W3C HTML5 Course

Hi Everyone! I’m back with a suggestion for a great new course that will be offered through EdX and the W3C organizations. W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is a community that helps set the industry standards on the Web, and it has lots of helpful learning tools in its website. This June, EdX is offering a 6 week course on HTML5- the latest version of HTML for web design.

I have signed up and will be blogging about my weekly assignments and work. I received an email today about the course, and it said only 18% of the 60,000 enrolled students are women. So, I challenge anyone who is interested (and especially women readers!) to sign up and check it out!

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“My website”

In this code, I was playing around with the padding and spacing of the edges. This is made using a table in HTML. When websites were originaly started, tables were the primary object used for making website layout. Tables allowed a designer to make a spread the length of the webpage and nest other tables inside (as I did in this example.)

However, this style of layout is now mostly looked down on, as it can be extremely code-heavy and renders slowly. It is cumbersome. Instead, the

tag is used. I will talk more about the div tag later!

Erin’s Awesome Website

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Erin Fernandez

  • wife and mother of two
  • Degree in Econ and Poly Sci
  • Worked in DC
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Thoughts on how to Stay Productive at Home

So, life happens, days are too short, and I haven’t been able to sit down and work for sometime, but I’m back now.

I always start the day off with the best of intentions, but then dishes pile up, the kid(s) wants to go to the park and it takes a long time to get out the door, clothes have to be washed and put away, etc, etc, etc (you get the idea.)  It can be really had to balance taking care of a family and finding time for your own hobbies.  As mothers, we are geared to give everything first to the family Рwhich is good! Рbut I think our families will also benefit when we DO put time into our own creative endeavors.

My top 5 productivity tips for mom’s who are also trying to study/work while at home with little children.

Improve Discipline

Here I mean your own discipline (not children’s discipline.)¬†We are all familiar with the¬†quote “Do what must be done even if you don’t want to” or something to that effect. ¬†Have a daily routine, stick to it, and be disciplined about it. When it’s time to cook, cook. Time to clean, clean. Time to hop online or sit and write, do that, even if the “creative juices” are not flowing. Write anyway. Multitasking is not a great habit, so do each work or chore diligently and with discipline, and you’d ¬†be surprised how much you can get accomplished.

Avoid Distractions

Each¬†day, I have a to-do list before me; I love the thrill of checking off items on paper as I complete my tasks.¬†But just as important as to-do list is a not-to-do list. With advent of social media sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, the 24/7 new cycle, and WhatsApp, it is so easy to become distracted from the task at hand. For the stay at home mom, however, it’s really easy to be pulled away from work by the unwashed dishes that seem to multiple throughout the day or the desire to reorganize the closet or bedrooms. While each of these things are good habits, don’t focus or do them during the time you have allotted for working! There will be time enough to wash up and tidy later in the day.

Start Early

If you have young children who wake up when do you, this isn’t an option, but otherwise the still quiet time in the morning is often the only time I¬†will get the chance to sit and write without interruptions. Yes, it’s terrible hard to wake up early when I¬†can just keep sleeping in my cozy bed, but I find the days go much more smoothly when I have had a cup of coffee, some time to meditate, make breakfast and work on m hobbies before the household wakes up and the busy race of the day¬†begins. I have found that having an accountability partner, such as a fellow mom or friend with the same goals, can be extremely beneficial for¬†developing the early AM rising habit.

Menu Plan

I cannot say enough good things about developing this habit. Each Saturday, I will peruse my current pantry and freezer, and then cookbooks or my homemade list of my family’s favorite meals and choose 5 for the week. With this list, I head to the market to buy the the essential ingredients and prep anything I can ahead of time (marinade meat, chop and freeze veggies, etc.) Cooking homemade healthy food is so important for our family’s, and it must be a priority, but it doesn’t have to be¬†stressful. Avoiding the 4 o’clock “what are we having!” will greatly cut down on stress, and if I know exactly what is for dinner each night, I feel a lot more at peace and free to do my other work throughout the day. Another pro mom tip: 1) Slow cooker and 2) pressure cooker. While at opposite ends of the spectrum, they both are immense times saves. I love that I can drop in some marinated meat and 5-8 hours later, it will be delicious. On the other hand, with the pressure cooker, I can make potatoes or beans in a pinch.

Have Community Support

Man is not an island- we need others’ support, fellowship, and assistance. Join Facebook groups or blogging communities with mom’s who are on a similar journey. It can be incredibly motivating and a great source of accountability. If you can’t find such a group, start one! Additionally, maintain friendships and groups “in real life” as the Internet folks say. If possible, find help to watch or play with the children a few hours each week if you need interrupted work time. Staying motivated and encouraged in our work, both in the home and for our own interests, is invaluable!

Understanding Computers and the Internet

I just learned about another Harvard extension course that looks really good РUnderstanding Computers and the Internet. It is taught by Prof David Malan, who also teaches the CS50 course I mentioned previously. I just started watching it this morning, and it looks like a good intro for those who want to know a bit more about operating their computer and the Internet beyond the basics of what you probably already know.

Check it out!

My Favorite Online Learning Resources

I haven’t been able to spend much time online lately, as a bad cough and cold descended on our home. Right now I am actually pushing my baby’s bassinet back¬†and forth with one hand hoping to keep her asleep! I’m back with a quick post about a few useful (and free!) resources I have been using.

EdX and CS50

My first real introduction into Computer Science was through CS50 through EdX . It is the introductory Computer Science course at Harvard. Harvard (and many other top universities) have teamed up with EdX to offer many of their college courses for free online. CS50 is a great course. It is taught by a very charismatic professor and it is presented in a very fun and approachable way. The majority of the real students in the course at Harvard have never taken a CS class nor have they studied or played around with any computer programming. There is a great online CS50 community on Facebook which is very encouraging and motivating.It is not easy, however, and you do have to commit quite a bit of time to read the books, material and complete the exercises.

I suggest watching at least the first few videos, simply to get a feel of what CS has to offer and to learn that maybe this is possible to learn. Click here to watch it on the CS50 youtube channel.

Udemy Courses

Udemy is a great online resource for learning just about anything! People with an expertise is something make an online course and you can either purchase it, or wait around for it to become discounted or free. The discounts/free options come around often. There are many options for computer programming or Iphone App Development. I have really benefited from this media for learning because you can watch the teacher actually code or show examples on his screen. I will usually keep one screen open with the course and the other with my compiling program and follow along as they go.

The Library

Third, check out the library. My local library has some great tech books, and some are even geared for children if you want a super-easy introduction to a new subject or language. My trouble is that I always check out too many to read in the 3-week check out period! I love to surround myself with great books and new learning material.

Coffee and Coding

A Cup of Coffee

When I was first learning to code (or computer program – I will use the terms interchangeably), a friend asked me to write out the steps I would take to make a cup of coffee. My quick answer was something along the lines of “fill the pot with water. Add 2-3 T coffee grounds to the machine. Pour the water through and turn it on.”

He responded by saying, “where is the water coming from? Is there water? Where is the measuring spoons? Do you need to plug it in first? Perhaps first you have to get out of bed and walk to the kitchen?”

This small exercise was to teach me that even when the task seems very simple, there are many parts of the task that are actually automatic simply because I have already know how to do the task. Computers, on the other hand, do not come “prebuilt” with this knowledge. The first starting point when learning to code is to assume nothing. Although most people would know how to fill a coffee pot with water (i.e., turn on the faucet) a computer is, honestly, pretty stupid. It can only do what you tell it to do. And this is precisely computer programming.

What is Coding?

Coding is essentially providing very specific instructions to a computer to complete a task. You may remember from your computer classes in high school or college that computers only understand zeros and ones. When you write the code in a computer language and run it, a computer will then compile (or process) language into binary (the zeros and ones.)

If this seems to not make any sense, don’t worry. My mistake when beginning¬†was¬†that I let myself get so bogged down by these details, and¬†I froze up and thought I would never learn this. Right now, just know that you will be learning a new language, and the computer will translate that language into one that the computer can understand.

What are the languages?

One of the first widely accepted and used language was “C”. It is fairly easy to learn and will allow you do make certain programs, but it quickly was replaced with C++ and C#,¬†which allowed programmers do write more sophisticated¬†and complex code. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the backbone for creating webpages (and the languages I am focusing on currently.) PHP and Python allow for much more interactive websites – ¬†Facebook uses PHP.

My Story

I do not have a background in Computer Science, and the credit goes to my husband for introducing me to the world of coding, testing, and all things tech. If you had told me 5 years ago I would have a blog specifically for web programming, I would not have believed you!

When I started to learn more and more from my husband, I realized, wow! this is very interesting and accessible! Between the internet and the library, I had all the means to teach myself a few new skills. Additionally, so many people are gaining these skills, and the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and many others agree that being able to code is going to be a general requirement for most jobs in the future, just like reading and math skills are today. I certainly know that I will encourage my children to learn to code at an early age.

As I learned more and more, my interest grew. It especially took off when I began to take online courses for HTML.  I already had a small personal blog up and running, and it was really encouraging and motivating when I could learn a little HTML and edit my blogs exactly how I wanted them, rather than just within the confines of the (unnamed) blogging service I used.

I began by enrolling in a few HTML courses on Udemy.com (more on this in a new post) and rented a few books from the library. And I just began practicing over and over. Between all the work with the house, kids, etc, I don’t have a ton of time each day to devote to this, but I slowing becoming¬†more organized and efficient with my time.¬†I started this blog to document what I am learning and how I am learning it.