reflecting on my rookie year as a coder

At the start of 2008 I started a big self education exercise, going from a semi-tech enthusiast to a full time software engineer.  I regard being able to self educate as my no. 1 skill and it has served me well again.  mepath.com  is the main product of my coding but I have also launched a local farmers market site for Aberdeenshire region in Scotland, while my aboynejames.co.uk   website provides the testing ground for all.

Initially I started to learn both PHP and Ruby on Rails scripting languages.  PHP  won out due to the quality and range of help information and documentation on the web.  But along the path of learning my HTML has improved, CSS advanced a lot, XML crafting become sound, Javascript learnt and a grounding in AJAX gained.  I still find it a bit amusing that before you can get going you need to setup the coding environment, locally and on the web.  This seems like a mountain of a task, especially when VISTA issues are not bedded in but none the less the environment is established.  LAMP, Linux, Apache, mySQL and PHP online and  Windows offline.   I can add SQL and databases to the list of learning too.

Open Source as an idea has always chimed a chord with me.   I come from the school of free flowing information so I understood the concept more from the user perspective but now I understand it from developers shoes too.  Open source provides the martical for learning, the coding environment, server to scripting and I can add open source applications including, fusion charts, OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, Monkey Chow-Simple Pie RSS reader and other snippits along the way.  I am working on put together the opensource environment for the mepath code, again here I am looking to opensource communities of subversion or gnip to achieve that goal.

I started tagging my emails to friends,  aboynejames now 99.98% geek.  Coding day in day out definitely changes you.  For 3 years I’ve been experimenting with a few friends to get a machine to ‘read’ ie. understand the context of information.  Us humans take it for granted, we learn and then apply it to live of lives.  The goal is to create that holy grail of a naturally easy to use user interface for a website and beneath that goal lies a whole universe of complexity.  Standing back from it now, the ideas are straight forward enough in themselves, however linking them together and dealing with the high friction environment of data portability has resulted in me spending weeks, shut out from the world or more accurately engaging with the word but carrying some big problems 100% of the time.  So,  no doubt I have been distant from all at times.  It’s also been a fairly solo focused coding effort in the last 6 months with snippets of time with friends to gather input.  This phase is now coming to an end, as the idea has been expressed enough for those that wish to contribute to join in, users to coders.

And that means more participation in opensource projects, Activity streams, semanitc web php tools to communities.  That means I should get on with setting the environment for making that possible and happen.

 

James