So-Called Newbie Mistakes (We Often Never Stop Making)

I’ll be fleshing this out over time … for right now, it’s just a bulleted list … or maybe a little better …


You’re not stupid, you didn’t do anything wrong, you just forgot a semicolon, or a parenths or a curly-brace or it’s case sensitive or … a large part of “debugging” is proof-reading … before you waste hours or days … check your “spelling.”

Chasing Your Tail

You’ve exhausted every idea and solution. You’ve deleted everything and started from scratch multiple times. You always start with the same clean line of code you copied and pasted from … wait … what?

The Tutorial (or Documentation or Book or instructions) Is Wrong

It might not be you at all. This guy wrote a freaking book — it couldn’t possibly have mistakes in it! Right?

The worst part of being a newbie is you don’t know what you don’t know. You assume the resource that’s supposed to be teaching you is correct. There may be typos. The instructions may be wrong. The documentation may be out of date.

Some Ingredients Don’t Mix

The language you’re learning may have changed significantly. I started learning D3 using version 2 … maybe v3 … I picked it up again and changed my links — switching from local files to these fancy, new-fangled CDNs … and my code didn’t work at all anymore.

Most of the JavaScript you’ve learned is what we call ES5 then you find this great new tutorial teaching ES6 witchcraft … and they don’t mix. Your editor won’t even let you type it.

What are YOU doing wrong? Nothing. You just aren’t aware of … everything … yet. And you never will be. But the list of essential stuff you don’t know will continually get smaller.

Overthinking It

You know more than you think you do. Sometimes your instincts are correct. Sometimes it is just that easy.

Wanting to Be Great Before You’re Even Good

Is there a better way? Yes. Probably. Does your code need to be beautiful, awe-inspiring, and make seasoned hackers faint because they’re so overwhelmed with your talent? No.

If it works, it’s right. I know you want it to be elegant. I know you do.That’s a good thing and it will come with time. In martial arts, you want to learn technique and accuracy before you build speed. Code is the same thing. No white belt looks graceful. Nobody’s first poem is impressive. Not even mine.

Are there people who will make fun of you and be mean? Yes. They’re called assholes. Fuck those people. Don’t worry about what people will think when they look at your code. Grownups will know that you’re learning. Even if you’ve been doing it for years, grownups can teach you and mentor you without being dicks. Those people on StackOverflow who belittle and kick people while they’re down and having problems are called trolls for a reason — because they’re ugly and live under a bridge with their mom.


Forgetting My Age

I have to make a conscious effort to forget my age. Any thought of my age does nothing but inspire fear. That’s as true at 48 (in situations like mine) as it is at 22. Focusing on, “People will think I’m too old” or “People will think I’m too young” distracts from, “I’m awesome” and “Look at this great work I’m doing.”

If they think you’re too young or too old, you don’t want to work for them.

The Marvel Studios film Black Panther opens today. Ryan Coogler, the director, is 31-years-old. Think about the trust and responsibility they gave him — and I’m sure he was 29 or so when hired. He was 29, by the way, when Creed (Rocky 7 for those of you keeping count) opened. He got both of those gigs based on his little film, Fruitvale Station, which opened when he was 27-years-old.

Reading that, you could think (like I did), “Damn, look how much he accomplished when he was 20-27 years younger than me” or … you could not think about it all. Obviously, he wasn’t thinking about it. He was too busy kicking ass to think about it.

My 5-Year Plan

Jim Carrey once wrote himself a check for $20 million.

In five years, I will have helped at least 1 million people get their dream jobs.

I’m going to create the fastest-growing, most obviously effective training and coaching program in the world.

Those who work with me will be unable to imagine working anywhere else. We will have a culture unsurpassed by 99.99% of other organizations.

To Do:

  • Finish Grow With Google Scholarship Challenge course
  • Complete the Mobile Web nanodegree program with a GWG scholarship
  • Complete the Google News Data thing [update this] program
  • Complete that other Data News [update this] program

Just to show I can and because I can, create kickass eLearning using HTML5, JavaScript, and After Effects that surpasses anything and everything I ever made with Flash.

To Do in 2018:

  • Complete every After Effects course at
  • Launch Coding After 40 and Coding After 50

My First Coding Project

I just wrote this in a forum and want to put it here so the Google Bots find it and hopefully show it to all the newbies.

I always see people online asking for ideas and what type of project they should do. For me, the easiest and most obvious is make something you want or need — who cares about putting it in an app or play store? If it’s online, in GitHub, or someplace people can see it — or, even throwing that out the window, if it’s useful and fun for you, it builds your experience, knowledge, and confidence so don’t worry at all about what others will think of the app. Programming is poetry, dude. Some people don’t get it at all and a lot of people will never get the stuff you write. But, it’s not for them. It’s for you and the people who get it.