Sneak Peak

I am continuing to work on the blog that will be attached to brianwardwell.com. However, as this will be attached to the site as the blog, it’s very likely going to be part of the redesign. Due to the fact that I don’t know exactly when that will be, I would still like to attach this design to the site as the blog and then add in additional pages and functionality. I’m attaching a sneak peak, however, there are many things still to change as you can see it even still says “Just Another WordPress Site”. Soon.

sneek

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Blog Migration

Another very simple post

I have already begun writing a child theme over the top of another WordPress theme to highly customize in preparation for hosting this blog on BrianWardwell.com as well as gearing up to host some PHP/MySQL samples/examples among other things. I moved to West Fargo at the beginning of this month as well as moving forward in my career. However, this blog (and further enhancements to the website) are just under those in priority.

…updates soon

-Brian Wardwell

Upcoming PHP/MySQL Example

A quick update:

I am working on a PHP/MySQL database example to be added to brianwardwell.com that will enable visitors to add, delete, view, and edit items in a MySQL table. I encountered some connection issues when attempting to have PHP communicate with the MySQL database as the database was created locally. This has been resolved, however, I am amending some of the PHP functionally to work more appropriately with correct exception handling. My goal is to have this fully completed and added to the main site by Wednesday, May 25th.

In addition to this, as previously discussed, I am working on a WordPress CMS to have the blog truly attached to the websites, rather than a link to this blog. This work will take a little bit longer of course.

Many updates to come…

-Brian Wardwell

The Great Chaos of 2016

It has been far too long since I have updated this blog. Consistency is key.

I’ll start on the topic of school/furthering education and expertise:

My current instructor, who will be the instructor for at least 90% of the Web Application Development certificate, is nicely someone who challenges. One thing I am trying to improve is that my transition moving from procedural programming into object oriented programming is a little trickier than I expected. Previous standards and syntax, such as defining and calling a function for example, have me becoming lost even though the concepts can be broken down simply.

So far in Java, my confusion lies in how much deeper it goes into data types than other server-side languages I have worked with, such as PHP. Such as converting an integer value to a double value so it can be multiplied without throwing another error. Java’s ability to access ASCII characters and codes is another complex issue.

In the recent chapter, we are throwing decision structures such as if/else if statements into the mix. Of course, looping and decision structures are something I’m very familiar from working with JavaScript, Python and PHP. However, Java (and C++ so far as well) has me in such a new world that even concepts and structures I normally would know, have me lost.

When it comes to Java in particular (and object orientation), it has certainly driven OOP (object oriented programming) concepts such as the levels of classes, permissions within objects, methods, constructors. Of course, it certainly has its challenges, but I actually prefer its strict syntax to C languages (so far). Java, I can typically trace myself back to a solution unless I’m off in the mud somewhere.

We have been using Eclipse so far. I’ve always been more interested in Netbeans. This is mostly because Netbeans IDE has so many add-on capabilities. I’ll admit, however, that I haven’t had a chance to dive into Eclipse’s deeper capabilities. Window Builder (JFrame, JPane) is certainly a major aspect I want to master in regard to anything that would pertain to the web such as forms.

C++, though we haven’t dug terribly deep into it yet, has me clenching my jaw much more than any other language so far I think, other than maybe JavaScript in the beginning. It’s syntax is far more loose which worries me on vulnerability to errors. This is more true because C++ often doesn’t say, “hey buddy! There’s an error”. A scary example that the instructor presented was when you calculate outside a data type’s range. Rather than throwing an error, it wraps around to the beginning. So, if a range is -100 to 100, if it calculates to 101, it will actually return -100. This would be a devastating result if this occurred in an application such as calculating a user’s balance in a subscription to a web application. It appears we’ll be working far more with C# in the second class of these similarly syntaxed languages. However, I’d honestly rather get C++ out of the way and have the fun for later.

SQL and Database Design has been another favorite course as I’m finally getting pretty familiar with Microsoft SQL Server as well as the Visual Paradigm program. I suppose it is slightly geeky when I laugh and get excited when it’s realized that if you pull the same field from the wrong table, you’re often getting completely different data which thus equals incorrect data. I took Microcomputer Databases at MSCTC, however this course (at Minnesota State College – Southeast Tech) shows that it’s likely rare in this field that a developer is only dealing with five or fewer tables. In fact, it’s far more likely there will be dozens at least.

Another course, Network Management, has made even understanding permissions built into Windows 10 (such as the Security tab) have pretty cool power if desired. Learning group policies, security groups, organizational units, and so on helps me understand the vast amount of authentication troubleshooting that I (we) end up doing at my job. I personally think authentication to the cloud is only going to grow in intensity as more platforms continue to move to cloud based products. Even Adobe has halted selling standalone, physical versions of products such as Photoshop and Illustrator in exchange for Creative Cloud. A tough field for those who specialize in authentication as I have learned it can be very tricky and picky. Which, regarding security, is likely a good thing.

Now flipping to overnights at work, I am hoping more time will be available to hit these topics and more. Though I am still organizing and designing how I want the repositories to actually be set up, my GitHub account can be found here. I am playing with the idea of having a repository for each language.

That is all for the time being. Have a wonderful Monday.

Quick Note

*This is simply a quick note that I am currently working on a child theme for a true add on to my web portfolio (at brianwardwell.com) because I currently have this as the main blog. It, of course, would be better if it directed to a blog I have developed myself. I am working on it as a WordPress CMS blog, but am open to a Drupal CMS blog if that seems to work better. In any case, I still need to develop something Drupal friendly.

I am also planning on developing more ways to show code samples and examples on my portfolio as well. So, there will be many changes coming to my Web Portfolio. Thanks to my very attractive new Alienware laptop, this will be efficient.

The Burnout Limbo

Warning: This post is long overdue

I am hoping the title coaxes onlookers to raise one eyebrow and read on. It’s meaning comes from learning where our stress limit is and how much we can actually take on. Up until two weeks ago, I was back working full time at a very heavy thinking, stressful job while also trying to manage my way through 9 credits. Now, maybe I’ve been spoiled to have great instructors, however I wasn’t impressed this semester. If an instructor is very disorganized, the students likely will be. However, disorganization has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I was getting home from work already burnt out for the day. Turning in late homework and the grades that were coming are just not me. Because these classes aren’t going to a particular degree, I had to make a choice. So, my dear college students, tread carefully because burnout sneaks up like a ninja. Well, it did for me at least.

The classes I was taking were:

  • IT Essentials (A+)
  • Linux Networking (Linux+)
  • Network Essentials (Network+)

If you’re familiar with technology certifications, you’ll notice that all three classes used CompTIA textbooks. CompTIA is a very well known and respected series of certifications working from computer hardware, networking, and more. So, in all truth, I could study the books anyway and then take the certification tests instead

I feel as if I’m turning back in the Web Development direction again, at least on my free time. I can’t, and won’t, go into more detail but I will be working more on my portfolio website (BrianWardwell.com) where some functionality and design “misses” needed to be fixed or added. Also, this blog will soon be integrated into a CMS (WordPress) blog that will be actually attached to the site. This makes me feel really excited as it’ll get me punching code again, which is something I love to do.

I also have plans to try and remedy MusicBytes being neglected for far too long. A massive rule of web development would be to not put up a site like that, start building up an audience, and then disappear for two months. “How To Loose Your Regular Visitors: 101”. However, this will give me a chance to learn lessons on how to rebuild an audience and improve upon traffic by way of Search Engine Optimization and scheduled updates.

I do have other projects calling my name at the moment. Thank you for taking the time to read this attempt to waddle back out and post without shame.

E-Portfolio Update in the Works

Just a quick entry this time. The last two days, I’ve started to migrate my current E-Portfolio (brianwardwell.com) from its current HTML-only state into a PHP-based site. I admit that I did a victory dance when I moved the jQuery code that runs the show/hide feature of the “Academics” page despite using PHP includes and moving the jQuery code to inside the body. Three of its pages are already done and beings that I am actually fixing some of the CSS container issues I didn’t like previously, the rest should just be filling in the content on the new pages. I’ll let that FTP-upload and then from there, I’ll add in the blog engine for on there.

I also hope to add more functionality as well as time goes on including “click-to-run-example” programs such as a Python calculating a week’s wages, taxes and net pay.

Take care everyone,

Brian Wardwell

Improvements Coming to My Online Portfolio

BrianWardwell.com

(My online portfolio):

bw_tanlogo


While I’m sure that no web developer, or most other professions, reach to the point where their project is “that’s perfect”. My online portfolio is no exception although it has helped me strive to continuously improve and “tweak” as needed, as I’m sure will always be the case. This year has thrown some curve balls and some unexpected decisions needed to be made. I’m deciding to try and enter the Web workforce a little earlier than expected and also consider switching my Computer Programming AAS to a Web Application Programming certificate. Why?

I am now looking to gain experience and though I don’t mind the extra work, some technologies such as RPG Programming (an old IBM report generating language) and COBOL. I can shorten my time completing and the certificate also adds in many things the Computer Programming AAS does not, such as C#, ASP.NET, and Object-Oriented Programming.

In addition to this, I want to further develop on languages and skills I already know including more complex PHP, MySQL, and working at becoming far more proficient at JavaScript and many of its libraries. When there is time, I also plan on teaching myself Ruby (another server-side programming language) and possibly Perl if needed. However, for now, what is seen is more on the portfolio front. Here are some changes I expect to make and working on designing to add:

Added Content:

  • More photography (art photography, portraits)
  • More of my personal Adobe Photoshop work (have been using it since 2006)
  • Programming examples: Even if screenshots at first, I’m working to showcase my PHP, MySQL, and Python skills.
  • My goal: Some programming user interaction examples such as changing the color of a box with a mouse click.

Added Functionality:

  • Images: Choice of standard gallery page or carousel/slideshow.
  • “Pagination” example using my course list and descriptions.
  • Page transitions.
  • My goal: Some programming user interaction examples such as changing the color of a box with a mouse click.

Blog:

While this blog will remain, I would like the blog link on my online portfolio to be my own WordPress (CMS) blog hosted as part of the site. This will be easier for the user with more customization.

  • Social media updates such as Facebook, Twitter, etc
  • Further documentation as I begin to learn more skills in August such as Java and C++
  • More focus on aspirations I have as a web developer and even organizations I would like to create or updates from other sites that I am administering

Files (PHP):

Due to a problem with the school server this spring, the site I was able to upload to my own domain is only in HTML so far as the PHP on the school server was broken. I plan on rewriting the files to be set up with PHP for much better functionality and capabilities.

Optimizing speed of the website. I consider it to be on the slow side right now, unfortunately


I also think it would be very fun to help showcase and even review some local businesses and services. Being a native Fargo resident, I’m proud of how the city/smaller-metro is developing in caliber such as food, did someone say “Drunken Noodle“? These would also be unsolicited “mentions”.

Brian Wardwell
July 16th, 2015

Spring 2015 Semester

A Long Overdue Entry

I suppose most college students have one semester where things didn’t go as planned, in life or in school. For me, I hope mine was this last semester (Spring 2015) because then I have more productive things ahead. Even though it was a rough semester, and months in life in general, many lessons were learned including the “honeymoon period” in things. I wish I could remember which blog mentioned the book called The Dip by Seth Godin. I haven’t read the book yet, though this semester felt like that “dip” period. One thing I can be proud of is that even though my motivation wasn’t spot on and other things beyond my own, my instructor’s control, I still continued to give it 100% effort.

Now, the semester has ended and I graduated on May 13th, 2015 with an AAS in Web Development. Technically, my summer Ethics class will end that degree but that is also the hand off, or transition, point where my next milestone will be finishing an AAS in Computer Programming. This degree won’t finish for some time yet, so more on that later.

To give a very brief overview, as much is covered in a clickable (thanks to jQuery) Academics page on my newest portfolio at brianwardwell.com, this semester included five web development courses and one elective:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • User Experience Design
  • Web Applications II
  • Web Portfolio
  • Web Projects (Project Management)
  • Professional and Technical Writing

Web Applications II had us working on technologies such as Git, UNIX commands, stepping into AJAX and JSON, node.js, SSH and virtual machines (Using Vagrant). I look forward to experimenting more with AJAX and JSON, as well as node.js, due to their increasing use among modern dynamic websites. Summer courses will include Ethics and Informatics. I’ve always been pretty interested in Philosophy, so I am looking forward to Ethics just as much as Informatics.

My final portfolio for Minnesota State Community and Technical College is actually the exact same that is on brianwardwell.com. However, in the next two months, I am hoping to build a solid foundation to a PHP based site, since there were problems with the schools server running PHP during the last semester. I’m hoping this will then allow me to include programming examples and other features.

More information to come….

-Brian Wardwell

“Break”

spartanbyte
SpartanByte

December 30th, 2014

Winter “Break”: In quotations due to the fact that I believe that I rested that weekend after nearly falling asleep during a teleconference which was the last item to do for the fall 2014 semester.

I am working on completely redoing my school portfolio website. I am taking a Web Portfolio course, so if my ideas interfere with my instructors requirements, I’m already preparing to keep the design and structure open enough to adapt it as my own portfolio as well, rather than just a school website. I spent an entire day building a fairly different navigation system. I believe I got a little too excited when it finally started working the way I intended :-). I have my own site requirements when it comes to content, but still playing with the main sections even though the header and footer are complete.

Another project that I have been working on, which was a long planned idea that turned into my Content Management Systems final, is a music blog ( http://musicbytes.us/ ) which will, hopefully, feature one other author at least other than myself. My goal for MusicBytes is to be objective but make sure to have fun with it as well. I have that site pretty far along but nowhere near public eyes yet. The current home page is simply just an “under construction” page, that makes it able to be bookmarked. That was honestly my only goal for that page.

I’ve been playing around with other ideas such as reading up on the Python web development framework Flask even though I want to get to Django (Python framework as well). I also got books on Joomla and Drupal but of course things take time. A friend seems to be “thumbs up” on Joomla, so that may beat Drupal to the line on my second CMS (learned). Also looking into:

  • JSON
  • AJAX
  • XML
  • deeper into jQuery/Angular/etc
  • deeper into CSS frameworks
  • Object Oriented Programming (OOP) Terminology/Concepts

Already, the main challenge in grasping Flask is it’s object oriented. It is fun trying to grasp the tougher concepts though and understanding its purpose. Although, Flask is already refreshing my memory on Python, so it may be half the battle. I was near taking Java this coming semester which has a strict syntax and wouldn’t have let me avoid object oriented concepts as it thrives of it, but I swapped classes when I realized how time consuming it was. I’m not sure if that was the best move to make considering I’m leaning back toward sticking with the second degree, even if it’s not at my current school. It’s been a massive stress on trying to decide that, which has moving out of city/state attached to it, finances, etc all in one move. I suppose that would freak most out though. One adviser notes that I likely have enough “tools”, but another adviser (from the other program) makes me question especially when I know myself that we haven’t gotten heavily into OOP yet or dynamic content. I’m hoping this spring semester changes that. Although, keeping my second major will give me another Associates degree from only 39 extra credits. Granted there are two algebra classes, the rest isn’t so bad at all :-).

As for fall, though I have a lot to learn, I think the last semester helped me realize that I’m not a “noob” anymore. We got into a lot of fun projects. This is especially true in our Web Applications I class playing with:

  • HighCharts
  • Google Maps API (and other APIs)
  • more customizing and making JSON calls with jQuery
  • Building a database with CouchDB
  • Sass (which runs on Ruby, so I’m playing with that as well)
  • Knockout, Angular, Backbone and other JavaScript frameworks (which taught us concepts on data binding)
  • An introduction to Git
  • Coffescript

…and so on. I’m planning on tackling the Virtual Machine/Ubuntu Server project that I had to abort as my final project due to hardware problems. Also learning through forums from current web developers, programmers, designers. I’m not quite sure what clicked this last semester as far as suddenly and naturally finding good content resources, outlets, and really affordable ways to keep learning..even if it’s my own idea of “Oh, I wanna learn this (geeky giggle)”.

As for a new blog for myself. I plan on getting one going up as soon as I get the domain registered and such. I was a little frustrated when I saw Microsoft’s new browser was named “Spartan”. Having a funny feeling I won’t be a fan, I’m already rethinking my “SpartanByte” alias. Stay tuned on that as well, (grins).

Imperfection is inevitable” <— Someone said this.

-SpartanByte