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The language barrier

I live in a country with eleven official languages. I am fluent in only two of those languages. I tried to learn a third, but I just couldn’t remember the meaning of all the different words and when I try to speak in a third language, I do not know what to say in a conversation. I really struggle to learn an extra language, which tells me that my head is just not wired for learning a new speaking language. That made me wonder whether a computer language would be as difficult for me to learn as learning a third speaking language. But I have set my mind to it, so now I must do it. The good news is that I am doing it. I am remembering what I learn, and I think that with repeating some elements and syntax’s etc, it would become even easier to remember everything until it becomes natural to write certain elements in coding.

I had a slow start to my new journey as I did not know where to begin. Which language should I start to learn? Which language would help me to become successful in my new venture? I contemplated on these and many more similar questions for a few weeks, while reading a bit about what programming entail. I asked advice from a few people that understands the industry and the answers they gave me were each very different. I then decided to do some research into the different programming languages and follow my own mind as I am the only one who knows my own skills on a computer. Finally, after about two and a half weeks of reading in the evenings after work, I have made up my mind on where and how to start.

I realized that almost everything on the internet is based on HTML so I started focusing all of my attention onto HTML. But then I stumbled upon a new problem. Which HTML do I need to know. At first I started teaching myself XHTML strict, because I thought it should be good to understand the more strict rules that apply to XHTML and to become good in what you want to do, one needs to be strict upon oneself so I thought that XHTML should be a good and solid foundation. It did not take long before I decided to see what the differences are between XHTML and HTML5, especially when starting to write a new document. I just couldn’t get my head around all the jargon that must be added in the head section of a new XHTML document. The HTML5 document head is so much cleaner, and it is easier to remember everything that needs to be included in the head section of the document that I decided HTML5 or just HTML as it is commonly referred to should be the first language for me.

HTML is a wonderful tool to create something with, but it does not look good when displayed on its own. Here enters the second language: Cascading Style Sheet 3(CSS3). HTML and CSS3 goes together hand in hand. The one compliments the other. CSS3 is used to style a HTML document to look good and appealing. At first I thought that I would learn HTML until I know all that there is to know about the language before moving on to CSS3, but it didn’t take very long before I started dabbling with a bit of CSS3 in between my HTML tutorials that I work through. Needless to say, I still have a long way to go with HTML and CSS3 before I can start with JavaScript.

HTML, CSS3 and JavaScript are the first languages that I will learn. Some people/programmers out there might think that I am wrong, but it make sense to me. I will move on into learning other different languages like SQL or PHP once I have a solid foundation of these three.

One important lesson I’ve learned through my first few weeks of reading on the internet and talking to people about where to start is that there is no real right or wrong here. This is what I have decided on. This is how I will break the language barrier,  and this is how my personal journey as a novice programmer started.

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So, where do I begin?

That was the question I had to ask myself. I even ask it now again. Where do I begin in writing this blog? A good place to start is usually right at the beginning, so here it goes. I’ll tell you a bit about myself and my motives for becoming a programmer, but don’t worry, I wont bore you with too much details about myself. Its not a topic I like to talk about too often.

I am a father of two, not yet in a mid-life crisis, although this journey and some other minor changes might make it seem that I am in a midlife crisis. I haven’t bought a small convertible sports car, which tells me that I am not in a mid-life crisis, even though I did cut my hair short for the first time in eighteen years. Well, that’s got nothing to do with what I want to tell you in any case. I have been doing the same job for a little more than fifteen years now. Its a decent, fun and challenging job. Every day is different. I’ve met a lot of people and seen a lot of good and bad things in this game that we call life. I still enjoy this job and I could do it for fifteen more years. That is now if my current job wasn’t on the endangered species list, not far from extinction.

The job I do is never going to really disappear, but the environment I work in keeps on changing, especially after the invention of the digital age we live in now. I have lost colleagues, a lot of them due to retrenchments and financial cutbacks, not only in the company I work for, but also in what could be seen as our competition. Most of them were friends, trying to do their own thing now. Some are very successful at it, some more than others. And with that bit of background information shared I get right back at the question I started with. Lets try again.

So, where do I begin?

I am a father of two very young and beautiful little people. I have a lovely wife, a dog and very recently became a shared owner of a cat. I’ve got a house to pay, a car that needs fuel so I could go to work everyday to earn a salary to buy more fuel so that I could go back to work to make more money so I could get stuck in traffic on my way to work to make more money to buy more fuel and so this never-ending cycle continues with the knowledge that my dream-job could be taken away from me at any moment. I am in fact the last sole survivor from our department in the office where I work from. I had to come up with a plan. Call it an escape-plan or a getaway action-plan. But I desperately need to plan ahead for the not so distant future when I anticipate receiving my final 189 notice(I have already received four of these in the last six years and luckily survived all of them.) I have spent many hours thinking about what I could do, part time, to boost my salary and also to get something started so that I could be ready to leave when the next round of retrenchments come my way. I have done a lot of research on a few ideas, but in the end decided that some of those ideas could not be viable to replace a salary on short notice. One day my father-in-law mentioned something along the lines of coding. I was not convinced immediately because I don’t know anything about computer languages, but after a while decided to check it out and started reading on the internet about coding.

The decision was made and some of the main reasons to learn code was:

  • I might need to make a career change.
  • I need to learn a new skill.
  • This skill must be self-taught as I cannot go back to school at this stage.
  • This specific self-taught skill must be able to earn me some money while I learn and later be turned in to my main source of income.
  • It would be a bonus if my future main source of income could be practiced from home

Coding or programming covers all of the above points. I am still only at the beginning of this journey and I know it will cost hard work, dedication and long hours to reach my goal. Where I will end up on this journey is unknown to me, and that in itself creates excitement about this journey.