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.

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.]