Month: January 2016

Beauty in simplicity

I’ve always believed in the power of simplicity.

To me, concise writing is better, the best dishes have the fewest ingredients, and the minimalist lifestyle wins every time.

That’s why a website framework like Bootstrap feels so right. I gave it a trial run this week as part of expanding my front-end skill-set.

My verdict? Wow.

Using Bootstrap, I could put together a one-page website with quite striking ease. It was literally as simple as grabbing code from the main Bootstrap site and tinkering with it to fit my exact needs.

Bootstrap is highly responsive thanks to its clever grid system. I put some time and effort into understanding how the grid works, as this seemed to be the key to efficient website building with Bootstrap in future. At some point I’ll figure out how to jazz up this Jekyll site with a touch of Bootstrap magic.

This quick and simple YouTube video from LearnCodeAcademy helped me with Bootstrap.

Another thing I’ve been focusing on this week is JavaScript. I’d been floundering for a while among the hordes of good study resources out there. But this week I finally settled back into using a book I picked up recently, in hard copy for a change: “JAVASCRIPT & JQUERY” by Jon Duckett.

The book has an intuitive layout, clear explanations and helpful graphics to illustrate concepts. I particularly like how it uses real-life examples to illustrate how JavaScript fits into the overall website code structure.

This week I studied the chapter on error handling and debugging, as advised by the useful curriculum on JavaScript is Sexy. Knowing how execution contexts and stacks work has significantly improved my overall understanding of JavaScript.

When studying using resources like Codeacademy, there’s a tendency to get lost in the code. For me anyway, this leads to lack of understanding of the big picture, of how JavaScript works as a whole. Reading Jon Duckett’s book has helped to bridge this gap for me.

Bosphorus tech blues

Istanbul: a heaving mega-city of 20 million people – and growing every day.

You’d think with all these people it’d be easy to find a good programming group. But it’s not. There are a few on Meetup.com, my usual go-to venue, but they are largely populated by local guys, speaking in Turkish mainly. There’s a need for an internationally focused tech meetup group in Istanbul, but that’s a subject for another post.

Also contributing to the ever-growing Istanbul population is a steady influx of refugees from troubled countries in the region, mainly Syria. They are allowed to enter Turkey freely, but often compelled to live in refugee camps far from the amenities of the city centre.

Those that do come to the city are often faced with high rent prices, crowded living conditions and visa rules that prevent them from finding legal employment. This no-win situation forces people to beg on the streets. Those who don’t beg will eke out a small living by selling bottles of water or packs of pocket tissues to passersby.

This gave me an idea. Because they work online, not in a physical office, independent digital nomads tend to traverse a grey area in worldwide visa regulations. They may receive payments into bank accounts in their home country, while working with a client base from all over the world. This means they are not taking work away from local people, nor are they (necessarily) providing services to people in the country where they reside. All their work is conducted in the virtual space.

Web development is one of the most sought-after skills for any aspiring digital nomad. It’s also work that can be done with non-native English language skills. As long as you know the programming language, and enough English ability to understand the client’s basic needs, then you can produce the website as required.

What about creating a website to help Istanbul’s Syrian refugees to learn coding skills and find their way into digital nomad-style employment? It could include a jobs board where employers would post jobs, and a section where job-seekers could study things like HTML, CSS, Javascript and WordPress. After acquiring a range of skills, they could then apply for web development jobs.

The site could also be useful for refugees who have already qualified in I.T. back home in Syria, but are still seeking employment after becoming displaced. Ideally, I’d like to seek funding to make this happen, so that I could devote time to building and promoting it myself. If realised, this project could benefit many people. It would empower them to bring in additional money to help them through this time of crisis, and restore some of their feeling of autonomy, which has no doubt been stripped away almost completely.