Progress notes

So in the past weeks I’ve been working on the back-end. I rewrote some of the code for adding thumbnails which now I’m much happier. All of the small photos you see on the photography pages are thumbnails that are small and will load more quickly. The way it is set up now I still upload a thumbnail separately but the code is written to allow me to display a small version of the full res in case I don’t have a thumbnail for it yet.

Recently I’ve been working on creating an online resume. I’m still coming up with how I want it to look and I’m having some issues with making both the resume section and the photography section match with the cs blog. One specific issue is with the font. There’s so much to learn and do. Why am I writing about it instead of actually working on it?

New Dilemma

Dilemma is a bit of an exaggeration but here is my issue. I have set up the site to show the pictures as thumbnails with the dimensions of either 300×200 or 200×133, I haven’t uploaded any thumbnails yet and I noticed that the site was loading up slowly. I’m sure its a safe bet that the site loads the full resolution photo as the thumbnails and that is why it takes a few seconds to load. The speed is an issue but that’s not the main problem. I had initially planned on using the same MySQL function to add both the high res file and the thumbnail but now I’m realizing that that won’t work. I currently have one table in my database for photos but I’m thinking that a better way of setting this up is to have another separate table for the thumbnails and connect it via the photo’s id. Hopefully it shouldn’t take very long but this is one of the things I enjoy, rethinking and rewriting to make the functionality more logical. I could have probably just thrown everything into the photo database but then the organization would get messy and create potential problems down the road.

Obviously, the best way to add photos and thumbnails would be adding them together, then deleting them together, but I didn’t know how to do it and I still haven’t thought of a way to, but, I’ll figure it out. For now I’ll create an add thumbnail functionality into the site for the photos that need it then I’ll work on uploading and deleting multiple files at a time. Just because I don’t know how to do something doesn’t mean there isn’t a way. I’m looking forward to figuring it out.

Content Management System (CMS)

So far things are going well. The CMS took some time and has some bugs that are only showing up now that the site is on a real server, not just the one on my home pc. The site now has enough photos to look like a real site but there are still small details about the CSS that I will need to fix. So far so good. The CMS, that obviously only I have access too, is coming along nicely as well. I think I had a good plan on how to set it up and now I’m just tweaking details and refining it to make it as user friendly as possible. Its good enough for me but this project was for me to learn how to make a CMS for a layman, not for a person with a background in tech. There are still a few things that could cause problems for people who are caught unaware of some of the quirks of my set up like when you upload a photo it will take you to a page where you input all of its information regardless of whether or not it was uploaded properly. There is a message that says it wasn’t but unless you were paying attention a user would probably just ignore it. So, there are some issues I’ll be fixing but nothing seems like it should be too problematic.

Photo section is live

Photography section link

Use the link above to check it out. There are only a few photos up right now and there are some formatting issues. I’ll be fixing these issues soon but I’m happy to have something of my own up . Also, I will be adding a toolbar along the top of this part of this section to make navigation between sections easier. Also, there are some links in the toolbar on the photo section that still need to be linked to other pages.

Photography section link

Setting up photo section

It took me a bit longer than I had expected to find enough photos to populate a photo section. I have thousands of photos but there’s a big difference between shots you show to friends and family and ones that are interesting enough to display to the public. I now have enough to begin to merit a site. I’m now in the process of setting it up. I know how I want it to work so the next step is making it work the way I expect it to. I should be done with it soon. While working on it I realized the old adage, under promise and over deliver. One of the things I remember from my internship mentor was that if you think something will take a week, tell the boss that it’ll take two. Then if you finish in the time you think it will be done you look great, but if you run into problems and it does take longer than expected you still have some extra time.

Photo section almost complete

After a very long time, I am almost finished with the photography section of this site. The purpose was to learn how to create a content management system and I think I’ve done pretty well. Obviously, it would be impossible to show the admin side of the site without creating giving out passwords but I’m excited to put it out. Right now I’m going back to a lot of my old photos and deciding which ones will go up on the site. I’m going to try to get the site up with at least a few choice shots up by the end of this week.

Infatuated with refactoring

I’ve been making a lot of progress recently, and with the progress comes learning about better ways of doing the same thing. For instance, I’ve rewritten the backend part of the photography part of this site about 4 times. The first time it was all simply html and css, I was a beginner and that’s what I did when I was a kid so it seemed like a logical place to start. Then I learned some PHP and added that. Then came MySQL and databases. It was coming along nicely until I realized the way that I set up the databases was terribly inefficient, so I rewrote it again.  As I learn more I see how much better something can be so I make tweaks or rewrite chunks of code. At this point if I’ve made some changes to make the site run more efficiently but it looks exactly the same, I get pretty excited. I’m hoping to get the photography part of the site up and running soon. At my regular job I’m working six days a week but I’m going to start taking days off here and there so I can focus on development and move to greener pastures.

Not taking the nuclear option

When programming I’ve generally found it easier to restart than look for the bugs. This works fine with simple projects but its really nothing  more than bad habit. I know when I’m working on anything complex it won’t be a realistic or time efficient option. So I’m forcing myself to debug what I have and not going nuclear and rewriting from the beginning. This method helps develop a greater understanding of how the program works as well.

School is out

I just finished my last class and worked as a substitute teacher for hopefully the last time. Although I was a sub, believe it or not I actually worked over 40 hours a week. then add to that the time I’d spend with school work it didn’t leave a whole lot of time for much else. It is exciting to have enough time to work on projects that I’m interested in. I still sit on my balcony and write up code on my laptop but now that my classes are over and summer has begun I can redouble my efforts and make more progress on the things I find most interesting, which is still web and android development.

Beginning a career in a completely new field is also exciting but brings a little nervousness as well. I’ve got enough money saved for a couple of months so I should have plenty of time to find something. If in the worst case scenario I don’t find anything before then, I can always go back to subbing, but here’s hoping that going back to the school district won’t be necessary.

A lesson learned

I had an internship this past summer. A valuable lesson I learned  was that when you are struggling to find the answers, you’re usually asking the wrong questions, or asking questions the wrong way.It was my lack of background knowledge that made for seemingly endless searches. I didn’t know the right key term and I would use educated guesses until I found what I was looking for. As I started to learn the right keywords and technical terms I started to progress more quickly, simply because I was asking the right questions so I could spend more time on the code and less on time Google.