This is not a pretty website. The font hasn't been customized, the layout is all wrong, and there are lots of things going on in the background that I certainly didn't put there. This page you're reading? It doesn't link from my homepage at Go ahead, click my name up top. Even that page is lacking most of its functionality except a few social links. update 12/14: I’ve updated the site a bit, so that sentence no longer makes sense. It’s not a pretty site, but it’s not ugly any more. Stuff is starting to work!

None of that matters, though. You know why? Because that’s my name in the web address up there. Because through sheer force of will (and lots of research and tons of trial and error), I’ve managed to move my stale and unused domain to a new home at GitHub. I even managed to get my site synced up with Jekyll, which I had never even heard of a week ago. More important than all that, though, is my current mantra: function over form. That is, make it work first, worry about making it look good later.

Let’s go back to the beginning. My name is Edwin, and I’m not a developer. But I want to be. I was recently accepted into Dev BootCamp, a fast-paced program that takes in people from all walks of life and turns them into developers. We’ll spend over 2 months at home learning the fundamentals of programming, then it’s off to San Francisco (or Chicago for some, or NY for others) for another 2 months of high-speed, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants learning. This isn’t part time night school, either. This is 14 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Some of these folks have come from computer science backgrounds, some come from being coffee barristas or delivery drivers. All of them (us) have a deep-seated passion for learning and can see the true potential that careers in programming can offer.

This is not an easy program. We are paying more than just money for this opportunity. We say goodbye to our safe jobs, our families, our comfort zones. Personally, I’m leaving behind my wife, our two year old son, and (one month after she’s born) newborn daughter. Without a doubt, it will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And that’s to say nothing of the actual program. In order to get us to a level that looks attractive to hiring managers, we’ll be constantly pushing ourselves at a grueling pace.

Which brings us back to this page, sort of. You see, the play-at-home version of my program doesn’t actually begin until February (we timed out the start date so I could see my daughter being born before flying out to SF), but I couldn’t wait until then to start figuring stuff out. So, I started poking around. First, I read (and am still reading) everything I could find from former Boots on their firsthand experiences. Luckily, DBC requires its students to keep a personal blog, so there are millions of words on the program, the culture, the weekly projects, the lessons learned the hard way, the constant bipolar feelings of soul-crushing ineptitude and soaring epiphany.

All of this really painted a picture that said to me “be prepared.” Also, “get crackin’.” So, when I learned that we’d be required to maintain a blog, I decided to dust off my old website and breathe new life into it. I moved my domain from Google Sites (yeah, I know. It’d been sitting there since 2008…) and was planning to create a WordPress site. I’ve created several WP sites in the past and learned most of my limited CSS knowledge from there, so I was looking forward to having a little fun with the themes and plugins and such.

Then I found out about GitHub pages. Turns out, GitHub will let you host a page on their site for free, and you can even point your personal domain to it. Now, instead of having WordPress create my themes, layouts, CSS, and templates for me, I can build exactly what I want from scratch! It will take a lot longer (especially since I have very little idea what I’m doing), but it will be much more fulfilling in the end. It’s not pretty at all right now, but it works, and that’s what function over form is all about. One of the early lessons I learned when I first started coding was this: ‘You’re a beginner. You don’t know the best answer. But I bet you can figure out the “good enough” answer, the one that works. Once you have that, go back later and make the answer better. Then check back later and make it simpler. Eventually, your answer will be so streamlined and beautiful that it will be unrecognizable to your first attempt. But for now, just be good enough.’

As for Jekyll, yeah. I have no idea what I’m doing with that yet. When I decided to build my page at GitHub, I came across several blogs that suggested I use Jekyll to maintain it. Jekyll is a great tool for building and updating your site, but there’s a ton of capability that I’m not quite ready for. That will also come, eventually.

My name is Edwin, and I’m not a developer. But I’m going to be.