I’ve lost no time in my endeavor to learn HTML. I’ve dug through the Internet, located a free tutorial app for the iPad and have coded my way through journal entries, blog posts and random web pages I’ve crafted for practice.
I made an important discovery: writing HTML code manually gives me a power over formatting that I’ve never had before. Even better, I’ve learned that I can actually use HTML to format my ebooks. Using HTML gives me more control over the layout than any WYSIWYG program like Word, OpenOffice or Pages ever has. This is a powerful feeling! I can stick an image in place and know it is going to stay there unless I decide to move it, and with a few words of HTML I can create both a bookmark and a hyperlink out of the same string of text – to do that task in a normal word processor means spending a few minutes highlighting and clicking – a huge improvement.
Writing in HTML has also added a fun component to my writing. It reminds me of the teenage years I spent slaving over my TI99-4A, writing code in BASIC for a program that displayed the biographies of my favorite celebrities. I would spend whole days at that computer, staring into a black and white television set, chugging Coca-Cola and subsisting on the sandwiches my mother would push under the door while I tried to figure out how to cut my code to the bone in order to cram more stuff about Dirk Benedict in there. My computer had 5k of RAM and no hard disk so this was a serious challenge for a certain infatuated teen ;).
Oh, those were the days!
I’m having so much fun that I’ve decided to do a comprehensive study of this language before going down the list. Since XHTML and CSS are intertwined with HTML I may be here for a while – but at least I’ll know what I’m doing before I move on.
I am rather surprised at myself. For years I avoided learning computer languages; I told myself that it was too hard and that I was too old. I believed that the codeaholic teen who devoured computer mags, manually inputting hundreds of lines of code to make pixels dance on the screen had died with the BASIC programming language. This only goes to show that:
- You’re never too old to learn something new.
- You don’t know that you can’t do something unless you really try, and
- Chances are, it won’t be near as hard as you think it will be.
While I may decide to audit classes at some point I’m really enjoying myself and so far I’ve found no shortage of educational texts online. I even took my cousin’s advice to “hurry up and try out” Grammarly tonight. She believes that the website is the reason that she gets A’s on her college papers so I gave in and used Grammarly to grammar check this post, just to see if I could break the site. Grammarly caught a few spelling errors and made some helpful suggestions, some of which I actually took (I kept the word “codeaholic” cause I liked it). Not only did my writing skills fail to break the website, this post got a higher score than Cousin’s latest paper so I actually got a chance to razz her!
Have you ever taught yourself something? Please share your stories in the comments below. In the meantime, if you want to see a great story of self-education success, read about Lyle in the comments of this post. He is truly a superstar!