It’s nearly 4am on Thursday, March 22nd, 2018.
I should be in bed.
It was sometime in, oh, June or July of 2016 that I said to myself, “Self, don’t you want to be more technical? Don’t you want to learn PHP?”
My job, at the time, was Head of Customer Success for a small Montreal-based startup and I was forever not quite understanding everything. Tokens? Authentication? PHP errors? Yeah, so it would have been useful, I thought, to learn PHP.
Surprisingly, I don’t learn amazingly well through online classes. Maybe I’m old-school — or just old! — but I need to be sitting in a classroom, listening to a teacher. I know, I know, silly. But still, it’s how I learn best. So I’d looked up what I needed to do at my old university’s Continuing Education department to get to PHP. Pre-requisites: Java Programming, SQL and HTML5/CSS3.
… yeah, so I said screw that. But by fall I’d been thinking about it more and more. I thought, at the minimum, maybe I’d just take the SQL class, just 20 hours or so of the course, one evening a week for a couple of hours, for ten weeks. So I signed up for the fall semester.
And then I saw that the HTML class, taught by my favourite teacher in ContEd, was available, so I swapped SQL for the winter semester, figuring I’d take HTML and update my skills. You know, learn about things like media queries and responsive webpages and maybe not use tables for layouts when I could use divs. It would be a good test for me to see if I could handle four hours of class once a week for ten weeks while juggling work, since it would be mostly a review for me.
Well, I got like 4-5 weeks into the class and then I got laid off at work. So I kept going with the classes. HTML and SQL were already paid for. So I kicked ass in HTML and did very well in SQL and then I took Java, which was so very, very painful, then PHP (with virtually no break in between), oh, and I started a new job in there. And then, finally, I had a bit of a break between PHP and PHP II.
Really not a fan. hahaha.
And with it, I’ll be done with my certificate in Front-End Web Development.
And with that, I’ll be done with my Diploma in Web Programming.
18 months after I started, I have learned an insane amount of stuff. A short list:
- HTML5, CSS3 and media queries
- SQL: creation of a database and database table, select statements, nested queries, all from the command line!
- Java: my real intro to programming, with variables, conditional statements, for loops, data types (booleans, integers, floats, etc), use of NetBeans (ugh), keyboard buffers, regex, arrays, data validation, using database queries to pull an item from a database, object-oriented programming and the like.
- PHP I: Basically, all the Java stuff but done in PHP, including some cool server stuff. Plus more MySQL.
- PHP II: Man, where to even start? Docker and virtual containers, GitHub and the command-line interface, repos, pulling, pushing, fetching, etc, APIs, security, passwords and hashing, the cloud, indexing and search within MySQL, unit tests, stuff about composer… Honestly, I probably learned the most in this class and I loved it.
I didn’t learn a ton of new stuff here, but it’s a 300-level class and PHP I is 400 and PHP II is 500, so I basically knew most of the stuff. But it’s always good to have it refreshed.
So tonight, after my exam, I’ll have completed 260 hours of class over six courses, in 18 months. I didn’t take any breaks, I just took one every semester until I was done.
Were I to do it over again, I’d book more time off of work for final projects/exam prep. Alas.
I plan to spend several months catching up on everything from sleep to TV shows, plus doing a lot of writing and some coding on the side. There is my game to write, after all!
I have deeper thoughts about this experience. I have more to say about how I feel after all of this.
But it’s 4:28am and I should wake up in about five hours. Maybe I’ll be even more loquacious next time.