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.

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.

Five Reasons The Behemoth is Art and Poetry in Theological Prose


The Behemoth MagazineThe Behemoth Magazine

The Behemoth Magazine

You may not understand The Behemoth’s orthodoxy because you are viewing art and poetry, not a theological exegesis or apologetic argument.

I have not been all that excited about any particular faith-based magazine publication in a long time. Even so, I do read many of the most popular ones in some form or another. I don’t read any of them in paper form anymore (yet, most companies still snail mail an issue out to me every month in a colossal waste of paper, but that’s another topic altogether). Most publications are pretty good. They range from hard hitting news around the world all the way to fluff on whether the church should use Twitter or listen to U2. Many of them have hard hitting journalistic and editorial articles, but they seldom conjure up thoughts like, “I just can’t wait until the next issue hits my iPad.” Never has one actually brought me to the point of wanting to write a review about the publication itself either, until now.

Enter The Behemoth. What actually drew me in to this publication was this article, Hitting a Major League Pitch, Looking at the physics, you’d have to say it can’t be done, not its namesake article based on the “Genesis giant.” My first thought was, “could it actually be that someone of faith pulled in the statistical grace and beauty of baseball as might be written by a Roger Angell, and the poetic dance of words as might be felt by a Mary Oliver, and then tied it, weaved it, knitted it into the story being lived out here on earth?” For the most part, yes, that is my overall opinion and review of The Behemoth and that was all it took for me.

So, from a reader’s perspective, what is it that makes The Behemoth a successful publication? Why do I look forward to each issue?

1. Typography

In our world distraction rules. I look and seek out those things that have gone the extra mile to create a clean, clutter-free, pleasing, distraction free experience. A brilliant use of “typography” is one that takes me deeper into the task at hand, not one that conforms to the rules of distraction. That’s what I love about the iAWriter app and even Apple’s native notes app. It’s why I’ve been writing on Medium since it was introduced, it’s what I love about reading on Instapaper, and it’s why Helvetica still conquers all. They all created an experience using intentional design through sophisticated simplicity ideas. In this case, when referring to typography I use the term in the general sense. That is to say, I refer not to a typeset they chose, but how the designers intentionally choose to interact with their consumer. The designers created The Behemoth with intention, and it shows. On the iPad, The Behemoth is periodical typography eye candy.

Highly important to me, The Behemoth is an all-digital publication (no paper-waste-clutter-junk). Each issue contains four articles, a web-gem-type piece, and each article is around 1,500 words or less, and some much less. Word length is very important today. At 1,500 words it’s a real sweet spot that allows a reader to find enough depth to sink in and become briefly lost among the words, but short enough for our small attention spans and brief periods of uninterruptedness. Once you are in and among the 1,500 words, there are minimal headings, no clutter, no flashing boxes, no bolded outtakes, no bullet-pointed tidbits, nothing distracts you from the words themselves. The typography has allowed the story to take over the words.

2. Curation

One of the specifics I noticed early on is how carefully the editors choose each article, and how each article plays on the other. In short, they removed all the noise and choose with intention. The articles for the most part are a mix of high tech and tradition making for many timeless pieces. These can be read years from now and still remain readable not dated. With only four articles to work with each issue they must go through a crazy culling process of possible articles that fit the mission and vision stated for The Behemoth (summed up as Plumbing the depths of God’s mysterious creation and beauty). The articles included often come from an excerpt of a larger work. At first as you read you may think, “all they did was just copy a piece of this book and stick it in here,” but the result has been like reading a carefully chosen anthology of the best of the best of the unknown. In a day where content is still king, curation of content must be its’ master.

3. Wonder

We reside in the age of information and usually think every single thing about every single topic should be a known. It is pretty amazing how the more we know, the more we realize how little we know about how much we actually do know. Scripture is still filled with this awesome wonder. There are great mysteries packed deep into scripture and The Behemoth chooses to display those mysteries to its readers while remaining comfortable with those mysteries, and then allowing them remaining mysterious. After all, we do not have the mind of God, and we should be able to celebrate those mysteries, not always having to explain them away or theorize about them endlessly. Some things God has hidden from view, and without compromising an orthodox view, we can look at those mysteries with the awe they deserve.

4. Theology

This is where it gets possibly muddy-ish, at least as far as an “Answers-theology” is concerned (see footnote [1] below). Answers in Genesis is a theological site dedicated to apologetics, and a defense of faith. I love apologetics, it was one of my favorite areas of study in my masters work. But as far as I can tell, apologetics is not the main theological focus The Behemoth aspires to achieve, and that’s fine. Not everyone is gifted in apologetics and/or theology. Yet make no mistake, The Behemoth is packed full of rich, deep theological issues. They often view these theological issues from a 35,000 foot level (or even a 135,000 foot level). At that distance, theology can become filled with the beauty of God’s creation in painted colors and glorious views, instead of drilled down to a divisive pinhole debate. I have come to appreciate this stance more and more. In a world of endless criticism and debate you can’t always show the sheer beauty found in sound theology from the micro level. The Behemoth often seems to try to fly high above the fray.

5. Art and Poetry

The previous four points have now crafted this last point into being. To this reader, the greatest contribution The Behemoth makes to the body of work out today is the art and poetry it has crafted into being. Its as if they are curating a series of watercolors with four new pieces being released every other week. This is why if you look at The Behemoth as a theological treaty you will miss the point. It wasn’t until the eighth issue that I realized what gave this publication the intangible beauty missing in so many things today. When I read Hurrahing in Harvest by English poet Gerald Manley Hopkins the artistic beauty bled through the canvas.

When you combine beautifully designed, well curated, theological artistry that points beyond itself to the greatest wonder of all, our Creator, you get something really special. Kudos to The Behemoth staff for coming up with this unique perspective, this artistic expression in words. It brings the reader to a still meditative reflection proclaiming the enormity of God. It really isn’t the words or the editors or the writers or the platform, it is of course that they point us back to beautiful words like these:

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Reading is truly a privilege, and I’m thrilled The Behemoth has made it such a pleasure to read with each new issue. Let’s keep moving forward. I’ll keep reading and keep telling all my friends to go read as well.

— — —

[1] Please indulge me with a few footnote qualifiers to this article below.

First, I purposely let time test out this publication for a bit. The first issue of The Behemoth was first published July 24, and now having published their eighth issue time has allowed my ideas to be more formally identified. Anyway, who can really judge a periodical by just one issue, regardless of the baggage one might theoretically think is being brought to the party.

Second, to be transparent, this review is partially a counter-review to the Answers’ article written back in September fresh off the first article in the first issue. While I love Answers own publication, and Answers in Genesis as a whole, I think they missed the mark as far as understanding The Behemoth. I wanted to offer up a different point of view.

Third, this review is not intended to be read as an apologetic defense of all theological issues presented here. It was written to parallel the publication itself. Are there things they could improve? Of course, but that wasn’t really the point either. (For one I would love to see an iPhone 6 Plus version released on Newsstand.)

Fourth, this review is penned without any prior discussion or compensation with any party at the time of this writing. The words here are my own, the opinions stated can be attributed to my own rationale.

Now, if you still have comments or questions, by all means, let’em fly, I’d love to hear your opinions as well. .SF.

5 Books Worth Laboring Over on this Labor Day

Deborah and Her Pancakes at IHop in Auburn
Deborah and Her Pancakes at IHop in Auburn

It was a nice lazy rainy Labor Day in Auburn today. For some reason it seems to rain on Labor Day. I would only know this because last year I noted it was a rainy Labor Day due to Tropical Storm Lee. This year Hurricane Isaac is long gone but we did have a nice storm front come through, giving us some much needed rain for the second half of the day. I thought it would be great to start off this Labor Day holiday with a big stack of pancakes and then labor over one of the many books I’m trying to read right now. Deborah and I were able to get the pancakes today, but I never got to the reading part, instead opting to redesign my blog.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to labor over books. I thought by now reading would come easy, or easier, but I still have to force myself to read. I know this is in part due to the multi-tasking, sound-bite culture I’m a part of, but I know reading is of the utmost importance. Even Paul said as much himself (2 Timothy 4:13).

It probably takes me 2-3 times as long to read a book, but I do get through them. Each book I finish changes me, even if ever so slightly, but I am, at least in part, a compilation of every book I have ever read. On my currently being labored over reading list is The Cost of Discipleship by Bonhoeffer, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, and The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. Call it some tech form of ADHD or something, but I like to bounce around from book to book. I’ll leave those three for another day.

Below are five books well worth your time, and these five books I’m laboring over myself. I have read cover to cover the first book on my list, but the rest I am slowly and methodically laboring over page by page.

5 Books Worth Reading on Labor Day or Any Day

  • How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren
    If you are reading a book right now, and haven’t read this classic book, just put down all other books and read this one first. This is truly the book of books, one of the best books I have read to date, mainly because it provides great instruction on how to better understand what you are reading. For my full critique of this book, see the review here.
  • 25 Books Every Christian Must Read by Renovaré
    Ok, so this book is like a whole list of it’s own, but if you are looking for a fantastic starting point for some of the greatest books ever written, this is a great place to start. This book is #37 on my bucket list, not this book, but all the books in this book. Most are epic volumes, like Calvin’s Institutes and Augustine’s City of God, but they are classics for a reason.
  • The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by David Brainerd and edited by Jonathan Edwards
    Not the easiest book on the list to read, but a real incredible look at the life of a believer and missionary. Brainerd’s diary shows how someone tried to understand how to serve a sovereign God while fighting depression and illness.
  • The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scougal
    This was a total unknown to me until I read it through some footnote in some book, which might have been #5 below, at this point I don’t remember. This book is just an overpowering book. John Wesley said that of all the definitions of Christianity that he had encountered, the best was that of a Scotsman who lived in the 17th-century. He said: “Christianity is the life of God in the soul of man.” It’s a short read, and an easier book to read, but one of unending depth that requires time to digest.
  • God’s Passion for His Glory : Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards by John Piper and Jonathan Edwards
    This book, the only one on the list that isn’t currently available on Kindle (although it was when I bought it in 2011), is two books in one. In the essay The End for Which God Created the World, the great theologian Jonathan Edwards proclaimed that God’s ultimate end is the manifestation of his glory in the highest happiness of his creatures. John Piper adds as a Part One to this essay in the form of a fantastic biography on Edwards, one that makes the Edwards essay easier to understand.

How To Read the Bible For All Its Worth Book Review Critique

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth Book Review Critique

This review below is a summary of the full review (you can read the full review here or go to my Writing Section under “reviews”) for a book called How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. This particular book has been on my list to read for quite some time now, but I was finally forced to read it for my current Hermeneutics class. If you don’t want to read the book all the way through cover to cover, there is some good reference information contained in the first few chapters and the appendix, which contains good info about many commentaries.

The need for a hermeneutical book such as How to Read the Bible is a testament to the greatness of Scripture itself because “either you understand perfectly everything the author has to say or you do not. If you do, you may have gained information, but you could not have increased your understanding,” and that is what the authors here intended to facilitate.[1]  The strength of How to Read the Bible comes from the overall guide and tone, in general terms, given to the reader, and the methodical details presented in each section or chapter.  This guideline, while far from being a step-by-step process to Biblical understanding, does give the reader general principles to better understanding the Biblical literature, and how the Biblical authors intended their writing to be understood.  This was achieved in a manner that can be easily understood by readers of all levels, and yet provided enough depth to maintain the attention of those readers quite familiar with hermeneutics.

Unfortunately, the book’s weakness, which cannot be understated, comes from the author’s discussion on translations, and their overall choice of the TNIV to underline their text.  Readers today, in 2012, have the benefit of almost a decade of scrutiny towards the TNIV, which the authors did not have when revising How to Read the Bible in 2003.  One would hope their scholarly opinions might have changed somewhat since the publication date.  Any revised edition to the text in the future should include a completely rewritten section on translations, or the authors could leave more of their personal opinions to the side, allowing the reader to decide on their own which translation is best given the information in the book.  This suggestion would follow the author’s own statements when they stress the importance of finding a text where the authors “discuss all the possible meanings, evaluate them, and give reasons for his or her own choice.”[2]  This was attempted, just not executed as well as one would have hoped for.

Overall, How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth is, and will be, an excellent source for beginning a study in hermeneutics.  The text is not an end all of hermeneutical material, but well worth the investment in time to complete.  Any student, laymen, or individual interested in understanding Scripture to its fullest possibility will benefit from the work of Fee and Stuart.  This review and critique examined the manner in which the authors achieved the task of being obedient to the Biblical texts through teaching a hermeneutical process, and for the most part, the authors accomplished this task admirably.


[1] Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1972.

[2] Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 3rd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

The Power of Words and the Wonder of God :: Review

The Power of Words and the Wonder of God Review

Up for a quick book review today is a book called The Power of Words and the Wonder of God, which I finished up a few weeks ago. This small book (176 pages) was published back in September of 2009 by John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson, and Mark Driscoll come together with worship pastor Bob Kauflin, counselor Paul Tripp, and literature professor Daniel Taylor to discuss the power that words have, and how our speak can both edify and vilify our brothers and sisters in Christ.  This book came out of the Desiring God National Conference in 2008 with the same name (2008 National Conference Messages), and each author takes a chapter in their own specialized field to discuss the impact of words on our life, specifically that of Scripture. All in all a great, quick, read for those Christians interested in words.

I will admit that from the start I didn’t expect much from this book other than a good collection of a few sermons, but I was quite surprised by its depth of content and overall usefulness in application. The book isn’t broken up like this, but below are three sections or reasons I found quite valuable, and a book I would highly recommend reading.

  • The Power of Words in History
    The Power of Words takes a great look at the history of words, spoken and written, and how people like Luther and others used their power of words to change the church, even if it was crude at times. It was needed. Look at what Luther was fighting, and we can see that mocking and crude speech like this is sometimes called for.

    Luther argued that his theological opponents avoided the Bible: “I cry: Gospel, Gospel, Gospel! Christ, Christ! Then they reply: The fathers! The fathers! Custom, Custom! Statutes, Statutes! But when I say: The fathers, custom, and the statutes have often been in error; matters of this kind must be settled by a stronger and more reliable authority; but Christ cannot be in error—then they are more speechless than fish. (location 1576)

  • The Power of Words in Application
    Along with the historical look at how we use speak The Power of Words takes a practical approach to our speech today. Scripture has so much to say about how we should speak, and when we should refrain from speaking, how devastating the tongue can be, and how we can use it to lift people up when they are down.

    We foolishly assume that our real struggles with sin are in the areas where we are “weak.” We do not well understand the depth of sin until we realize that it has made its home far more subtly where we are “strong,” and in our gifts rather than in our weaknesses and inadequacies.

  • The Power of Words in Music
    The last section was the most unexpected section, but also contains the most valuable affirmation of music and its importance in our earthly Christian walk. I really didn’t expect a section on music that talked about words and speech, but this section took the book from being a good book to being a great book. If you are at all involved in the music life of the church (and technically we all are), this section should be a must read. Three great points (of many) that were made on the power of music today were stated by Bob Kauflin saying:
  1. There’s certainly a place for expressing our subjective responses to God in song, but the greater portion of our lyrical diet should be the objective truths we’re responding to: God’s Word, his character, and his works, especially his work of sending his Son to be our atoning sacrifice.
  2. We conclude that a certain beat, volume, chord progression, instrument, or vocal style is evil in and of itself. But unless those aspects are spelled out in Scripture we should be cautious about assigning a moral value to them.
  3. An increasing number of churches have adopted the practice of offering different services for different musical tastes. While that decision can be well intentioned, I believe the long-term effect is to separate families and generations and to imply that we gather together around our musical preferences, not Jesus Christ.

Overall, The Power of Words is one of those books that is such a quick and easy read that even if you have a slight interest in how words and speech affect our walk with Christ, you should pick up this book. Each author or contributor adds to the value of this book, and even though you might not agree with everything they stand for personally they have put together a great collective word on the power God placed in the written and spoken word.