Learning to say “No”

Because when you’re trying to take on too much in whatever aspect of your life, things can become overwhelming. It could be a personal project or cramming social activities into too many hours of the evening.

For me, I’ve not yet taken on a work project that I thought I wouldn’t be capable of completing or that I wouldn’t have the motivation finish. I am after all in the business that I love.  I’ve even turned away some work because I thought I wasn’t the right person for the job.

There are however extra hours that I put into my working day to help keep my skills and knowledge sharp.

I’d been aware for some time of the concept of a blog generator called Jekyll.  A couple of weeks ago I took the plunge and had a look for myself.  I began to learn a lot about how it worked. How your create a Jekyll project and manage a Jekyll workflow.

And for a little while, I was getting into it. Learning about Jekyll Templates, Front matter blocks, loops etc.  I could see myself working on a little project of my own and adding it as a skillset in my portfolio.

But all the while I felt somethimg nagging at me. The inner voice asking when I was going to use this skill in the future. Jekyll isn’t quite a Content Management System but it feels like one.  It has a loop system which generates content in a similar way to that seen in WordPress.

It all came to a head today when I realised i was wasting too much time trying to work out a problem on a version of Jekyll that was far in advance of the original learning material.  I partially completed the site. I say partially because there were glitches between my version of the project and the intended result.

Problems that probably could have been resolved if I had the time, the energy, the motivation to look at the documentation to fix it. Only I didn’t. Because my heart wasn’t really in the project at all.

So eventually, I shelved it and moved. I said. “No more”. It was my decision and the only person who could be possibly negatively affected by it is me. But I think I made the right one.  If I was never truly motived to learn Jekyll then there was no real point in me putting the effort in to fix the glitches in the site.

It gives me time and energy to put on other things. That’s the wisdom I believe im learning to say “no” sometimes in life.

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Happy New Year from Jonnie Grieve Digital Media

Happy New Year to all my readers!

We’ve reached 2016 and for me I’m coming to the end of my Christmas break. As much as I love making nice things happen with code and with Web Design it’s nice to have a break once in a while.

But from the 4th January I’ll be back in earnest with plenty of Web projects to get 2016 started.  I have a design project for Crook2Hook to finish in which I’ll build an interface for a shopping cart for a client and a redesign in the works for the Elim Church coming up too so this will keep me busy I am sure.

But where I’m hoping to make the most strides in my web design career is in WordPress.  I’m building up my experience in creating WordPress site in that I now have 4 locally set up sites on my computer.  There is still much for me to learn on Web Development with WordPress but it’s definitely my main goal for 2016 to continue with this and consolidate my knowledge of WordPress.

I’m also very sure now that I want to use my new found WordPress skills to use it to develop the next design for my website rather than building it from scratch. I’ve done this for each of my previous designs but it’s as good an excuse as any to use my new skills.  I can’t put an exact date on when this will happen but it will hopefully be soon.

Where I go next is up to 2016! Let’s see what fun it brings!  🙂

WordPress Development Breakthrough.

Just a short blog but I’m very excited.

I talked on social media yesterday about having made progress with migrating a WordPress website I made in localhost, allowing me to use a speedy development workflow while I’m building the site.

This is a screen grab of how the website looks as I write this post tonight.

wordpress-dec

And this is a link to the page in question. Depending on when you’re viewing this blog this is very likely to have changed from the above image.

http://www.jonniegrieve.co.uk/wordpress-jonniegrieve.co.uk/

But as you may be able to see, the site isn’t up to much. It’s a first time developed WordPress website that works. Which took a hell of a lot of working out, let me tell you!

But it does mean I’ve done everything I need to know to build one, at least once and it’s a major learning curve in my WordPress Development.

I know I’ve got a long way to go yet but I’m very pleased with my progress so far.

Thanks for reading!

Progress with Illustrator and Wordpress

I’ve had a busy but good week. Client work is going well and ive been working hard getting to grips with WordPress development.  I spend too much time on my blogs writing about what I can’t do.  I’m going to try and be a bit more positive tonight.

1) Workflow

In recent week, I’ve learned to untilise the benefits of developing websites via localhost. I looked again at my LAB portfolio site and stripped it down ready for a redesign and ran it from localhost. This means I don’t need to worry about loading my files to my web host every time I make even the most miniscule of changes.

It makes working with AJAX and WordPress development faster to develop and debug and this change to my workflow has been a delight. 

2) WordPress 

Progress with WordPress development is really coming on. It’s been great fun learning piece by piece how a WordPress theme is put together. And while most of it is a still a blur I am starting to get it.  You do need some foundational knowledge of PHP.  Check.  You do need knowledge of the basic structure of a WordPress installation. Check. Knowledge of naming conventions that WordPress uses to get itself working, getting there.

It’s mostly a case of knowing how to take a static HTML template and knowing where to cut this code and replace it with WordPress specific dynamic functions.  It’s going to take a lot of practice but my biggest fear isn’t with this, it’s with making sure I don’t break everything when I finish and migrate the database over to the wider Internet 🙂 
3) Adobe Illustrator

Another thing I’ve been working on in the last 2 weeks is designing with Adobe Illustrator. I’ve tried to get into illustrator a few times over recent years but it’d never got to grips with the myriad of options that the program offers. This is largely to time, and the amount of time I spend either in Photoshop or writing code in a text editor.

I have to say the new Adobe Illustrator course has been fantastic. I like the project based approach to learning we go through during the course.  Not only has the project been interesting, but in this course I finally feel like I’ve been able to do things with the program. Following on from the simple instructions in the video.  Now the tool doesn’t seem quite so scary. 

Treehouse, Dyspraxia and my love of learning

For about a year and a half now, I’ve been a member of an amazing website called TeamTreehouse. 

Treehouse is an online technonology school for learning exciting things like web design, web development, iOS, android and more recently Game Development (I can’t wait to check out that last one). 

Not long after joining they asked me if I would be interested in a position as Forum moderator. A completely voluntary role but one I’m proud to take.  

Just today I’ve had my story published. You can read it here.

http://blog.teamtreehouse.com/with-treehouse-jonathan-built-the-skills-needed-to-launch-his-web-business

In it you may have noticed I talk about something very affecting in my life. Dyspraxia.

I’ve spoken in the past about what it is and how it affects me in my blog back in July. But I felt like now was a good time to touch on it again.

As I said, I suffer from mild Dyspraxia which affects the way I process information and remember things such as coding in my brain. It fundamentally changes the way I look at the world; the way I think, the way I learn.

So even if I’m taking in information as any other would that information could just as easily be lost before it has had a chance to sink in. You could ask me a simple question or give me a basic instruction and my thought processes can very easily break down.

For example, one of my goals at Treehouse is to learn how develop and customise a website in WordPress. I’m devoted to it. I’m excited about what I am finding out and slowly but surely demystifying the process of building a WordPress theme. I can then use them to make my own custom designs.

But sometimes it can get too much.  Sometimes I can find myself in a different headspace and it can feel like all those miswired connections in my brain are rushing to sort themselves out.  These sorts of things are what affecting my ability to learn.

What do I do when I go to a project or a learning session and I think.. “Where did the knowledge go?”. Well it is there, it never really goes it just sometimes takes a little longer than it otherwise might to access the part of the brain that is holding the new knowledge 

This is why I like working for myself. This is why I started my own business. Allowing me to work and learn at my own pace, rather than having to compete at the same level as non neurodiverse people. I believe it’s the best thing possible for my personal development.

Why am I telling you all this? First of all I think it’s important to stress I’m not trying to undersell my abilities. Dyspraxic people can have many positive qualities, including creativity, determination and an insatiable need to learn.

I believe that in spite of all my problems I can offer my clients and excellent service and I’ve always met my deadlines. I’m devoted, determined, meticulous and devoted to my work.

I believe and always have believed in being honest to all people about myself and my abilities, even if it may not win me work.  So thank you once again for reading and to Treehouse for giving me a chance to share my story.

BLOG: Thoughts on the potential for Wordpress Development at Jonnie Grieve Digital Media

Hello again all.  Again it’s been a while since my last blog. I’m not sure if I’ve been in touch since I moved. Thankfully I’ve had a good number of working projects and personal development projects to keep me occupied since the move.

I’ve got involved in

  • Database development with mySQL
  • Mobile website design for 2 of my longest standing clients
  • Working on changing my workflow with version control systems such as Git.
  • PhP development with localhost (using XAMPP desktop server)

But the thing I am most excited about that I’ve just started delving into in the last few days is getting into WordPress Development.  Not just writing blogs with WordPress.com as I am doing right now, but utilising one of the most popular content management systems on the web.

As I’ve alluded to in the past. there’s only so much room head to focus on one thing. And the biggest potential for my focus is in WordPress Development. Not just picking themes in the WordPress Theme Repository but actually designing custom themes for myself either to sell on or to use in a client project.

A year ago I set up a domain add on for my WordPress development. A WordPress theme will always live here but this is how the website looks right this moment. At the time of writing this blog theme is the “twentythirteeen” theme by WordPress.

WordPress is the most popular blogging platform and content management solution. Millions of Websites are powered by it.

When I looked at my website recently, and changed the landing page taking down most of its content. for the first time I considered powering my own website with WordPress. So… I’ve got a landing page up there right now for my website until I decide what I’m doing to do with.

But with my domain add-on it’s all about learning as much about Development of WordPress Themes as I can. Right now it’s simple things like Custom Post Types and adding Widget areas to themes, slowly applying more than just content defaults that WordPress offers.

There are still a few things at this time that are a bit of a mystery to me though.  What I’ve got is an “art” custom post type for adding dummy art and test to pages as an example how to put these together. For one reason or another, it has never worked 100%. Much of this was down to not deleting pages I didn’t want or need from the WordPress “bin” which caused links to redirect but there’s still some stray 404 pages I don’t know how to get rid of yet.

Why, for example would this work…
Screenshot 2015-11-04 18.36.12

but not this..

.Screenshot 2015-11-04 18.36.03

This as it is, it’s as close as I’ll ever get right now to setting up a fully working custom post type in WordPress,

But I’m undeterred. These are the sorts of things more than anything else I’m hoping to forge an understanding on. But I’ve only just started my WordPress Development journey and I’m looking forward to learning more about it.

Update: What’s happening with Jonnie Grieve Digital Media

This week I’ve been getting back into action full time after what has been a trying time as we moved home and had to sort out our internet connection; actually that second thing remains an ongoing thing, grateful that I am to be able to work with a solid working connection.

To cut a long story short we’ve it took one week to get BT out to our home to connect us to the internet at all; another week to fix that botched connection and another few weeks to get some good connectivity for downloading of the programs and files I need to run my business and develop my skills.

It was a while before I could

  • Get MS Office installed on my computer so I could to my admin and accounting work.
  • Get the Adobe Suite installed so I could do run Photoshop and other web design software
  • Install FileZilla, Notepad++  Keepass and Evernote onto my system, 4 of my most important software packages I use on a daily basis that I can’t do without.

But I’ve now come through the worst of it and I’m really excited to get going again. It’s a fresh start for many exciting reasons.

New Hardware

A few months ago it became clear the hardware on my old computer (which is still sitting beside me tucked away by my desk) was failing badly. Getting slower, blue screening me every few hours, getting screen hangs and getting more and more unresponsive. This was quite worrying as I didn’t know how much money I had to spend on a replacement machine, especially as I need a new laptop too.

My Birthday came a few months ago and a fabulous new machine was arranged for me as a gift.

specs

Which offers a significant upgrade on my previous computer in terms of RAM and CPU allowing me to do more without compromising speed as I was finding myself increasingly doing in recent times.

Which is why I wanted to look at getting Ruby downloaded to my machine for working with SASS, mySQL as an opensource database solution and XAMPP for local server php developing which should speed up my work flow instead of posting minute changes on a php file to my server.

It’s been quite fun turning this machine into a development environment and having the means to do it. Especially with SQL. Structured Query Language is fun.  I first got into it about 10 years ago for my HND in Bishop Auckland.  Anyone can get into it with it’s easy to learn Syntax, anyone can generate a simply script that creates a database that you can use to create dynamic web applications.  That’s the next step and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can achieve.

I’m making up for lost time with this. Over the next few months I intend to continue my php and SQL development before turning my attention back to WordPress Development, one of my goals for 2015 that I started earlier in the year.

Client Work

Time is of the essence with this though.  I have some exciting projects on the way including a mobile redevelopment that is almost complete for Auto Cleanse North East.  Responsive Web Design has been a real theme in my work this year and this is no less reflected in my next  projects.

The Elim Church have commissioned me to create a new responsive design in which I’ll take a given design and build it up using CSS and HTML5.  I’ve also been working with my web host company in the past couple of weeks to take over another website.

There are plenty of potential for more work happening behind the scenes that I’m waiting to hear further on. So although I’ve had a difficult time with technology in recent weeks I’m happy to say I’ve not suffered for it. Life is busy and life is good. In fact I feel more powered and more able than ever to make professional websites for you.