Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Joy of Coding

I worked in html for two websites and a user-friendly interface to make two video games (See: my sweet Video game Art. Treeplanter Ryan dismounting from 4-Wheeler with his Zombie-killing shotgun). My dives are shallow but I've seen the depths of the coding abyss.

Lil' Baby Code

I know I'm an amateur because I have a brother who has climbed higher. I often look up to ask him for advice when my clumsy rock banging won't start fire. He listens to my superstitious Neanderthal babble. "Fire no start. What you think? Moon god displeased?". He tries to explain flint, or simply hands me matches and returns to work on his fireworks. The life of a simple coder is full of frustration and awe. Experts laugh at my superfluous code and poor grasp of tools. Computer coding is a language and if you don't know the vocabulary you end up relying on what little you know. There's often more than one solution to any problem and the challenge is one of elegance and efficiency.

It's like needing to hammer some nails in a foreign country but only knowing the word for screwdriver. You can get the job done but it isn't pretty -they must have hammer technology but what do they call them?

The Scary Code Forest
It's too bad that more people don't travel into the lands of code. Most users never see the creativity of web design. For the pros there are never enough tools so they're alway embarking on complicated "workarounds" like figuring out how to gracefully use two saws and a crowbar because no one has created sandpaper.
In the struggle to be ahead of the competition coders go to great lengths to add simple features. This is a huge source of comedy and frustration in the programming world. The user knows what they want their website to look like but has little understanding of the hoops needed to jump through -particularly because their demands seem so innocent. "Just make it so it shrinks nicely if someone shrinks their window. Why is the text overlapping all ugly? It shouldn't do that. Make it not do that, okay?"

The Ugly Internet.
All webpages are text and images resting in an ugly series of boxes -as hideous as reading poetry on graph paper. But through the conspiracy of design it looks casual, like something you could draw on a napkin -including the coveted "soft corners" (which are actually done by pictures put in ugly hidden boxes on top of other ugly hidden boxes. See: h*ly sh*t Web 2.0 is here! Corners so f*ck*ng smooth you could set a baby on them!). Blogger lets you edit the code for you page but I was always hesitant because of the rise of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets -a coding language dedicated to keeping a webpages style consistent by controlling all of the colours, fonts, and spacing). My understanding of the ol' simple language of html wouldn't help me.

I was inspired by the "punchleft" feature of this page. So I learned some CSS, had to discover the name of a new tool 'z-index' and worked into the wee hours of the morning. Computer work is not physically fatiguing ('til your eyes explode) and hours disappear to tiny tests and bouts of googling (see: my previous undertaking. This image was created in MS Paint and used to create the cut corners for the top of this blog. The white pixel was my mistake and gives a feeling of humanity or delicacy to the cold world of the compunet).

Amateur or expert, there's a joy to creation. Problem-solving, trial and error, and results. I'm quite happy with how the images are set on this page now and enjoyed the logic problems of coding.

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