another python specialization completed… now what?

This weekend I completed the University of Michigan’s newest python specialization on Coursera. It was a great followup to Python for Everybody, which was just perfect for new programmers. This newest specialization covered advanced topics like classes and working with large sets of data. My capstone involved learning image processing, facial recognition, and OCR libraries (Pillow, Tesseract, OpenCV, Kraken), and it was definitely hardest course I’ve taken on Coursera so far.

My capstone was the 30th Coursera course I’ve completed. Thinking back on the amount of course work involved in my two bachelor’s degrees (chemistry and forensic science), I think the 30-course-mark for computer science courses via Coursera is comparable to what’s required for a university BS degree.

That said, I’ve decided to suspend my Coursera subscription for now. I will be focusing on personal projects and the job I started at the beginning of the year (not in tech, but I love the work and I especially love my coworkers).

I started on my “learn tech skills to get a tech job” journey almost two years ago, and I’ve learned a hell of a lot. I’ve especially learned about tech’s diversity problem, and experienced those obstacles firsthand.

I’m not sure what’s next for jmf dot codes, but jmf dot person’s arms are tired from constantly trying to swim against the current.

Happy New Year!

I am still looking for a job, and one thing that both amuses and saddens me is that the more time passes without finding the right job, the more experience I’m getting to qualify for the right job. Ironic.

So here’s what’s new:

  • The University of Michigan and Coursera have created another fantastic Python 3 specialization, building on the Python for Everybody specialization. I’ve finished the first three courses and am waiting for the last two to open.
  • Lollipop Cloud Project is going well. We are working through some hardware issues with our board of choice, and deploying more cool stuff like Plume, a federated blogging platform.
  • I don’t do New Years resolutions, but I’ve decided to start talking more openly about being disabled, and specifically about being a disabled job seeker.
  • I’ve also decided to start posting links (perhaps weekly) that I find interesting. I don’t care for Reddit (too much bigotry and abuse), and I’m not so active on social media, but I like to save links I find interesting.

short update: new course, more speed tests, and a move

Realizing I could use a little more formal education in the area of systems administration, I am about 95% finished with Coursera and Google’s System Administration and IT Infrastructure Services course. It’s been a good overview, but definitely only covers the fundamentals.

I’ve been running some more speed tests on my Lollipop setup, comparing phone tethering to a cellular modem, as well as the connection options (onboard wifi vs. separate USB dongle). Results to be published in the near future. Here’s a short Lollipop Cloud update, and for friends following along with my journey, help is always welcome in the Lollipop department!

I will be moving soon– not long distance, but to a much smaller space, so things have been a bit hectic around here… and will likely continue to be hectic for a few weeks.

Still, I vow to update this more, despite the fact that my poor old computer is plagued with this (admittedly kind of funny) MacBook Pro keyboard glitch.

#100DaysofCode Days 19 through 22

I have been working so much on The Whisker Shop!! I’m so excited. I’m also still tweaking it, so I’m posting this as a draft, but I’m still real excited about it. My spouse has been talking about selling cat furniture for years (in fact, you should check out the about page to read about how he came to make cat furniture), and here we are finally making it happen.

This is also my capstone for the Web Design for Everybody specialization, and I believe I could submit it at this point, but I really want to turn in a completed and polished project. I’m using my PHP knowledge from the Web Applications specialization to incorporate it into my design, and it’s cool to finally tie everything together.

And I definitely still prefer back end work 🙂

#100DaysofCode Day 18

I have been under the weather… I don’t talk about my life with disabilities here, and I might someday (this was created for people in my circles to follow my journey after all), but for now I’ll just cryptically say that I’ve just been a little unwell, and I’m proud to say I’ve kept up with regular coding, but not regular blogging.

At this point, I feel like the days of my #100DaysofCode are more of a guide rather than a true count. I’m okay with this. I hope you’re not here for a linear progression. 😉

Since the last post…

my Local Weather App is finished… I’m comfortable listing it on my Free Code Camp profile for now, but I would like to tweak it and make it my own startpage to remind me of how far I’ve come since I started coding. ♥

I am now working on The Whisker Shop (link is a placeholder as of this writing, but this is the current working draft), my spouse’s cat furniture business he’s been talking about starting for years. We’re working together as a crossover Coursera project, as he’s currently in the project management specialization. It’s been a lot of fun so far.

I’m also working on a Wikipedia Machine. I absolutely love working with APIs. They’re really frustrating and infuriating sometimes, but when they work, it’s so satisfying that it makes it all worthwhile. Practice, practice, practice.

#100DaysofCode Day 13

For the last two days, I’ve been working on a website for The Whisker Shop, my spouse’s cat furniture store we’ve been talking about making for ages. This started out as my capstone for WD4E, but it’s turning into a pretty awesome project: my spouse is also doing a Coursera capstone, but it’s for the project management specialization. So he’ll be focusing on implementing the business’s online presence, and I’m focused on making the website happen. If anyone from Coursera ever reads this, I hope you get a kick out of this capstone crossover collaboration. 🙂

Here is the link to The Whisker Shop’s Codepen, and I post this with the caveat that it will change over time, and will eventually be migrated to a live site. Some features so far:

  • Responsive design: mobile first, with an alternate wide screen view
  • Currently only utilizes HTML and CSS
  • Monochromatic color scheme for accessibility

    Wishlist and future plans:

  • Lightbox for displaying photos
  • Must pass validators, including accessibility validators
  • Minimal JavaScript for simplicity and ease, with a noscript option
  • I need to start taking some photos to display!

#100DaysofCode Day 1

Happy new year, friends. I spent most of the holiday season working on the wd4e specialization, and finished intro to CSS3, interactivity with JavaScript, and advanced styling with responsive design. My capstone begins in March.

When I first read about 100 Days of Code, I realized I needed this kind of motivation, and I’ve been focusing on developing a code-something-everyday habit… and opted not to blog about it. I want to track my progress more linearly, so I’m going to change that today, and restart the clock to Day 1.

Day 1: Finished drafting contributing.md and editing code of conduct for the Aardwolf project (PR link). I’ve been tracking my job search in using mySQL and a CRUD UI I designed myself, and I spent some time tweaking the UI for that. For privacy reasons, I’ll just share my CSS using a representative table of cats.

This exercise is a reminder that I prefer back-end to front-end work. I am colorblind and the things I find attractive, you might find hideous. My personal style leans in a simpler direction: black, white, shades of gray, which also tend to be much more accessible to a broader audience. But there’s something relaxing about playing with color pallets– kind of like coloring with a fresh box of crayons! So for this exercise, don’t judge– I don’t feel bad about it. 🙂

web design

I confess that graphic design is not my strong suit, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m much more useful behind the scenes. But web accessibility is so important to me that I needed to learn more about the front end. I’m in the middle of this Web Design for Everybody specialization. It’s been fantastic, and it’s another University of Michigan series on Coursera– I’m so impressed with the University of Michigan! So far, I have completed the HTML course (a sample of some HTML scribbles), and nearly-completed the CSS course (a sample of some CSS scribbles), and I am halfway through the JavaScript course. I have a much healthier appreciation for how much work goes into a fully functional website– and I’ve recommitted myself to making my code the most accessible as possible. Whether it’s a blog post or a full-blown app. The internet is awesome. It should be accessible to everyone who wants to access it, with no exceptions.

I am excited to say I’ll be helping out with the Aardwolf project, a decentralized and open-source alternative to Facebook that was inspired by Mastodon, an open-source microblogging platform. I drafted Aardwolf’s Code of Conduct, and will be helping with accessibility features, as well.

winding down and ramping up

I’ve finished the Web Applications for Everyone Coursera specialization! (proof!) I have really come to like Coursera’s format for learning, but I think what really made me love it (first with Python for Everybody, and now with WA4E) was Dr. Chuck’s teaching style and course materials. It was nice to feel like I was “back in school” again, but it was even better to be able to work at my own pace. I’ve surprised myself by how quickly I went through most of the material, and really grateful to have been able to spend extra time on parts I found complex or parts I really wanted to take the time to explore and enjoy. Coursera is a pass/fail program, but you do get a numerical grade for your own records: I finished WA4E with a score of 99.7 percent.

WA4E and Py4E are all open education resources and can be used and reproduced without permission. I highly recommend them. (Start with Python if you’re new, like me! Python was a great first language.)

I have been thinking about where I’d like to go next. The web applications courses were about back-end app development, and there’s a complementary specialization for web design, which is more front-end and making things pretty– and accessible. Accessibility is near and dear to me, and will forever influence my development and engineering. That may be my next step.

I think I’ll be taking a little more time to wind down and polish up some more projects to show you here (or github), and gearing up to really ramp up my involvement in some interesting open source projects… with some serious job hunting, too. But in the meantime, I think I’ll be checking out Advent of Code.

Cheers!