Learned More

Getting rid of my cable TV a year and a half ago and the pandemic has made me use my time better to learn even at my age. It’s been helpful having no commute now.

Learning on Night and Weekends

So after my nightly walk after work or on the weekends, I watched YouTube videos to learn things. I have even purchased courses on fermenting, JavaScript, etc.

Creative Mornings Fields Trips have allowed me to learn about tortilla making (wheat and corn), creativity, painting with pastels,  and a few others. I will have to gather my notes from them and post a few notes at a later date.

With the pandemic, I have attended a lot more remote conferences and other events. I have also used my time to read many books, articles, blog posts, etc. A future post or two on those I attended events I have attended and the things I have read to come.

YouTube and Other Videos

Some of the things I have spent time learning about on YouTube are the following. There is homesteading/small scale farming. Which includes growing my own food and raise animals for when I get my plot of land. The land will have a tiny house of between 600 – 900 square feet. At least that is my thinking of a reasonably sized tiny house to live in full time.

I have also been watching videos on, cooking. Some of them are known cooking professionals while others are not, but have been become YouTube famous, so to speak.

Below is a list of a few of them with links to their YouTube channels.

Remote Book Club

I joined a remote JavaScript book club in mid-January 2020.  We have worked our way through the four of the “You Don’t Know JavaScript Yet” books in the series of six books. Okay, we are actually finishing up the last chapter of the four-book this week.

The format we started with was reading the free version of the second editions on GitHub one chapter at a time. Then we read the first editions for books three and four because the newer books hadn’t been updated yet.

Even More Learning

There are more things I have learned, which I have to wait until I have time to write other blog posts.

Please add any recommendations in the comments of things that fall into the above categories I should look at.

JavaScript Book Club

I joined a remote JavaScript book club in mid-January 2020.

We are about to finish up the fourth of the “You Don’t Know JavaScript Yet” series of six books. Okay, we are finishing up the last chapter of the fourth book this weekend.

What’s Our Format

The format has been reading the free version of the second editions of the series on GitHub. We read them one chapter at a time for the first two books. Then we read the first editions for books three and four because the newer ones hadn’t been updated yet. The plan is to read the first editions of the last two books in the series.

For the first book, “Getting Started”, we read a chapter a week and met on Sunday evenings at 5:00 PM East Coast time.

We followed this format through the first two books.

Time for Some Coding

Early on, we started doing JavaScript Code Wars problems as group coding sessions on early Saturday afternoons.

Once we got to the third and fourth books and the content was harder to digest. We went to reading a chapter every two weeks. So on the weeks we were not gathering about the latest books chapter, they moved the Code Wars event to that Sunday. So now, every Sunday afternoon for me, it’s either book of code.

Recently, we started doing coding sessions after the book club part. Since we tended to get through the chapter discussion in 30 minutes. So people would then work on a Code Wars problem for another hour. Sometimes depending on the difficulty of the problem, it might take over a week or more to finish them. Part of the reason for that is because we limit the time.

Who Is Attending

People attended from across the pond in England, and once in a while, someone from Africa attends. It was 10:00 PM when we started for them. At times there have been people that hopped in from Central America and other places around the globe.

The Best Part So Far

Here’s to learning more from the JavaScript book club and meeting new people. A group from Asia/India are meeting at a different time to go through the boos we did independently. Because of the time difference, they couldn’t attend ours. I think that it’s great that more than one group is reading the same book.

Once we’re done with this series, we will need to move on to another book or series about JavaScript.

Other groups are reading other coding/tech books and not only JavaScript.

In the End

Here’s to more reading, group learning, new friends, etc.

2020 What a Year

All in all, 2020 wasn’t that bad a year for me. At least there was more positive than negative.

The following are things that went well for me and will be written about in more detail in the coming weeks.

Purposeful Walking

The first thing that improved for me was, I did more purposeful walking this year, Meaning, it wasn’t because I was commuting to and from the house to the train to the office and back, but out taking lunchtime walks most days and then again in the evening after work along with ones on the weekends.

Because of this, I managed to walk 3,200,944 steps, 2,314 flights of stairs, not many living on the first floor of a house, and finally a total of 1,468 miles, which is two or three hundred more miles than an average year of mostly walking during my commute.

More Sleep

Another positive thing with this year has been I have been getting more sleep because my commute is now from one part of the house to another. Even if I woke up at 7:00 AM or before and couldn’t get back to sleep, I would stay in bed and rest until close to 9:00 AM when I would start my workday.

Doing this has been helpful and cut back on my need for naps on the weekend.

Eating Healthier

With not eating out or getting takeout since mid-March, my eating habits have improved. Been making, cooking, or assembling all my meals, which I enjoy doing but hadn’t done much of or as often until this year.

This year I managed to eat more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on tortillas than in the last ten years, which is still better than what I would eat for breakfast or lunch from the work cafeteria.

I have eaten more fruits, vegetables/salad, nuts, trail mix (peanuts, cashews, almonds, raisins, and M and M’s) this year, which has been a good thing.

When cooking, I even made enough to have many extra meals, so I only had to reheat them and put others in the freezer for later.

Read More Books

The year started out well, and I was reading a book about every five days or so on average, and then when the pandemic hit, it slowed up a lot. I finished the year strong in December and managed to read 22 books.

Some books were longer than others and others not so much. A bunch were between 120 and 150 pages. A list of those books will be coming out in another blog post.

No More Car

In the fall of 2019, I had car issues that I decided not to spend the money to fix, so I used the metro (commuter train), bus, and walking to get around the DC area.

I sold my car to a friend’s friend in late August because they thought it would be cheaper to fix mine than theirs. Now I need to find out if that was the case.

Met My Neighbors

With all the walking around my neighborhood, I have met more people on my block or within six or eight blocks of my house.

Some I met for the first time, and we have lived a few houses away for over ten years. I saw others a few times a week and would say hello on my commute to and from work, and I finally learned their names.

I even met a couple that is retired and is now Certified Master Gardeners. I even got a small fig tree from another neighbor that I replanted in a five-gallon bucket.

Attended More Conferences

It worked out deciding not to attend CSUN, which is an accessibility conference in Los Angles, as it was at the beginning of everything closing up related to the pandemic.

Because many other conferences had some time to switch to remote events, I used my vacation to attend more of them, and part of it wasn’t used to travel. I attended four or five conferences, a workshop, a few couple hour food-related classes/demos, etc. More on these in the future.

Learned More

I spend more time at night and on weekends on YouTube learning about homesteading/small farming about grow my own food and raise animals for when I get my plot of land to put a tiny house on, cooking, JavaScript through the JavaScript book club, which I joined in January, tiny houses, and much more that I will write about soon.

My Weight Loss

With all this purposeful walking and eating better. Not perfect, but an improvement from what I have been doing. I have lost almost 60 lbs. since the end of September 2019. Almost half of that has been since the beginning of the pandemic.

I even had to buy a set of metal leather punches to put new wholes in my handmade leather belt because I had run out of wholes.

I even purchased one new pair of jeans this fall because the others were at least four sizes too big. I only bought one pair for now since I’m mostly sitting in the house working and then out for a walk, so I don’t need more.

With having to walk to the grocery or farmer’s market and using a backpack, I found there was less room for junk food that way, which helped too.

Conclusion

So all in all not a bad year for me.

I know it’s been hard and difficult for many and will be for a long time to come too.

So here’s hoping for a better year for all of us in 2021.

2014 = FOCUS

No, New Year’s resolutions for this guy, but this year’s theme will be “FOCUS”. Themes is an idea, which was taken from Jared Goralnick’s blog posts from a few years ago:

Instead of doing New Year’s resolutions, which I haven’t done in decades I’m going to spend an extra five hours a week minim, hopefully at least ten hours, a week on a given subject for a month or more depending on the amount of knowledge gathering needed for a given subject. More time will be spent each week if my schedule happens to allow for more, but at least five hours a week, which will make over 250 extra hours of training over the course of the year. The week will start on Monday and ending Sunday night, which allows me the opportunity to either catch-up on the weekends of add more hours for that week.

Plan for Spending My Time

I will spend the first two to three hours per month writing down more details of what and how I’m going to spend my time learning that month. The months focus maybe to spend the next five or ten hours reading blog posts, books, etc. on a given subject before diving in to learn and work on a given subject. Or it might be to spend an hours reading a book, blog post or whatever and then another hour or to doing something like coding or painting.

Will also need to spend and extra hour or two towards the end of each month contacting people that are smart and know more about a given subject for recommendations on what to read and anything else I will need to stay focused on the next month’s subject. This time spent asking questions, for help, or recommendations will not be part of the hours each week/month focusing on a given subject.

I want to spend at least four full weeks on the subject. If the month starts or ends somewhere in the middle of the week, I will need to decide if I have learned enough or if I should spend and extra day or so continuing to learn or move on to the next subject/area of focus.

Topics of FOCUS

A lot of the topics I’m going to be focusing on for one month will hopefully help prepare me for the next month and be able to be improved upon and use this whole time. By the time, I get into the months of August and September (PHP), October and November (mySQL), and finally December these focus areas are going to get me closer to finishing my web based event registration application Hold An Event or at least build something a little less complicated, so I have some kind of finished project by the end of 2014.

Below are the months and what subject I plan on focusing on during a given amount of time. Some subjects span a few months because I have determined that to learn anything useful I will need to focus on them for a longer amount of time. Under each month/topic of focus is a list of things I can think of now that I want to focus on with more to be added at the beginning of each month or as I delve deeper into a subject.

January – Improve My Writing

  • Start with doing a bunch of reading on how to improve my writing and grammar.
  • Create outlines for some writing examples.
  • Next will be outlines of blog posts, slide presentations, etc.
  • Write short blog posts or stories to get more practice in .
  • Write Hold An Event content from the perspective of first time user/visitor to website/application.

February – Creativity, Inspiration, and Passion

  • Read about how to be more creativity, inspired, and passionate.
  • On the weekend or weekday night take a trip to the National Gallery or Art.
  • Take a bus road trip to NYC to visit MoMA or one of the other museums.
  • Spend time painting.
  • Watch YouTube videos to learn how to play the guitar.
  • Take a guitar lesson or two.
  • Do some sketching on iPad using Paper from 53 of new “I Gotta Eat Here” web application.

March – Learn Git, along with Github

  • Learn Git.
  • Learn Github.
  • Practice starting with:
    • Improving my website content.
    • Update blog posts for grammar and spelling issues.
    • HTML code, JavaScript, CSS, etc:
      • Improve or remove obsolete code.
      • Delete commented out code.
      • Make pages responsive.
  • Add META data to web pages.
  • Continue to improve my writing by re-writing website content for:
  • Accessibility improvements need to be made in the process of learning Git.

April – Learn More about Accessibility

  • Some subjects include ARIA, JAWS, Dragon Naturally Speaking, VoiceOver, etc.
  • Use accessibility information gained at CSUN to start working on being a better developer.
  • Focus on improving my knowledge about ARIA/accessibility issues the better I will be at building websites, web applications, and making JavaScript/jQuery items more accessible.

May – Better Health

Originally had this January as everyone does to start the year out on the right foot and decided, since that usually doesn’t work, why not try it later on. This allows me to focus on other subjects during the colder months and start with health once ti gets warmer, since I tend to like to walk as my exercise.

  • Starting with food (better choices, smaller portions, etc.).
  • Exercise more by walking after work and on weekends.
  • Work on having more energy to be able to stay up late to work on Hold An Event later on down the road and still feel rested.
  • Create easy ways to cook and prepare healthy meals.
  • Decide how many days during given a week I should cook/prepare my own meals.
  • Decide how to have me to bring my own healthy food to work for lunch, which saves me money.

June and July – Javascript/jQuery

  • Find best book(s), video tutorials, or blog posts to learn JavaScript.
  • Learn JavaScript and to start with the basics, maybe with Jeremy Keith’s book (DOM Scripting), if it’s still a good resource, which will make understanding and fixing jQuery issues easier.
  • Learn jQuery, since most websites now a days use it to perform their JavaScript functionality.
  • Create accessible examples, along with ARIA, error messages, etc. examples for others to use.

August and September – PHP

  • Learn the best way to optimize code.
  • Create ways to read different parts of the database by changing parms.
  • Create API to use to create, read, update, and delete records.

October and November – mySQL

  • Create databases.
  • Write new records.
  • Update/delete record (not really deleted, but mark as done using date so I will know when record was deleted).
  • Find the best way to optimize database to get information as quickly as possible.

December – Security

  • Stop denial of service.
  • Look into protecting data, but mostly user information.
  • Figure out how to add SSL to website, along with cost per year, etc.

In Conclusion

After each month, I will write a blog post to continue to improve my writing, along with explaining what books, blog posts, videos, etc. I read or watched to help me focus on that months subject. Will also rate myself on how I thought I did with a given subject and if I truly learned anything, long with to tell everyone how many hours I managed to focus on that months subject for.

So this year I plan to “FOCUS” on monthly topics and hope to be better and more knowledgeable person by the end of 2014.

What are you planning to accomplish in 2014?