NYR 1904: “Learn a New Language.” Part 5 – HTML/CSS.

Over the past four weeks, I’ve written about my experiences learning Italian prior to our trip to Italy. But what about after? Here’s the truth: shortly after our return to the States, all of my studying efforts came to screeching halt.

What happened?

In an earlier post, I wrote about SMART goals. Relevance is important, and unfortunately I just didn’t find Italian to be particularly relevant upon my return home.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful language and I loved studying it. But the reality is that a small percentage of the world population speaks it, and I don’t anticipate many opportunities to use it in the future. It was fun and fulfilling at the time, and I was motivated when a had a clear goal in mind. I was able to visualize moments during my travels where I’d be able to enjoy the incredibly fulfilling experience of communicating with someone else in their native tongue.

But when I got back, I had no goal. There may be a time when I pick it up again, but for now Italian is on the back-burner.

So, what language am I studying in 2019? The language of the internet, starting with this book:

In 2019, I will complete the Head First Guide to HTML/CSS.

For the past several months I’ve been diving into this book and having a blast. You can view my progress here. I’m making my way through each chapter, completing every exercise along the way and also creating Anki flashcards for key concepts. As of this post, I’ve read ten of the fourteen chapters.

I bought this book after reading a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Derek Sivers. It’s a great read anyone considering getting into programming.

So how are things going so far? Awesome. I’ve already learned so much from this book, such as:

  • How the internet works
  • Understanding the relationship between HTML, a browser and a server
  • Where fonts come from
  • Differences between image formats (JPEG/PNG/GIF)

As I work my way through the book, I’m finding plenty of other rabbit holes and diving right down them. I’ve started a curriculum with Free Code Camp (also recommended by Derek). I’ve been studying computer science using learning materials from Khan Academy, trying to understand how computers actually work. Delightful!

And Relevance? Well, as a consultant I’m finding that software solutions are coming up more and more in my work. And so I’m motivated not just by the fun of learning a new language, but also by the very real need to bolster my skill-sets as the economy (and job market) continues to evolve.

This has been a fun series to write, and I look forward to seeing where this new path takes me. Got any suggestions? Leave a comment below or contact me; I’d love to hear your feedback!

Quick announcement: Next week we’ll be kicking off the May series, “NYR 1905: Be More Creative.” I picked May specifically in honor of Julie Duffy’s Story A Day In May, an amazing program that I highly recommend. If you’re interested in writing, want some motivation and a supportive community, look no further. Here’s an explanation of the challenge from the website:

StoryADay is a creativity challenge: Write (and finish) a short story every day during May and/or September.

I participated last year and wrote a story every single day. It was challenging but also incredibly fulfilling and eye-opening. I’ll be writing more about my past experience during the blog series in May, but in the meantime I’ll post reminders about the program on Instagram @wells921 and will send a reminder to readers on my mailing list as well.

See you next week!

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