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Tools I Wish I Had Known About When I Started Coding

2018-03-15 - By 

In the tech world, there are thousands of tools that people will tell you to use. How are you supposed to know where to start?

As somebody who started coding relatively recently, this downpour of information was too much to sift through. I found myself installing extensions that did not really help me in my development cycle, and often even got in the way of it.

I am by no means an expert, but over time I have compiled a list of tools that have proven extremely useful to me. If you are just starting to learn how to program, this will hopefully offer you some guidance. If you are a seasoned developer, hopefully you will still learn something new.

I am going to break this article up into Chrome Extensions and VS Code extensions. I know there are other browsers and other text editors, but I am willing to bet most of the tools are also available for your platform of choice, so let’s not start a religious argument over our personal preferences.

Feel free to jump around.

Chrome Extensions

Now that I am a self-proclaimed web developer, I practically live in my Chrome console. Below are some tools that allow me to spend less time there:

  • WhatFont — The name says it all. This is an easy way of finding out the fonts that your favorite website is using, so that you can borrow them for your own projects.
  • Pesticide — Useful for seeing the outlines of your <div>s and modifying CSS. This was a lifesaver when I was trying to learn my way around the box-model.
  • Colorzilla — Useful for copying exact colors off of a website. This copies a color straight to your clipboard so you don’t spend forever trying to get the right RGBA combination.
  • CSS Peeper — Useful for looking at colors and assets used on a website. A good exercise, especially when starting out, is cloning out websites that you think look cool. This gives you a peek under the hood at their color scheme and allows you to see what other assets exist on their page.
  • Wappalyzer — Useful for seeing the technologies being used on a website. Ever wonder what kind of framework a website is using or what service it is hosted on? Look no further.
  • React Dev Tools — Useful for debugging your React applications. It bears mentioning that this is only useful if you are programming a React application.
  • Redux Dev Tools — Useful for debugging applications using Redux. It bears mentioning that this is only useful if you are implementing Redux in your application.
  • JSON Formatter — Useful for making JSON look cleaner in the browser. Have you ever stared an ugly JSON blob in the face, trying to figure out how deeply nested the information you want is? Well this makes it so that it only takes 2 hours instead of 3.
  • Vimeo Repeat and Speed — Useful for speeding up Vimeo videos. If you watch video tutorials like most web developers, you know how handy it is to consume them at 1.25 times the regular playback speed. There are also versions for YouTube.

VS Code Extensions

Visual Studio Code is my editor of choice.

People love their text editors, and I am no exception. However, I’m willing to bet most of these extensions work for whatever editor you are using as well. Check out my favorite extensions:

  • Auto Rename Tag — Auto rename paired HTML tags. You created a <p>tag. Now you want to change it, as well as its enclosing </p> tag to something else. Simply change one and the other will follow. Theoretically improves your productivity by a factor of 2.
  • HTML CSS Support — CSS support for HTML documents. This is useful for getting some neat syntax highlighting and code suggestions so that CSS only makes you want to quit coding a couple of times a day.
  • HTML Snippets — Useful code snippets. Another nice time saver. Pair this with Emmet and you barely ever have to type real HTML again.
  • Babel ES6/ES7 — Adds JavaScript Babel syntax coloring. If you are using Babel, this will make it much easier to differentiate what is going on in your code. This is neat if you like to play with modern features of JavaScript.
  • Bracket Pair Colorizer — Adds colors to brackets for easier block visualization. This is handy for those all-too-common bugs where you didn’t close your brackets or parentheses accurately.
  • ESLint — Integrates ESLint into Visual Studio Code. This is handy for getting hints about bugs as you are writing your code and, depending on your configuration, it can help enforce good coding style.
  • Guides — Adds extra guide lines to code. This is another visual cue to make sure that you are closing your brackets correctly. If you can’t tell, I’m a very visual person.
  • JavaScript Console Utils — Makes for easier console logging. If you are like most developers, you will find yourself logging to the console in your debugging flow (I know that we are supposed to use the debugger). This utility makes it easy to create useful console.log() statements.
  • Code Spell Checker — Spelling checker that accounts for camelCase. Another common source of bugs is fat-thumbing a variable or function name. This spell checker will look for uncommon words and is good about accounting for the way we write things in JavaScript.
  • Git Lens — Makes it easier to see when, and by whom, changes were made. This is nice for blaming the appropriate person when code gets broken, since it is absolutely never your fault.
  • Path Intellisense — File path autocompletion. This is super handy for importing things from other files. It makes navigating your file tree a breeze.
  • Prettier — Automatic code formatter. Forget about the days where you had to manually indent your code and make things human-legible. Prettier will do this for you much faster, and better, than you ever could on your own. I can’t recommend this one enough.
  • VSCode-Icons — Adds icons to the file tree. If looking at your file structure hurts your eyes, this might help. There is a helpful icon for just about any kind of file you are making which will make it easier to distinguish what you are looking at.

In Conclusion

You likely have your own set of tools that are indispensable to your development cycle. Hopefully some of the tools I mentioned above can make your workflow more efficient.

Do not fall into the trap, however, of installing every tool you run across before learning to use the ones you already have, as this can be a huge time-sink.

I encourage you to leave your favorite tools in the comments below here, so that we can all learn together.

If you liked this article please give it some claps and check out other articles I’ve written hereherehere, and here. Also, give me a follow on Twitter.

Original article here.

 

 

 

 


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What is MESH? (video)

2017-05-11 - By 

MESH is a tool that let you explore the smart world using everyday objects.
Just attach your MESH tag to any physical object,
and connect it with various connected devices and Internet applications on the MESH app.
Your own personal smart system is created, just like that!
No matter what your knowledge level, MESH is easy to use. There is no need for electronics or programming expertise.
Simply drag and drop to connect the icons on the MESH app.

Mesh website here.

 


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Understanding Creative Commons – video

2017-01-29 - By 

Have you ever wondered how to download and share digital content legally? How do you let people know that you want them to reuse your own work? Creative Commons licences can help you do both. We’ll show you how. To find out more about Creative Commons in New Zealand visit us at creativecommons.org.nz

This video by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand, with support from InternetNZ, is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence. A project of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Produced by Mohawk Media.

Creative Commons Kiwi from Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ on Vimeo.


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5 trends that will change the way you work in 2017 (videos)

2017-01-01 - By 

Robots are going to take a seat at the conference room table in 2017.

Humans are going to be more stressed than ever.

And to stay competitive with their new robot colleagues, workers are going to start taking smart drugs.

That’s according to futurist Faith Popcorn, the founder and CEO of the consultancy Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve. Since launching in 1974, she has helped Fortune 500 companies including MasterCard, Coca-Cola, P&G and IBM.

Here are five trends you can expect to see in the workplace in 2017, according to Popcorn.

1.Coffee alone won’t keep you competitive.

Employees are going to start taking a burgeoning class of cognitive enhancers called nootropics, or “smart drugs.” These nutritional supplements don’t all have the same ingredients but they reportedly increase physical and mental stamina.

Silicon Valley has been an early adopter of the bio-hacking trend. That’s perhaps unsurprising, as techies were also the first to try the likes of food substitute Soylent. There’s an active sub-reddit page dedicated to the topic.

Nootropics will go mainstream in 2017 because “the robots are edging us out,” says Popcorn. “When you come to work you have to be enhanced, you have to be on the edge, you have to be able to work longer and harder. You have to be able to become more important to your company.”

 

2.Robots will rise.

Unskilled blue-collar workers will be the first to lose their jobs to automation, but robots will eventually replace white-collar workers, too, says Popcorn, pointing to an Oxford University study that found 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk of being replaced.

“Who would you rather have do your research? A cognitive computer or a human?” says Popcorn. “Human error is a disaster. … Robots don’t make mistakes.”

 

3.Everyone will start doing the hustle.

Already, more than a third of the U.S. workforce are freelancers and will generate an estimated $1 trillion in revenue, according to a survey released earlier this fall by the Freelancers Union and the freelancing platform Upwork. The percentage of freelancers will increase in 2017 and beyond, she believes. “It’s accelerating every year,” says Popcorn.

She also points to some large companies that are building offices with fewer seats than employees. Citibank built an office space in Long Island City, Queens, with 150 seats for 200 employees and no assigned desks to encourage a fluid-feeling environment.

And Popcorn points to the rise of the side hustle: People “need more money than they are being paid,” she says. And they don’t trust their employers. “People are saying, ‘I want to have two or three hooks in the water. I don’t want to devote myself to one company.'”

Younger employees in particular are not interested in working for large, legacy companies like those their parents worked for, according to research Popcorn has done. “We are really turned off on ‘big.'”

 

4.There will be tears.

While people have always been emotional beings, historically emotions haven’t belonged inside the office. That’s basically because workplaces have largely been run by men. But that’s changing.

“The female entry into the workplace has brought emotional intelligence into the workplace and that comes with emotion,” says Popcorn. “There is a lot of anxiety about the future, there is a lot of stress-related burnout and we are seeing more emotion being displayed in the workplace.”

That doesn’t mean you should start crying on your boss’s shoulder, though. Especially if your boss is male. While women tend to be more comfortable with their feelings, men are still uncomfortable with elevated levels of emotion, says Popcorn, admitting that these gender-based observations are generalizations.

“WE ARE SEEING MORE EMOTION BEING DISPLAYED IN THE WORKPLACE.”

-Faith Popcorn, futurist

Going forward, the futurist expects to see more stress rooms in office buildings and “more of a recognition that people are living under a crushing amount of anxiety.” A stress room would be a welcoming space for employees to go to take a break and perhaps drink kava, a relaxing, root-based tea.

Open floor plans don’t give employees any place to breathe, Popcorn points out: “It’s like being watched 24/7.” Employees put in earbuds to approximate privacy, but sitting in open spaces is not conducive to employee mental health. “It is very stressful to work in the open floors,” she says. “It’s good for real estate, you can do it with fewer square feet, but it’s not particularly good for people.”

5.The boundary between work and play will crumble.

“People are going to be working 24 hours a day,” says Popcorn. Technology has enabled global, constant communication. The WeLive spaces that WeWork launched are indicative of this trend towards work and life integration, she says. “There is no line between work and play.”

 

 

Original article here.


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40 great websites to learn something new every day

2016-09-23 - By 

A few decades ago, when you wanted to learn something new it typically meant spending a couple of evenings a week at a local school, taking a photography or bookkeeping class from a bored night school instructor.

Today, the worlds of learning and personal or professional development are literally at your fingertips.

To help you get started, here are 40 amazing places to learn something new:

1. Lynda: Where over 4 million people have already taken courses.

2. Your favorite publications: Make time to read and learn something new every day from your favorite blogs and online magazines.

3. CreativeLive: Get smarter and boost your creativity with free online classes.

4. Hackaday: Learn new skills and facts with bite-sized hacks delivered daily.

5. MindTools: A place to learn leadership skills (see more great places to learn leadership skills online here).

6. Codecademy: Learn Java, PHP, Python, and more from this reputable online coding school.

7. EdX: Find tons of MOOCs, including programming courses.

8. Platzi: Get smarter in marketing, coding, app development, and design.

9. Big Think: Read articles and watch videos featuring expert “Big Thinkers.”

10. Craftsy: Learn a fun, new skill from expert instructors in cooking, knitting, sewing, cake decorating, and more.

11. Guides.co: A massive collection of online guides on just about every topic imaginable.

12. LitLovers: Practice your love of literature with free online lit courses.

13. Lifehacker: One of my personal favorites!

14. Udacity: Learn coding at the free online university developed by Sebastien Thrun.

15. Zidbits: Subscribe to this huge collection of fun facts, weird news, and articles on a variety of topics.

16. TED Ed: The iconic TED brand brings you lessons worth sharing.

17. Scitable: Teach yourself about genetics and the study of evolution.

18. ITunes U:  Yale, Harvard, and other top universities share lecture podcasts.

19. Livemocha: Connect with other learners in over 190 countries to practice a new language.

20. MIT open courseware: To learn introductory coding skills; plus, check out these other places to learn coding for free.

21. WonderHowTo: New videos daily to teach you how to do any number of different things.

22. FutureLearn: Join over 3 million others taking courses in everything from health and history to nature and more.

23. One Month: Commit to learning a new skill over a period of one month with daily work.

24. Khan Academy: One of the biggest and best-known gamified online learning platforms.

25. Yousician: Who said when you learn something new it has to be work-related?

26. Duolingo: A completely free, gamified language learning site (find more language learning sites here).

27. Squareknot: Get creative with other creatives.

28. Highbrow: A subscription service that delivers five-minute courses to your email daily.

29. Spreeder: How cool would it be to be able to speed read?

30. Memrise: Get smarter and expand your vocabulary.

31. HTML5 Rocks: Google pro contributors bring you the latest updates, resource guides, and slide decks for all things HTML5.

32. Wikipedia’s Daily Article List: Get Wikipedia’s daily featured article delivered right to your inbox.

33. DataMonkey: The ability to work with data is indispensable. Learn SQL and Excel.

34. Saylor Academy: Offers a great public speaking course you can take online, and see more free public speaking courses here.

35. Cook Smarts: Learn basic to advanced food prep and cooking techniques.

36. The Happiness Project: Why not just learn how to be happy? I’d give five minutes a day to that!

37. Learni.st: Expertly curated courses with the option of premium content.

38. Surface Languages: A good choice if you just need to learn a few phrases for travel.

39. Academic Earth: Offering top quality university-level courses since 2009.

40. Make: Learn how to do that DIY project you’ve had your eye on.

There’s no reason you can’t learn something new every day, whether it’s a work skill, a fun new hobby, or even a language!

Original article here.

 


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