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HTML and CSS progress update

Its been a few weeks since I started learning some HTML and CSS. It started off a little slowly but it has picking up speed lately. HTML is very straightforward, it is very similar to the XML I’ve worked with on Android. CSS is a bit more tricky because there are so many options. You can do one thing ten different ways. Finding one that works well with what you want to do is the biggest challenge.

F-12 has been amazing. It is great to be able to see how other sites are built and being exposed to new things that I hadn’t even heard of and thinking about how I can use some of those design elements in my site.

I’m currently working on the photography page of the site. Once I’m happy with how it looks I’ll be working on making a template for the other pages on the site. I wouldn’t say I’m close to finishing that page but I can tell that I’m moving forward and my progress has increased quite a bit since I started.

Done with school… for now.

In school you are either learning the basics of how to create something or theoretical details. Now its time to put everything I’ve learned to use and go further than simply having a theoretical understanding or just building something basic. I’m working on revamping this website. The basics of HTML and CSS are fairly straight forward, you are both the architect and the interior designer. I’m planning on continuing to incorporate wordpress but also changing some of the HTML and CSS myself so I can fine tune it to meet my needs. So far the most time consuming thing has been the planning, I’ve had different ideas of what I’d want my site to look like and I’m starting to whittle it down to a solid one.

“Measure twice, cut once”

Welcome Autobots!

As this little site continues its meteoric rise in popularity I’ve been getting comments from bots that are peddling ads.I have to approve all of the comments, but these are the only ones that I don’t approve. Its just comment spam and nobody wants to read that.

Plans with only a few weeks of school left

I’m getting close to finishing up this semester. In about 3 weeks I’ll be taking my last final and complete an associate’s degree. It took about three semesters taking classes part time and I’m excited to be getting out into the workforce. I’m not terribly worried about finding a job right away. Here is my plan. I’ll update my resume this week and start applying for jobs in about two weeks. From everyone I’ve talked to its a great job market so I hope that will turn out to be true. If for whatever reason it isn’t and it takes me a long time to get hired, I’m not too concerned. I’ll still be able to stay at my current job, until I find something. I’m planning on taking a class on PHP and MySQL next semester so if nothing else that class will help me get some more experience and will be something I can add to my resume.

You might know it when you see it, but you won’t see it until you know it

I’m back to working on android and I started a class titled “Website Universal Design”. So far the class has been interesting and if you’ve never heard of it, it is a best practices course on what to do to design a great website. There is a major focus on making sure your site is clear and usable for people of differing abilities. Its clear to me that the design of the website should not get in the way of a user trying to navigate through it, and we’ve seen many examples of great sites and a surprisingly large number of confusing and poorly designed sites. Having completed a degree in psychology you figure out that sometimes the results of major studies seems like common sense and a person can feel as though they already knew that information. However, just like with websites, great design elements seem like they would be obvious, but that is only because you were told about them.

Welcome back

Wow, its been a while. My original plan was to continuously update this blog, I wanted to update the site once or twice a week. However, my Calc II class has taken more time than I had imagined any class ever taking, so much so that the computer science (CS) class that I’m taking was getting overlooked. The computer science CS class has been a much easier and much more enjoyable than that calculus class. I still enjoy the suffering that calc has provided, but I’m not willing to allow it to bring down my grade in the CS class.


I’m planning on splitting this site into different parts. I want to keep this part but in addition I plan on adding a photography section. I’m still undecided on whether it will be a blog or just a photographer website, maybe both. I’ll probably start with the photo website and go from there, as I already have a blog here. For now I’ll be continuing to learn Android, which I haven’t touched  since a couple of weeks into the semester and I’ve been itching to get back to.

One thing I enjoy about this site is that it holds me accountable, I haven’t updated in over a month and even though I’m pretty sure no one is reading it doesn’t matter, I’m doing this to learn and if someone else happens to find it interesting or useful that’s great, if not it’s still something that I enjoy.




Success through failure

It isn’t common for people to become successful without first tasting failure.  I’m not sure where I heard this but the quote was something along the lines of “everything is hard before it gets easy”, which means learning is the ugly step sister to mastery’s beauty.

Today I took a calculus test, and although I felt prepared it didn’t go as well as I had hoped. The one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that as I study more and work harder  my grades do not always reflect that. I used to be able to sit in class and simply remember everything and do well on tests with minimal effort. Times have changed. I already have a degree (in the social sciences) so sometimes I wonder why I put myself through this torture. Since I am working toward something that is much more difficult the challenges are greater, struggles are more common and failures are grand. Still, I savor the torture, I enjoy working in my room on my white board and working out problems, figuring out what I did wrong, then solving them. When I was in high school I would’ve never dreamed that I would be taking calculus or studying computer science, much less enjoying the challenges. Surprisingly, I actually don’t have to take this calculus course for the associate’s in computer science. I’m doing it because I want to, in part because I think it can only help my eventual career but also because I’m fascinated by it. Working on the same material that Newton and Einstein did, learning the math that was used to get  a space ship to the moon is pretty awesome. There is some pride knowing how to deal with the math that most people avoid. I view calculus problems like a puzzle, unfortunately sometimes I have trouble telling the pieces apart but that is where the struggle, and failure comes in. I haven’t failed because I never fail to learn. So next time it gets easier and it is a matter of time and practice that I’ll reach mastery. Until then I’ll keep my sense of humor and keep moving forward.

*Edit 09/03/2014

I received my test back and after a lot of thought I realized what I had done wrong. At the end of my last study session I wrote down some notes to help memorize how the two formulas work and I wrote them in a different order than I had learned them, so during the test I wasn’t getting the answers I was expecting which means each question took longer than it should have and I eventually ran out of time to go back and the necessary corrections. If you learn do you really fail? No, and I didn’t actually fail the test I just didn’t do as well as I would have liked, although anything less than an A is disappointing for me.

Android Programming – The Big Nerd Ranch Guide

The book I’ve been using to learn Android development is from the Big Nerd Ranch guides. It has been difficult to find a book that suits my  needs because I’m not a complete beginner, but I’m also not advanced and it seems like every book on the market caters to those two market segments. The text is either dumbed down to the point where it feels like the author is talking down to you  or so complex that you have to research the topics to understand. This book is full of clear explanations and feels like a learning tool. The  book isn’t colorful, or very pretty, but if used as a tool for building great applications it is worth its weight in gold (this book is huge and that’s still an accurate metaphor). Don’t let its simple appearance fool you.

This Big Nerd Ranch Guide seems to cover everything you would need and the language is accessible to a non-technical person. I like the format. You start building an app then you cover why you are writing the lines of code. Some of the info I had already learned watching YouTube videos but I always find myself having to watch videos repeatedly and because most YouTube videos do not walk you through creating an app it feels a bit disjointed. The Big Nerd Ranch Guide teaches you how to create apps step by step in a cohesive way. One thing I found helpful is that as you progress through the book you go back to previously written code and update it to add more functionality. Although that may sound like it is just creating extra work for you I think it is worthwhile because you build on the complexity but in your own apps you may not need the more complex versions found later in the book. Since you are learning how and why things work it is easier to use things learned in your own apps.

I haven’t finished the book so if my feelings change I will update this post. As of now this is the best book I’ve used.

If you are getting one book on Android Development, this is it.

Hello World


My name is Josh Cruz and this is my first post on my first website. I am a computer science student and I’m setting up this website as a learning process. I don’t expect this site to look the same in the future and the reason I’m using Word Press is because of how easy it is. I’m also learning to develop Android applications so although I know millions of people hang on every word I write, this blog is mostly for me to keep track of what I’m up to but also give other beginners some insight on some of the things I’ve learned.