New Updates Added to Our Code Wiki

I’ve added a few updates so far this week to Our Code Wiki.  As a reminder, the Wiki is used a storage library of free online resources I find for those who visit this blog.  If you would like to contribute to Our Code Wiki, email me.

Learn to Code: Lifehacker’s Full Beginners’ Guide (focuses on programming in C)

A Guide to Responsive Design (HTML5 and CSS3)

Big-O Algorithm Cheat Sheet

Click on “Our Guides” and “Our Tools” in the Wiki for more resources like these  to learn and use.

Pluralsight: Dev Training by Developers

While searching for MOOCs on cloud computing for business, I came across a site for learning programming that I hadn’t heard of before.  After peeping Pluralsight, I liked the fact that the course material offered is a good mix for both beginner and intermediate stages.  Course material is taught by other developers who focus more on building existing knowledge rather than repeatedly covering the basics like other sites (no shade).  Mind you, the material is not cheap, running at a cost of $29/month for individuals or up to $300 a year annually.  I’m careful not to add any more food (i.e. bills) to my plate when I’m already full, so I won’t be subscribing.   I did however take advantage of the free trial long enough to get some courses on the cloud in.  The material was presented in conversation mode, which I prefer to online lectures.

The course material  has grown since the company acquired Peep Code and its video library.  So far, I found courses on the site covering languages such as HTML5 (16 courses), C# (21), JavaScript (58), C## (15), as well as SQL (56).  In addition, Pluralsight also offers industry insight on tech career growth and social media training.

Here’s a link for you all to browse courses and enroll in the free trial**.

**I am not affiliated with Pluralsight, nor receive any kickbacks from them.

Quote: Foster on Silicon Valley, Diversity, and Ownership

I frequent the blog HBCU Money for the social commentary and insight on personal finance.  While reading one the posts today by William A. Foster IV, he made a statement sums up my feelings on Silicon Valley and its diversity issue:

It is time we reset our priorities. Focus on building institutions that are in our interest.  We are not a self-dependent people and the things we do have are too few to support a nation of forty million.  This was largely the point Washington was trying to stress. I do not believe he was against what DuBois wanted.  He just had insight to know we needed to build institutions first so that those classically trained had some place to go upon completion. Instead, many of us continue to operate under the illusion of simply getting a degree or going to an HWCU will somehow grant me entrance and inclusion.  Even a recent back and forth I had with Vivek Wadhwa on Twitter highlighted the problem of wanting to force entrance instead of building your own.  He complained about the lack of “minorities” and women in Silicon Valley.  My issue with this is the majority of African Americans are in the southeastern United States. Why would we not build our own Silicon Valley there? Again, we will get one in and call that progress, while the other nine are left in the cold.  The energy to get that one in could be spent building an institution where all ten get in – one that we control and own not just there for “diversity”.

While I admire Wadhwa’s advocacy for minority inclusion in the Valley’s tech industries, I question the need to concentrate power and innovation in just that area.  There are cities with bigger minority populations that great tech companies presently call home.  I encourage women of color seeking opportunities in tech to explore all of their options instead of fighting for scraps in SV.

It’s also wise to create your own projects and find a way to monetize your talents through entrepreneurship.  There’s an old saying: “if you are not offered a seat at the table, then perhaps it’s time to find somewhere else to eat”.   True, but who cares about a mere seat when you can own the whole restaurant?

The Journey So Far: 5am Reflection on Learning Code

***The Journey So Far is a series of post that chronicle the steps I’m taking to learn code and become a programmer. These posts are more personal and function more like journal entries. Follow The Journey So Far series using the “Our Mission” category***

It’s 4:37 in the morning, and I head to the kitchen to make another pot of coffee.  The only noise I hear is the soft hum from my laptop’s fan.  I tip toe around my apartment in effort not to disturb my slumbering neighbors.  It doesn’t matter, really: in about an hour my alarm will go off giving me a signal to shower and get ready for work.  I’ve done this same routine for the past 3 days.  The total number of hours of sleep I’ve managed to sneak in within these 3 days? Thirteen hours, maybe—14 tops.  In all, I’ve never felt more awake, alive, and passionate about what I’m doing than during these nights I have spent coding until dawn.

I made the commitment to brush up on programming languages when I started losing content strategy projects to web developers.  I had been designing blogs and websites for local entrepreneurs since grad school.  Between creating content, managing social media accounts, and doing routine website maintenance, I was making enough as a student to venture out as a freelancer upon graduation.  Like many bloggers and designers, I stayed in my lane, not making much effort to learn code and outsourcing projects that required it.  Eventually, clients wise up and “cut the fat”, going with more specialized developers who offer complete front and back-end packages.   Never being one to hate, I peeped what was happening, and began plans to adjust and develop my skills accordingly.

Being able to code not only broadens the opportunities one can take advantage of in career development, it’s also imperative today in a society that pushes tech literacy.  Blacks have traditionally played the role of consumers of technology, but by becoming producers we can create and customize products suitable to our needs.  As a designer and blogger, I have to be able to understand a variety of digital mediums that are popularly used.  Being able to write and manipulate code allows me to create better user experiences.

Thus, here I am, teaching myself code and taking free online CS classes throughout the night while continuing to freelance and work by day.  2014 has been the year of sacrifice and delayed gratification so far and I’m okay with that.  One day, I’ll sleep again.

Code and The Designer’s Role

I came across an interesting blogpost by Sarah Hunt, a Product Manager at Adobe, where she discusses how important that graphic designers learn to code.

There are 3 main take-away points I want to highlight that Sarah mentions:

1. Coding introduces designers to a wider range of digital mediums to work in:

Printed creations are expected to be consumable on a range of devices and digital mediums, and to remain relevant in this industry the wise designer will adapt, change, and learn.

2.  Being able to code makes you more competitive as a designer:

By being able to code as well as design, you automatically become more valuable to employers.

3.  Understanding code languages helps you to better communicate your vision with developers:

Code is a language and if you do not understand the language then you’re going to have a hard time efficiently communicating with your developers.

To read in full Sarah’s post, A Designer’s Role in a Digital World of Code, click here.

Spotlighting Flat Design

Flat Design is my style of choice when it comes to HTML5/CSS3 because it places functionality over extra effects.   As a minimalist approach to design,  the focus is on visual clarity as opposed to elements that may add realism, but don’t contribute overall to the user experience.  With flat design, there is less shadowing, gradients, and 3D.  Instead, emphasis is placed more on color schemes, typography, and shapes.   A popular example of flat design would be the Windows 8 User Interface



Here is a small web app I found that helps designers choose color schemes right from their phones to get a feel for Flat Design UI.   Below, I handpicked the following articles to help new users understand the flat design trend.  A few available UI toolkits will also be listed in Our Code Wiki for you all to access later.

Flat Pixels: A Battle Between Flat Design and Skeumorphism by Sacha Greif

A Look at Flat Design and Why It’s Significant by Luke Clum

The Flattening of Design by Nick Bilton

Flat and Thin are In by Adrian Taylor

12 Creative Examples of Flat Design by


E. Wilson

Our Code is One

The Mission

I created Our Code for myself and others like me: underrepresented people in tech who are learning to code via a nontraditional path.   This blog functions with a simple mission: to promote greater access to the tech industry by helping those learning how to design and program.  My motto for this blog is “our code is one”.

Our Code Is One

In addition to sharing my own personal adventures of becoming a better web developer,  I also want to use this blog as a resource library.  On the right hand column, you’ll find resources I’ve gathered by category.  Most of the resources I will write about and promote in this space will be either free or low-cost.  This includes MOOCs, E-books, tutorials, video series, blogs, and coding events.

Why Learn to Code?

Two-thirds of the 1.4 mil jobs projected to be available by 2020 in computer science will go unfilled by Americans.  When the U.S. workforce can not meet the growing demands of tech industries, companies outsource available jobs to talent overseas, thus stifling domestic economic growth.  Because the demand for designers, developers, engineers, data scientists, and other IT-related professionals continues to grow, these positions have easily become the most-sought after among students and workers wishing to switch career industries.

Learning to code for professional development is not just about cash flow and hustle.   Coding combines logic with creativity, enabling people to become producers of technology rather than mere consumers.

Why Target the “Underrepresented”?

To be underrepresented means to have insufficient representation in a given industry.  For example, women are largely underrepresented as employed computer programmers in the tech industry, and you’ll see that a majority of the posts are targeted or written by women for this reason. There are three female groups that I had in mind when I created this blog: (1) women of color, (2) transitioning careerists, (3) low-income women.  This is not to say that only women will be served by this blog.  I welcome all readers and share resources for anybody who may need them, including men.

What do you mean by “Nontraditional”?

I define a nontraditional learner as someone who is obtaining their education outside of a traditional college setting.  There is a significant shift in how people are learning.  Like myself, some coders may have a college degree(s) but are learning how to code as a skills boost.  Outside college, more newbs are choosing subscription services, MOOCs, bootcamps, and meetups to kickstart their careers.  I think there are many paths to having a a great tech career, and I promote those on the blog.

The Bigger Picture

To be clear, this is a code-centered blog.  I’m focused on helping others learn, share, and grow. If you like the resources here, please subscribe or email me about contributing a post or two.

Thank you for supporting Our Code.

~ E.