Sunday, September 28, 2008

Moving on to CSS!

Because lot's of stuff came up between this and the previous blog Chapter 7 of Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML took a lot longer for me to finish than I wanted to take, but it's done and I am diving in to Chapter 8.

Chapter 7 dealt with XHTML 1.0 which is very close to HTML 4.01 that was covered in the prevouse chapters. According to the book XHTML is supposed to next thing, but given that the book is now several years old and that HTML 5.0 is coming out, I wonder if this is still true.

Does anyone out there have an opinion regarding HTML vs. XHTML that they would like to share? If so, post a comment because I would like to others think.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's hump day, and I am tying to get over some humps

The brand new printer that I got to print out cover letters and customized resumes died yesterday. I have solutions to work around the problem until a replacement printer arrives, so I am not completely stuck and I am moving forward (albeit a bit hobbled).

What was left of my time yesterday was spent working on my job search, so didn't get in any time for my studies. It looks like today will be focused exclusively on the job search, but hopefully tonight I will be able to get in some time and learn more about XHTML.

I know what I want to do with the knowledge I will get from Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML, but I am not sure if I should move forward with the PHP studies, or shift my focus to C#. I would like to learn both because both interest me and I see the demand for those skills, but I only have so much time.

While I know what my long term goals are, I am struggling to find the right path to get to where I want to go. There are so many pathes that present opportunities that I lose my focus at times. Keeping my focus and continuing to stay hopeful are are just two more humps in the road ahead for me, but I will get over them.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Done with Chapter 6 and moving to XHTML

I finished Chapter 6 of Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML over the weekend, and I can definitely say I learned a lot about web standards and compliance.

It was interesting to use the W3C Markup Validation Service to check the code samples in the book, as well as my own sites (miba51, cloudymidnights, and urbanspelunkers) I wasn't surprised to find that all three of my sites had bugs, but I am still going to hold off correcting and updating my sites until I am done with book.

Since I am paying for hosting those sites, I might as well use them as part of my portfolio with cloudymidnights emphasizing accessibility, and urbandspelunkers to experiement with style.

I am now starting Chapter 7 and diving in to XHTML and hopefully in a couple more chapters I'll begin working with CSS. I wish I were making faster progress, but there are other priorities, and at least I am making progress on many fronts right now.

I scapped out 4 old PC hulks I had lying around, and I have two or three more to scrap out by the end of next weekend. My place is looking more organized than it has in years. Who knows, I may actually get some of my other projects off the ground. It's amazing what you can accomplish once you define and narrow your focus.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Coming up for (but just for a little bit)

The job search is plugging along and I am starting to make some good contacts. I am still staying positive and working toward my goals.

I've been networking with some great people in the accessibility field and I have found some great resources that will help me move forward. I am impressed at how helpful people are in sharing information about accessibility.

My studies have been going in spurts. As I have stated before this is due to the time I am spending on my job search, but like my job search I am making progress. I am currently on Chapter 6 of Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML and I hope to finish it by the weekend.

I am finding that HTML seems to just come naturally to me and even though I haven't started working with CSS I have been able to understand the few examples that have been listed in the exercises.

Even though it's a cloudy day today, I'm feeling pretty positive about where I am heading.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Really made some progress.

I finally finished Chapter 5 of Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML and I am ready to move on to Chapter 6. The reason it has been taking so long is that I dove into a major cleaning project over the last few days. Things are a lot more organized now and I believe I can make a lot of progress now.

I want to post more but I'm just drained right now. I follow up tomorrow evening with more news.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Something's missing! Look to the left.

If you look over to the left you will see that the "Free Books" comment and link are missing. That's because someone came over today and picked up a bulk of the books. What was left wasn't worth trying to find a home for so they are now residing in the recycling bin. All of the non-fiction books are heading off to a used book store tomorrow. I am finding as I become more focused on my goals, getting rid of stuff I don't need is becoming easier.

Studies are going slow, but I am still moving forward. I believe that clearing out a lot of stuff will provide a better study environment, and help me move towards my goal so things should pick up. I'm also starting to do some research on web accessibility for the visually impaired, and I am gathering a lot of information which I hope to incorporate in to my upgrades to the Cloudymidnights site.

Since I have Tron running in the background at the moment, I guess I'll end this entry with a good old fashion "EOL"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Did you know?

Pencil line is 35 miles long
Just a little something from today's studies. Yes, Chapter 5 is going much slower than it should, but I will get back up to speed in the next few days. That's it for today. I am one tired, but optimistic puppy.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Turning 50 and looking forward to the future.

Since today was my 50th birthday I decided to take a break and didn't get much done. I did do some studying, but nothing worth writing about and most likely I will reread the sections tomorrow.

I was planning to write about another job opportunity, but I realize that for the most part it is already listed, and actually is the first two opportunities I listed.

Because I want to help people, I think it would be great to find a job working with web accessibility applications for the visually impaired, and this fits right in with the second opportunity I listed as well as the purpose of the Cloudymidnights site and blog that I run.

It is even possible to test web accessibility applications on or for embedded systems such as PDAs and other devices. I have the embedded systems experience, and I am learning web development (albeit a little slower than I like, but hey!, I have to find a job right now)

Both the embedded systems testing and accessibility testing fit right in with the goals of my purpose. The science writing can be something I can do on my own separate from work, though eventually I may end up writing for a living (or at least some pocket change)

Monday, September 08, 2008


I don't think it's the same level of techno-religious argument as Vi vs. Emacs, but Chapter Five of Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML did go into the differences between JPEG and GIF and why one may be better than then other for specific applications.

I really never gave it much thought until I started in with this chapter. In the past just posted images in whatever format worked for me at the time. Now I have a better understanding, and I will try follow to the guidelines in the book. It may take a while for the rules to sink in enough to where I don't need to regularly go back to the book to check, but I will get the hang of it as I build my own sites.

Moving on to other things, I am finding that I define my purpose more and more, it is becoming easier to get rid of a lot of the stuff I kept around the place for projects that just never got off the ground. As the stuff gets tossed, I am finding it easier and easier to focus on my goals, and that really helps me to stay positive right now. Clearing out all of the books over the next few months will really help.

Tomorrow is my 50th birthday, and Saturday will be one month since I was laid off, but more importantly Saturday will also be the 26th aniversary of my first job as a "technician". I think that now is a good time for a change and I really feel good about my chances.

I'll be adding another "Interesting Employment Opportunity" tomorrow. I'd do it tonight, but I've been working for almost 16 hours now, and it's time to get some Zs.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Slow progress, but still going at it.

I have made some progress with my studies, but I am finding that both the job search and going through and clearing out all the stuff I have is cutting into my time.

There is nothing I can do about the job search except streamline the process, and find a job of course. That is a priority right now.

As for clearing out the stuff, I have given up on selling the books and I am now listing all the technical books for free, and I will exchange the non-fiction and fiction books at a used book store for some books I can use such as books on web development.

Being flexible and adapting to changes in your circumstances is necessary to getting through times like these.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I am still here and still plugging away.

I have been very busy the last few days working on my job search, so much so that I have had to put the books down for a bit and just crank away at the job search.

I have made enough headway and have gotten organized enough to where my schedule will allow for more study time starting today (or at least I hope)

While my goals and purpose haven't changed, I do need to meet the requirements as required by the Employment Security Department, and so I have to balance my energies and priorities.

I have taken some time to gloss over Chapter Five of Head First book, and the perused the Crash Course book a bit, and once I clear a few things off my plate I am back to work at reading those two books.

The one thing that I am trying not to do is get down too hard on myself about the situation, and I am working hard at staying positive. I will say though I am putting in a lot of walks to help with the stress and keep me motivated.

That's it for now, and thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment. It would be nice to know that someone is reading this blog.

Cheers! ~ Jim

Monday, September 01, 2008

I've been busy!

I should have posted an entry yesterday, but I had a long day and was too tired and trashed to write a decent post. I spend a good portion of the day pulling books out of my storage coffers so that I can list them for sale here. If you look on the side bar you will now see a "Books for Sale!" with three separate links for Technical, Non-Fiction, and Fiction/Miscellaneous Books. I thought this was necessary given the sheer volume of stuff I plan to get rid of. Hopefully I can get rid of most of the stuff and make a little extra to help get by while I pursue my goals.

Speaking of goals, I finished Chapter 4 of "Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML" and learned some interesting things about my favorite attribute "target". In most of the pages that I have composed using a WYSIWYG editor, I have almost always selected the target="_blank" option for links so that the links will open to either a new window or tab. What was pointed out in the book is that this may not always be the right thing to do, especially since it may cause problems for those who are visually impaired. This is very important for me since my Cloudymidnights site and blog, are in part intended for visually impaired astronomers.

I've been making a lot of upates to the Cloudymidnights blog, but I am holding off on upating the site until my skill set is improved. Besides being useful to climatically challenged or visually impaired astronomy enthusiasts, I also want the site to be functional as well as a show piece of my work, and I also don't need any distractions right now, so the site will sit as is for the immediate future.

Reading of web site usability and my work on the Cloudymidnights blog tweaked my interest in possibly looking for work as a web site usability tester, so now I have another possible avenue to pursue and hopefully help me find a job sooner.

For me web site/application usability tester is right up there with testing web applications for embedded systems, especially since it will help others, and that is in line with my recently defined purpose that I am now pursuing.