journey through web development

Month: April 2020

Strengths finder

Have you ever heard of the Gallup’s Strengths Finder test? No? Me neither… until this morning.

I was browsing the internet looking for something, going from site to site and I got across it. I was intrigued, so started to look into it. The real Gallup’s Test is paid for, but I found a good free alternative to take online. High5 test helps you understand your strengths, and although there are 100 questions to answer, all you have to do is use the slider to say if you strongly agree or strongly disagree with the statement describing a certain behavior.

It took me around 10 minutes to complete the test. The results? Well..they didn’t surprise me at all! It was 100% me. To show you how cool it is to discover your “powers”, I will share my results:

Curious to explore them one by one in a bit more depth? Ok…

    1. Time keeper-
      “Your objective is to set timelines and deadlines. Because of your dislike of surprises, you love to plan. You don’t necessarily need to control everything and everyone, but there must be order and predictability in the world around you. You unconsciously impose the structure onto everything by setting up routines, timelines, and deadlines. If you set up plans, you make sure you follow them through thoroughly. Your need for structure becomes very useful in a team or a project since you can bring order and discipline to maintain progress and productivity “

       

      My mild OCD made me a little control-freak (nothing serious, I just LOVE to make lists and plan stuff out. ๐Ÿคช) Thanks to my great timekeeping abilities I always submit assignments well ahead of time and I never arrive late. I like to plan out so I’m prepared for everything.

     

    1. Deliverer-
      “Your objective is to take responsibility. If there is a person who is emotionally bound to follow through on all promises – then it’s you. Your strong ethical principles do not let you to simply write missteps off on excuses and rationalizations. It holds true no matter how small or large is the issue you are dealing with. Your name and reputation depend on you being responsible for your commitments. That’s why people love to have you in their team. When assigning new responsibilities, they look at you first. They are 100% sure that what’ll get on your desk – will get done no matter what.”

     

    1. Commander-
      “Your objective is to take charge and direct people. In any situation, you enjoy bringing yourself forward to lead the team. Moreover, you don’t come empty handed – by that time your opinion and views are formed and you can’t wait to align others with you. Contrary to others, in this process, you are not afraid of confrontation when presenting your views. At the contrary, you feel that the confrontation and the open discussion is the first step towards an agreement. People who have a clear vision and can take a stand for it always draw followers, so will you. If you also master listening to others, this strength will help you to be a good leader without fear of confrontation.”

       

      Ok, so leading skills must’ve developed recently because most of my youth I would think of myself as one of the group- never a leader. But that just shows how much we can change over time and nothing is set for good.

     

    1. Strategist-
      “Your objective is to see the big picture. Have you heard about ‘taking the helicopter view’? In your case, you are constantly on this helicopter! That’s not even a skill, it’s a special way of seeing things – a special perspective on the world at large, where everything is interconnected. While others could be confused by your short-terms steps, in your mind you have a clear multi-step strategy on how to arrive at the desired outcome and to avoid paths leading nowhere. Such a strategist is an essential asset for any team determined to find a clear direction in a complex situation.”



      I was in awe when I read this description. In the last semester, we had “Introduction to Databases” unit, and in the beginning, I had a problem understanding it fully, as we were taught little bits at a time without seeing the whole thing together. I WAS MISSING A BIGGER PICTURE!

     

    1. Catalyst-
      “Your objective is to act and to initiate action. You cannot wait until the discussions are over, wondering when we can actually start doing something. Undoubtedly, sometimes the progress could be achieved in a meeting room, but deep down in your heart you know it’s the action that leads to tangible results. If some can be resistant to act because they don’t have full information, for you – acting is the best teacher and the best source of information. How can you know something that does not work if we haven’t tried it? You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. As a result, you are impatient for action and, if not managed, it can lead to confusion of your team members. However, this talent of transforming intangible ideas into tangible actions is invaluable in every team. It’s all because you believe that you will be evaluated by what you get done, not what you say or what you think.”

       

      Yup, I learn stuff by doing them. I love to be in the move, always doing something, always creating. My friend always says that I’m “a busy ๐Ÿ”. The more I do, the more time I have for everything.

     

    Here it is. You’ve learned a whole lot about me today. I hope I interested you in the strengths test, let me know if decided to do it and what you think about your results!

    >>Take the High5 test here!<<

    *The featured photo: Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash
    The post also used Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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How I got into uni after I thought I never would

Since most of my days are now split between inventing things we can do while locked inside the house, and which will satisfy a short-attention-span of a three-year-old, and finishing all my uni assignments, I have literally no time (or power) for any extra-curriculum learning. Sad, but that’s how it is sometimes. After all, we are all just humans, right?

Anyway, I thought I will tell u a little story of how I got into Uni after I thought I never would be able to. I wanted to write this post for a long time to shine some light on my past and maybe to inspire someone in a similar situation to mine.

Let’s start from the beginning though…

okay, not beginning beginning, just about 9 years ago. I was 18 years old, still living in Poland. As most school leavers, I had huge dreams. I planned on studying product design and going abroad to live in the UK (English language countries always fascinated me for some reason) I’ve met my husband back then too, and as it turned out, he also planned on moving away (stuff straight from the movies, eh? Happens in real life too ๐Ÿ˜…)  So off we went into the unknown. The reality of trying to live in a totally new country is harsh though, and my plans of applying to uni fall into a second plan, while we were trying to stay afloat, pay bills and well- just live. But every now and again, this unfulfilled dream of having a higher education nudged me and made me feel… incomplete? worse? it’s hard to name this feeling…

Life went by, we moved a few times from one city to another city and the next one too, trying to find our space in this world (still looking for it ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ), we got married and had our daughter. The unfulfilled dream? It was still there bothering me, maybe even more than ever since H. got born. It sounds cheesy, but I wanted her to be proud of me. And I wanted to be proud of me, too. But how on Earth would I be able to go back to school while taking care of a child and working part-time? I was certain this door is closed for me forever. And then.. one of my friends applied and got into uni. That friend also has a child and she was working! She gave me hope and a whole lotta inspiration! (You know who you are, as I was thanking you like million times ๐Ÿ˜˜) I decided I am gonna try myself. You know, if she could pull this off, maybe I could too! My husband and family back in Poland were really supportive of my decision.

The process of applying…

is very different from what I knew from Poland, and it scared me a lot, especially writing a personal statement and getting someone to write your recommendations for you (since I graduated school so long ago, I asked my manager from work which she gladly agreed to do) I applied to 5 different courses on 2 local unis, and I waited…
On the 4th of Jan 2019 (yup, I still remember, that’s how excited I was) I got an email, 4 unconditional places! Me, they wanted me. I could not believe it. Choosing which course to actually go to took me some time, but in the end, I think I chose the right one.
Getting accepted was only a first step though. As a mature student with a small child, job and bills to pay, my biggest worry was how am I gonna manage it all financially and time-wisely. Every change of the timeline gives me a headache, but as my first year at uni comes to an end, I realize that what I thought will be my obstacle, turns out to be my power and motivation.
Sometimes I wonder what if I’d go to uni straight after graduating school, but then I wouldn’t choose the subject I am really passionate about and which will lead me to a career I believe is the right for me. I probably wouldn’t be so focused on achieving good grades and slurp the knowledge from everything possible.
I think everything happens for a reason. Those 7 years I spent believing I wouldn’t have a degree has taught me to fight for myself and my dreams. They made me a stronger person who found her voice and is not afraid to use it.

Live is not a straight line, and it doesn’t matter when you hit certain milestones. Everyone’s story is different and they are all beautiful. We just need to believe in ourselves and be brave to step into the unknown. 

*Featured Photo by Vasily Kolodaย onย Unsplash
The post is using:
-photo by Mel Poole on Unsplash
-photo byย Clark Tibbsย onย Unsplash

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How to create a digital portrait in adobe illustrator

A few days ago, while I needed a little break from my database assignment, I created this digital portrait of my daughter, Hannah.

Everyone seemed to really like it, so I decided to share my knowledge and create a tutorial on how to do those cool portraits using any photograph.

All you need is Adobe Illustrator and a photograph! No skills required and it’s really easy to do!

Watch a video tutorial or follow my written instructions below!

How to create a digital portrait using Adobe Illustrator:

  1. Choose a photograph you would like to use for this project. It can be literally anything you want! I chose this cute photograph of Hannah-ballerina:
  2. Open Adobe Illustrator, click a New File and choose the size of your canvas. For this project I chose A4, but you can choose a different size.
  3. Click the Window tab and then select Layers. This step is really important as layers are crucial!
  4. Click File tab and Place, to place a chosen photograph onto Layer 1. Next, place the image on the canvas.
  5. Lock the Layer 1, add a new layer, zoom in onto the face (or any other part you want to start with) so you can see the area better, and using the Pen tool, start outlining the shape of the face.

    Remember to change the size and style of the brush! I like to outline the skin with the smallest brush size (0.25) and hair and clothes with a slightly bigger one (0.5) Play with different brush styles and choose the one you like the most.

  6. ย 
  7. Name a layer accordingly, and lock the layer using the lock icon in the layers tab.
  8. Add another layer and outline the left ear. Name a layer and then click the down arrow to open this layer, and lock the one inside (not the whole layer)
  9. Outline the shadows inside the ear outline. Lock the whole layer and outline the other areas following the same rules.
    One area= one layer. Lock layers when you finish them.
    For this photograph, I have layers for: face, left ear, right ear, hair, neck, top of the dress, tutu skirt, left hand, right hand, and legs.
  10. When you finish outlining, you can unclick the eye icon next to the Layer 1 (with the original photograph) to see how you’re doing.
  11. You’re halfway there!
  12. Ok now click the eye icon on Layer 1 again to bring back the original photo, if you would like to use color from it. If you choose to have custom colors, this step is not necessary.
  13. Unlock the first layer (in my case, it’s a face layer) and using the Eyedropper tool, select the color of your liking from the original image. Then select the outline of the face layer and click on the color swatch you just chose.
  14. Lock the layer again and fill in other skin areas, like ears(just the main outline), neck and hands.
  15. Unlock the ears layer, and select the inside outlines, color them with the same color and then double-click on the color swatch (big color square in the left side menu) and select a darker shade. Fill with the same color other inside ear’s outlines.
  16. You may want to take the stroke of the outlines out if you wish (in the right-hand side menu).
  17. Color other layers the same way.
  18. Now create a new layer for the background. Place it on the bottom of the layers (so it’s in the back of your portrait) Using the rectangle tool, select the area of your canvas and fill with the color of your liking.
  19. Add another layer, place it on top of the background layer, and using the Curvature Tool, draw a “blob” around your portrait. It doesn’t have to be perfect so play with it ๐Ÿ™‚ Again, fill with any color you like.
  20. Add a new layer and using the Text tool, add a text. I like to separate lines of text to have more control over the alignment of the lines. Choose your font and the size of the text.
  21. Voila! You have just created a digital portrait!

I would love to see your creations, so please tag me on Twitter @kat_wlodarczyk and use the #katstutorials
so I can see them! You can also comment or email me!
I hope you liked this tutorial!
โœŒ๏ธ

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Learn to code for free

Some time ago, during one of our uni lectures, my friends and I were trying to list websites or apps,
where you can master your coding skills for free or really cheap.
As current lockdown force us to stay indoors (and please do! for everyone’s good ๐Ÿ™), I thought I will recreate that list and share with you all.
After all, when is the better time to learn something new?

  • Codecademy
    codecademy.com website

    Codecademy is, in my opinion, the most popular website to start your coding journey. A lot of content is free and the learning process is gamified, so it doesn’t feel like learning at all! Every time I want to learn a new language, I look at codecademy to get myself familiar with the syntaxes and basic rules.

  •  FreeCodeCamp
    freecodecamp

    As the name suggests, freeCodeCamp is completely free. It has a lot of fans all over the world, but for me personally, it’s been a bit.. clunky and not as user-friendly as other sites, so I didn’t stay there for long. What I loved there though, is earning the certificates and badges! ( who doesn’t like them, right? They always give a nice motivational boost.)

  • Udemy

    udacity

    Different type of learning, but totally worth mention- udemy.com. Platform full of tutorials on all sorts of topics, not only programming. For those of you, who learn better while listening rather than reading (not me, unfortunately ๐Ÿ™ ) They always have some sort of discounts going on so it’s easy to get a great quality course at a great price (free ones also available).

  • SoloLearn (APP)

    My second favorite learning source! The main plus- it’s an app! So you have it always with you on your phone. Whenever you have some time to spare, open the app and learn! I loved doing the quizzes about different languages to cement my knowledge. The app and its content are free and I highly recommend downloading it. Instead of mindless scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, SoloLearn!

  • Pluralsight
    pluralsight

    Great source of courses, and for the whole of April, all the content is FREE for new accounts! U can choose a single course or follow a particular path to master your skills. With technologies from Web Development, DevOps, Data, Architecture&Construction, Manufacturing&Design, Cloud Computing, Machine Learning, Bussiness Professional, Cyber Security, and Creative Professional, I am sure everyone will find something interesting to follow.

  • w3schools

    w3schools

    Every developer’s good friend. No matter if your a junior or senior, w3schools is probably the first source to look at when you’re stuck. It’s not fancy but 100% free and nicely explained. Oh! And you can get certificates too!

UPDATE:
A Few more cool websites that will help you learn for free! 

https://javascript30.com/


30 JavaScript challenges in 30 days (of course there are no strict rules that you have to keep to the time frame :D) Video tutorials from Wes Bos are easy to understand and follow. I have done a few projects from JS30 challenge myself and really enjoyed them. I recommend this to anyone who would like to get better in JS.

https://www.theodinproject.com/

The Odin Project is a really cool open-source platform, where you can take different paths to learn to code for free.
Currently, there are three routes to take: Full-stack Ruby on Rails, Full-stack JavaScript and Front End only. I will definitely start one of them soon, as it seems to provide good knowledge forwarded with loads of projects to do to add to your portfolio ๐Ÿ™‚ Instructions are easy to understand, boosted with images and snippets of code.

https://www.codewars.com/

CodeWars is great to test your knowledge and problem-solving in action. With lots of languages and technologies to choose from, everyone will find something up their street.
I think this would also be good preparation before a job interview!

Scaplisum

Ok, so not a typical learning platform, but my good friend and awesome developer Vlad, has created this amazing IG community, and he posts his valuable content daily.
You will learn how to create a live search, infinity scroll effect or how to animate an icon and many many more, and you will realise that stuff you thought is difficult to achieve, is actually pretty easy to do! (at least I have realised that multiple times :D)
All you need to do is follow @scalipsum on Instagram, and if you would like to be a part of this great, ever-growing community, you can add yourself to the Discord channel too. Scalipsum also has a GitHub repository for all posts: https://github.com/scalipsum/insta-posts
I like the idea of learning something new while scrolling through your Insta feed, and that every post focuses on one particular feature at a time.


Or course there are a lot more websites providing good quality knowledge, but they come with a bigger price-tag. To name a few:

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