Programmer Rising

This past March, I started programming again for the first time since March of 2012.  That’s three years of not doing much coding as a PHP web developer after having done it for upwards of 15 hours a day and now over 15 years since I graduated from college.  I was the second graduate to walk the stage in receiving my two-year diploma from the then new ITAS Program in 2000 at what is now known as VIU.  I had been reminiscing lately about the first website I ever made at Geocities back in 1997.  That’s creeping up on 20 years since I published my first website.  Where has the time gone!?  And my how technology has changed since then!

I haven’t blogged much (lately, yes, I know – life happened) let alone about technology in several years.  There are only two tech-related posts on this blog, both on subscribing to a website.  While I haven’t had much motivation to blog about business and technology since starting daddyjake.com, I have also struggled with where to publish these types of posts.

Five years ago, I somewhat left my career as a web geek in favour of learning something new (and less stressful).  I knew at the time that I would never work in IT department again.  I was miserable almost my entire tech career when I was at work.  But, I questioned why if I hated my career so much, would I go home and work on my own web projects for several hours more?  Getting back into programming as of late has helped remind me of why I love doing it so much.  

When I was in college, one of our instructors gave us instructions on how to install and configure a mail server.  Needless to say, things did not go as exactly written in the instructions and a few of my classmates tore into my instructor because how dare he give us instructions that didn’t work!  Then I heard that token tech phrase for the first time in my career: “but it worked on my machine!”  I just shook my head.  Not at my instructor, but at my classmates.

As a technologist, you spend countless, lost hours in a project troubleshooting, debugging, researching and fixing things.  My estimation would be that 70-80% of the time spent on a project is spent solely on making things work and/or finding a workaround to a roadblock you encounter.  This can be frustrating as hell when you have deadlines.  Or in my case, working for managers who don’t understand that it’s part of the process of working on a project that involves technology.

Delving back into my projects after not looking at some of them for upwards of five years has been an interesting ride.  I have written and re-written a lot of code as I have evolved as a developer and learned new ways of doing things and as the technologies themselves have evolved.  Code I once thought was great, I now scratch my head at.

With such a lag having just happened with my projects and needing to free up some of my own time, I decided to take a look at frameworks again (framework: pre-built building blocks rather than me making those building blocks myself.  I am using Laravel 5 for those who are wondering).  This is far from the first time I have looked at frameworks but also the first time in closer to ten years that I have actually given them a chance.  The reason they might actually stay this time:  I need to think and work like a business owner and not like a programmer.  In other words, as a business owner, I can’t spend all my time coding because I have way too much non-coding work to get done!

laravel5

With my programmer hat on, I have been back in that space of banging my head as I come across bumps, hills and mountains in my project(s).  I curse, bang my keyboard, go for walks, write it out on paper doing whatever I can until that issue is in my rear view mirror.  Then I move on to the next feature and deal with the issues that come along with it.

Stressful?  Yes.  Frustrating?  Absolutely.  Exhilarating?  Exactly the point!

The process of coming up with an idea, losing your shit trying to get it implemented, losing (quite literally at times) days trying to get one piece to work and realize it’s because you didn’t put a comma where needed and then all of a sudden, it’s working.  THAT is what I love about programming!  I love watching as a website just comes to life as you feed it data much like watering a flower and watching it come to life.

The amount of work I have to do is more than a little daunting.  I am very grateful for coffee, time to work on my projects and best of all, being able to look up from my desk and watch the hawks and eagles flying around!

Moved to MailChimp Email Subscriptions

I realized after posting my last blog post that I should have mentioned that I moved my email subscribers over to MailChimp.  I used Feedburner for over a decade but was recently reading rumours of it being on the hit-list to be retired by Google who quite some time ago bought the service.  

Knowing that this was to happen eventually, I decided to look into moving my subscribers over to a better and more widely known email subscription service.  MailChimp is a free service up to 2,000 subscribers which gives me a goal to work towards.  I currently sit at 15 so I have a long, long ways to go.

Why should I subscribe?

If you are like me and read several blogs, you know that it can be quite time consuming to type in the URL (or click on a bookmark) to get to each of those blogs to either have a fresh blog post to read or move on because there isn’t.  When you subscribe to a blog by email, each time there is a new post, it is emailed directly to your inbox without you having to visit the website.

How do I subscribe?

If you aren’t already subscribed to this blog, you can enter your first name and email address and click on the “Sign up” button at the top of the left hand side bar under the main menu.

MailChimp subscribe

Because I have my subscriber list configured for “double opt-in”, MailChimp will send you an email to confirm your subscription.  You will need to click on the “Yes, subscribe me to this list.” It will not send you any other emails (from my website) until you confirm your subscription.

MailChimp confirmation

How do I unsubscribe?

With any email that is sent via MailChimp, there are options at the bottom of the email to easily unsubscribe and change your subscription options.  To unsubscribe, simply click on the “unsubscribe from this list” link at the bottom of the email.

MailChimp unsubscribe

The only downfall of having moved to MailChimp, is that I have lost my RSS subscribers.  I felt that the move to MailChimp was worth the loss considering the type of people who read this blog.  I was a techie in my previous life and it is mostly techies that subscribe to RSS feeds.  I talk a bit about RSS subscriptions in my “How to subscribe to a website” post which I will need to update because, guess what, Google retired Google Reader making the technical aspect of that post obsolete.

 

How to subscribe to a website

How much of your time is spent navigating to the websites you read on a daily and/or weekly basis and how do you go about doing that?  Are you aware that you can save yourself time by quickly and easily subscribing to all of your favourite websites and have them within one spot?

There are two main ways of subscribing to a website: RSS and email

RSS Subscriptions:

RSS stands for “Rich Site Summary” (something I learned today) or “Really Simple Syndication” (which is what I have always known it defined as).  RSS is an XML-based web document that allows services to aggregate one or more RSS feeds into one place.

Have you ever wondered what all these buttons you see on websites are for:

Here is a great YouTube video that explains RSS and how to subscribe to an RSS feed:

Google Reader List View scanning

Email Subscriptions:

Email subscriptions deliver content to your email inbox as it is published.

Enter your email address:Delivered by FeedBurner