Wisconsin Refugees Development Notes

As I wrote about in the sister note to this post, I recently made a data visualization project exploring refugee resettlements in Wisconsin.

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Introduction to Text Editors and the Command Line

When I started learning graphic design, I realized that the only thing holding me back from not learning design earlier was not having access to design software. Once I got my hands on some, it felt like the whole world had been opened up to me. I could make anything! Posters, logos, books, digital illustration... it was like the whole world of visual design went into edit mode simply by installing the right software.

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Tutorial Writing: Clarify Your Prerequisites

This was my experience for the first few years of my own learning-to-code journey. Most tutorials I found started with "open up your text editor" or "run X on the command line." What the heck did that mean?! The tutorials were written for people who had already been initiated into the world of development. They assumed you had a bit of experience already and knew how to get started, that you knew what a text editor and the command line were.

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How to Debug a Script

As a programmer, it’s rare to have a day where you don’t get stuck on something. Getting stuck isn’t a bad thing, it’s a normal part of any programming—and it’s often when you learn the most. Usually this stuckness happens in situations when:

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A Web Development Reading List

When I’m teaching web development, I often give students a reading list of some of my favorite articles from people who write about the web, technology, and programming in general. I try to include articles that are seminal and influential, articles that have made significant contributions to new web development concepts or are a clear milestone expressing a piece of the history of web development, but often they’re simply articles that I enjoy a lot.

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Writing Code from Scratch

Tutorials are great for seeing examples of code and new programming concepts in action. They show you the solution and walk you through the steps to make it work. However, they typically don’t demonstrate the problem solving process that goes into developing the answer in the first place. Writing code “from scratch” requires a set of problem solving skills that tutorials don’t teach. Developers need to see concepts demonstrated, but they also need to learn and practice the process for developing a script on their own. Here is the creative problem solving process I use when programming to come up with solutions when I have to come up with a solution on my own.

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How to Create Image Captions with Jekyll

Markdown is great for writing because it’s simple and fast, but sometimes that simplicity comes with limitations. It can be difficult to create anything more complex than basic elements like headings and lists. Recently on this blog I wanted to include an image in a post with a caption, and there wasn’t an elegant Markdown way to do so. As an alternative, Jekyll’s includes feature is a great way to create easy to manage image captions. Here’s how it works.

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