I’ve been told on multiple occasions by other programmers that “you don’t need math to program”. This is often said by people who actually learned math – or at the very least more math than I did. While I understand what they’re thinking (“the computer does the math for you”), they have a skillset that someone like me, someone who barely made it to negative numbers before being given up on, doesn’t have.
The educational neglect I suffered because of religious and patriarchal ideals is no secret. Despite how many times I’ve heard “you’ll never use algebra every day” the skills I lack because I wasn’t taught math is overwhelming and painful. I hit a cap in my ability to learn programming because I was missing the math skills. Not arithmetic specifically, but problem solving: being able to look at a problem and creatively come up with a solution.
At it’s core, that’s what math is, and that’s exactly what programming is. In the three weeks that I’ve been taking math – even though I’m just re-learning basic things – my ability to learn programming languages has drastically improved.
Math is a set of variables and functions just like programming languages are. They can mean and do different things depending on the context and which modifier is called. I knew my problem was math because I couldn’t figure out how to even approach complex problems in programming after there were several different variables and methods called. I didn’t have the ability to look at what I needed to do and figure out a way to get there.
Essentially, I couldn’t solve for x. I’m not even at algebra yet, but just approaching numbers as variables in math has made it so much easier to code. The invisible problem solving skills that math gives you aren’t meant to be looked over, neglected, or treated as unimportant. You may not solve an algebraic equation on a whiteboard every day, but if you’re programming, you’re problem solving, and math is where that skill is at.
Math, as a person who was denied it – as a person whose education was abruptly ended for them before they turned 16 – is so vitally important in ways that people who had the opportunity to learn (and even hate) math don’t understand. My math education stopped at pre-algebra and prior to that was largely substituted for cooking for 8 people multiple times a day. My lack of math was the reason I wasn’t able to teach myself Chemistry II (which I was really looking forward to), it’s kept me from improving professionally, and who knows how many doors have been kept shut because I wasn’t considered to have a reason to learn math.
If you want to be helpful don’t tell me that I don’t need math in order to be better at programming, because I do. I can see everyone else using math, oh so clearly, when they don’t realize it. Because at it’s core, programming is just fancy math doing stuff in a creative way.
Today I learned how to make custom page templates in WordPress and how to get navigation to work.
I also started on the Custom Post Types section and took some notes for the comic theme I have in my future.
One assuring thing is that as I look at the old notes that I have tacked on to my wall, and the notes/ideas I’m jotting down today, they’re both basically the same and line up. Which means I was on the right track to start with, and now I know (or will know) exactly how to get it to do the thing.
I’ll be utilizing custom post types and custom page templates to showcase the comic, and maybe using WP_query date parameters to loop through and show any blog posts written after the comic has been published. But I need to finish the “How WP_Query Works” section first, probably…
Sometimes I learn slower than I’d like. I get frustrated because PHP isn’t intuitive and I can watch a segment and then I have to take a break and let what I learned sit there for a couple days before going back for more. On the upside, I am actually grasping it this time, but I wish I knew all the things now so I could make stuff already.
But I guess no one really learns a language in a day, and I am making progress, so that’s good.
Unrelated to PHP Basics though, I am exhausted and heavy hearted. Part of me doesn’t know why, and part of me is aware that I’m just sensing the weight of the world. I’m doing the best I can to make a small piece of it better though, and I just have to keep plugging away. I can’t focus on everything, and that’s okay.
I’ve been planning to make a Ruby app for hosting web comics – I still kind of am – but then I realized that as cool as a Ruby App is for me, personally, it might not be as accessible as I want to make it. I thought about maybe making my own blog hosting back-end, and quickly remembered how much I hate having to deal with hosting complications. I thought maybe I could just give detailed instructions for installing it to a handful of specific hosts – but then I remembered how some hosts don’t work well with Ruby and running it may require having to retrofit the app. Which still isn’t accessible to artists who don’t know how to code, and is kind of a nightmare in general.
So then I thought, if accessibility is my goal (yes), then maybe what I should do instead of moving artists off of WordPress is make a theme with all the features I want for WordPress. But not just WordPress, if I’m feeling extra ambitious, I’ll also make a theme for Ghost, maybe something for Tumblr, and finally, actually make my Ruby app for the other unicorns, or people with friends who they can convince to set it up for them.
Today I started using Team Treehouse to get a primer on making WordPress themes and PHP (because my resistance to not just starting with WordPress is that PHP and I don’t get along), drafted out the priorities for the design, what features I want users to be able to customize, and some of the things I want to integrate. I don’t want this to be complicated, I want a clean and responsive design that features the comic, with plenty of space in the margins so nothing looks busy or squished. I want to optionally be able to associate blog posts to the comic by time (still sketchy on exactly how I’m going to do it. Think recent posts, but stuck by date?) for those comics with writers, or comics who don’t want to cloud the comic post area with a general post but still want it to be somewhat associated. While also still leaving a spot for a comic post/description and comments.
If you were (or are) an artist looking for a new theme to showcase your work, what would you want it to have?
I never had a summer break as a kid, the whole concept of taking like 2-3 months off and just doing whatever you wanted was never something I grasped until I was an adult. We had “winter break” which basically meant we were too busy for school because we were doing “outreach” and cleaning. Fun was…not really a large part of consideration.
Over the last couple years I’ve implemented a sort of summer break of my own, usually I take a few months off of making the things I usually do to reflect, work on new projects, and keep myself from being burnt out. Do all the things I didn’t end up doing because I was busy, read, and take a lot of naps. I suspect much of that will be happening over this summer too, but during my break and reflection, I really really really want to make some headway on all those Ruby projects calling my name.
I feel kind of stuck with where I am, language wise, and I feel like I really need just a block of time that I can spend focused on working on that. I not-so-secretly want to start working on Ruby projects in June and emerge a full-stack butterfly by August. We’ll see how that ends up going, but I feel like it’s a good goal.
I’ll probably start off with Code Academy, then get in to making my apps, and then finish off with this script project I know how to do but don’t know where to start on. And a greater goal with the finished projects is to open-source them and put them all on github.
Which means I have a few weeks to make a lovely cliff-hanger in E.R.A. for everyone to keep you on the edge of your seat until I’m back to balancing comic-ing and internets again in the fall.
Note to self: don’t forget to rest. and go to Pride. and have fun.
I recently snagged a Nerd Deal bundle full of game dev and game design courses, which means I have something to do in preparation for the April Ludum Dare!
This also opens up time for me to actually work on those Ruby projects I’ve been sitting on….
Making the things I want to see in the world is what I’m basically about anyway.
In the meantime, you can find me playing (and possibly streaming) Destiny.
So, I talked a little about this comic project I want to make. Originally I thought I was going to build the entire back-end from scratch like I did with E.R.A. but after falling down a google rabbit hole I found Refinery CMS, which is a Ruby on Rails CMS where you can add extensions which means….
Instead of putting most of my time and energy into creating a backend that does basically the same thing refinery does, I can just make the comic extension and put all of my effort into that!
People who don’t program probably don’t understand the excitement I’m feeling right now, but it’s pretty huge. Building your own CMS from scratch is HARD (good to do at least once, but still, hard), there are still things I could improve with E.R.A. changes I was planning on having to make and setup with what I’ve been calling “RubyArt”, which, for just wanting a comic platform…involves so much more than you would imagine.
It’s an interesting mind shift – I mean, I have to do my own tweaking and setup with the CMS, get the gem that imports wordpress xml files, but for the most part I can focus on the actual functionality I want to add with the comic feature (the fun part) instead of building an entire system over again.
But still! I’m excited to try this out. I’ll be putting it on github and stuff when I’m done and sharing it with the refinery people so other cartoonists can use it too.
built a resource website and started collecting and posting content over the holiday
upped my meds, starting the new full-dose tonight
scheduled my 2nd HPV shot appointment for Friday
wrote myself a starting place for new comics so I can start drawing this week
made mental notes about the last episode of KieryGeek season 3(!!!)
listed PS3 on ebay and made mental notes of easy things to do this week for more Seattle prep
wore bright red lipstick, because fuck the patriarchy
launched Swan Children
Things to do:
hide long-sleeve shirts for the next month and a half until I need them again
finish code academy ruby course
start on making my badge site because self esteem reasons
film new patreon video
I get in these moods where I’m almost hyper focused on one thing, which works out well until I finish that project, and then I feel lost. I love ruby/rails/making websites in general because it gives me the same kind of, good creative feeling, but on the other side of my brain that art and drawing does. It’s hard to describe but doing both of those (drawing and programming) makes me feel nice in my head, weirdly satisfying, but sometimes changing gears is really weird – like programming all week and then suddenly stopping because, hey look, the site’s basically finished (for like 10 minutes and then you realized there was more functionality you should have added but it’s so late and you need sleep, so you need write it down and do it later, okay? seriously, Kiery, it will still be here tomorrow when you’re awake) and I have a comic deadline I should do because comics.
But expelling a lot of creative energy in bursts is really exhausting. I don’t know how to balance that yet. Right now I’m at the part of the cycle where I worked non-stop, and I have more that I could do, but I’m soooo tired that I can’t, so I’m putting everything back into little bite-sized chunks even though I just really want to do all of the things (but the thought of doing all of the things is so overwhelming and makes me tired).
I go through this pretty frequently, eventually I’ll figure it out…probably. And later this week I’ll have a couple new announcements on the aforementioned website fronts that I’m really pleased about.
For now, I think I’m going to attempt to relax and calm my brain…maybe I’ll finally get past that one fucking level in Trine 2.