My Coding Testimony

Turns out salvation is works-based

Posted by Isaac Rowe on January 22, 2015

In the beginning, there was a calculator. A TI-83 Plus, to be exact. Purchased off of Ebay for 8th grade Algebra, it was not a glamourous device. Someone said you could play games on it. I didn’t know how to get any on there. But there was a button, labelled PGRM, that seemed promising. “NEW”, “EDIT”, “EXEC”. Sounds familiar. I’ve never programmed before, but I get to know my way around computers faster than some. The first program is a Quadratic Formula calculator, using what we were learning in class, just some math functions. Eventually I realized that all the commands are cataloged in the calculator. A “Guess the Number” program results. Someone gives me a link cable. CatalogHelp, and a handmade pong game make it to my calculator (also MirageOS for games, finally). What enthralls me is that I am in control of making the calculator do whatever I want, but I just have to learn the right words, available from an infinite combination of commands.

9th grade geometry. My friend and I are bored in class and our teacher tells us that if we learn some code to present the lessons in a creative way, we would be exempt from the test. My friend, who had also recently dabbled in programming, shows me Between that and W3Schools, we hack together a website with pages for each lesson. I can honestly say that while I did grasp HTML, I did not understand a single line of CSS that I typed/pasted in. As always, with enough blind following of tutorials and tinkering with code, I gained an understanding.

Somewhere in the Geometry site that still floats about on a Google Drive folder, there is code from a Mozilla Developer Network snippet. Of all the resources I used, that one was of the highest quality. I was very grateful to them, and to give back, I joined the documentation team to make edits to developer documentation (I had no idea what I was doing, but I could fix typos). One day (May 30, 2013 as Gmail tells me), a person saying he is a highschool student says he found some broken links while doing some minor edits (as I was doing). I immediately emailed him privately and asked him how he was learning coding. He said he learned JavaScript and Python from On June 24, I signed up.

A few web courses on Codecademy and many project websites later (My friend and I are working on posting all our documented old work), I have a working knowledge of HTML and CSS. I still don’t know what I want to know, and that is programming. I get bogged down in a JavaScript course. Another course I try is over my head. I somewhat muck along slowly.

This fall, I started an internship with Awesome Inc. I want to help their developers, but I can’t really help out too much, so I stick with writing, my other strength. Then I get asked to make a website, which I haven’t done in a while. I find it comes much easier this time. I catch the bug again. I find out that there are people super-willing to help with any question I have. I try a Udemy course on Jekyll. Not much programming, but it had good lessons in workflow, and I learned how to use Git. Last month, I had to set a metric that matters. Blog posts are hard to quantify, so I chose hours spent learning code (shooting for 60, with 10 in the first week).

I hope I reach my goal.