Who’s Awakekat? A front end developer? Code teacher? Or a mix of both? We find out in this Q&A:
Real name: Katherine
Alter ego: Awakekat
Location: Spartanburg, SC, USA
Powers/abilities: PHP, HTML/CSS
Q: We understand you’re a self-taught programmer. How did you do it?
A: The story: My dad won a Texas Instrument TI99a in a raffle in 1981. He thought it was a kid’s toy so he gave it to me, an 11 year old lego-maniac at the time. It was a big box of legos to me so I curiously started putting it together. My dad helped me get it connected to the TV, and I just followed the instruction manual.
Within the next couple of days, I was writing the BASIC coding language with the help of graph paper and color codes to create colored blocks on the screen in the shape of a Christmas tree. I was having a blast seeing things come alive from the code to the screen in color and animation!
Throughout the years it has just been a craving of wanting to know how to do things better and faster, even though I get comfortable in my skills. But if I am comfortable I am not learning, so I have to dedicate time to getting better. There is so much to learn.
I got good at both HTML and CSS by reading the code constantly. I started when there were no good code editors to help write the code for you, using a text editor all by hand. I read the code of web pages by right clicking and viewing the source code of the CSS to see how it was done and then doing the research to know more information about the properties and values. And most of all tinker, break things, figure out how to fix it. I get up every day wondering what coding adventure I will take and what new things I will learn. The smallest thing can make a huge difference.
Q: Tell us about your work at www.webcodechicks.com.
A: WebCodeChicks was an idea that crossed my mind right before I went to The Iron Yard last year. I was thinking about how to teach women coding skills since the I was only 1 of 4 girls in in class of 15 who were going to spend the next 3 months learning Front End Engineering. I wanted to start at the beginning with HTML and CSS to make it not so scary, to help them build self-confidence and skills for better job opportunities at the same time. Sure there are lots of other organizations that are bigger and do the exact same thing. I just wanted to start something in my own hometown. I have recently connected with a girls STEAM organization teaching girls 9-14 HTML basics. They are there because they want to. Lots of smiles. It is the reason why I do it, for the smiles.
For the adult women, I offer social meetups and formal beginner classes. It has been slow going this first year, but I do have a few dedicated women who are interested and curious.
Q: What personal projects are working working on atm? Do you have any live projects?
A: I am working on DevChats.com my other idea to teach code skills to a bigger audience. It is the site for my beginner classes on LC.tv. Most of the projects I work on I stream. Join me to find out what I am up to.
I have to take this opportunity to say a big Thank You for those who follow and are helping me upgrade my skills, pushing me to try a little flex and svg . You “guys” know who you are. You are Awesome!!
Q: If you were one of co-founders what different would you like Livecoding.tv to do?
A: Tough question. Not sure if this question is about the business model or how the site works technically. Since I have only been on about a month, I need more time to think about an answer.
Q: What role, if any, do you think Livecoding.tv is playing in promotion/learning of programming/ coding?
A: I have been promoting livecoding.tv and some have heard about it and some have not. I really think it can change your life. I have actually learned more streaming rather than watching. I find that odd. So those of you who have not had the courage to stream – Do It! You will thank me later.
My people skills have gotten a huge boost by streaming and it really is a great way to learn in real-world projects from people who do it well. LC.tv is a completely different learning model and it is not for everyone. It is a complete and total immersion of putting yourself out there. You definitely have to let go of a lot of fears to be comfortable in streaming, talking through your coding process and allowing other to help and critique you. I find it a total win-win for your self esteem and coding skills. I am a better person in confidence and teacher just in the month I have been streaming. Thank you Lc.tv!!
Q: What features/functions would you like to see in Livecoding.tv?
A: The playlists feature is great but needs tweaking. I would like to see the name of the playlist to be seen as well as a short description. I understand an API is in the works – looking forward to that. One more would be to be when clicking on a streamer’s page is to see their schedule should they have one. And finally, have the recorded videos be automatically numbered so that one can find the first video and watch a stream from the first session through to the last.
Q: What’s the best thing about Livecoding.tv? What’s the worst/most annoying?
A: The best thing is the coding camaraderie. Being one of the few girls streaming, the guys have been super supportive. I have old school skills so they help me get out of my old habits and suggest new ways of writing code. There is always someone willing to help with coding problems I may have. I enjoy talking and explaining what I am doing and answering questions.
I honestly cannot complain. A few wise guys wanting my phone number and Facebook address, but they are quickly told to behave by my followers.
Q: What’s the best thing about coding?
A: For me it is art, creativity and experimentation. The only subject in school I excelled at was art. Something I could be physically immersed in with my hands – painting, drawing, and pottery. Coding is not much different. There is always more than one way to do something.
Seeing your “handy work” build a site come alive in color, animation and interactivity for other people to engage with… To me that is Nirvana!
Q: Does coding helps anyway in imparting social skills? Explain.
A: There are introverts and extroverts. As an introvert, some people need a quiet space to be able to focus and concentrate. We need trusting quality relationships and a mutual connection. We come alive when someone else can “speak our language” but when we have to make up conversation it can be awkward and difficult out of our comfort zone. As programmers it is hard to find those kindred souls. When we do, you can’t get us to shut up! So as coders we find “our people” and then gradually with self-confidence, we can translate that to the public.
Q: What do you do when you get stuck at a dead end while coding?
A: Oh yeah the frustrations. I have learned to get up and walk away and look at it the next day. Fresh eyes and brain can see things better. I have lost lots of productivity spinning my wheels looking at code that is broken and can’t see the problem because I am tired.
Q: If monkeys were to code, what sort of programs would they create or what be their favorite programming language?
A: It would definitely be a language for building a better banana.
Check out one of Awakekat’s recent streams: Coding a Webpage