Cookies and Code

Noms Posts tagged Web development

How I Got Started (Part I)

I was ten.

If my memory serves me correctly, my parents had recently separated, so my father bought me a laptop in order for me to have the same computer in both of my homes. I’m not sure why a ten-year-old needed a computer in the first place, but I’m not complaining!

It was a Sony VIAO. It cost $1500, and it ran Windows XP on a 1GHz processor with 20GB of hard drive space. I’m not sure how much RAM it had, but this was an awesome machine at the time.

I never got off that computer. I went through every single folder and looked at every single setting, trying to figure out how that thing worked. I was always looking for cool programs (yeah, before people called them, “apps”) to download, and caught a bunch of malware in the process. That was no problem, because I soon became an expert on how to keep that garbage off my computer. I was sad, however, when I had to part with BonziBUDDY. That gorilla was awesome.

At some point, I decided that I wanted to make a website. I don’t remember why or for what, but I wanted one. My father pointed me to GeoCities, so I decided to make a website for my fifth grade class. I vividly remember the website having a purple background with a JavaScript-powered kangaroo jumping around the screen (oh, these were horrible times). I made the website in hopes to keep my class updated with “news” and homework assignments. As hard as I tried, however, none of my classmates had any interest in visiting the site.

Fast-forward to age twelve. I don’t know how, but I learned about what HTML was. Either I learned about it online, or my father told me about it. Regardless, I decided that it was time to ditch GeoCities and make websites from scratch. My father bought me a book on HTML 4, and I blew through that thing. In no time, I was creating table-based layouts with styling defined right in the markup. I used Notepad, and I didn’t understand why anybody would want to indent their code. I have no idea what I was thinking.

I don’t remember all the websites that I made, but I do remember reattempting to make a website for my class, and I also remember making a website for Harry Potter fans. These two websites were significantly better than my GeoCities website, but I still couldn’t get any of my friends interested. For some reason, none of them thought it was cool that I had the ability to make a website. I remember that when I made a website for my seventh grade class, I took the time to write down the URL on 20+ pieces of paper and handed them out to my classmates. Nobody was interested, and I even remember one girl ripping the piece of paper in half right in front of me. When I brought this up to my teacher, he basically told me that nobody cared about my website. Good thing that I’m motivated by negative reinforcement, though, because I didn’t give up.

I continued to learn about web design and development. I remember once making a website in Flash, back when Macromedia owned it, that I was able to change via a text file (I forgot, but it might’ve even been XML). I thought that was really cool. I fell in love with Photoshop, and followed hundreds of tutorials online to sharpen my skills. I also played around with multiple CMS solutions, although PHP-Nuke was my favorite. It had more security vulnerabilities than anyone could imagine, but it also had the most plugins and themes, so I was naturally attracted to it. I got very familiar with online forum software as well, choosing phpBB as my main. I told myself that I wanted to be a web designer.

I transfered to County Prep High School when I was fifteen. County Prep is a magnet school (a “school of technology”), which allows students to choose a topic to major in. I majored in web development, of course. My teacher, a former programmer at Merck, AT&T, and other companies that I can’t remember, was pretty impressed with me. My final grade for every marking period (half a semester) was 100. I joined our school’s SkillsUSA club and competed in the state web development competition my junior year. I didn’t come prepared enough, and my partner didn’t know much about web development, so we lost that year. Senior year came, and my new partner was pretty good as well, so we tore it up and came in first place. I could have competed in the national competition, but that would have meant me skipping graduation, so I turned down the opportunity.

Around that time, I realized that I wasn’t meant to be a web designer, which is what I thought my career would end up being. My Photoshop skills were pretty good, but I wasn’t much of an artist. I figured out that the reason I was so interested in the web was because I liked coding. I liked turning designs into code, but coming up with the designs was always either a struggle or a failure. I knew a little bit of ActionScript and PHP, but I wasn’t much of a programmer at that time. I knew, however, that I would enjoy programming much more than trying to design websites.

I graduated from high school, and I decided that I should choose computer science as my major in college…

I will tell the rest of this story in another post!

April 29th, 2012 1 note #Me #Web design #Web development #HIGS #Story

Stripe CTF 2.0 - What a Blast!

For the past several days, I’ve been trying to capture the flag, and I finally did it! At the time of this post, I’m one in 705 people, and #666 on the leader board (heh).

I love challenges like these. Not only are they fun, but Stripe gave everyone the chance to beef up their skills and put their knowledge to the test for free. The fact that they put so much time and effort into creating this challenge (as well as their first CTF) shows that they are true hackers.

Stripe, thank you for giving developers such an awesome opportunity. You guys (and girls) are awesome!

August 28th, 2012 1 note #Stripe #CTF #Web development #Web security #Hackers