Learning Javascript: Week Two

Week #2 was probably the best week in class I’ve ever had. I liked it because I actually started understanding Javascript. Before, in my Java class, I was confused because I wasn’t sure where things were supposed to go, why they had to go there or what the end result would be. By using the sites below, I was able to finally get it. Repetition really helps me, and Code Academy truly helped me understand.

Javascript Hotline: If you’re desperate for the answer to your Javascript question, look no further. This site has several volunteers on call at all times. For those of you who are shy, they also have a chat room, but, I haven’t had much luck with using it. It’s just nice to know there’s someone out there who can help you. Did I mention it was a free service?

Code Academy: This site is exactly what I was looking for! Code Academy allows you to learn code, type it and check it immediately to see if you’re correct. If you sign up, you can keep track of the progress badges you earn. There’s also a hint button and a forum if you get stuck. You can also learn a few other languages too, like jQuery, PHP, Python & Ruby.

Code Combat: Play a game and learn Javascript too? This site features fast, extensive practice of coding while also playing in a wizarding world. You “cast spells” against your enemies by typing Javascript commands. It’s definitely a change from all the boring textbooks because you finally get involved in the coding and still have fun.

Easy Calculator: One of my projects recently was to create a calculator, and this site, which has a plethora of codes, definitely helped me out. They have a directory and a search bar to help you find the exact code you’re looking for. Some of these are very simplified, so if you just need a starting point, use these and customize to your heart’s content.

On one of my assignments this week, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to display a calculated result on the page after clicking a button. I had the code and calculations working perfectly; I just couldn’t get it to display. Now, I learned how to do an alert and a document.write, but the assignment called for it to display below the button on the same page. I searched the internet thinking I could find an easy fix, but after 2 days of searching: nothing. I finally caved in and asked my teacher, and he quickly fixed my issue. Notice the last line in the function that says “document.getInfo…”. That line then pointed to a text box at the end of the form field. So simple, yet I couldn’t figure it out.

BMI_code

Click to see the bigger code.

It’s such a great feeling to finally start understanding Javascript. It made my week really pleasant. But when I wasn’t getting it, I really just felt like crying. You try repeatedly to edit your code, test it and nothing. It’s a really hard task, especially if you’re a quitter. But, if you’re like me and want to do whatever it takes to solve the issue, coding is for you. (Also, using Firefox for debugging is helpful too.)

Learning Javascript: Week One

This past week was my first time back in class since May. It was hard starting up again, but I got back into my normal rhythm in no time.

Below are a few sites I found interesting and helpful for my first week of class.

Now, on to week 2…wish me luck!

Goodbye Amazon Affiliate Program!

The main way websites (especially blogs) make money is through ads. Even though as a reader we hate them, as website owners, they’re what pays the bills. Amazon is probably one of the largest affiliate program out there. They make it super easy to pick the content you’d like to display, and you just cut and paste the code. It’s hard to find a site that doesn’t have an Amazon link on it.

Yesterday I received an email from Amazon saying my Amazon Associates account would be closed by August 27, 2013. The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, voted to pass a sales tax law on internet affiliate programs. This came as a complete shock to me because I hadn’t heard a word of it until now. And Missouri isn’t the only state to pass this new law. Apparently many others have joined the bandwagon as well. According to this article, Amazon isn’t worried about paying the tax, they just don’t want the hassle of dealing with each state’s tax law.

So, if you’re lucky, find a good affiliate program that won’t kick you to the curb. Amazon is going to lose a large chunk of revenue from this.

Not Just a Web Designer

When I started this blog as a class assignment, I was only going to post web design topics. However, I have been doing a lot of graphic design more so than web design lately (due to summer break). I have stumbled across a great article today and wanted to share it with you.

I recently signed up for a website called 99Designs.com. You can either use the site as a client or as a designer. As a client, you submit your project details and hold a contest for the designers to try their luck at creating something for you. At the end of the time period you select, you pick the winner and compensate them however much you choose. As a designer, you can enter as many contests as you’d like and win cash prizes that are often times $200+!

99designs

Screenshot of an active contest.

I think the best contests are ones that hide the submitted entries so you can’t see what others have done. I know once I see the others I get discouraged and decide not to enter.  I say give it a shot cause you never know what the client is really looking for. It doesn’t hurt to try, plus you can add the work to your portfolio.

So I subscribed to 99Designs on Facebook and they posted an article today about how to make a great 3D package design mockup. It seems like it would take a lot of work, but really, all you’re doing is putting your images into Illustrator and manipulating them to look 3D. It definitely makes you look professional, especially with that drop shadow and reflection at the base.

Free Shopping Cart Sites

I’m trying to put together my first online store and I don’t really have the budget to go all out. I found a really simple and free storefront service before, but I can’t remember the name. It was awesome and super easy to set up, but as luck has it, I lost the link.

So, after looking for some new options, I came across this site listing all kinds of shopping cart sites. Some you download, some are open source. I think this is a pretty good list. I will try out a few and report my experiences in a later post. But for now, here’s the link to the list of free online shopping cart sites: http://www.ecommerce-hosting-guru.com/free-online-shopping-cart.html

The Domain Game

I have gone through some domain issues recently and had to educate myself fairly rapidly. Because of these great pieces of knowledge I learned, I thought I’d share them with you.

Last year I used a service called Missouri Get Your Business Online. It’s an initiative to help Missouri small businesses get online for next to nothing: less than $5 a month, with the first year being absolutely free. You get a free domain name of your choice, free hosting for one year, and a great website builder to get you going. The template designer is for those who have no knowledge of web design. Being a web design major, I really hate it, but when you look at the cost, it’s actually pretty sweet. It just irks me when I see their templates, cause one glance at them and they look so unoriginal. But hey, if you’re a small business saving money by doing the site yourself, I think that’s great. In the end, you really don’t need an over the top site with tons of animations and stupid things people aren’t going to use.

I think as long as you do the following, you’ll be good to go:

  •  have a website to join the rest of the 21st century businesses (cause everyone has a website or some kind of web presence)
  • get your main message across (what your business is all about, contact information, prices, hours of operation, location, etc.)
  • link to social media (cause that’s essential to reach customers 24/7 nowadays)

So back to the point of my article… I signed up for this Missouri Get Your Business Online deal and got a domain. I upgraded to a shopping cart add-on and ended up cancelling out my $4.99 package deal. I tried to downgrade, but they said I couldn’t, so I ended up cancelling the whole site. I lost my domain. Now I could have transferred it to another host and saved it, but I didn’t know how to do all that a year ago. So here I am now wanting that domain name back and I just got an email saying it expired a few days ago. I figured it would be available once again and I could restart a new account with the $4.99 package. To my disbelief, the domain is still unavailable. So it got me thinking, ‘How long does it take for a domain to expire before you can buy it back?’

After reading a few articles and help sites, the answer is 75 days! (Source) I obviously don’t know enough about the subject, but yes, you have to wait until the site expires, then there’s a grace period where the owner has a chance to purchase the site back. Then the domain goes through more waiting, all WhoIs info is erased, the site is finally deleted (which takes a few days) and then you can buy it once again. But geez, 75 freakin’ days? Here I was the other day thinking, ‘Oh I’m lucky cause the expiration date was only a week ago’. Then I read this 75 day clause and it really upsets me. That’s 2 1/2 months, folks. I need my site up and running now. If I wait 2 1/2 months before I can get my site up, I will have lost out on a big opportunity. In the end, I should’ve done my homework before getting into this whole website/domain name/hosting deal. I know better now.