The One Where 2018 Comes To An End

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In the moment, it can be difficult to realize what you’ve accomplished in a year.

2018 is no different.

As the year comes to a close, I wanted to reflect on everything that I accomplished—or didn’t—in the past 365 days.


Spoke at Tech Conferences

I might have gone overboard with applying to speak at conferences in the past year. But, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Speaking at tech conferences is a way for me to give back to my community by sharing my story with other developers.

In May, I spoke at Codeland. I spoke about my experiences with Creating and managing my first ever open source project on Github. Before Codeland, I hadn’t spoken at a conference in almost two years, so I was beyond excited to hear that my proposal had been accepted! Giving that talk and hearing from other Code Newbies that my story—the good and the bad—echoed theirs was touching.

Guide your team with an Email Playbook, Litmus Live, San Francisco

A few months later I spoke at Litmus Live in Boston about a project from my work as an Email Developer. Litmus Live 2016 (then called the Email Design Conference) was the first ever tech conferences I spoke at (and attended) so it was exciting to be back with a new story and new experiences under my belt.

There were a few other conferences I submitted proposals for but did not get picked. And that’s ok! There’s something that can be learned from just applying.

Completed a Mobile Web Specialist Nanodegree

I wrote about this in detail, but to sum it up, completing this Nanodegree was one my biggest personal and professional accomplishments in 2018.

Coming in as one of the 50,000 participants in phase 1 of the Nanodegree, I was in over my head. Javascript was a prerequisite and I knew enough to be dangerous, but the concepts in the initial stages of the course were foreign to me.

Service workers? No, I haven’t actually worked in a restaurant. ES6? Isn’t that a video game convention?

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash | https://unsplash.com/photos/z1d-LP8sjuI
Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash | https://unsplash.com/photos/z1d-LP8sjuI

At the very beginning, I considered giving up. With the help of the community and a whole lot of Googling, I completed phase one of the course. And, to my surprise, made it into phase 2 where the course material got even more difficult and interesting. Over the course of 9 months, we took a Restaurant Reviews app from being static to mobile first to offline friendly while keeping accessibility best practices and load times in mind.

This was huge!

Most of these concepts, I didn’t know existed in 2017. Now, I am comfortable enough with PWAs, IndexedDB and ES6 to build new applications. This course has pushed me in ways I wouldn’t have though up and has inspired me to keep going. I recently started an Intro to Computer Science course and have written my first lines of Python!

Made 312 Contributions on Github

Not bad!

312 contributions on Github in 2018

While slightly less than what I did in 2017, I did participate in more projects overall than I had in previous years. Some through Hacktoberfest—which earned me not one but two shirts this year—and some were projects of my own where I wanted to experiment and try something new.

Promoted to Senior Email Developer

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash | https://unsplash.com/photos/gVWQJQEc6lA
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash | https://unsplash.com/photos/gVWQJQEc6lA

This was a big one.

Getting promoted to Senior Email Developer meant a lot to me, professionally. It helped me to see that I am really, freaking good at what I do and to continue in the direction that I am going.

Over 1100 Tweets

What can I say? I really like Twitter.

Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.

With my total count at 1190 at the time of this post, this number doesn’t surprise me at all. Between tuning into Twitter chats and Tweet-storming at conferences, Twitter is a big part of how I stay connected with the developer & email geek communities.

One thing I tried to do more of this year was to share out interesting, enlightening or helpful articles that I’ve read elsewhere on the web. Usually, I’ll pull a quote from the article and tag the author or publication if I can.


In the last hours of 2018, I look at this list and I’m almost surprised.

This is a lot of stuff.

If you asked in in January if I saw myself as having given tech talks in New York, Boston, and San Francisco, I would have said that sounds unlikely. The same for gaining a deeper understanding of Javascript, or buying a house (!) or even getting a promotion.

But it all happened!

Yes, things got really rough at points—like moving in the middle of trying to keep up with the nanodegree—but I got through it. The hard work, late nights and support network helped to make that happen.

To recap, 2018 was a whirlwind.

I am glad to be through it but am also very thankful for the opportunities—personally and professionally—that have come my way in the past 12 months.

To 2018—thank you! And to 2019—bring it on!

Cheers!

The One with the Color Picker in Chrome DevTools

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash | https://unsplash.com/photos/hqCEQTc5gZA

I was today years old when I learned that there is a color picker available within Chrome DevTools.

I was making tweaks to the homepage of my website. I use Bootstrap with some custom styling which was making for some weird spacing on larger screen sizes. I was debugging where the extra height was coming from by adding obtrusive background colors to all div elements.

Usually, I inspect an element and double-click it’s hex value in the styles panel to manually make a change. By mistake, I clicked the small color square next to the hex value and—whoa—a wild color picker has appeared!

Example of using Chrome DevTools to change a hex value
An example of using Chrome DevTools to change the hex value of a CSS property value

Pretty cool right?

In playing around with the tool some more, I see that you can use an eyedropper to pick out new colors, toggle the color values from RGA, hex, and hsla and even pick colors from the material design color palette.

This is great news for someone like me who wants needs to debug in the browser or wants to test new colors without opening up a text editor.

Here’s Google’s documentation on the tool and other CSS Reference features.

Chrome DevTools | CSS Reference

#CNC2018 “Code More” Mission #1: Goals, Assumptions, Risks

Photo by Anas Alshanti on Unsplash

Now, we’re in the first official week of the Code Newbie #CNC2018 “Code More” Challenge! Last week, I wrote about what has worked and not worked when it comes to goal setting. This week, the challenge focuses on what can prevent us from reaching the goals we set. Here are my thoughts.

  • I want to code more because:
    I really like learning about coding for the web. I’ve worked with code in one way or another for the past five years and I always come back to wanting to learn more about building websites. As a self-taught developer, I felt like I was always missing something from being an actual web developer (hello imposter syndrome!), so I tend to focus my energy on building that skill set. The web changes fast and I want to avoid becoming stagnant or falling behind!
  • I know I’ll have reached my “code more” goal when:
    This is a tough one. You’ll never know everything about code, or the web, or coding for the web. However, I consider myself as having met my goal when I can look back and clearly see what skill gaps I have filled or are working on filling. I also consider feeling more confident in my skillset as a sign that I have completed my code more goal.
  • My top three assumptions for reaching my goal are:
    • Working full time. After being in the office, sometimes, I do not want to spend more time staring at a computer screen. Also, my brain hurts sometimes 😐
    • Managing my time. See above. If I am clear about my goals, I can better manage my time and make progress. However, that is easier said than done
    • Personal life. As much as I love to learn to code and wish that was my full-time job, it is not. For me, there is more to life than sitting in front of a computer screen. Health, family, and friends are priorities too.
  • Of these assumptions, my riskiest is managing my time.
  • When I think about my riskiest assumption, three possible root causes are:
    • Prioritizing easy/instant gratification over long-term goals.
    • Saying “yes” to being lazy, instead of “yes” to being productive/working toward my long-term goals.
    • Being too generous with my time. I need to respect my own time in order to be successful.
  • 3 ways I might address these root causes are:
    • Do not overcommit! I’m guilty of taking on “all of the things” and not really having time to do them all. Or letting not-as-important things (I’m looking at you Netflix!) take up the time I do have.
    • Focus on one thing at a time. Humans are terrible at multitasking.
    • Track accomplishments. I did this last year and it made a big difference when I was feeling unaccomplished.
  • Of these, the biggest cause that’s worth tackling first is focusing on one thing at a time.

Photo by Anas Alshanti on Unsplash

#CNC2018 “Code More” Pre-Mission

Photo by Ash Edmonds on Unsplash

As part of the Code Newbie #CNC2018 “Code More” Challenge, here is my pre-mission homework:

GOAL: Understand what has and hasn’t worked in past attempts to code more, and start thinking about long and short-term goals.

What has worked?

  • Having an accountability buddy / going through a challenge with other people in my network
  • Saying my goals aloud (or on Twitter)
  • Setting SMART goals
  • Writing down my goals so that I can refer to there
  • Having a project where other people depend on me – I don’t want to let someone else down. For example, I was really happy with my Halloween countdown timer project that I did for Hacktoberfest. I didn’t talk myself out of participating. I was so excited to practice merge commits / etc that I was easily putting 3-4 hours in daily to keep it up to date. It was a project I was really excited about, it was fun, I learned a lot and was able to help other people practice as well. I really enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with other people. The positive feedback is a confidence booster too!
  • Based on the above, I know that I am someone who learns by doing. More than that, I like having a project that means something in the end. That is probably why most classes with fake projects don’t go well for me. I work full time so I don’t have unlimited time resources like I did in college

What has not worked?

  • Most free / cheap Udemy classes. The quality can go either way and I’m not as motivated to move through the material.
  • Setting goals that were to vague or unrealistic. I’ve since learned that I do better when I write things down and break them into smaller pieces. Sometimes learning to code every night isn’t realistic
  • Daily challenges don’t work so well for me. My mood, energy levels, priorities, etc, vary day by day, so the daily stuff doesn’t usually happen. For something that has expected checkpoints / time commitments (1hr a day OR 5 hours a week) I do tend to do better. Some days I feel like coding for several hours or I am in a good headspace to learn, others I am not
  • Rebuilding my portfolio has not been a project I’ve successfully completed since the last major redesign in 2013ish. I keep starting with great intent and not really going anywhere. I’m embarrassed at not having a site (or rather, an online presence that speaks to the work I do, etc) but it keeps not being a priority for me. I need to be ok with using a theme and filling it in with some killer content then waiting to build something from scratch that is perfect. I think I focus on the bigger picture and don’t break it down into small enough chunks. The deadlines I set are arbitrary / etc so I tend to scramble to having something up before a conference, etc.

What are your long-term goals?

  • To be a front-end developer! I can do front-end development work, but I feel like an imposter. I don’t feel comfortable as a front-end developer or that I’d be able to make it in a front-end developer role, and I would like to fill that gap. I’d like to learn or improve my skillset in the following areas (to start)
    • AWS
    • Bootstrap
    • Git
    • SASS
    • Javascript / Jquery
  • I’d like to expand my comfort level with design thinking and leadership. I’m torn between sticking with the developer route (which seems hard to get into) and the designer route (equally challenging since I’ve been out of the design game for a while).

What are your short-term goals?

  • By the end of this challenge, I’d like to have my website hosted on either github pages or AWS.  I would also like to make significant progress in the Udacity course I am taking.