Heck of a few months…

Well, I finished Java by pulling more almost-all-nighters than I’d care to think about. I was also in the midst of, you know, working, so I couldn’t do actual all-nighters. But I survived on something like five nights in a row of under four hours of sleep. And then did it again for three (?) more nights.

But I passed, in the end.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any kind of break between Java and PHP I.

So, PHP is kind of the reason I wanted to take these classes in the first place. My previous workplace had a web app built in PHP, so I thought to myself, “Self, you should learn PHP so you can actually sort of kind of understand what people are talking about.” Essentially, I was just so tired of always telling my clients “I’m sorry, I’m not a technical contact”, and I was tired of not fully grasping what the devs at work were talking about.

However, in order to take PHP I (and then PHP II), I had to take:

  • HTML 5/CSS 3
  • SQL Essentials
  • Fundamentals of Java Programming

So I did all those. I did HTML/CSS (which was a nice refresher, but I learned all about media queries! HOORAY!) and I did SQL Essentials (I can create database tables! And query them! And stuff!) and then I suffered through Java, but, ultimately, I emerged victorious.

And finally, PHP.

I don’t know what I was really expecting. I’d known of PHP for years. I’d edited old PHP scripts, used PHP includes. It wasn’t a complete black box to me.

And yet, that was a hell of a difficult course. Not sure how I passed my final exam because it was pretty rough. Still, I passed the exam, did well on my assignments… well, the two of the three that I know of, anyway. The third assignment is due in less than half an hour as I write this, but I finished it 90 minutes ago or so and that completes my obligations for PHP I. I didn’t even really need to do the assignment, but it got personal. Stupid databases and displaying them as tables in HTML using PHP. Still, I learned a lot of stuff. Database stuff, especially, but also things like foreach loops and all about arrays and sticky forms! Note to self: redo your personal website (not this one) and incorporate not just pretty forms like you learned in HTML/CSS, but sticky forms.

I gotta say, it’s come in handy. Work, which is going well, supports some stuff built in PHP, so a customer asked me why a subscribe button wouldn’t display on her site. So I went and it was displaying for me. And then I realized that she must be subscribed to her own list. So I checked the code and, yep, right there — if user is already subscribed or if the third-party site is unreachable, don’t display the subscribe button. Of course, it was in PHP and not basic English, but I understood it just fine!

So that was exciting.

As to work, I’m getting into the swing of things. Still learning, but I don’t feel completely idiotic anymore, which is nice. I’m heading to Seattle in October for a conference, so that should be fun, especially because I’m finally going to get to meet Sandra, who I first met online in late 1994 — and we still haven’t met. She is the oldest online friend I have whom I’ve not yet met. Well, not old in that sense, but the person I’ve known the longest, consider a friend and yet haven’t met. I won’t have a ton of time due to work conference stuff, but should be able to steal a couple of hours to meet up.

So I work from home and that is such a lovely thing. I decided I would redo my spare room into a home office. I remember from working at About.com that it was important to have a workspace and a living space, so I, uh, might have potentially gone a little bit overboard with the home office thing. To begin, I got my parents to take me to IKEA… All we could fit in the car was the Alex Riser so I assembled that on the Friday night before my delivery was due.

building
Me, about to start building things.
Alex Riser from IKEA
Building the Alex riser.

Then, on Saturday, the desk arrived and so I started building that stuff. It’s not an actual desk, per se, it’s two sets of drawers and then a countertop, basically. It’s the Linnmon/Alex “desk” from IKEA.

Alex drawers
Gotta start somewhere, right?
Drawer building
The outer shell.
Drawers.
And drawers to go inside!
Completed drawers.
Voila. One set of drawers done. That was enough for Saturday.

On Sunday, I started anew with the other set of drawers.

More Alex drawers
Drawer set number two.
Doodads.
Inventory of the pieces. Yep, everything’s there.
The shell
The shell.
Desk
Completed desk.

So once I’d finished constructing everything, I screwed in the middle leg and added the riser. Looks pretty great, right?

BUT WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED.

Backlit desk
Lights!

Why yes, that is a blue-coloured light coming from behind my desk. Why Julie, how did you achieve this? Simple, the Philips Hue Light Strip Plus. I MAY have gone a little nuts and spent, oh, a few hundred bucks on smart lights I can control with my phone. I have two in the living room (soon to add another three) and I’ve got four bulbs and the light strip in the office. The light strip is actually stuck on the back of my desk. It’s great.

desk
Desk, with monitor and computer.

So this is what my desk started out as. Oh, yeah, did I mention the Light Strip Plus has sixteen million colours? Because it does. 🙂

The monitor is an ASUS VC279 (27″) and it’s perfect for me with its large desktop, allowing me to put less important applications on my work laptop. The large grey pad is a Corsair Gaming Mouse Mat and I have a Fellowes wrist support I got at Staples with a Logitech USB wireless mouse. The keyboard is an older version of the Apple Magic Keyboard,

The lamp is also from IKEA — a Klabb. It needed an adapter to be able to take the Philips Hue bulb I had bought for it, so it’s not lit here.

Computer workspace
The adapter did arrive.

What you see under the monitor, under the riser, is my Sony bluetooth speaker. It’s not great — I usually let it hook up to my iPad when I’m in the kitchen — but it works nicely here. Still, it’s a temporary solution. I’m planning to get actual speakers. Also a riser for the laptop.

Desk
Oh yeah, the lamp bulb is also 16 million colours!

I stole my own floor lamp from the living room and put in three Philips Hue Ambiance/White light bulbs in there. So they don’t change colour, really, but they can be one of 50,000 shades of white. Bright white, blue white, yellow white, etc. It’s very cool. I actually went out and bought an identical floor lamp to put back in my living room and I’ll purchase another three bulbs to place in it. Mwahahaha.

Of course, there are all these icky cables everywhere.

Cable management
So I decided to do something about it.

I bought ALL KINDS OF SHIT, yo. And I put a lot of it to good use!

Power bar stuck on to the back of one of my drawers.

The desk is a little further out from the wall than I’d orginally wanted, but there’s just no way to keep it closer if you want things to appear clean.

Cable management
See the hooks? They carry the power cable to the OTHER side, where I have another power bar hooked up, which is the one that actually plugs into the wall.

It’s not perfect. I probably should spend some time re-doing parts of it, but it’ll do for now. Just gotta get those speakers and the laptop riser and I should be good to go.

I like the setup so much that I want to get a second one for my PC desktop computer. I kind of want to put it on the opposite wall as the work computer and just have that be The Computer Room, but I do think it’s smart to keep business and pleasure far away from each other. Or, at least one room away.

I definitely need a new main desk for my desktop, though. We’ll see, we’ll see. 🙂

So that’s what’s been up with me. PHP II starts in about three weeks, so we’ll see if I manage to do anything with my personal website before then. 😉

Oh, and my eldest nephew, Henry, turned three on Sunday! Here’s a selfie of me with the birthday boy.

Henry and me on his third birthday.

Of nephews and jobs and classes and migrations

So, the important thing first: my sister-in-law had the baby on May 30 and so I now have two amazing nephews, Henry (the eldest) and Louis (who, in case you didn’t figure it out, is the newborn.)

nephews

Freaking adorable.

Apart from that, my search for a job has been somewhat fruitful. I start a trial period for a remote job on June 12th, so that’s exciting. Working remote! It’s what I did for four years in the late 90s and I’ve been trying desperately to get back to that for the last, uh, 15+ years. Relatedly, I just did up my budget for June. OUCH. Since I got laid off from my last position, I’m receiving EI, so losing those payments and then having to invoice my new client (for now — hopefully my employer!) at the end of the month is going to mean that June is gonna be tight. I went through a spreadsheet, organized all my payments and expenses and stuff and was like “huh, this isn’t going to be too bad,” when I then came to the startling realization that I had forgotten to factor in things like groceries. Eesh. To think I didn’t want the credit line my bank offered me a couple of years ago…!? I guess there will be no impromptu visit to Ottawa for Canada Day, which is a bit sad-making because it’s Canada’s 150th! I’ve only ever been to Ottawa once on Canada Day and that was in 2010 when my mom and I (yes — my mother. And me. Together. In a car. For two hours there, two hours back and several hours in Ottawa) went because the Queen and Prince Philip were there. (As was Barenaked Ladies, unbeknownst to me. When One Week started playing and I started sinigng along, my mom was like “you KNOW this music?!?!”) Anyway, it’s a shame I’ll miss Alanis, who’s performing this year, and BNL again, but hey. Gotta be responsible, right? Right.

As to class, class is getting… better? I understand how to connect to an SQL database with Java! And we’re starting to play with the GUI, which is all CSS-based, so that’s outstanding. I did skip class to go meet Louis on Tuesday night, though. No regrets! It was, however, the first time I skipped a class out of the 10 weeks of HTML, the 5 weeks of SQL and the 8 previous weeks of Java. Go me.

Finally, all the migrations got done last weekend. Every last site I have (that I’m going to keep) has been migrated to my new host and I couldn’t be happier that it’s all over with. Overall, it went well. Working at my last place of employment taught me a lot about migrations and DNS in general, so it was nice to be able to use some of that knowledge when it came to my own projects. What a giant relief it is that it’s all done, though. Whew!

The next week is gonna be rough:

  • Finish Java Assignment 2 ASAFP
  • Study for Java final exam which is on Thursday
  • Start Java Assignment 3, due within the two weeks following the final exam
  • Get up to speed on stuff for work!
  • Probably see parents, once they’ve returned from their shitstorm of a cruise (delayed in dock at the start, missing two stops, then a fire on board that caused a delay, so they’ll miss another port)
  • Hopefully get to see the nephews again
  • Start work on Monday the 12th!

I’m supposed to see the nephews tomorrow, actually. Well. Today. It’s almost 5am and I’m supposed to probably be picked up at 10:30am? But I’m not sure? I might have to go steal my mom’s car and drive out on my own. The things I do to see my nephew. Well, nephews, now, I guess. 🙂 It’s just that Henry is so damn delightful and says the CUTEST THINGS that are so incongruous coming from him, as opposed to from any adult. “Be right back, guys!” he’ll exclaim, for example. It’s adorable.

Anyway. If I want to be at all conscious, I should head to bed.

Bonne nuit.

Feeling Productive

I’m feeling productive. This weekend, I did the two biggest migrations from my old webhost to my new webhost. One was rough. Copying a phpBB (ughhhhhhhhhh) forum and its database and its settings etc etc and copying a WP install I couldn’t even access any longer? Both difficult. It was over 24 hours from the moment I put the forum into maintenance ’till when I took it out at the new host.

I mean, I slept. But it was still rough.

The other one, was my dear old GoodChatting.com. I’ve run the IRC server there since, uh, February of 2001. It’s still running. The website had not been touched since, uh, like, 2003? 2004? So, rather than migrate it, I redid the whole damn thing. Of course, I downloaded everything to my hard drive first and I threw in a ton of 301 redirects for various chatroom links, etc, that would have died otherwise. I should probably run Google Webmaster Tools on it, too. Oh, and insert my analytics code. Crap.

Anyway. GoodChatting is moved and that’s one less headache.

Coming up on two weeks until the old host goes away, so I’m really pleased with the efforts of the weekend.

Also, really pleased that my MySQL skillz came in handy! I was able to edit stuff in the MySQL shell and also in phpMyAdmin AND I KNEW WHAT IT MEANT. I was able to query stuff! I felt pretty awesome.

Speaking of skillzzzzz, class is okay. I’m in the midst of Fundamentals of Java Programming and it is kind of kicking my ass. I understand most of the concepts, but the code still looks weirdly foreign to me. It makes me miss MySQL. MySQL made sense! Logical sense! To me! Still, doing Java has helped me in at least one job application, so there’s that.

In other news, my parents are going to Europe for a couple of weeks this coming Sunday. Due in just under two weeks is my second nephew. My sister-in-law gave birth to my first nephew five weeks early and this little guy is apparently quite content right where he is. We missed out on being birthday twins, alas. Maybe the next one?

And on that note, I need to finish getting ready for Mother’s Day dinner with the family. I cherish time with my nephew. He’s such a cute little stinker.

Hello World.

Ah, new beginnings.

It has been years since I’ve posted on this domain. Actual years. I was running WordPress 2.0.5 and there wasn’t any auto-update or export function, so we’re starting from scratch. No great loss; there were only eleven entries on the previous incarnation of this site.

I’m hoping I’ll actually post on this thing. It’s certainly my intent. I just don’t know if I’ll stick to it. I definitely need an outlet, though.

So what’s new with me? I’m looking for work and, while I do so, I’m taking classes at one of the local universities, working towards a diploma in web programming. I’ve already taken the HTML/CSS class (I was conversant with HTML and CSS up to versions 3 and 1 respectively and now am nicely up to date — I can make responsive websites! All hail media queries.) and the SQL class and am now somewhat suffering through Fundamentals of Java Programming.

As geeky as I’ve always been, I’ve never learned a formal programming language. This shit is hard, yo. I mean, it’s slowly coming together, but it’s still hard. Methods, classes, user input and keyboard buffers… Some of it is just like “wtf am I actually doing??” and some of it is “oh, well that makes sense”. Week four of my ten week class is now done and I’ve got about a week to finish up my first assignment. At least I feel that I’ve made some progress on it. I think I understand all the parts of it separately. Now I just need to incorporate them all together. Should be fine, right? … right?

In the meantime, I’m migrating all kinds of crap over to a new host, this blog included. I might actually try to post some photos and such, but in the meantime, you can check out my Instagram. (All of that gets cross-posted to my Flickr and Twitter, too.)

So yeah, I host something like 20ish sites and I’ve moved four of them entirely, two of them partially and another is sort of in limbo because I don’t want to go backup the database, but I’m going to have to force myself to do so at some point. I’m glad I gave myself a full month to do all this.

Hilariously, I actually had given myself six weeks to do it, but my new webhost was inaccessible from my home ISP. Worked fine on my cell network. Worked fine at school. Anyone I asked was able to access it, unless they were using the same ISP as I am. My brother? No luck, either on his home wifi or his cell network (both using my ISP). After two weeks of lots of phone calls, trying to discern what the issue was, the webhost and I figured out that my ISP is blocking the specific IP address my webhost had assigned to my account. This after my ISP was insistent it was an issue with my host, of course.

I swear, as soon as fibre is available in my neighbourhood, I’m switching from my current ISP. Of course, I’m not certain it’ll ever be available here. Every six months, a rep from the company who offers fibre calls me and is like “hey, you should come back to us!”

And I’m like “so do you have fibre in my area yet?”

“We should.”

“I’m betting you don’t. Can you double-check?”

“Oh, but I’m almost certain we do offer it there.”

“No, seriously. Go check.”

The invariably go to check and then come back and apologize.

I guess there’s just not enough demand in the area, which is ridiculous, but I do acknowledge I live in an area where there are a lot of older people, so that might have something to do with it.

Well, I think that’s a sufficient amount of ranting for the first blog post here since, uh, December of 2007.

Feel free to say hi. 🙂