New Year Update

Wow, I haven’t posted in over a month and a half! It has been a busy November and December, with work, family, and the holidays keeping me busy. Unfortunately, I had less and less time to devote to coding (as made evident by that sad contributions chart on my GitHub page). However, being a teacher has the lovely perk of having a whole week off after Christmas, and this has allowed me to get back into the habit again.

So… what have I been doing?

My last post was about my venture into learning the Laravel framework. My goal was to create a ToDoMVC-like project. The project taught me about concepts of MVC and REST. I completed Task and Category controllers, but got hung up on trying to create a relation between the two models. There are several great resources for Laravel out there, including the free resources on Laracasts, and the docs on, but in general, I found the documentation to be incomplete. Objects and methods listed in one resource could not be found on another, which was frustrating. Also, I found the way the documentation was organized to be confusing. And now with Laravel 5 coming out, I think I might put this endeavor on hold. The source of what I did complete can be found on GitHub.

Around the same time I was working on the to-do list project, I heared yet another excellent CodeNewbie podcast on the coding practice app, I was eager to get some general coding practice, and this sounded like the perfect tool. I completed the first four exercises, and began to work on the 5th exercise, before life got the best of me. I found that the feedback I received from other “nitpickers” to be very helpful. This also afforded me the opporunity to get some TDD experience, and to become exposed to some best practices in coding. I chose to complete the exercises in JavaScript, was PHP as not an available choice. In general, I am finding JavaScript to be an easier language in which to code, and have been putting my more recent efforts into learning more about the language.

At this point, December hit, and brought a whirlwind of activity in my personal life, including a wedding, a death in the family, going out of town to visit the in-laws, and all that comes with Christmas when you have two small children. I did not write a line of code at all between Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, I did pick up Eloquent JavaScript again, and began reading from the beginning. This time, I made sure to study the code samples completely to truly understand what was going on. Now that I have had some more free time this past week, I have been rewriting the code samples and playing around with them, to more fully grasp the concepts.

This week also gave me some time to play around with the laptop I use for development. Back in September, I was advised that it would be a big help to learn Linux. I have always been a ‘Windows guy,’ but had dabbled with various distributions of Linux in the past. I decided to go head-on with this undertaking, and purchased an off-lease Dell laptop on eBay. I chose ArchLinux as my distro of choice. I wanted something light-weight for my older laptop, and also wanted to really dig in to the whole Linux world. This experience was invaluable. Though I had to follow several tutorials just to get everything up and running, I can now say that I am comfortable in a Linux environment, and actually prefer it to Windows now. However, being a newbie, I had made several glaring errors in setting up the OS (like not creating a swap partition), which made things very unstable. This week, I reformatted and put on Ubuntu 14.04. After installing a new video driver and tweaking some settings to work better with older hardware, I’m very happy with my new stable setup.

Well, that was a long-winded round-up of what I have been doing for the past month and a half. One my my (many) New Year’s resolutions is to blog more often, so I am hoping this will be the last ‘long update’-type post, as I would rather be writing more specifically about the projects on which I am working.

(featured image from

1 Comment

  1. Hey Bob, it’s great to hear about your progress and some of the things you’ve been learning. Sounds like you’re doing great. Keep it. Also, we’re planning a JavaScript episode in a couple weeks so stay tuned.

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