An Introduction

Now that’s a crunchy tone.

Hello, everyone. I thought I would make my first post about some of the things I hope to accomplish with this blog. I mentioned a few things on the home page, but I thought I could offer more detail.

I was first struck with the idea of making a website around fall of 2018.

I’ve never been much for social media, taking photos, or many of the modern recreations afforded by smartphones. I enjoy the technology, of course. I did have a few social media accounts at some point, and I do take peculiar photos on occasion (more on the title image soon), but when it comes to these media obsessions, they don’t do much for me. I’ve switched from iPhones to Androids several times in pursuit of a barebones smartphone without all the bloatware, proprietary hardware and apps, but no such luck yet. Instead I find myself content with an iPhone 6S+ for now that contains more cat pictures than anything.

“There is no such thing as free time, only time.”

Henry Rollins

The idea of creating a blog first came to me when some of my time took a turn towards coding. I was introduced to coding in my early teen years, having stumbled upon a book about Visual Basic in my school library and, later, from toying around with HTML editing on Myspace. I began learning about concepts like logic and syntax, but unfortunately, aside from learning how to butcher a Myspace layout, that’s as far as I got. Ah, nostalgia.

In college, I worked with MATLAB and R a bit in my science and mathematics courses, and dabbled in Python when I saw a friend of mine start using it during his research internship. For some reason, I also had begun learning HTML, CSS, and Javascript using in my free time. Again, I only dipped my toe into the waters of coding.

Then, in my neuropsychology work, I began learning Microsoft Excel at a more in-depth level. I had seen some webpages online where psychometricians had been utilizing coding languages for neuropsychology work, but being in a fast-paced clinical context I wasn’t about to go change up my entire workflow and introduce a whole new world of potential error into my job, so I thought it better to look into what automation solutions Microsoft Excel could offer me. In short, I began to use functions like vlookup, index matching, address offset indirect, and yes… pivot tables. I created some templates for my fellow psychometricians at my workplace to use and really greased the wheels of productivity.

Now the fuse was lit. I saw what I could do with Excel and began searching for more power, more flexibility. My search led me to two paths: R and Python. For better or worse, I ended up deciding to dive into Python, specifically to use the pandas module for data analysis. Being a rank amateur, I have no idea if I’d have been better off studying R. But here I am now, having sunk seven months into Python and supplanted any use I had imagined in my job as I have since exited the world of neuropsychology.

How’s that for a preamble? Now for the juicy part. I taught myself Python using the book Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed Shaw. Shortly thereafter, my friend showed me he had been learning Python from a book called Python In Easy Steps by McGrath and I’m still trying to sort out what that says about our personalities.

As I was progressing through this book and seeing the projects pile up on my hard drive, I thought it might be worthwhile to actually chronicle these efforts and give my advice on challenging bits for other autodidactic dorks like myself. Having had that thought, I realized I had many other things I had learned in my hobbies, DIY projects, work, and other curious pursuits that might be worth writing about. While I have a terrible eye for design, I thought I could try to provide some good content at least. That brings us to the present day and to this very post you are reading now. I glossed over many other details of that time frame, but this post is already long enough. They’ll present themselves in future posts to come soon enough.

Oh yes, and the picture. Your eyes are not deceiving you, that is indeed a bowl of nachos with a microphone on them, courtesy of the genius Greg Saunier from Deerhoof, when a stubborn Durham crowd refused to leave after the encore. I already held Greg in high regard for his musical brilliance and graciously accepting my gushing fanboy praise before the show, but this stunt took it to the next level. Next to the aforementioned chips is a bowl of freshly made pico de gallo, which some concertgoers and I did sample. Great appetizer and greater show: 2 out of 5, would eat/see again.