Learning JavaScript and Practicing Coding

So yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Life basically took over and stirred up some trouble, but I’m getting myself back on track.

With the help of a great friend, I’m currently working through a vigorous schedule to get my Front End Developer and UI/UX skills solidified. I’m currently struggling through learning JavaScript (that I’ll call JS from now on since it’s easier to type and I’m lazy) and I can definitely say the struggle is real. I’m having the same trouble I’ve had with other coding languages, which is if I don’t use it everyday in some manner, I can’t remember what I’ve learned. It was pretty embarrassing when my friend tested me on some JS basics and I couldn’t answer most of the questions. But I’m determined not to get down about my failures. I’ve read recently on Lifehacker and the blog Beyond the Rhetoric that one should view their failures as stepping stones to achieving your goal and reminders of what to do in the future. Hence, the vigorous coding schedule. Here’s what I did today:

  1. Started the day with brain training with Lumosity (I have some work to do there :P)
  2. Finished reading Ch 5 of Beginning JS that covered JS objects. Longest. Chapter. Ever. But much needed.
  3. Struggled through some coding katas on Coding Wars. It’s been at least a year since I was on that site and I had no idea what they wanted me to do to complete the challenge. Once my brain fog cleared everything made sense. But I’m struggling through simple questions so I know I have some work to do there.
  4. Had some spaghetti for lunch and found a book to work from to practice coding syntax and layout. The book is Learn HTML5 by Creating Fun Games. Seems pretty interesting so far. 🙂
  5. Followed this with some yoga until I irritated my fibromyalgia to the point I couldn’t continue.
  6. I watched a TED Talk by Morgana Bailey and two presentations on site design and UI design by Andi Galpern
  7. Ended my day by starting to read about bandit algorithms for use in website optimization. Really interesting stuff but a very dense read.

And I did ALL this while washing just about every piece of clothing in the house! Cause I love waiting until I run out of clothes and have to wear my “I’m single and have nothing to do but I’m married anyway” outfit because it’s the only thing I have left in the house that’s clean to wear.

But I’m proud of myself. I completed a schedule to the best of my ability and made a decent amount of progress today.

Also have some goals set for tomorrow:

  1. Complete the Ch 5 exercises in Beginning JS and read an article on the JS is Sexy website where the learning path is posted
  2. Start the Data Structures learning path on Codecademy
  3. Complete at least one kata without aid on Code Wars (like I said, the struggle is real)
  4. Complete one example game in the HTML5 game book

And now that my brain is completely fried, I’m going to rest it by making some delicious food and finishing the wash. Maybe even watch some Netflix. Maybe. 🙂

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My thoughts on Fate/Zero

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything! Well I’m going to try and post more but with the way my life usually works, this may have yet another sudden hiatus. Anywho, I recently finished the anime series Fate/Zero, the prequel to Fate/Stay Night and wanted to share my thought on the anime. It’s written more towards a general review layout instead of my usual format – trying something new. I hope you enjoy!

Fate/Zero

Based on the light novel of the same name, Fate/Zero is the prequel to Fate/ Stay Night – the anime series based on the popular visual novel game in Japan. Taking place ten years before Fate/ Stay Night, Fate/Zero gives us the action filled details of the 4th Holy Grail War in Fuyuki City, where several mage families fight to obtain the Holy Grail, a magical item that will grant a miracle wish to the winner through the use of seven Hero Servants-popular historical figures from various parts of the world.

This anime had my attention from the first episode for several reasons, the first being the large fan base surrounding Fate/Stay Night and the second being how dark the story is right at the beginning. One of the main characters is seeing his newborn daughter for the first time, and says to his wife that she will die from his actions. This joyous occasion is already clouded by an ominous feeling, making you wonder what this man has done in the past to get to this level of darkness less than 5 minutes into the anime. With my love of dark storylines and mysterious characters, I was hooked from the start.

Brought to us by the studio ufotable, Fate/Zero has just the right blend of action, adventure, magic, mystery, and intrigue shown with clean CGI and 2D mixed animation paced to a stunning soundtrack. Each episode ends with just enough story to complete the episode but enough of a cliffhanger to make you want to watch more. I attempted to watch the anime with the dubbed track, but elected to go with the Japanese voice actors with English subtitles. Nothing against the English voice actors, who did a great job with the amount of emotion needed for a dramatic anime, but the nuances and inflections needed to really get into the story could really be felt with the Japanese voice track. (Also some of the lip syncing was really, really off. Knowing it’s already a hard thing to match an English voice to an animated character created for a Japanese one, it’s a pet peeve I haven’t been able to move away from.)

There was a part near the end of the anime were we have a flash back sequence for one of the main characters. I felt the tension that was built up after a particular dual between Heroic Servants was broken due to this flash back. While a nice way to see how dark a person has to become to remove their emotions from their work, but I felt it could have been removed completely and made into an OVA as a DVD extra.

But overall, Fate/Zero lives by its name, being a great starting point to understand the world of Fate/Stay Night and the origins of many of the characters of the main series. It pleases the history buff with its accuracy for the Heroic Servants while still taking license with their character design, sets the mood and pace right away with a story that engages you from episode one, and leaves you humming parts of the soundtrack from one of the many battles scenes.

I have not seen Fate/Stay Night yet myself, but I feel I have a great foundation to work with for when I do.

Overall grade: A

Weaver by Katherine Arandez

Weaver (The Kervanian Chronicles #1)Weaver by Katherine Arandez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back in December, hidden among the piles of emails I had in my inbox, was a Tumblr question. I had no idea this was even there since I had about 1,000+ emails in my inbox that I was avoiding  reading because it had reached over 1,000+, but I took the time one day to actually go through each one and delete what I didn’t want. I’m glad I did because that’s when I found Katherine’s Tumblr question, asking if I could read and review the first book in her new series.

I quickly replied back, apologizing for not responding sooner, and said I would be happy to read her book, and I’ve very glad I did. So here is the review of Katherine Arandez’s Weaver.

Weaver is divided up in to two parts – the beginning introducing the three siblings that are central to the book, and what occurs a year later after their actions from the beginning. It’s a fantasy story that spans over several points in time and, literally, across space and time, to help end a war and bring together two civilizations that had been separated for several millennia.

While reading this, I felt the book was definitely an awkward first book for several reasons. This isn’t the author’s first book, but it’s her first book in a fantasy series. There are a lot of characters to introduce, a lot of setting to establish, and a lot of story to cover to set up the rest of the series.

The story starts off catching your attention right away and goes through the peaks and valleys of a lot of action scenes with connecting drama to move things along.  There were points I felt the author was very verbose with her descriptions and was “showing not telling” the reader what to see and feel, but that was easy to get used to since I believe this the author’s style of writing. Not to give away spoilers, but the ending felt very cut off.  Not to belittle Katherine’s ending, but I feel it could have been polished a little more.

So do I recommend this book for fans of fantasy stories? Yes I do. This is a great start to what will hopefully be an epic fantasy series. As I mentioned, the story, though awkward at points, is very enjoyable with enough action to keep your attention and enough drama to move things along. I’m still not sure how to feel about the ending, but it is a great start for a new author.

Katherine has planned to write 30 books for the series and I hope I can live long enough to read all of them. This series has a lot of potential and I would love to see how things turn out in the end.

Stranger Than Fiction by Chuck Pahahniuk

Stranger Than FictionStranger Than Fiction by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Continuing on the non-fiction track, I’ve recently finished Chuck Palahniuk’s Stranger than Fiction: True Stories, a series of articles and essays completed by the author for various magazines and newspapers. The essays are divided into three sections – People Together, Portraits, and Personal.

“People Together” is a set of essays featuring stories about people coming together for a related activity, social event, type of employment, or hobby. It was very interesting to see how the author was able to find these events, take part in these events, or even know the people that have these similar hobbies to interview. My favorite essays were “You Are Here” about writer’s trying to pitch an idea in about 7 minutes at an airport hotel, and “My Life as a Dog” where the author rents a full size Dalmatian costume and walks around downtown Seattle for a day with a friend wearing a full size dancing bear costume. The results of this random insanity varied from joy to physical abuse – all out of the sheer curiosity of how people would react to someone dressed like this for a day. I found the essay to be very humorous and interesting at the same time, but I’m afraid I don’t have the courage to do the same in my local city.

“Portraits” is a set of interviews and essays about famous people. My favorite was “Not Chasing Amy,” the author’s ode to Amy Hempel on how much he enjoyed her writing and unique style. I would read her works but Palahniuk mentions a person usually doesn’t want to read anything else after this since nothing will come close to her level of talent. I also enjoyed reading Palahniuk’s personal letter to Ira Levin in “Dear Mr. Levin,” where he goes into length to say how much he enjoyed Levin’s work since its themes were based on things society would rather not deal with. Makes me want to read Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, and Sliver so I can have good conversation starters during an awkward party….or not.

“Personal” is a set of essays written by Palahniuk about points in his life. I enjoyed each one of these stories. I feel I got a glimpse of the author’s life by seeing what influenced his writing and how his experiences have made him the person he is today.

Even though this book is rather short, it took me some time to get through. I think if I didn’t have so much going on in my life when I was reading this, I could have finished the book in one sitting. But I feel it was nice to read this in small bits since each story has its own tone and voice while still being related in the general subject manner. And Palahniuk gave the best advice at the end of one of his personal essays: if you have something interesting happen to you or someone around you, make sure you write it down – it may come in handy later.

Overall I highly recommend reading this book, not only for the entertaining stories but also for a glimpse in to the author’s life.

Fugitives and Refugees by Chuck Palahniuk

Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, OregonFugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever have someone tell you that if you visit a town they grew up in/lived in for several years, these are the places not to miss? That’s what Chuck Palahniuk’s Fugitives and Refugees is: a massive book about all the places a person should see as told from the point of view of a person that knows the area the best. It took me some time to read this rather short book, and I blame it mostly on illness, the holiday craziness, and work, but it was an interesting read. I did find out what the inspiration for the mausoleum for Survivor was and now know where Chuck Palahniuk’s tonsils have ended up. I also know if I ever decide to visit Portland, I know I’ll have this book with me as a guide.

Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)Parasite by Mira Grant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Taking a brief break from Mr. Palahniuk’s works, I’ve decided to read and review Mira Grant’s (aka the lovely Seanan McGuire’s) Parasite. I finally got a copy of the book from my local library and had to make the choice of stopping Lullaby halfway and starting Parasite or finishing Lullaby and then reading Parasite. So I decided to consult an expert and asked the author herself. Her response was beautiful and I just had to share:

seanan_twitter

 

 

 

How beautiful is this?! And in 140 characters too! God I wish I was just as good with words…but I’m not a professional writer with years of practice. So here it is, my review of Parasite.

Parasite takes place in the future, where humans ingest a pill containing a tapeworm genetically engineered to take care of all of your medical needs. No more missed pills, allergies, colds, ANYTHING! They are tailored for each person (from what I can tell from the story) and need to be replaced with a new tapeworm in pill form after so many days. Thing is, these tapeworms begin to become sentient and start to take over the humans they are trying to protect.

I remember reading a summary of this before the book was published thinking “I need to get a hold of this! This is going to be just as good if not better than the News Flesh series! Zombies controlled by tapeworms!” And it was an awesome read! I had a hard time putting this book down at points since I needed to go to bed so I could get up for work in the morning…which usually led to some sleepless nights and a lagging morning of computer checks in the IT workroom. Thank god for JavaMonster! I love how each chapter has a brief section from a news article or book from the story’s world that just brings all the events together as you continue through the story. Not sure if these sections were added before, after, or during the writing of the main story but they really flow well! The characters are likeable, the setting is very believable, and there were points where I felt like I needed to rethink my methods of medication and how they help me. Not planning on falling into any publicity traps like in Side Effects (great movie by the way if you haven’t seen it) but wow was it close to how some medications are advertised to the public. Plus I know Seanan loves her infectious diseases and parasites so this was a match made in literary heaven.

If you enjoyed reading the New Flesh series, I highly suggest reading this book as a transition to a new series by the same author. If you enjoy reading medial thrillers based in the future, give this a try. If you just need something really good to read for a week, give this a try.

As for me, I’m anxiously awaiting volume two! ^_^

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

LullabyLullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lullaby is the story of an odd couple formed by a widowed news reporter (Carl Streator) and an eccentric real estate seller (Helen Hoover Boyle) with pink hair and a passion for selling houses that have showers that occasionally have blood instead of water and crying baby sounds coming from the walls. This odd couple teams up with a hippie Wiccan named Mulberry (Mona) and her boyfriend (Oyster) to create their own version of a National Lampoon’s Family Vacation in order to hunt down and destroy all copies of a lullaby found in a children’s books of poems and short stories that has the ability to kill anyone who hears it. The reader of the poem is not harmed but the listener dies.

This is a great story and a fun read. The setup, for me, was a little slow but definitely picks up the pace once all the characters are brought together. I liked the chemistry between the characters, especially the main four since they seem like polar opposites but really connect. The ending was interesting and I didn’t see it coming when I reached the end of the book. There are points where you are told a snippet of a story that seems to take place at another point (possibly later) than the normal story line, but it doesn’t really come together until the end.

So if you’re looking for something to read over the Thanksgiving weekend to avoid the holiday madness, I would suggest grabbing this from a local library or bookstore (prior madness). It’s a fast and overall interesting read.