So You Want to Learn Coding? Here Are Basic HTML Tips

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I was very glad when I found out that one of my courses included HTML coding. It’s an interesting subject and I want to get better at it. My first experience at coding was probably during the early stages of social networking, way before Facebook was even introduced. There used to be websites that generate codes for images and other media that you can put in your profile. It was simple; you just had to copy and paste the codes and voila!

Right now I am taking a course called, “Advanced Workshop 2: Multi-media Authoring and Practices” and it’s basically about learning how to code. It’s a very hands-on course; we get to practice our coding as our Professor, Christopher Lewis, lectures. We learn about the basics of making a website and even though it gets frustrating, Christopher drills the codes to us step-by-step. This course is very informative and practical especially for someone (like me) who is eager to learn and understand the creation of websites. It’s good because you get to know how websites work and how to create web content.

So where do we write HTML codes? Notepad is a great program that allows you to write codes. If you’re a beginner like me, you can use Notepad and practice HTML coding. Below are some of the things that I learned in my course.

Important things to remember:

  • Indicate what type of document it is going to be. For example, <!DOCTYPE html>
  • Don’t forget that your first tag should be <html>
  • Always close your tags. The syntax would be <html> CONTENT </html>
  • Remember that the content that gets displayed in your browser goes in the body tag <body>  CONTENT </body>
  • Always write elements in lowercase
  • Always save you document as “index.html”

Tips on text formatting:

  • Use <b></b> to embolden text
  • Use <em></em> to italicize text or  use <i></i>
  • Use <u></u> to underline text
  • Use the <h1> – <h6> tags for headings. There are 6 different sizes of headings, 1 being the largest and 6 the smallest. For example, <h1> Heading </h1>
  • Use the <li></li> tag to make a list. <ol></ol> is an ordered list while <ul></ul> is unordered list
  • Use the paragraph tag, <p></p> to wrap a block of text. It will automatically add margins and line breaks to your text

Tips on adding links:

  • Use the <a></a> tag or the anchor tag to add hyperlinks. The anchor tag has the following attributes: href – where the hyperlink goes; id – labels the link; target – where the link will open
  • Use <a href=”http://google.ca”>Google</a> to add a link to your website. It should look like this: Google
  • Use the target attribute to indicate where the link will open. For example <a href=”http://google.ca” target=”_blank”>Google</a> will open to a new window. target=”_self” opens in the same window

Tips on adding images:

  • Use the <img> tag to add images in your browser. For example <img src=”apple.jpg”>. src indicates where the image is located
  • Use the width and height attribute to change the size of the image. For example <img src=”apple.jpg” width=”100” height=”100”> The image is displayed in pixels
It should like this.

It should look like this.

These are some of the basic codes that’ll help you start a simple website. For more information and tutorials about HTML coding, go to W3Schools.

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How to Deliver a Successful Presentation

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My weakness is public speaking. Despite the loud volume of my voice when I talk to my friends, I am not that great in public speaking. It’s as if my voice runs away when I face a crowd. I get scared; my face heats up, my palms sweat, and my voice shakes. Sometimes, I forget what I’m talking about and stammer. And I’m sure I’m not the only who experiences this. People get stage fright all the time and sometimes getting a “JUST BE CONFIDENT” advice is not enough.

I took a presentation course called “Workshop in Presentation Strategies” and it helped me a lot with my presentation skills. I think I’m a lot better at public speaking now than I was before, but still, it is my weakness. What I liked about the course was that we had less lectures and more hands-on training. We had presentations every week, individual and group presentations, and it was a good way to apply the strategies that we learned from our required reading, Talking Business: Strategies for Successful Presentations. It was a good and practical approach that helped me improve my skills in public speaking.

I am a work-in-progress when it comes to public speaking but I’m learning and taking steps to improve myself. Here are some of the strategies that helped me deliver a successful presentation:

  1. Know the purpose of the presentation. You can’t just give presentations without knowing what it is about. You have to know what you’re getting into.
  2. Know your audience. Before you write your script or make your presentation, know who’s going to listen to you. Are they going to be students? Are they going to be experts on the subject matter? Are they going to be the general public? Knowing your audience will help you determine what kind of language you’re going to use. Communication is key; the message won’t be conveyed if the audience does not understand what you’re talking about.
  3. Research thoroughly. You cannot “wing” presentations. Successful presentations require thorough research on the subject matter. You have to know what you’re talking about and should always have secondary resources to back up your statements in your presentation.
  4. Create a detailed outline of your presentation. It’s better to know what’s going to be in your introduction, body, and conclusion.
  5. Write a script. Your script will aid you in delivering your presentation. Print out your script in large font so you can read them easily. Mark places for emphasis, visuals, and pauses.
  6. Rehearse. Practicing will help you pinpoint problems in your presentation. Practising can help you become familiar with your material and it will allow you to know how your speech will sound to the audience. You can correct any mistakes as you rehearse. Being prepared will give you confidence.
  7. Check the venue. If you are unfamiliar with the venue, checking the place will help you familiarize with the place. It will give you confidence if you know how the place looks. It will also help you visualize your presentation.
  8. Dress appropriately. Dressing appropriately helps improve self-confidence. If you are comfortable with what you are wearing, then you will be comfortable in your presentation.
  9. Think positive. A positive mind always helps boost your confidence. Focus on what you can offer to your audience instead of the possible mistakes you will make.
  10. Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else. Being yourself will help you establish your rapport with your audience.
  11. Maintain eye contact. Eyes demand attention. Eye contact will help you communicate with your audience.
  12. Maintain the volume of your voice. Your voice can’t be too loud or too soft. Project your voice but don’t shout.
  13. Control your pacing. Don’t speak too fast. Sometimes, we tend to speak fast when we’re nervous. Read poetry aloud to help you control your pace.
  14. Enunciate your words. Don’t slur your words. Don’t mumble. It is important to pronounce your words clearly so your audience will get your message.
  15. Use transitions to signal to your audience the direction of your presentation. Don’t just end abruptly and then talk about another topic. Your presentation should be transition smoothly. Words such as “next, then, therefore” will help you move the direction of your presentation smoothly.
  16. Thank your audience. After you conclude your presentation, don’t forget to thank your audience.

These strategies were helpful to me. If I can overcome my stage fright through the help of these strategies then you can, too. Whether it is a formal presentation, business presentation, or a class presentation, these strategies will help you improve in public speaking.

8 Reasons Why Colors Are Important In Design

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Fonts weren’t the only thing I learned in Sharon’s course. Since it was a course about document design, there were many aspects in design that we had to learn and one of them was colors. I always thought that colors were only there to enhance presentation. I didn’t think it would act as a guide for readers. We all know that colors always represent something. For example, red is a warning color. It’s basic instinct to know how to read colors and know what they represent especially to the things around us. Colors affect us in a way that helps us communicate messages effectively; I learned that in Sharon’s course. If you are a designer, it is important to understand how colors can speak to the audience.

Sharon taught us about the different color associations. There are global differences in color association between Western Culture and Asian culture. White means purity in Western Culture however in some Asian Cultures, white means mourning. Also, colors have both positive and negative connotations. It is important to know these differences so that the next time you design a logo or a document, appropriate colors are chosen to match the content.

Color plays a key role in design. Here are 8 important things I learned why color is important in design:

  • Color guides readers
  • Color aids organization
  • Color gives emphasis
  • Color provides direction
  • Color helps viewers keep track referents
  • Color clarifies comparison of variables in graphs and charts
  • Color facilitates comprehension
  • Color helps in making page organizing structure explicit and clearer for readers

Color choice is not just deciding on what you like or what is pretty; your preference could not work with the content or pretty colors might clash together. Colors should be chosen wisely for an effective design since it helps with how the audience will view the design and how they will interpret it based on color associations. Colors aid in presentation but it should also be the highlight that suits the content of the design.

5 Reasons Why Fonts Are Important

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I never really paid attention to fonts. It never occurred to me how important they are in conveying a message. I took the course, “Workshop 1: Visual Information and Document Design” by Sharon Winstanley, and one of the lessons taught was about fonts. I was surprised to learn about the impact fonts had to do in terms of design. Fonts are important because it helps deliver the message. Sharon always told the class to put extra effort in choosing fonts because it is what attracts the readers to pay attention. Throughout the course, we were given assignments that helped us understand and classify fonts. It helped choosing suitable fonts for various contents easier. I learned that a good font will likely tell whether or not the content is of importance or not.

If you ever had to make a flyer, an ad, or web content, you probably spent more time choosing a font rather than the content. Fonts make a difference. They can make or break a design. Even if your graphics are amazing, your design won’t sell if your font is not appealing. You want the audience to be able to read your design without having difficulty. You want the audience to understand the message. You will probably go cross-eyed from choosing fonts but a least your readers wont.

I learned many things about fonts but there are a couple of things that really stuck to me. Here are 5 reasons why fonts are important:

  1. Fonts set the tone, style, and personality of the writing.
  2. Fonts help express the message of the content.
  3. A good font shows consistency between pages. 
  4. A good font attracts readers to read the content and keep reading.
  5. A good font makes for a nice design.

Also, ask yourself these questions when choosing fonts:

  • Is the font legible? Readable?
  • Does the font have a tight spacing or a more spread out spacing?
  • Does the font look friendly or authoritative?
  • Will the thickness or thinness of the font be a problem to the design?
  • Is the font appropriate for my design?

It’s always good to have a better understanding about fonts. Play around with it to see what works well and what doesn’t.

Writing Is Not Easy: 10 Tips for Successful Writing

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Learning English is one thing and learning how to write is another. Learning how to write exquisite sentences doesn’t come in a package while you’re learning English. I mentioned in my first blog post that I did not particularly lean towards writing until 12th grade. My writing has never been impressive – I think it’s only okay – but I always strive to learn new things and improve my writing. It may seem easy, stringing words together to create sentences, but it is not. Writing is never easy.

One of the courses that helped me improve my writing was “Prose: Style and Argument.” It was a second year course and it served as an introduction to the practice of non-fiction prose. Duncan Koerber, the professor, is one of the professors that I like in university. He gave exercises every after class as homework to help improve our writing. He gave assignments that challenged our writing skills, like writing a memoir, essays, and articles. These types of assignments helped cultivate our writing skills as well as develop various writing styles depending on the medium and audience.

Here are 10 tips I learned for successful writing:

  1.  Avoid wordiness. Make your sentences succinct and straight to the point.
  2.  Avoid jargon. Use words that are familiar to everyone.
  3.  Avoid passive voice. Active voice strengthens your sentences.
  4. Avoid dead verbs. Use strong verbs that show action.
  5. Avoid clichés. Clichés are overused and corny.
  6. Be descriptive. Descriptions create vivid imagery to your writing.
  7. Be clear. Writing should be clear to the reader.
  8. Use items in a series: nouns, adjectives, verbs.
  9. Maintain parallel structure with items in a series. If the first item is a noun, the following items must be nouns.
  10. Write a draft.

These tips can be applied to any kind of writing, be it creative writing or essay writing. It’s always helpful to keep these tips in mind while you’re writing so you can improve the quality of your writing.

My English Is Not Incorrect and I’ll Tell You Why

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One of the main things my mom question about the English language is the pronunciation of certain words. Since my mom was taught English differently, she is always confused how some words are differently pronounced than the way she was taught. She is also very confused by some people’s grammar because some people use slang while others don’t follow the Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) word order that she learned while she was still in school. This difference in speech makes her feel insecure about the way she speaks English and I always tell her, “It’s okay. There are varieties of English. They will still get you.” But she always replies, “No, I want to be able to speak well. I don’t want to embarrass myself.”

I took a third-year course called “Varieties of English” and it really opened my eyes about the different kinds of English dialects. I knew the English language was complex but I never considered the depth of its complexity. The professor, Tom Wilson, was especially good at laying out the variations of English and I was quite amazed at his linguistic knowledge. I didn’t really expect anything in this course but I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in the first day of class and found out what we would be tackling in this course. The goal of the course was to provide description and analysis of dialect variation in English based on social, temporal, geographical, and institutional factors. Linguistic analysis included the phonology, morphology, syntax, and vocabulary of various English dialects. Also, transcribing phonetic symbols was fun.

I thought, “This course will help me explain why English is so crazy to my mom.” While my mom thinks her English is incorrect sometimes, there are reasons why it is not incorrect, and why I think there really is no correct way of using the English language. Here are some of the things I learned in the course:

  1. There are different kinds of speech variety in English: standard dialect, nonstandard dialect, regional dialects, social dialects, and registers. Of these speech varieties, there are also different ways of pronunciation, or accents.
  2. There are factors that cause linguistic variation that lead to the development of different types of speech varieties: geography, discourse content and social factors.
  3. There are ways in which speech varieties differ linguistically: phonological, lexical, morphological, and syntactical.
  4. There are five regional varieties of English: Britain, North America, Southern Hemisphere, English Pidgins/Creoles, and World Englishes. All five varieties of English have differences in grammar, vocabulary, and phonology. Some follow the SVO word order while others don’t.

So there you have it. The way you speak English depends on where you grew up and how it was taught. Just because you pronounce words differently or construct sentences in a different way, does not mean your English is incorrect. English is too complex.

Writing Was Not My First Love

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English was not a subject  I liked in elementary. I thought it was complicated and had too many rules: grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, words and so much more! I don’t think I could ever get used to the English language.

I learned English step-by-step, literally started from the bottom, because it’s not my first language or my second; it’s the third language I learned. I remember hating and dreading my English class when I was in elementary. It’s not like I was bad at it, it was just too much work. I didn’t like our reading exercises because it meant reading, summarizing, and writing. It was a nightmare because they split our English class: reading comprehension and grammar. The subject bore me because I was not interested in reading and writing back then! But I studied it and excelled, especially in spelling – I always got excited during our spelling bees because I was good at it – because English was important.

My first love was science and then math. I came to love math when my uncle became my teacher in 5th grade but I broke up with math when 12th grade introduced me to calculus. I have not loved math since then. However, my love for science remains. My love for reading didn’t start until my friend lent me her book in 7th grade. I thought, “Wow, what an interesting pile of paper with interesting words! I must read on!” I became an avid reader since then. Along the way, I became interested in writing and enjoyed doing it as a hobby. But English was still not my favourite and I don’t think it will ever be.

I never considered being an English and Professional Writing major. I never considered writing as a career. I wanted to pursue science. I loved chemistry. Up until first semester in 12th grade, my first choice was chemistry until I walked in my creative writing class. My teacher opened my eyes. She introduced me to new worlds. She inspired me to write and write whatever I could ever think of. That’s when my world turned around. I ran to my computer and looked for courses that offered writing as a practical career in the future. I didn’t want to limit myself in creative writing and wanted to broaden my horizons. Fortunately, York University offered just what I wanted. It was crazy. I had already applied for Chemical Engineering in various universities but I took a leap of faith and I applied to York. My choice was too much of a 360 degree turn. Chemistry and writing were too far apart, I didn’t think I could do it. But I have not regretted my decision since then. I’m thankful I took the risk. I learned many things; great things that helped me as a person and as a writer.

Four years is a lot of time to study and I realize that:

  • Writing is not easy
  • Reading is not easy
  • Editing is not easy
  • English is crazy