Yes, it does sound a little odd but it will make sense when it is finally published.

Recently, I have been looking at lines of code in order to create my site. Some of the things that I have learned are that I need to read more and more. Not just code but books and articles in general. I have so many unfinished books on the shelf that they have practically gained weight from all the dust they have collected.

The other thing that struck me as interesting while redesigning my site was looking at exactly what I post and how I can stylize how I like it. There are several things that I post but I know I don’t use the full potential of WordPress when I could be. I have learned about the subtle differences between digital publishing and physical but that will be for my type posting.

In the meantime I will keep reading about programming, art, design, type and how to merge them together into one good-looking blog that I call my own.

Parenthood – The journey begins


Parenthood is a never-ending journey and every day is a new adventure into making mistakes while trying to keep some sanity. Parenthood has no rules, guidelines or even a reference guide but it is still a great thing to be a part of. I entered upon this journey on June 7, 2012. Okay not entirely but that was the day my little boy, Salvador, was born so I will count that as the actual day the journey began. I will add more and more pages as time goes on and I get time to share these little life lessons.

Parenthood and the rules

Really there have been no rules for either one of us since SJ was born. SJ because his middle name of course begins with a “J” and if you were to look at my little man you would say that is a big name for a little guy. Now I’m just getting a little off track. The things that both of us have learned are things that people often tell us. A good example is when people tell us that we won’t be getting any sleep. I’m used to not sleeping so that is not really new to me. My body has been so REM deprived over the last years that I am more than capable of functioning on three or four hours of sleep a day. The one thing that has changed about that is that the so-called sleep pattern is more random that ever.

Parenthood and the guidelines

Okay the basic guidelines are pretty simple when you get down to it: Don’t kill the baby. That is the basic guideline and the one thing to really follow. Everyday is an exploration into a world of how to. How to keep the little one entertained while keeping your sanity, how to keep him quiet long enough to make a bottle so he won’t scream your ears off. No one thing will work the same way the next day. That is one thing you can count on to be true. There are moments when you will want to be alone to think, read or do something so simple as taking a shower but it can feel like forever because you are changing, feeding, burping and then changing again just to keep your little one from bawling.

What can oftentimes make things easy is having somebody there to help out to accomplish those basic everyday tasks like doing laundry, eating, cooking, cleaning or taking a bath. Unfortunately, I know some people out there don’t often have that luxury and I often wonder about how they manage to do it and have a huge amount of respect for them for being able to pull it off.

Understanding JavaScript prototypes

Working with jQuery has been a really crazy journey these past few weeks. The biggest hurdle has been understanding how it all works. Little by little it has all been clicking in my head. Reading several articles about what jQuery is and how to use is has been a good enlightenment for me. There are of course a few drawbacks to trying things on your own and the biggest being no feedback. While, yes, there is some feedback but not in the traditional way or sense that I was accustomed.

I love being able to learn at my own pace but at the same time it can be very hard. Perfect example of this is trying to understand how JavaScript prototypes work. The first time I encountered the term was viewing a tutorial on building a jQuery plugin. While he made a quick reference to another article that I read after viewing the video it both confused me a little bit but it also helped me understand JavaScript a little more.

In the following weeks and months I hope to have a post explaining a little more about how prototypal inheritance works in JavaScript and maybe have something to show for it when I have it all done. I need to find some more resources and read more articles about it so I can get a better grasp and then I will have a much better understanding of it all. When done, I will hopefully have a jQuery plugin completed by then. Yes, another plugin but I need to start somewhere like most people did and have and what better way than to learn from not only others but from my mistakes as well.

Wireframes and mockups

What are wireframes?

Simple. Wireframes are a bunch of boxes, circles and lines that when combined together create a skeleton of what will eventually be a finished product. Call it the chicken wire to a sculptor, the rough sketch to painter or even the Lego instructions of the X-Wing.

But why?

Why not? As a visual artist, and person, I have to communicate with visual aids. One way is using said circles, squares, lines and even some text to help get my point or vision across to others. Web design is much the same way. A designer must create a visually stunning website while at the same time making it an easy to navigate through the site.

How is it achieved?

By creating wireframes and mock-ups. They are a great tool for designers as well as developers.  Recently, I have been working on creating a set of elements that are commonly used when it comes to creating web site wireframes and mockups in Illustrator and it has been both a little hard but fun as well. I have loved every minute of it since it has given me ideas about how I want to visually communicate to a future client even better. Part of it derived from reading the WordPress developer site and seeing how they got their ideas across and so I figured I would not only follow suit but also find a way to contribute to the community.

I am almost done with the Illustrator file with some basic elements but I keep getting this weird feeling like I am forgetting to include something. Something that is a key element when it comes to wireframes but I keep looking and nothing has yet to come to mind.

What next?

The next stage will be creating a user interface file with both Illustrator and Photoshop to share but that won’t be for some time. Either that or create some simple buttons, icons or random web graphics for people to have for free.

Lessons re-learned

The last two months have flown pretty quickly and it has almost seemed like a blur. To a certain extent. I have realized as to what I really love and that is coding. There is a hidden beauty I found while learning how to make my site work properly and I fell in love with it. Yes, there are a few hardships to face while trying to make a simple page work but it is that challenge that I have always loved to learn from.

Recently I started reading my PHP and MySQL books again and they are starting to remain in my head. Meaning that the things that I read are worth reading now. It is often strange to think that the things that I had once read are now actually making sense to me as to how they work. It is like I needed to take a break from it all to really understand it.

The next stage of it all will be testing all the things that I have learned and hope that they will stick with me. The biggest challenge will be testing on both a live site as well a local site. Not all things are often times created equal and this will be a good way of testing my skills of coding.

The next few days and weeks will be a fun journey into creating a functional theme I can try to submit to the WordPress community. I have thought hard about this and it should be pretty fun and a little daunting at the same time since there are some things that I want to change the output of but feel confident that I will find what I need within the forums and Google on my side.

My Notepad++ take

Over the years I have loved working with code and can recall when I first saw those little lines that created a table to create a two column page and used simple graphics as the background of the entire table. I was using Microsoft’s FrontPage editor to not only create my own pages but to look at the lines of code other pages were using. From that I learned how to create simple things like links, images and the basics of how a web page is created.

Several years later I found out about Adobe’s GoLive program and wanted to try it out. I downloaded a demo and fell in love with the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor but quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. I loved seeing the curly braces, the semicolons, greater than, ampersand and all the dancing characters that actually made the page a page and gave it the theme it did.

A few more years pass by and now Adobe has DreamWeaver. I, of course, tried that out and loved being able to switch between the two but still wasn’t fully in love. I will never really be satisfied, I guess. I have weird expectations when it comes to things like that, but that is besides the point. I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford the program so I ventured out to see what other available code editors were available. I found several but the one that I still use to this day is Notepad++.

The main reason I fell in love with it was the ability to change the theme to my own personal one. I could create one and choose to share with the community if I wanted. (I have yet to create a custom theme but will be when I have a lot more time to.)

Aside from the ability to change themes the biggest reason was the syntax highlighting of the program. Being that it is free doesn’t hurt much either. Recently a new version came out and they added a few more things to make me want to keep using it more and more. The best feature for me is the document map. It helps so much when looking over the nearly nine thousand lines of code that make up the development version of jQuery to understand how it works or looking at the beautiful code that makes up WordPress.

Document Map

Along with the ability to quickly look over the lines of code is the ability to quickly change themes. There are a few that come already with it but I use one that I found here. It is a simple one for web developer/designers but it is somewhat limited when it comes to other language support in syntax highlighting. For me it does the job on a smaller screen and for my main computer I like using a darker style so I can keep looking at the screen just a few more minutes longer.

Theme selection

Along with styles there several plugins that make it all worthwhile to code an iOS app, site or simple script. For those site developers using the native FTP support is extremely simple and rather intuitive. Nothing fancy for me which is what I love in FTP support. You have the ability to create several profiles (sites) and connect/disconnect when you please. Besides FTP, there is also REGEX support and many, many more plugins. The newest one being PCRE (Perl Compatible Regular Expressions) support and I know that once I get a good book on Perl and regular expressions I will be using that to its full extent.

Plugin manager

Being able to connect via FTP is good and being able to read all those lines of code is what a code editor should really be about. Having the ability to change the font to what I like and the colors to my choosing so I can differentiate between what is a comment and what is actual code is essential when it comes to developing and creating a good web app.

JavaScript syntax highlighting

But what is a good editor without the ability to expand and collapse? One of my favorite features of Notepad++ is the ability to do so. Almost a perfect model of what a document tree is. That is one feature that I have used since the first day I installed it in on my computer.

With technology making things much, much easier to distribute in the next release I can’t help but wonder what will be next. The one thing I would love to see is either a plugin that has support for version control or have that be part of its core program. Only time will tell.

Working with code

It has been a really long time since I posted anything on my blog. There have been several reasons as to why. The biggest one is because I was slowly going through a small depression. Not being in school and not reading/learning about things that I love has effected me to a certain extent. Now, I realize that I can still learn and advance my learning, I just have to use the resources that are at my disposal. Knowing these things and talking about it has helped me realize I can still be happy.

These past weeks I’ve been working five graveyard shifts a week and been trying to work a second job and it hasn’t been the greatest for my mentality. It really has altered the way I act towards everyone. While trying to keep what little sanity I had I was reading about PHP, jQuery and still trying to code my site. I realized that I have been skipping steps in between. I have to develop my process on how I will function and create my sites. Step by step by step.

What is nice is that I am starting to understand how to properly code my site. The things that I have to now think about is what elements will be interactive. Working with PHP has helped me understand how JavaScript works. Upon reading and viewing tutorials on jQuery I am slowly starting to understand how it all synchronizes to create a really good user experience. My next journey into web developing will be using AJAX on my projects. Learning how to implement it will be such a great experience. It may very well strain my eyes at first but I know this is going to be a great skill down the road.

I feel like I still have a lot to learn and I a lot to take in but that won’t deter me from achieving what I want to achieve. I know there will be several obstacles that I will have to overcome but in time I should be able to overcome those.

Lowering my standards or expectations

As of lately I have had this subject on my mind and I can’t seem to shake it. Part of that reason is because I was talking about it one night while working overnight. Being able to talk to somebody has shed some light to my subject and has helped me see things in a slightly different manner. It is nice.

Over the years of working in customer service I have grown to develop a basic standard of how I expect to be treated when I go to almost any business. The biggest one of course would be any food related service. Walking into a restaurant is the biggest issue for me because I tend to make the biggest judgement call about how the food and service may just very well turn out. Yes, I can be judgmental at times just like everybody else but it is the situation that I judge and not people.

A perfect example of this was a few months back I went to Yosemite with two friends and we set to eat at the Ahwahnee Hotel like we tend to when we go to Yosemite. It was a pretty busy day and the server seemed to be pretty preoccupied with all the tables that she had. The part that really got me the most was the she went about certain things like refilling my drink as well as my friend’s drink that had been there far longer than mine.

In a way it felt like I expected too much of her to notice something so simple as an empty glass on the table but was it really? Service is secondary but where do we really start drawing the line? The only thing I really expected, I guess, was for her to communicate with us about how busy they were and that she would try to do her best in the situation.

Then I start to think about the times that I visit other Starbucks and get what I feel are not so good examples of what a barista should be like. I understand saying thank you to the customer as a means of thanking them for the business but I also have that mentality of saying you’re welcome after hearing it. In a way I guess I want people to almost act like I do to others but in their own way. I greet people like friends and friends like family. A lot of it I think is only because of my curiosity of how the human brain works and how we interact with one another.

Am I really expecting too much? Should I lower my standards so that I can be satisfied with how people act? I guess only time will really tell.