The One Where I Attended WordCamp Baltimore

Lanyard from the 2017 Baltimore Wordcamp

Last weekend, I attended Baltimore WordCamp.

While the weekend was filled with several great talks, I wanted to share some of my favorite takeaways.

Launching Your Freelance Career the Right Way by Erica Mays
In working as a freelancer for several years, speaker Erica Mays learned a lot. In her talk, a simple and worth repeating advice is to always have a portfolio website. Get a domain name (yourname.com is always a safe bet) and update it at least once every three months. It doesn’t matter if you use a theme or build your site from scratch. Have a portfolio site, keep it clean, responsive and highlight the quality work that you can do.

SASS Isn’t Scary by Beth Soderberg
I’ll be the first to admit, I almost didn’t attend this session because I was spooked by the idea of SASS. Luckily, Beth Soderberg did an amazing job of highlighting what SASS can do and how to get started.

For those who do not know, SASS (Syntactically awesome stylesheet) is a CSS preprocessor that makes managing code easier to maintain by doing some of the work for you. To start with using SASS, you can take an incremental approach. Vanilla CSS can fit right into a .scss file and, technically, that is all you need to start. You can update your SASS file as you learn to nest styles and create mixins. 

It’s Never Just a Website by Jessica Watson
Being a web developer isn’t what defines you. In her talk about websites and working with clients Jessica elaborates that every client has a story. A client has a story and you, the web designer/web developer are only a chapter within that story.

On the subject of working with clients, it may not be a surprised by those website proposals that we spend so much time one, are rarely read. Knowing that, how do you get the information you need and make sure the client is aware of expectations? Start by skipping the cookie-cutter questions. You need to dig deeper. Ask why does their work matter? Who cares about what they do and why?

 

Sessions from the weekend can be viewed on wordpress.tv.

Visit baltimore.wordcamp.org or follow @wordcampbalt and to stay in the loop for next year’s WordCamp!

The One About Hacktoberfest

Photo by Andrew Small on Unsplash

Ahh, fall. The season of PSLs, cozy sweaters and….Hacktoberfest?

Yes. Hacktoberfest is a thing.

A portmanteau of “hack” (think, “hackathon”) and “Octoberfest”,  “Hacktoberfest is a month-long celebration of open source software”. The idea is simple. Contribute to any public repository on Github in the month of October and you get stickers. Make four pull requests and you’ll get a t-shirt!

Freebies aside, I loved the idea.

I searched for open issues on Github and at first found it difficult to find something I could work on. Either I was not familiar with that code language or someone else beat me to fix. I eventually did find some projects to contribute to (yay for translations!) but wanted to see how else I could give back to the open source community and other newer coders.

So I pushed one of my projects to Github for anyone to contribute to.

I learned Javascript over the summer. To practice, I created a countdown timer to Halloween. What better project to add to the Hacktoberfest fun?!

How Many Days Until Halloween? First version of the page. Returns numbers of days until Halloween on load.
The first version of my “How Many Days Until Halloween?” web page

In posting this project I wanted to get something out of it too. I had never merged commits other than my own. I was looking forward to reviewing pull requests, merge conflicts and (hopefully) not break anything in the process. Git is not something I use every day

It’s been a week since I posted “How Many Days Until Halloween?” to Github and the response has been great so far! I’ve gone from having a relatively static page to one with random, spooky text, flying bats, and a happy little pumpkin favicon.

Stats after one week of posting my project to Github
Stats after one week of posting my project to Github

If you want to get into the Hacktoberfest spirit, the repo for this project can be found here. Stay spooky!


Photo by Andrew Small on Unsplash

Top Tech Conferences I’m Watching Right Now

Empty Conference Chairs | Photo by ål nik on Unsplash

I don’t think of myself as an extroverted person, but I enjoy attending tech conferences. The buzz of being in a room of other like-minded people when there is so much to learn is difficult to replicate elsewhere.

That said, I try to stalk the internet regularly for relevant conferences.

I do email development by day but have interests that span to other parts of tech, design and web development.  I certainly don’t have an endless amount of cash to attend some or all of these conferences, but I certainly can dream.

Here are the top conferences I’m looking forward to for 2017 (and 2018)!

Adobe Max / Adobe Summit
Las Vegas, NV
I’m including these two together because the content has some overlap. Adobe Summit is advertised as a conference for Digital Marketers while Adobe Max is for creatives. I was lucky enough to attend Adobe Summit and even with not being a marketer, got a lot out of it. There was a lot of content (multiple tracks running at once) and I got to see demos and sneak peaks of upcoming Adobe Products.

Codeland
New York City, NY
Codeland is a conference by CodeNewbie, the popular Podcast for beginners to tech and coding. Codeland was held for the first time in 2017. Although I was not able to attend, I heard great things about it and I’m looking forward to attending in 2018! If you are a fan of the CodeNewbie community (I love their weekly Twitter Chats) this may be worth checking out.

Ela Conf
Philadelphia, PA
I heard about Ela Conf by chance via Twitter. I hadn’t seen many conferences focus on the leadership aspect of tech so I bought my ticket as soon as possible. Ela Conf prides its self on being “a safe, inclusive tech leadership conference” and I couldn’t be more excited to attend later this month!

Lanyards by Simon Collison on Flickr
Lanyards by Simon Collison on Flickr

Front End Design Conference
St.Petersburg, FL
Similar to Ela Conf, I was excited to hear about a conference that caters to a specific group within web development. I consider myself a Front-End Developer so some web development conference seems intimidating from the outside. Coming into its 10th year I’d consider attending the Front End Design Conference in 2018.

GitHub Universe
San Francisco, CA
Git and Github are necessary tools to know if contribute or write code in any way. I consider myself a beginner in Git / Github with a desire to learn more. The line up of speakers for 2017 has folks from different roles, companies, and aspects of tech. Bonus! Github Universe is being streamed live for those of us at home!

Litmus Live
Boston, MA
If you work in email design, development and/or marketing, this conference is one you have to try and attend. With development and marketing tracks, and optional workshops, there is something for everyone else. I attended (and spoke!) in 2016 and had a blast hanging with my #emailgeeks. Bonus, the conference also travels to London and San Francisco and attending one will give you access to videos of all three locations afterward.

A post shared by kate (@katemharmon) on

Word Camp Baltimore
Baltimore, MD
Who can pass up a tech conference in their home state? WordPress is a popular, open source CMS and Word Camps are conferences put on by local chapters. I attended Word Camp Baltimore in 2016 for the first time and had a blast (the night ended in Karaoke) and did not hesitate when ticket went on sale earlier this year. Multiple tracks are running at once where everyone is encouraged to switch rooms/sessions to find which works best for you.

Write / Speak / Code
Portland, OR
Another conference that focuses on the non-code related aspects of working in tech. I’m interested in technical writing and contributing, so I’ve been watching Write / Speak / Code for a while. Their conference is four days with a different track/theme each day. Write / Speak / Code also has local chapters / meet up groups with other events throughout the year.

More conference chatter to come!


Photo by ål nik on Unsplash

The One Where I Tweeted About Imposter Syndrome

Moustache ! by https://www.flickr.com/photos/marlened/

On Tuesday, I tweeted about imposter syndrome.

I didn’t expect my Tweet to catch on, but it did. My phone has been blowing up with new comments, likes and retweets. It seems a lot of people can relate which makes me feel less alone in the world.

For me, imposter syndrome hits on occasion. I’ve briefly written about it before. Some days, I’m confidence, I’m ready to tackle anything that comes my way. No one can stop me! Other days, like on Tuesday it’s the opposite. Intense feelings of doubt in my coding skills come from nowhere. Am I really a developer? I can code, yes, and I’ve been doing so for most of my professional career, but am I really a developer?

Imposter by Robin Zebrowski | https://www.flickr.com/photos/firepile/15576354231
Imposter by Robin Zebrowski

It can be a crippling mindset to be in.

Which is why the responses, advice, resources, etc I have gotten over the past few days have been encouraging. I’m getting out of the imposter syndrome funk and am moving forward. Heck, any other day, I would have talked myself out of write this post. I would have thought myself not good enough of a writer / blogger to put together this post. Yet. Here it is!

I put this post together as a resource / inspiration board for myself and whoever else may need it. My favorite Tweets / takeaways are included below, but I encourage keeping the conversation going.

How do you deal with imposter syndrome?


Photo by marlenedd is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The One Where I Learned Javascript (An Update)

Canvas+javascript by https://www.flickr.com/photos/hildeengwenverbouwen/

It’s been a few weeks since I seriously started learning javascript. It’s been great! I’ve gone from struggling to understand basic concepts to actually getting it and wanting to learn more! If I had to guess, I’ve put in 20+ hours into learning Javascript so far.

There is so much more to learn but here is what I have accomplished so far.

Javascript Road Trips

In mid August, Code School had their annual free weekend. From Friday-Sunday all content was free, so I took advantage of their Javascript pathThe content was great! It went into detail, the examples built upon each other and I was able to download the videos/pdfs as references! I’m guessing I spent 6-8 hrs going through the lessons and I feel as though I have a really solid foundation of if/when statements, functions and variables.

Bought a Javascript Book

Jon Duckett’s JavaScript & jQuery book had been on my wish list for years. I had been putting off buying it since I didn’t need more books. However, I had heard nothing but good things. In the CodeNewbies TwitterChat other people mentioned that they were reading/had read it. So, I bit the bullet and spent twenty whole dollars on a copy. I’m only a few chapters in and I like it so far. Did you know that there is a companion site too?

Twitter Famous

I like Twitter chats. In the tech chats that I follow, a common question is “What are you working on / what are your coding goals?” Since the beginning of August, I’ve been vocal about where I am in my code journey and Twitter has responded with tons of support. I’ve gotten insane (at least from my perspective) amounts of likes along with suggestions for resources, offers to chat and people admitting they were in similar boats. Although I’m not putting myself out there for the impressions or likes, it’s encouraging to see and reassures me that I’m making a good choice.

Is it payday?

The other day, I really had Javascript on the brain. So, I decided to make a super simple webpage that answers the question “Is it payday?” It works! The logic is simple (it assumed pay is on the 15th and 30th) but I’m proud that I was able to write a function from memory. I’ve posted the code on Github with the plans to update it and add functionality.

More good things are coming!


Photo by nøcomputer is licensed under CC BY 2.0