Friday, October 10, 2014

MakerSquare Day 32: Stump the Expert and Startup Crawl (7/4)

In his early work, George Carlin has a bit about how kids at his school would get to ask their priest really arcane questions, questions where they would add caveats and issues to try to stump the priest, questions like
"Father, what if you haven't done your Easter duty and it's the last day of Pentecost, and you're on a ship at sea and the chaplain goes into a coma, but you wanted to receive, but now it's Monday and it's too late--but then you cross the international date line..."
And there's a little bit of that when our HTML/CSS expert comes in. Which might be a good signal about how... mysterious HTML/CSS can seem. Like religion (oh boy, watch me step carefully here), there are some things about HTML/CSS that are relatively straightforward. Like: When you create a section (using a <div> tag), the div can be a block (and so take up the full width of the page) or be inline (and so only take up a certain amount of horizontal space) or be an inline-block (and so mix the two presentation-styles).

Actually, now that I think of it, block, inline, and inline-block aren't all that clear.

But there's a lot of info on those differences online and it all sort of makes sense. When you get to some other tags and options, this stuff gets arcane quickly. (Which might serve as a good tagline for MakerSquare: "Get Arcane--Quickly.") So when our HTML/CSS expert comes in, we often have a show-and-tell/stump-the-priest attitude.

"What if you want the text to be 3D and come out to the reader, but not too 3D? What if you want to make an entire section clickable as a link, without wrapping the whole section in a link tag? What if..."

Unlike religion (oh, careful, careful), once you see the answers, most of them don't turn out to be all that arcane. (Or, well, it's been a long time since I was in Hebrew school, but my memory of it is that all the stuff that seems arcane, really is arcane.) It's mostly a question of learning the right words and suddenly you can make 3D text that's actually behind a div container and make that container spin when hovered over.

This evening, MakerSquare--and some other offices--were taken over by the Startup Crawl part of Austin Startup Week, which involved a fair bit of parties and talking to people about their tech stacks. It was interesting to go from "how to present a website" to "how to present yourself as a human being, oh god, talk about something fun like George Carlin."

Overall, it was a good time and I did talk to a lot of interesting people at interesting companies who, though they didn't know it, were assigning me homework every time they talked about something I haven't yet mastered.

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