National Learn to Code Day + HTML & CSS Resources

National Learn to Code Day participants - at the beginning of the workshop.

On Saturday September 27, 2014, Ladies Learning Code held their second annual National Learn to Code Day (#llcCodeDay). In seventeen cities across Canada, over 700 men, women, and children participated in twenty-two workshops on HTML & CSS. Melissa Sariffodeen from Ladies Learning Code mentioned that 4 workshops were happening simultaneously – just in Toronto!

Last year I attended the first annual National Learn to Code Day as a learner, and this year I returned to mentor. Connie Leung led the workshop in Shopify‘s beautiful offices, and a team of mentors (Chris, Joi, and more) helped the learners keep up with the content.

Mentoring at National Learn to Code Day

Some of the participants at National Learn to Code Day, hosted by Shopify Toronto on September 27, 2014.

Mentors are a huge part of the why Ladies Learning Code workshops are so successful. In a traditional classroom (ie. university) there is only one instructor and it’s easy to fall behind. At Ladies Learning Code workshops, there is a mentor for every table. This is amazing for everyone involved.

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Beyond the Code: Not Your Average Tech Conference

This past Friday, September 19th, I attended the first ever Beyond the Code conference in Ottawa, Ontario, sponsored by Shopify. The event was absolutely wonderful.

Every detail of the event, from the speaker’s topics, to the workshops, the healthy lunch, delicious coffee and snacks came together to show the organizer’s attention to detail and passion for creating an accessible, amazing day. The affordable ticket ($75 – 100 – including any workshop) cost ensured a wide variety of people were able to attend.

View outside the Ottawa Convention Centre, the location of Beyond the Code.

View outside the Ottawa Convention Centre, the location of Beyond the Code.

Beyond the Code was different than any other tech conference I’ve attended or even heard of. The most obvious difference?

All fifteen speakers and panelists at Beyond the Code were women.

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Back to School with HackerYou: Javascript & Jquery

Workshop participants at Ladies Learning Code's Intro to Jquery class in August 2014

Ladies Learning Code’s Intro to Jquery workshop (August 2014)

I’m super excited to announce that I’m taking HackerYou’s first ever Intro to Javascript & Jquery and Advanced Javascript & Jquery classes this fall. It starts this Monday, September 15th.

I’m ready to get a serious crash course in Javascript & Jquery! I know Wes Bos will be an amazing instructor and I can’t wait to take my web development skills to the next level.

Why I’m Going Back to School

As a web designer, I’ve taught myself a lot of skills through Googling, reading, attending Ladies Learning Code workshops, and of course a little trial and error. In the last year alone I’ve started using a preprocessor (SASS) for my CSS, learned and implemented version control (Git), learned how to write custom WordPress themes, and more.

With HTML, CSS, and even the PHP that powers WordPress, the syntax made sense to me. Javascript? Not so easy.

I want to master the craft of web development and Javascript is a huge part of the web. I’ve taught myself a lot, but now it’s time to learn from the experts at HackerYou.

Working Title Press: Alison Judd

I recently had the chance to photograph the artists at work during OCADU’s inaugural Residency Program at Working Title Press. Coordinated by lead printer, Nicholas Shick, the printmaking artists collaborated with technicians to produce some fantastic work.

I never took any printmaking classes while I studied at OCAD, it was really neat to see  just how many steps it takes to make a single print. Printmakers must be very patient people!

LogJam by Alison Judd

The first project I photographed was Alison Judd‘s LogJam. Technicians Leah Ataide, Miles Ingrassia, Susan Van Der Beek, lead printer Nicholas Shick and Alison all collaborated over the many steps in the printing process.

Alison Judd and Susan Van Der Beek preparing the logs for printing.

Alison and Susan work prepare the wood for printing.


Miles Ingrassia printing Alison Judd's "Logjam"

Miles Ingrassia printing for Alison Judd’s “LogJam” body of work.

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Use Mac Text Shortcuts to Remember Stuff For You

Do you know about your Mac’s text-expander feature? Since OSX Mavericks and iOS 7, iCloud has been syncing any text shortcuts between all your iCloud enabled devices.

This feature has the potential to be super useful, but it’s kind of hidden on both desktop and mobile.

How to Find Text Shortcuts on Mobile

Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts

Screenshot: iOS 7 Text Expander Options

How to Find Text Shortcuts on Desktop

Go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Text

Screenshot: Mac Keyboard Text Shortcuts

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WPCore: Amazing Tool for WordPress Plugin Management

I love any tool that helps me work more efficiently. I’ve written before about how Evernote is a big part of my organizational workflow.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how to streamline tasks in my web design & development workflow. Learning SASS, Git (version control), and configuring a bunch of Sublime Text packages for automating tasks are just a couple ways I’ve changed my workflow to be more efficient.

The Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) principle of software development makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t know about you, but given a choice between doing something over and over OR doing something once and doing it right, I’d rather do it once.

Automating WordPress Plugin Management

Screenshot 2014-07-19 13.42.49

Installing and configuring WordPress plugins on a new website doesn’t take that long. But if there’s an easier way to do it, why not?

I have favourite plugins I use for different tasks on each web project (developing a new site, social media, SEO, Google Analytics, etc). A new WordPress plugin called WPCore promises to make batch installations of plugins a hell of a lot easier.

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The Amazing Toronto Public Library Archives

Did you now how amazing the Toronto Public Library archives are? I stumbled upon their digital archive recently and got sucked in. Before I knew it, I’d lost a couple hours of my work day to clicking from one image to the next. There’s nearly 9,000 images!

The best part is that most of the images are shared under a public domain license, and you can even order a print of your favourite image. I rent my apartment now, but one day when I own a place, I think it would be amazing to frame an image from my neighbourhood’s history. I really appreciate how the library has made these images so accessible.

Some of My Favourite Images

(click any image to view it on the Toronto Library website)


Toronto Library description: Toronto Harbour looking s.e., from foot of John St.

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My New Website

I’m SO excited to share my new website. In August 2013, I joined Avery Swartz‘s Web Design team. I’ve learned so much about web design and development while working with Avery. After putting my skills to work on client projects, I knew I needed to up my game on my own website.

From a Free Theme to Developing My Own

My old website ran on a pretty basic installation of a free WordPress theme. It worked and it looked good, but I wanted something that was more customized for me. My new website is running on a custom WordPress theme designed and developed by yours truly.

My old blog and website featured totally different looks. True to my design instincts, they were both minimal and had plenty of white space. For my website and blog redesign, I pulled them together by developing a WordPress theme that works for both of them. I love how it feels more put together this way.

Old Website Design


New Website Design


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Why I love Alfred (the app)

Have you heard of Alfred? It’s an amazingly useful Mac application. It takes a little getting used to, but once you do, you’ll wonder how you were ever productive without it.

Screenshot 2013-11-26 20.59.58

What Alfred Can Do

It super-charges your Mac’s searching capabilties. Ever try to find something using Spotlight and get annoyed at waiting for it? With a simple spacebar + alt, you open up Alfred’s search bar. It’s fast, and constantly surprises me with just how well it can locate whatever I’m looking for.

It cuts out the middle man (your mouse). I used to navigate to the dock with my mouse, open Finder, hunt for a specific folder, and then a file within that folder. Now, without leaving my keyboard, I can locate and open whatever file I need.

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