It was last September that I started my first tentative steps down the path on this adventure. I had my few bits of background knowledge; like the basic understanding that computers speak in noughts and ones, I kind of knew how the internet magically beams in to my computer, I could perform the basic moves to be an IT help desk (the famed off and on trick, pulling out wires, plugging in things, installing, removing and so on) and I knew what it meant when the IT-Rex made the joke there’s no place like 127.0.0.1.
So where to start in rounding out and building up my knowledge, how to commence the transformation from mild mannered part-time geek to full on computer nerd?
Lesson 1 – a false start
With all the best intentions I opened my huge book on web design and began the task of learning stuff. After a few weeks battling through the chapters on html and css I was able to understand how to mark up a document to be a web page and the (very) basics of how to format it, it wasn’t very exciting or fulfilling, the subject matter quickly became very dry and the novelty of the simple tricks I was able to reproduce wore off very quickly. Not quite the exciting change in direction I had been anticipating.
Lesson 2 – if you are trying something different, try something different
The book was a mistake, it is a good book with some valuable information and I’m sure that in the future it will be useful to reference. I think the very first hurdle of getting started had seemed so huge and I felt very lost in the ever so big wide world of computing so the book had been a familiar safe thing to jump in to, something tangible and structured. It had not occurred to me for one second that this might be a negative thing that could hold me back.
Luckily I have the IT-Rex. He spotted my frustration and set me a challenge, he told me to chuck the book to one side and get on and try and do something. Even better he gave me something to do, he set me a task (I will elaborate on this later) and told me to report back to him on completion. This was the push I needed to switch my mentality from having to learn something thoroughly, in a fixed way, before diving in to just getting on with it (belly flop style!). I completed the task, it was fun, it was testing, I found it interesting and there I was done, I had started something (whoop!).
So what next?
I started searching for some online tutorials or courses, something to give me enough direction and provide me with a good base to go from, to then enable me to go off exploring and experimenting. I needed something that would be a good compromise between the structured book and an interactive challenge. I also wanted something that I would be able to check my progress and practical tinkerings against, to help me get things right, to explain why they are right and to build experience and understanding to fix things when they do not go right.
And so it begins…..exciting!