Getting blogging site up takes patience and lots of friendly help

The decision to start a photographic site has had many intellectual repercussions. Through my work,  I had previously developed an  interest in the role of computers in teaching medicine. But this really only amounted to the use of art and simple input output models in Powerpoint presentations. Very basic Flash animations were also used to illustrate the physiology and pathology of  newborn babies. I however, had never learnt the principles of coding or programming in any form.

Starting the photographic website was the beginning of a new exciting journey. An American photographer recommended that we use SMUGMUG to build our photographic site builder during a casual chat at a waterhole. I am so glad we took his advice. This company provides absolutely superb service and help for beginners like me.

You can start with easy customization and then as your courage grows, very slowly add in your own coding with HTML, CSS, and JS. In my case, that still mainly amounts to asking their great team what to do. They will rapidly give advice and provide the required code to  paste into the  HTML, CSS, or JS blocks. However with help of books one gradually rises (or sinks) into this rarefied atmosphere, and one begins to believe (??) “I can do that”. Enthusiasm and optimism have unfortunately always been my only talents!

I have now also started a blog and the little triumphs e.g. changing the photograph of the header page today to the lion landscape are the kicks that do keep an old man a bit younger.

But there is something more fundamental:-

a)The BBC news and many newspapers have been full of the theme “Coding is the new latin”, with the mayors of New York & London also threatening to start learning the basic coding languages. Thus I also joined the free Code Academy which gently and gradually teaches coding e.g. Javascript and HTML, with more courses being developed.

At the moment I forget the lessons quicker than I can use them, but I am beginning to understand the help pages on internet or in dummies’ guides on building websites and blogs. Hold thumbs, I just may live long enough to get to grips with all these languages. But more important is the increasing evidence that if you don’t use it you lose it”, referring in my case to cerebral activity. We like to think of ourselves as old age adventurers. But the adventures are of course not only waiting in Africa but also present at home e.g. on internet. But in general trying another hobby and learning a new skill, as you age, appears to open new circuits in the brain, which surprisingly retains its plasticity even as it ages.

b) You can bore the pants of your children and tennis mates.

c) And most important of all you can teach the grandchildren, even the very young ones to create and share interactive games and music etc. But for that use “SCRATCH” developed by MIT to teach children object-oriented programming, and available in many languages. Try it as it even works when you are above 70 years of age. Have a  peep at http://scratch.mit.edu and you will be phoning the grandchildren to offer to baby sit. You will be able in a short time to program using “Lego like computer “” blocks. Although to be honest in our family this project has suffered due to our long trips in Africa. But time for a new kick-start this summer.

 

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