A Canvas

If you’ve tuned in for my regular poetic ramblings on life and web development for the past few days what you probably saw was a site in a bit of a mess. Instead of designing my own WordPress theme I had the zany notion that it would be quicker just to pick a theme and change some things. So instead of writing my own code I spent two days trying on themes like a teenage girl tries on prom dresses – none of them was just quite right. I eventually settled and looked for something that was responsive (meaning I could view it on my computer or my iPhone with ease) and whose structure and CSS was clean and easy to navigate. I settled on Tiny Forge. It was pretty right out of the box and I just tweaked some colors, threw up my own header image and added some of my widgets to the sidebar.

I have a feeling as I get busier I’ll have even less desire to mess with my personal projects, but currently the need make this site pretty is as strong as it was when I started creating websites, which is pretty cool because I never thought I’d get back there.

When I first became enamored with websites and building my own I, well, I sucked at it obviously. This was back in junior high when I was a part of the weird subculture of Petz (I link to the Wikipedia article because the current nature of Petz is sad and pathetic to those of us who started from the beginning) and had a tiny fan site all my own – long-lost to the internet. I can’t even remember what I called it and it was probably on GeoCities (RIP). I couldn’t figure out why images where all red X’s (I never actually uploaded them to the website) and those images I tried to link all had these ugly blue borders around them (oh CSS, how I came to love and despair you).

In 2004 for Christmas my parents bought me a web domain of my very own (this very one) and Leaena as a nickname and a website was born. I jumped quickly into blogs when they became a thing. From Blogger to MoveableType and back again while trying a billion others like Pivot, Textpattern, etc. Somewhere in there I tried WordPress and it stuck (sort of, I think I bounced around a bunch in between).

The problem with all of these blogs up until recently was nothing stuck. I’d write a few posts and then it would just be a static page that I would want to change the layout for once a month or so, but never actually update. So that’s what I did. I wish I had pictures of some of my old sites. I was generally always following the trends. From frames to iFrames to horizontal scrolls. From using CSS to only using Comic Sans at a very small font size (it looks cool tiny guys, promise) to learning box models and divs. All along I wondered why I didn’t actually want to post anything. There were people out there writing constantly about things! in there lives! that sounded neat! I can write, but they always say write what you know and I felt like I didn’t know much of anything.

Then all of this happened, I decided computer science was my way of life, I realized that I enjoyed reading other people writing about their coding and geeky lives, and I realized I could have that life and tell other people about it too. So here’s to the new leaena.com. I’m sure I will be changing layouts every month soon, but at least I’ll also be updating the content as well.

Girl Power!

I’ve spent the past few week inundating my friend Ava, the one who starts Hackbright on Monday, with women in tech articles and sites online. She suggested I try to collect them all in one place, so here we go:

Big Sites:

  • Ada Initiative – Conferences, lobbying, mentoring. Lots of good stuff. Articles and video on Impostor Syndrome.
  • Systers – I just joined their mailing list. Lots of interesting discussions. Some of them don’t really apply to me, but it’s all inspiring. I really want to go to the Grace Hopper Celebration someday.
  • Skillcrush – Articles and teachables by women for women. Ava especially loved the Confusion is your friend blog post.
  • Women 2.0 – All sorts of career/education/tech stuff for women.
  • She’s Geeky – General geekiness for women, lots of rotating meetings/’unconferences’.
  • ChickTech – Currently focused in my hometown, they’ve done some amazing things for high school age girls.

Individual Articles:

[This will probably be a continually updated list for a while. I’ll sticky it to the top of the page for now.]

Sisterhood of the Learning to Code

My best friend, Ava, starts Hackbright next week! So proud of her and it’s awesome to have someone so close who’s going to be going through the same things I am. She just started up a blog: Ava Goes to Hackbright. In her inaugural post she talks about the same issue I mentioned earlier: impostor syndrome.

Tangent

I got called a rockstar today. I’m trying to make myself believe it. All I have left to do that’s required is the recursion stuff. Then there’s a bunch of extra credit that I want to try to go all the way through. Code School has a new (free) intro to JavaScript module that I also want to see if I can find too easy.

Non programming fluff the past few days. Family was in town and I’m starting to pack up the apartment I’ve lived in for four years. Subconsciously I seem to think the faster I clean out my apartment the sooner I get to move down to California. I think my subconscious is going to be disappointed when I have a bare apartment and another month of work in Salem.

In other news I am starting to hoard nerdy t-shirts. I bought a couple of Welcome to Nightvale shirts as well as some ‘verse (Whedonverse, that is) related ones from Once upon a Tee (Buffy, guns don’t kill people, and I hate the homeless, specifically).

Voices

Getting me through the work days/coding breaks lately are a couple of podcasts I just discovered:

Welcome to Night Vale

Throwing Shade

and an old favorite, back when I had time to watch their livestream The Co-optional Podcast (formerly TGS Podcast).

Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome describes a situation where someone feels like an impostor or fraud because they think that their accomplishments are nowhere near as good as those of the people around them. Usually, their accomplishments are just as good, and the person is being needlessly insecure.

Geek Feminism Wiki

The lack of posting this week is entirely related to the above quote. I spent the long weekend working on my pre-course work for HackReactor. It was awesome and fun and sometimes frustrating but I was powering through it. Then somewhere on Sunday, I got stuck. It was a stuckness of monumental proportions and looking back on it now I find it funny.

I have a method to my madness with coding. I add things, test them and add some more until I get stuck at a point where either I’m not sure how to implement something to make it do what I want or something I thought I’d implemented isn’t doing what I expected it to. Then I do a bunch of Googling, look at some examples, hack those examples to fit into my code and all is well again.

And that’s how it should have gone when I got stuck on Sunday. Instead I kept banging my head against the brick wall of stuckness, moving some code bits, rewording some code bits, and finally starting all over again in frustration. By Tuesday night as I had a Google Hangout date with my best friends, I was freaking out. Please keep in mind that I’d received this homework on Friday and I don’t have to finish it until I start school in November and at the point of my stuckness I was about half way through with all of it.

So yeah, the freak out was definitely unwarranted. I made it this far but I’m still worried I’m making a bad choice/going to be that one person in their program who doesn’t get a job/nobody will ever love me. You know normal fears.

It’s a day by day process telling myself I’m good enough. Today I finally came back to the thing I was stuck on and sorted out my issues in about an hour. Now I’m on to the last step, my best friend recursion.

Everything I Own Is Pink

Pink Electric

Early on in my transition to girl powered coder-dom I made a conscious decision to get everything I could that was pink. I like to flaunt my girliness and for as geeky and tomboyish as I can be, I love pink. My phone cover is pink, my tennis shoes are magenta and now I have a pink cover on my MacBook and a cheapo pink wireless mouse. Next on my list is some sort of bright pink thumb drive. I like to be geeky chic, if you will.