A Review of the Scrimba Learn JavaScript Course

I just finished up the Learn JavaScript for Free course on Scrimba, taught by the CEO Per Harald Borgen, and the last thing he suggested in the course wasn’t to take another course, but to start writing about my learning experience. I’ve been blogging for almost 20 years so this was something I felt I could actually accomplish. The post is in response to his last suggestion in that course, and this may not be a point for point pros and cons review, but the fact that this post exists is how much I think of this course. TLDR; i would recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn JavaScript.

My Journey So Far

I’m sure my journey is similar to many others, but we all have unique stories to tell. For me, the short version would be, in March 2022 I left my old career behind to start a new career as a developer (specifically a front-end React dev).

I left 15 years of tenure, safety, and security to follow something I had wanted to do all of my adult life. But starting a new career after 50 can’t be easy. I’m not sure, I’ve never tried this before, but every year that went by I could look back and think “if I had started this a year ago I would be a year farther down the road now” (and I’ve said this to myself at least since 2015). I also had completely and totally unrealistic time frames in mind. Initially, I figured 2 months should be long enough. My expectations were unrealistic to say the least.

Having Realistic Expectations

The next two months I spent about 8 hours a day working through Codecademy’s full stack course (just because it had the most structure), and made it through HTML, CSS, JavaScript Part 1 and 2 (twice), then React Part 1 and 2, and Git/GitHub Part 1 and 2. My emotions ranged everywhere from this is awesome I’m super excited, to I can’t wait to get through this next course, to extreme frustration, to how can/will I ever be able to learn the sheer volume of information, let alone learn it well.

Then I read Why Learning to Code is So Damn Hard and Finding it difficult to learn programming? Here’s why, and I started to get it. My unrealistic time frame was even more unrealistic than I first thought, and the way I was trying to learn the material was the most difficult way, for me personally, to learn.

Did I mention, I spent every day, 6-8 hours a day, cramming through Codecademy’s full stack course for two full months. Please know, I have nothing against Codecademy or how they teach their courses. The platform is amazing, the information is extremely detailed (though the React course was a bit outdated). But at the end of the two months I didn’t feel prepared for anything, nor did I feel like I knew how to code anything that wasn’t hand fed to me. The main way of teaching is through reading documentation and then doing a small exercise. I am a lazy reader so I tend to (not on purpose) skip details, miss important details, drift off, loose concentration… fall asleep. It wasn’t “tutorial hell” but it was close.

Find What Works for You Personally

My solution was to go to YouTube and find some (non-tutorial only) videos. One big video on JavaScript and one on React should get me back on track and then I would pick back up where I left off. That’s how I came across Per Harald Borgen and his YouTube video on JavaScript via FreeCodeCamp. Except it was 7 (seven!) hours long. I found out it was actually a course on Scrimba and a few minutes into the first video I felt like I had learned more in just a few minutes than weeks of previous work reading blocks of paragraphs.

I figured that was just a fluke, but it wasn’t. It was like that all the way through the entire course. Maybe because I learn better through video and doing, maybe because I had actually learned something over the last two months… whatever it was, I learned more from this course than from anything else, and in a quarter of the time.

Learn JavaScript For Free Course at Scrimba

The Scrimba Review

Local Files: as far as this particular course goes… one of the best things for me was being able to download the entire course work on GitHub, then work through every part/chapter/piece locally through vscode and Chrome dev tools. This helped me tremendously over just doing the work “in-browser.”

The Interface: they use takes a bit of getting use to, but it’s very unique, and I learned to really appreciate the combination of code editor, video, browser, mode thing.

The Cost: well this course was free, but I’m subscribing to their site, and it’s VERY reasonable.

The Teaching: like I said, I learn best in this format. So for me, I picked up the teaching method much better. Per is also a fantastic teacher, patient, sense of humor, and you feel like you actually get to know the teacher even though it’s not a live course.

What I Really Liked: Scrimba gave me hope. What more could you ask for. It made me figure out how to do things the way they would be done in the real world (or what I perceive to be the real dev world). It wasn’t theoretical, it was application and repetition. The projects you work on over the course are fantastic. The Blackjack game and the Chrome Extension projects were really great learning tools.

What I didn’t Care For: in short, the solo projects and Figma. This isn’t so much a criticism of Scrimba as much as my personal situation. I’m trying to get through this as fast as possible (for many reasons). There was a solo project after each major section. I felt like these were way too hands off. I didn’t even attempt them because I found Figma very confusing, and I didn’t know where to even begin, and I didn’t have the time to figure it out. I know this is counterproductive to my end goal and it would be a great way to learn, but I couldn’t take the time to do them. I plan to go back and do them later, but I don’t know if that will realistically happen once I get to the advanced React course.

What I Learned: this is one of the hardest things I’ve found in learning how to code. How do you know how well you are doing? I learned some JavaScript for sure. I learned concepts. I learned how to figure things out on my own (a little, but more than non-Scrimba courses). I’m also a big note taker (I’ve done dev notes in Notion from the beginning), but I finally figured out that I need to be taking notes in the code… everywhere (like the exercise below). I learned to take your time and give yourself time to figure things out. Don’t hurry, be patient, or learn to be patient. There are no shortcuts to learning code, none, not one, none, at all.

// this is what i did and it was completely wrong
// i didn't understand the instructions and got lost

     const fruit = ['Apples', 'Bananas']
     const description = 'The 2 best fruits are: '

 function generateSentence(desc, arr) {
     for ( i = 0; i < arr.length; i  )
     console.log(arr[i])
     return `${description} ${fruit}`
}

console.log()

// this is what Per did, and now it makes sense

function generateSentence(desc, arr) {
    let baseString = `The ${arr.length} ${desc} are `
    const lastIndex = arr.length - 1
    for (let i=0; i < arr.length; i  ) {
        if (i === lastIndex) {
            baseString  = 'and '   arr[i]   '.'
        } else {
            baseString  = arr[i]   ', '
        }
    }
    return baseString
}

const sentence = generateSentence('highest mountains', ['Mount Everest', 'K2', 'Moon', 'Mars', 'Jupiter', 'Sun', 'Stars', 'Pluto'])

console.log(sentence)


// this one was not easy at all and i came no where close
// to getting it right but it is pretty cool. 
//(May, 18 2022 {Wed} @ 03:08:17 PM)

All in all I couldn’t recommend this course enough. But it takes way more than just a course to learn how to do this stuff well. It takes discipline, the proper working environment, rest, breaks, focus, time, money, an understanding family or spouse, and just the right time and place in your own personal life.

Some Great Books on Technology

Every year I wish I had read more books. Once i get into a book I’m good, but when i finish it takes me forever to get back into that groove of the “next” book. I tend to bounce from book to book until I find that next one. That next one right now is Tony Reinke’s new book, God, Technology, and the Christian Life.

There are so few technologically deep, well written, books that combine faith and technology, but this is one of them, so far. I’m just getting started, but Reinke’s balanced objective voice shows how science, technology, and faith in God all coexist and often compliment each other. I can’t wait to get to the meat of the text.

Books in the technology genre are some of my favorite, but they often get outdated very quickly. Some that have stood the test of time and are favorites of mine are (in no paticular order):

  • Dark Mirror by Barton Gellman
  • Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
  • Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson
  • Permanent Record by Edward Snowden
  • The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick
  • The Innovators by Walter Isaacson
  • Viral by Leonard Sweet
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  • 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke

I’m sure there are plenty of others, those are just some on my list. 📚

iPhone 13 Pro Max Macro Mode

I love macro photography. True marco 1:1 magnification (or greater) has been a long time favorite of mine for many years. The butterfly in this post was one such shot I took a while back with a Nikon 105mm Macro lens. When Apple announced the new iPhone 13 received a “close focus” lens i was really looking forward to trying it out, yet I rarely remember to use it.

When I do remember to get in close with the iPhone I’m quite pleased with the results. It isn’t true full 1:1 marco photography, but it’s pretty darn close for shots you can take on a phone. The two shots here (not the butterfly of course) were taken of frost on my truck a few days ago. The shot in red was on the hood of the truck, the grey/green was the windshield.

Shot on iPhone 13 Pro Max of Frost on Winshield
Shot on iPhone 13 Pro Max of Frost on Windshield
Shot on iPhone 13 Pro Max of Frost on Hood of Truck
Shot on iPhone 13 Pro Max of Frost on Hood of Truck
Kite Butterfly with a Nikon 105mm Macro Lens
Kite Butterfly with a Nikon 105mm Macro Lens

A Fresh Update for a Post Pandemic Time

We certainly aren’t post pandemic yet, but surely someday we will be, I hope. My blog hasn’t necessarily been hiding under a chair like my cat, but it hasn’t been far off from that reality either. Last year, among other things, we worked hard on building a backyard pond, (Deborah’s blog has kept up with that way better than I have) but now it’s cold and who wants to work outside in the cold. So it has been a really long time since I’ve done an update and refresh of my blog, and it finally came time for that change. There is something about the changing of a year, and as 2022 arrived I decided I was not going to put off doing some of those things I’ve always enjoyed doing any longer.

For the last year or so I’ve been mainly working on my .com site and different image portfolios like black and white, color photography, etc over at scottfillmer.com which is not focused on writing but images. This site is where I get to focus on both. While I haven’t updated here in a while, it’s never been far from my mind, and I pretty much never stop writing. For years and to this day I probably write 1,000-2,000 words a day in some form or fashion, a habit that seems to never want to fully leave me, so this blog has always been an open form that combines writing and photography of some kind.

Along with my blog, I’ve updated a few other areas that get me away from the big social networking sites. In my obsession with Internet privacy, security, and web3 stuff I’m trying to stick to more of the places that I build myself than on the places that take and use like Facebook, Twitter, etc., more on the things I’m interested in instead of what the feeds are interested in me seeing. I’ve added a new NFT site over on sftokens.io which is an image or photography based site but focused on designing images and photography for NFT’s, the blockchain, or just for me to explore new ways to interact with my photography. That site is just getting started right now but I hope to continue to add new content to it over the course of 2022 and see where it goes from there.

For blogging or writing I’ve updated this site of course, but I’ve also added a micro blogging platform. I’ve really come to really appreciate micro.blog for it’s ease and simplicity and my page over there is hosted at slf.micro.blog which consists of shorter more frequent posts. That’s about it for now. I’m looking forward to great things in 2022, hopefully with a little more love given to my blog this year.

Thoughts on Feedly, Inoreader, and RSS Readers

I love the RSS feed and think it’s one of the most powerful tools someone can use to filter and currate content on the web. It’s also one of the most undervalued and underused options. Unfortunately on March 13, 2013, Google announced they were discontinuing Google Reader, stating the product had a loyal but declining following, and at that point, Google pretty much killed the popular use of RSS.

My RSS reader still has several hundred feeds that transferred over to Feedly when Google shut down, but I haven’t opened Feedly in some time. There are several different sites I’m actively using now that have great RSS feeds so I went back to looking at readers and the two main players are [Feedly](https://feedly.com/) and [Inoreader.](https://www.inoreader.com)

Fastfoward to 2022 and I’m pleasantly surprised how great these two apps have been developed. But I’m torn between the two, and both have subscriptions to get full features. Reviews really push Inoreader and the features they offer, but I have found Inoreader to be somewhat confusing, complicated, and complex to do what I want, read. Feedly may be the old non-flashy app but the UI for reading is amazing.