Interesting Reads #1

This is a rambling first start to a new series but I wanted to get it down quickly.

Some thoughts on working remotely:

  • My rMBP is mostly used in RDP mode – not using Apple’s hardware nearly at all for system administration due to a mostly Windows domain environment. Therefore, move to shell/RDP session for all sysadmin work for consistency . Maybe even move work-specific docs off the Mac and onto a server?
  • One year of solely working on an iPad.

Two great articles from Scott Hanselman:

On a Search

Lately my posts have had a theme of “Focus”. This has been a theme of mine this past year and I’m at a place again where I need to focus on what I’m aiming for even more.

I’m closing Railtie Studio. This is a little anticlimactic as Railtie never got as big or did as well as I had hoped it would. That was completely my fault though. Railtie was an attempt at starting my own business and trying to build something sustainable. However during that experience, I discovered that it’s exactly what I don’t want to do. While I like the idea of being my own boss, I don’t want to run my own business, I have no interest in business development, and I want to do design and development full-time.

With that said, I’m on a search for a new job as a Web Designer/Front-end Developer working with WordPress. I’m specifically looking for a distributed company or a company in the Nashville, TN area. If you know of a business that is looking for someone, please let me know. If you’re a company looking at my profile and wondering if I’m a good fit, please have a look at my Projects.

I’ll continue to take on freelance projects while looking for a new job, so if you need someone with my work experience, please let me know.

Focus

I’ve noticed in the past year that I have a bad habit of bookmarking everything I come across when it comes to new web development technologies. In my day-to-day development I stick to mostly the front-end languages and markup but I’ll bookmark just about anything – from backend web app development, to videos of the new tech hotness that I’ll probably never need, to tutorials on an obscure language I’ve never heard of but that I “just might need some day”.

I have a serious bookmark hoarding issue.

The problem with this approach is that I don’t really learn anything completely. Sure, I know the core front-end technologies, but I would know them a lot better if I truly focused on them instead of focusing on what I don’t need.

My new resolution is to learn only technologies that I need for current projects that need them (brilliant, right?). For instance, this blog is getting an overhaul as it is still too bloated for my needs. It’s WordPress-based, but doesn’t nearly utilize all that WordPress has to offer nor does it need all that WordPress has to offer. Utilizing my new resolution of learning only technologies I need, I’m now learning Pico: “A stupidly simple & blazing fast, flat file CMS.” made by Gilbert Pellegrom. Pico has no database and the content is all Markdown which is perfect for what I need. I’m going to do a full review once I’m done moving over, but for now I feel a lot more focused by identifying a problem and fixing it. I’m not half-heartedly trying to learn something new I don’t need (and probably will never need), but instead I’m actually doing something.

New Job at jlsCreative

This past February I saw an ad on Craigslist for a WordPress Developer position. I got in contact with the post author, he checked out my portfolio, and we met up for lunch. We hit it off: I really liked his business ideas, goals, and design-sense, and he asked me to come onboard to build WordPress sites. I am now officially a Web Developer with jlsCreative!

It sounds almost easy, but getting this job was two years in the making. I was one of those people who didn’t quite know what they wanted to do with their life. I knew I liked working with computers though and so I began my dark descent into life as an IT Tech. That was seven years ago.

Two years ago however, I started something new. I started really attempting to learn how to build websites and I got hooked. Now, after a lot of hard work, I’ve finally made it.

This job, and I hesitate to call it a job since I like the work so much, is awesome.

A Realignment

I’ve started to follow Matt Mullenweg’s blog (yes, the WordPress founder) and he does a great job of blogging things he cares about in his personal life as well as his professional life. The tone of the blog is very positive, interesting, and entertaining even for people that aren’t WordPress fans like myself. You get a great sense of the man behindthe site that I think some blogs are missing. I saw a link that he posted that went into depth about the idea of “owning our digital homes”. To go along with the idea of a “digital home”, I’m realigning my own blog. I want this blog to be useful to people and interesting, but also to serve as an archive and a record of my own data . This blog holds my data and it will retain my data for as long as I keep it running. I won’t be posting personal things that should be on something like Facebook, but I will be posting more links I find interesting like Martin Wolf does on his blog and that other people do as well.

Checking In

Not too much activity here on the ol’ blog, but I’ve been plenty busy.
I’ve been working on the launch of a web app for a mortgage firm writing up the front-end code and assisting with some design aspects as well. Very, very challenging but I’m loving the work.

On a personal level, 2012 has been the year that I get myself back in shape. To do that, I’ve been running during my lunch hour at work which is usually the time that I get to code. So my personal coding has slowed down some, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Feel free to email me if you’d like more details about my ongoing running/fitness tale.

And if you’re not following CSS Wizardry yet, you should. Harry has been putting out some amazing content for CSS (and HTML) aficionado’s alike. I’m reading through all the archives and loving it. Good stuff.

Also, here’s a little inspirational wallpaper I whipped up just for fun:

Newsletters

If you’re like me, your Google Reader is filled with tons of subscriptions to various Web Dev, Design, and Web Technology-related news. While those subscriptions are valuable, sometimes it’s helpful to just get a summary of all the noteworthy news you might have missed during the week.

Enter “E-mail Newsletters”.

While it’s definitely an old-school way of distributing news, the newsletter seems to be making a comeback. Here are my picks:

HTML5DEV is a great resource for all-things HTML5 and browser technology.

Tom McFarlin writes a great software/web development newsletter.

And for the web designers, Web Design Weekly generates a great newsletter as well.

For a novice like myself, I find that the more resources and learning materials that I have, the better I get at coding websites.

Moving Day

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about setting up my landing page. A “landing” or “personal-brand” page explains in a summary of who you are and what you do. I had thought about just setting up an “About” page link on my blog, but ended up moving my blog to blog.andrewcodes.com and my landing page to the top domain andrewcodes.com.

Moving WordPress

I’ve never created a sub-domain before or a landing page, so I wanted to jot down my steps on how I did that:

  1. I went to my cPanel on my host and setup a new subdomain, blog.andrewcodes.com. Just a few clicks and it was done.
  2. If you are using WordPress, you’ll definitely want to follow the Moving WordPress guide.
  3. The key points from the Moving WordPress guide are to change your Site Address and WordPress address before moving your actual site. If you don’t, you won’t be able to get into your Dashboard.
  4. After changing the URL’s, move the files and folders that hold everything related to WordPress to its new location. For me, that meant creating a folder called “blog” on my host and then moving the files and folders over (don’t forget to move index.php).
  5. And that’s about it! Once you’ve gone through the steps, you’ll need to wait a little while for your host to update all the changes. It took mine about five minutes.

After I walked through those steps, I was able to upload my landing page to my host and got it up and running with no problems.

Landing Page

I got a lot of inspiration (and the background) for my current landing page from one of John Saddington’s early designs. Check out his other designs as well to get a good idea of how to create your own or use one of his that he’s released.

Other great landing pages:

Phil Coffman

Michael Novotny

Jon Raasch

Environment Part 3

Lately I’ve been doing the majority of my coding at work. I like to code during my lunch break and this is a pretty nice setup to do it on. Dropbox acts as my version control system and I can have my files pretty much wherever I go.

I enjoy seeing other web dev’s setups so here’s my contribution.

On to other news: Minimal Tasks got a really cool review on my neighbor’s (and good buddy’s) site: gotworship.net. Thanks Jason!

The Future

I cannot wait to get onto a real web host. StatiCloud is obviously nice since it’s free, easy to setup, free, and great for static sites (and free). But since starting this blog, I have a greater understanding of how crucial a CMS is.

A CMS or Content Management System (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal) enables bloggers to easily produce content. A CMS usually has a built-in commenting system that requires no coding at all to setup unless you’d like to add some style with CSS. With a CMS, you can make a single blog post without having to manually move another post to another page since your first page is now too long and everything has consequently been ruined. And my favorite feature of a CMS: you can make one design change which then propagates to all other pages! Amazing! These are obviously just a few of the features that a CMS provides, but these are the ones that I think most pertain to blogging.

I enjoy having the control that I have over this blog, but even writing a simple blog post can take some time. I would rather focus on the content then coding every little element.

Don’t get me wrong – this blog has increased my knowledge of HTML and CSS greatly. I would recommend the way that I’ve learned to just about anybody starting out. But… WordPress is calling my name and I can’t wait to jump over.