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Writing Code for Fun and Profit


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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:

  1. You’re never too old to learn something new.
  2. You don’t know that you can’t do something unless you really try, and
  3. 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!



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9 Comments

  1. Adrianne wrote:

    I’ve taught myself all kinds of things. Everything I know about web design, WordPress, and SEO are self-taught, because my degree is actually in Biology.

    I’ve also taught myself how to sew, knit, crochet, drive a stick shift, cook, etc.

    But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t use resources such as books, ebooks, websites, and videos to help me.

    It just means that I did not attend any type of educational institution to learn these things.

    Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  2. Laurie wrote:

    Thank you for mentioning Grammarly. I’ve been trying to remember the name of the online check one of my clients had me use for the longest time, and I do believe that was it.

    Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink
  3. Chris wrote:

    My husband always had a huge garden. When we got married, I was puzzled about what to do with all that food. So I taught myself to can. Had a few mistakes along the way, but nobody ever got sick. You can’t imagine the feeling of looking at rows of canned vegetables in the pantry when all that hot, hard work was done. Priceless!!

    Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  4. Annie wrote:

    I love the stories! Thanks for sharing everyone!

    Laurie, my cousin was set on me using Grammarly when I started school but since that didn’t work out I’m going to play with it on the free trial. So far I like it!

    Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  5. Linda Sand wrote:

    My brother-in-law made a lot of money cleaning up other people’s sloppy code. Sloppy code costs businesses money. Your experiences writing tight code could have a real future. Besides being fun. Getting paid to have fun is everyone’s goal, right?

    Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  6. Dirk Benedict? Has he been around THAT long? :P

    Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink
  7. Adrianne wrote:

    Here’s another free resource that I thought you might like, since you said you’re interested in programming.

    https://www.udacity.com/courses

    Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 2:07 am | Permalink
  8. Bj wrote:

    yes! I taught myself web design on the job years ago including HTML and graphics, etc

    Also am a self taught artist.

    Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink
  9. Thanks Annie for the mention :) I’m happy that you are revisiting your youth. That’s a place we should revisit from time to time!

    Also enjoying all the comments from those who are self-learners. There’s a community in there somewhere :)

    Take care and code on grrl :)

    Lyle

    Monday, August 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

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