Quiet Except for the Singing

My apartment is almost bare and I’ll be turning in my keys today. My cats are now with my parents so it’s pretty loud there, but here in Salem it’s quiet. Almost. I’ve been singing at the top of my lungs while I clean (don’t judge the music choices too much, they have fun lyrics and I can dance to them as I scrub my shower):

Lindsey Learns APIs

Starting this countdown to California/Hack Reactor has brought back my love of learning in ways that online classes couldn’t do. I love to learn. I’m the kind of girl that if I don’t know the answer to your question (“Are inch worms an inch long?” – bad example as I do know that they get their name from the way they “inch” forward, but still), I will stop the conversation immediately, whip out my phone and find you the answer. I’m sure I’ve pissed off friends and relatives, but I think they are used to me by now. It’s something that I just have to do. Some people will make up things or say “who cares”, but I really want to get down to the truth, learn a new bit of trivia, something.

So now that I’m learning more things I keep coming up with questions. Like suddenly the veil has been lifted and JSON isn’t this mythical acronym but something I can actually parse and use. But my brain of course took it a step further. APIs are similar, right? – said my brain. But what exactly are they? I’ve pulled data out of one but it was very hand-holdy. How does that data even get there? How does an app get an API? To Google, my friends.

According to API Evangelist, APIs are tools individuals can use to access companies’/individual apps’ data and functions. They allow external users to access internal info safely. There’s lotsof stuff on this page though and my eyes kinda glazed over about half a page down. Time for a new track.

I learn better by doing so maybe make our own little API? Unsurprisingly, the internet has us covered. Let’s Create your first API. This is in PHP and very straightforward. But if you’re like me, you may want something in our own favorite web app language: JavaScript! So let’s go ahead and try Creating a REST API Using Node.js.

Obviously I’ve only just scratched the surface of this stuff but I want to try and play around with this and more in my last two weeks of down time. One last link for good measure: How to Design a Good API

Regex for Fun and Profit

I’ve always been a bit intimidated by regex (or Regular Expressions for the uninitiated). In a nutshell, regular expressions are these archaic looking bits of symbols that when put together look bizarre but actually are used to search for specific characters in a chunk of text/input. For example [^0-9] means search for the first non-numeric character (the ^ is a not, so [0-9] would be search for the first numeric character). I’ve used them a few times, but only by looking up other peoples versions and mucking around with it until it it gives me something like what I want.

Then Ava introduced me Regex Crossword and I knew that if she could do it I could sure as heck learn it too. I breezed through (or to be more accurate bashed through utterly confused) the introduction and part of the beginner puzzles and then got royally stuck. I had never formally learned regex and still didn’t have a clue what half of it meant. Off I went searching for a good tutorial, which was harder than I thought.

I first found Learn Regex the Hard Way, and while I normally like the Learn Code the Hard Way stuff the regex version isn’t finished and wasn’t really helping. I like interactive things that tell me whether I am even on to the right track of a clue. But then I found RegexOne which checked all my boxes! It gives you a bit of a lesson on each new character and then makes you test it out before you move on to the next lesson. I completed the beginning tutorials on there and decided to try the Crosswords again, feeling much more confident.

I got stuck again almost immediately. It was time for some good old fashioned cheating. I discovered Regexper and at first didn’t think it would be much of a help, but let me tell you, I was wrong. You can copy a regular expression into the text box and it will give you a humanized version with actual words and descriptions. With that in my tool belt I was no longer stuck and am now halfway through the intermediate challenges.

I’m not sure I’ll ever really enjoy regex, but at least now it doesn’t just look like magic.

My Life is Like My Nose Piercing

=Nose Pierced!

It didn’t hit me until my piercer started talking about the aftercare, but this piercing is probably the best thing I could have done to commemorate my new life as a Software Engineer.

It’s hard to see even in the picture above, but I got my nose pierced today (I also put on makeup and tweezed my eyebrows for the photo so I’m feeling pretty damn girly). There are all sorts of reasons I could have said that I got this piercing: I wanted to celebrate leaving behind Oregon for California, I wanted to celebrate my acceptance into Hack Reactor, I wanted the world to know that I’m finally starting to feel OK in my own skin. None of those was the real reason I walked into that shop. In reality I walked in there because I wanted something different. I wanted to be one of the cool kids and get my nose pierced. Even at 27 I still want “in”.

What I got out of getting my nose pierced was much more than even the symbolism I wanted to attach to it in the first place. After the initial high of wanting my nose pierced, I walked into the store still a little bouncy and chose my jewelry. Then I sat in the chair, saw the needle and the giant tube they were going to stick in my nose, and started to freak out a little. Even knowing that the pain would last for a second as the piercing dude assured me (while making small talk about how awesome San Francisco is in the process) I was tense. Then I got stabbed with a needle, a piece of metal was twisted in to my nose and I looked at myself in the mirror.

It was a pretty awesome feeling and it wasn’t even about the jewelry. It was when I saw myself in the mirror that all that symbolism that I’d tried to force on this tiny piece of jewelry suddenly settled around me. It was the nose stud, yes, but it was so much more. It was the Lexapro that I started taking about a year ago after a panic attack left me feeling like I was going to die that very minute alone in my apartment while I sobbed on the phone to my mom that I couldn’t breath and my mom was an hour away and probably feeling pretty helpless herself. It was the car keys to my very first car that I bought last year and the moment this year when I first drove on the freeway alone. And it was the feeling I felt when I visited Ava after she moved to Burlingame. It felt like peace and home and like I could become whoever I wanted to be there. It was then that I started to fight for that dream.

In the end, I will say that I got this nose piercing for Hack Reactor. This nose will take about 4 months before I can safely put new jewelry in it. This program will be over around the same time. Then I can put on a new career and wear “Software Engineer” like a badge of honor (along with some cute/geeky new nose bling).

UX Design vs Sticky Nav

An interesting rant from Reuters on end-user hate of sticky navigation bars (those logo/navigation combos that stay on top of your screen even as you scroll down the page). I find myself more and more interested in user experience data. My first love is definitely promoting/encouraging women in technology, but I can be fickle and have more than one love, right?

HTML5 and Me

So I’m “officially” done with the pre-course work for Hack Reactor. Remember that freakout a few posts back? Remember? Because I do and it makes me laugh out loud. I’m still going to work on all of the extra credit bits that they included but I have a month to go and I want to do some stuff I want to do. So here goes the site redesign I said wasn’t coming just a post ago.

While I redesigned this website and finally created my own minimal theme for WordPress I really wanted to learn the new awesome HTML5 tags that I’d only breezed through in the past. My first question was can I have multiple headers? Should I have multiple headers? According to Common HTML5 Mistakes, the answer is no on the “should” part at least.

My next rabbit hole was how those fancy newfangled button thingies work. I thought about using them for my main nav buttons, but after reading some Stack Overflow on Valid Button Uses I decided against it. Instead I just used some block divs.

From there I wanted it to be pretty. I have been reading about usability in web design. I’m starting to understand the Contrast Rebellion. I really want colors/fonts that are easy to read, still a little trendy, and with an eye to the UX vs UI issues.

Some other fun things I used/found useful:

Advocating for Geeks

Of course as soon as I type up a list of my recent finds of women in tech sites Huffington Post goes and makes a better one. This covers a lot of the biggies. Ones I have my eye on helping with (or following in the footsteps of) once I have more street cred.

My dream at this point is to definitely get my hands dirty, start small with volunteering, and someday teach/advocate for women in tech and STEM in general.