The Awesome Trick of Absolute and Relative Positioning!

There’s an awesome trick when combining absolute and relative positioning in CSS. It works like this:

When a parent element’s position is relative, and a child element’s position is absolute, you can then set the top/left/right/bottom position of the child element, within the container of the parent.

Sample CSS:

.parent {
   position:relative;
}

.son {
  position: absolute;
  top: 15px;
  left: 25px;
}

css-relative-absolute-positioning

How to Set Body Background Color in JavaScript before page load.

I recently answered a question at StackOverflow about how to change the background color of the BODY element of a web page, before the page was loaded… using JavaScript.

Instead of relying on event handlers, I went with one of the earliest (and least used these days) methods in javascript:

document.write

Yes, document.write. It’s one of the earliest ways of rendering HTML onto a web page using JavaScript, and I had tons of fun with it when I was 14. Anyway, here’s the code…

<!doctype html>
<html>
   <head>
      <title>Background Change</title>
      <meta charset="UTF-8">
      <style type="text/css">
      body {
           background-color: #FFFFFF;
      }
      </style>
      
      (function(){
           var color = "#000000";
                  document.write("<style type=\"text\/css\">" + 
                   "body{background-color: " + color + ";}</style>");
            }
      }());
      
    </head>
    <body>
....
    </body>
</html>

In the above example, we created an anonymous function, then simply wrote in a <style> tag with our changes to CSS.

That’s it!

Don’t forget, complexity can kill your chance of success.

Web Developers Aren’t Marketers – So Stop Asking!

I browse Upwork for freelance gigs, and one common project under ‘Web Development’ is to create a WordPress/Magento/Wix/Squarespace (you name it) website, that increases leads, sales, or search engine ranking through SEO.

The primary thinking is this: that developers can create a website that magically gets people to buy products, sign up for subscriptions, or send information to create a mailing list, without effort on the business owner.

My response is: If I, as a developer, knew how to do that, wouldn’t I do it for myself first, and then build an empire of cash generating websites? Of course I would!

The reality is that developers create tools; we don’t create businesses. Customers don’t give two shits about the tools you use to give them what they want. (Seriously, people in the U.S. still buy clothes made in sweatshops in starving nations.)

No amount of development will do the marketing and selling for you. If this were true, there’d be tons of people developing websites attempting to generate tons of money – but because there would be tons of websites that do the same thing, they, by numbers alone, would diminish their value. Thus, it wouldn’t last, and very quickly wouldn’t be an endeavor that makes sense to pursue (financially).

When seeking a developer to build a website, think of asking a person to create a tool for you (and your customers) to use to get what they way. It should be nothing more than that, nothing less. Want to post articles? Ask for a blog. Want to sell products? Ask for a shopping cart and payment processing.

But don’t ask a developer to build a website that will do the marketing and sales for you. It’s a black hole of hope in a topic that business owners just seem to (still) think is a way for them to reduce their marketing/sales budget to zero, and get massive popularity.

Again, if I knew how to do that as a developer — I would do it! And then I would share it with everyone, so everyone can benefit! I want to see businesses succeed!

I Deleted My Facebook Account

I deleted my Facebook account on November 14th, 2017. I don’t miss it. I no longer feel drawn to check on a feed, and I no longer feel an urge to share things on a whim.

In short, Facebook isn’t the place for me. However, you can find tons of pessimistic views online for… just about everything. Here are some positive ones!

It was Me, not Facebook.

I must own my actions. I used Facebook to attempt to connect with others (which it fails to enable, in epic proportions). I shared things I shouldn’t have. I believed it was something useful.

Feeling a false sense of connection…

I believed Facebook would connect me with people. However, I had the ability to connect with others before Facebook existed. I can talk with people in person, and if we’re friends, we have something in common that we can connect with anyway.

It was a nice distraction, for awhile.

Sometimes, Facebook was a good distraction from work. Get home from work and want to talk to people other than people I’ve spent the last eight hours with. This was a nice distraction, until I realized I had put off things when I got home… on the weekends… and generally any time I had access to the internet.

So, bye-bye, distraction!

Restoring a sense of mystery.

One great benefit since deleting my Facebook account, and not using any social media to communicate with friends, is that people are actually curious about my life. Maybe it’s because they don’t have direct access to all the details of recent things in my life. I actually have a desire to ask them questions, too.

Hello, productivity!

Thanks to not focusing on some feed of status updates, photos, and videos — which conjures up pictures of being a pig in a machine destined for slaughter — I can focus on being productive. In the year since I deleted my Facebook account, I learned many new skills and read many more books: finance, Node.js, business principles, and even much more about myself.

In short, by disconnecting myself from Facebook, and using social media as a means to communicate with others, I have actually connected more with people who want to connect with me, and have even connected more with myself.

Also, my information isn’t available for sale now, so there’s that. Now the only ads I see online are based on products I actually look at, not things that people think I may want to see (like women’s hygiene products).

Why I Gave Up Sugar

I tossed out sugar from my diet over the past two years because it made me fat, rotted my teeth, gave me acne, and frankly, it doesn’t taste as sweet as fruit.

When I refer to sugar, I mean any sugar that’s not naturally found in a fruit, say, bananas. So, white table sugar, agave, or “artificial sweeteners,” are included.

I occasionally eat cake and ice cream for birthdays, or grab a small amount of chocolate. I by no means consume as much sugar as I did up until my mid twenties, and it’s been a very long time since I held a big gulp in my hands.

Sugar Made Me Feel Fat

I don’t like feeling fat, and I’m sure you don’t either. I don’t like to feel that I’m bloated, full of unnecessary weight, and have my stomach protruding further than my upper chest.

Consuming foods high in sugar have made me feel not only fat, but tired. When I feel tired, I usually want to move less, when I give into the psychology and emotion of feeling tired. The best way to counteract that is to tell yourself to just get up and move, damn you!

Sugar Gave Me Bad Teeth

I stopped drinking soda at 24. Two amalgam fillings from my back molars fell out, and that was it for me. Furthermore, a dentist quoted me $30,000 to fix all my dental problems.

That was enough shock, not just from the high dental work quote (which I later received for roughly $6,500), but I thought, “If sugar could do that much damage to my teeth, where it was easy to clean my teeth – what is it doing to the rest of my body where I can’t so easily clean?”

I didn’t want to know. I had bad teeth as a kid, and more cavities than I can remember (literally, I don’t know the count). At one point I had 10 amalgam fillings, before the age of 20. I have none now, all replaced with porcelain fillings – or, unfortunately, extractions.

Sugar Irritated My Acne

I thought my acne was just normal, or from me smashing my face against my pillow all night as I slept. Nope. Turns out, I have rosacea, which isn’t something disgusting or bad, it’s just a thing that is.

I found that once I began reducing sugar from my diet, the number of pimples/zits that would show up were virtually zero. If I knowingly consume sugar now, I’m certain to get one on or around my nose.

The worst case of acne I had was around the time I turned 13. I think it’s typical of teenagers to get it then. It was just a bunch of redness and bumps on my upper back and neck that lasted a few days, and then was gone.

Fruit Tastes Sweeter than Sugar

As I sometimes go back to eat something with sugar (chocolate, like most people), I find that it’s not as sweet as a piece of fruit. I eat plenty of bananas, and they taste sweeter – even sweeter than hard candy, which is virtually 100% sugar.

I make a smoothie usually every day, comprised of chopped up fruits, and 100% orange juice. Usually bananas, cantaloupe, watermelon, or apples. I’ll toss in cocoa powder, or unsweetened coconut, but never sugar. The smoothie still tastes sweeter than sugar.

The Benefits of Giving Up Sugar

I am by no means a dietitian or doctor, so always consult yours. I don’t have a doctor, so I took the risks myself (though, really, I didn’t see much risk in giving up sugar), and have experienced these benefits:

#1: I am Less Tired

While sugar may give a slight energy boost, that only lasts so long. I actually find myself able to stay awake longer (even when I do want to sleep), and hardly at all getting tired like most people around mid afternoon. I also don’t drink coffee; so there’s that.

#2: Virtually no stomach aches.

I have not felt so much as one stomach ache since giving up sugar from my diet, unless I knew for certain where it came from. That source would be eating foods I normally don’t, or haven’t, consumed. I ate a sandwich with jalapenos on it, and had a stomach ache for two days. This lack of stomach aches was especially apparent after giving up soda.

#3: Virtually no headaches.

I used to think headaches just happened. I’m now convinced they don’t just happen. I think they occur because of diet, or biology. Clearly, after giving up sugar, and having no headaches, my biology doesn’t just create them out of thin air. Furthermore, I’ve had no headaches related to tooth problems since I had those taken care of, too.

#4: Less acne.

Occasionally I’ll get white heads / zits on the crevices of my nose or around my cheeks, just below the eye to the left/right of my nose. This is common with people who have rosacea, but also when I find myself sleeping with my face against my pillow – thereby reducing the amount of oxygen my skin has to breathe. Other than that, acne doesn’t just show up due to stress, but only if I knowingly cause it.

My Favorite Job Was When I Was 12

I’ve had eight jobs, and my favorite was a paper route, when I was 12. I delivered newspapers for the Daily Californian, from the late summer of 1997 through the late summer of 1999.

After school, I rode my bike a few miles around central streets of El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, CA. The freedom and independence, combined with self-organized effort, gave me experience that I’ve benefited from ever since.

I mapped out my route from memory. The best way to remember a house was from how it looked, because few houses looked alike back then. For apartments, it was the apartment number, or the subscriber’s front / back patio.

I had the trust of my employer and subscribers that I would deliver the newspaper, and not an overbearing boss or camera spying over my shoulder. Sometimes I would miss delivering a newspaper, but it was rare.

I earned roughly $60 every two weeks, which was great for a 12 yr old. It was a direct reflection of my output and efforts, instead of a market-based average hourly and salary employees are paid today.

When I needed a break, I could simply stop and take it. I didn’t need many, and I did attach a bottle filled with water to my bike. Knowing that I wouldn’t be timed, or allotted a number of breaks, was a great freedom to enjoy.

I had to be organized: my boss, who delivered the papers in a stack each day to my door, didn’t tell me how to do everything. When I had a new subscriber, or one cancelled their subscription, I wrote it down on paper, and kept it with me until I memorized it.

I had to roll the newspapers myself, and tied plastic bags on them when it rained. Delivering newspapers in the rain was a lot of fun – especially during a thunderstorm!

The skills, the lessons, and the experience, of working independently was very enjoyable and rewarding. I suggest it to anyone who wishes to break their minds and potential from the chains of traditional employment.

The Three C’s and D’s of Success and Failure

These are the three words that describe how to achieve success, or how to fail.

Certain and Doubt

The first step toward success is to be certain we’ll achieve it. The first step toward failure is to doubt we’ll get where we want to go.

Think of a pie chart, where 50% is certainty of success, and the remaining 50% is certainty of failure.

To increase our certainty of success, we produce evidence that supports our ability to succeed.

  • When we increase our certainty of success, we can’t help but reduce our certainty of failure.

To reduce our certainty of success, we do the opposite and produce evidence that discredits our ability to succeed.

  • When we reduce our certainty of success, we can’t help but increase our certainty of failure.

For example:

A sales manager, excited that his team can increase revenue by 10% for the year, asks for sales reports over the past five years. He notes that sales have increased, max, in the first year alone, 5%, and has gone downhill since. He accepts those numbers as evidence that there is more certainty of failure than success. He believes, “This is not likely to happen.”

Doubt is a powerful emotion that says we’re accepting evidence that goes against our best interests.

Certainty is a more powerful emotion that says we’re willing to consider evidence that goes against our best interests, but we don’t let it reduce our ability to succeed. We remain focused on our goals, and find a way.

Courage and Discourage

The second step toward success is to have courage, which is taking action despite any fears that we’ll fail.

Discourage is the second step toward failure, which requires giving into doubt by not taking action.

When we are certain of our success, and we have the courage to take action, we may still fail, but we’ll have the energy and the drive to continue toward success.

Discouragement happens when we are so certain we will fail, that we let the fear of failure take over, which reduces energy and drive, and keeps us moving toward failure.

  • Courage builds on certainty, creating upward momentum.
  • Discouragement reduces certainty, creating a downward spiral.

Our goals are at the top of the mountain, not the bottom of the lake, so let’s focus on certainty and courage. In order to get there, though, we need…

Clarity or Distraction

Once we are certain of our ability to succeed, and have the courage to take action, we must have clarity, which is knowing where to go. In fact, success can be clarity, if an idea, understanding, or the truth, is what you wanted.

Clarity can also be defined as evidence: more money, time, love, etc.

Distraction is the final step of failure, and one most people keep themselves in. When we distract ourselves, we can’t possibly have clarity when we aren’t even looking in the right direction.

How can we possibly get through the jungle without looking at the path?

Most people distract themselves with something familiar, because it’s comfortable, and they know what to expect. Those two things guarantee stagnation, and stagnation eventually means failure, as nature will, at some point, command people to adapt or be left behind.

Success isn’t about getting left behind. It’s the opposite: it’s about moving ahead, onward, continuously. In order to do this, clarity is needed, so we headed on paths that take us where we want to go.

Even if we get lost, that doesn’t mean we’ve failed. Only if we choose to be stubborn and not get clarity have we failed.

Don’t be stubborn.

You Don’t Need a Job Title to Be a Leader

Leaders get results through influence built on trust, guided by truth. Neither of these traits and behaviors are granted by a job title, require permission, and as far as I know, aren’t listed as qualifications in job ads.

Getting Results

Effective leaders get results that lead to benefit the whole. They focus on the outcome, the actions to get there, and with truth in mind.

A focus on outcome means a leader knows what they want, and why the want it. They also know why their followers want the result.

A job title doesn’t guarantee the person will achieve results, nor does it guarantee they have achieved results its responsible for. You can register your own LLC, grant yourself the title of CEO, and never earn a profit.

Influence

A job title can grant power, and it can be stripped away just as swiftly. Influence can be timeless, lasting decades, centuries, and millennia.

Influence is, according to its definition at least, “the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways.

Power granted by a job title is direct, granting a person some control to ensure they can carry out their responsibilities. Influence is indirect, and doesn’t need control control.

Power granted by a job title is tangible; it can be changed by policies and laws. Influence is intangible, which requires a greater deal of effort that can’t be destroyed simply by decree.

Trust & Truth

Trust is built from evidence that actions taken were done with truth in mind, and truth as the result. One can execute power through force, but this leads to fear, and when those fears are overcome, it leads to resistance. That resistance, fully realized, strips the person from ever retaining power again.

Decisions guided by truth never fail, even if the results did not materialize. Trust in leadership is stronger than the result so long as the leader was truthful. The antithesis to this is manipulation: people who promise one thing, and deliver something that is to the detriment of those who helped them.

Leaders influence excellent, qualify character and decisions in others. You don’t need permission, and you don’t need a job title, to influence others. Stick to the truth, and do it with integrity, morals, and you will see, in time, how far your influence reaches. It may be timeless.

 

Principle #1: Use System Analysis and Design

Build Better Systems

In order to get where you want to go, you must know how to get there. When building systems, you need to know what you need to build it.

Programming Principle #1: Use the Methods of System Analysis and Design to Understand What You Need

The methods of System Analysis and Design are necessary to understand what components your system needs to reach its goals.

These methods are:

  1. Learn what components your system needs.
  2. Learn what each component does to contribute to your system.
  3. Learn how each component works with your system.
  4. Learn where each component should be.
  5. Learn when each components is needed.

Know what components you need, what they do, how they work together, and where and when to use them.

For the remainder of this article, we’re going to use a simple example of crossing a bridge as our system.

Method #1: Learn What Components Your System…

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How to Get Past the Experience Catch-22

You can’t get a job because you have no experience. Does that sound familiar? I’ve been there; we’ve all been in that catch-22. I’ve also found a way to get out of it!

Here are reasons why it’s a pain in the ass to get a job without experience, and what you can do about it.

Your Hand Was Held

You went to school, took the course, studied books, articles, and papers, and feel you are the most intelligent being on the planet!

You’re ready to change the world!

Then I say, “Your education isn’t good enough.”

You fall flat on your face in disappointment.

In school you’re allowed to make mistakes, and try again. A teacher held your hand along the way, guiding you to the answers. Hell, the answers were in the book you were reading.

In the real world, nobody holds your hand, especially the person paying you to do the job. You don’t hold the waiter’s hand as he returns to the kitchen with your order, do you?

I hope not, that might be unsanitary. Also, don’t invite me to lunch if this is what you do.

Show You’re Capable

Showing you’re capable of doing the job so the employer can assess the risk they take to hire you.

The distinction between someone who is capable and not capable is their level of confidence.

Example: You learned how to handle sexual harassment complaints from a book, but you don’t feel confident you can handle such a sensitive issue.

How do you get confident?

Simple: do what you don’t feel confident in until you feel confident about it.

It really is that simple.

You did this when learning to walk and talk. It’s no different an approach than anything else. Unless that anything else is a robbing a bank, in which case you shouldn’t do it in first place.

Do Spec Work / Volunteer

As corny as it sounds, it helps tremendously.

Spec, or volunteer work, is work performed without a contract or agreement of payment or hiring. Basically, no promise that you’ll get the job. It may lead to the job, or it may not.

Artists, architects, and anyone in a creative field knows that spec work is the best way to get your foot in the door.

If you’re in a non-creative field, such as management, where there are laws, regulations, and the ever present factor of other humans, then volunteering. Your ‘spec work’ will be references from people involved.

(Note: If you’re doing spec work with other people’s trademarks / logos, then you must put ‘spec work’ or ‘ad-spec work’ on the piece, so people know it’s not from the company.)

Getting Experience Without a Job

Do the following things to create experience for yourself.

Organize

Create a portfolio of your spec work (or several portfolios if they’re not related). This shows you are capable of organizing yourself, which means you’re capable of organizing an employer’s or client’s project.

Present

You also need to present that portfolio. If it’s possible, put it online; even in a place that is free, such as WordPress.com. Make sure the presentation is easy to access, use, and understand: this in turn shows you are capable of doing the same for your employer.

Don’t send USB or Flash drives, email attachments, or printed copies, of your portfolio, unless requested. (I’ve done this before to Sony, and was promptly ignored.)

Work Without Supervision

Your school teacher supervised you while you learned. In the real world, you’ll receive little supervision from the person hiring you because they expect to pay you to do the job without guidance.

When you’ve put the portfolio together, and presented it well, you’ve shown that you can work without supervision. You did put it together yourself, right?

Accept Criticism

Criticism on your portfolio is a chance to learn what the client wants. It’s valuable insight, and it may even land you the job.

It’s excellent to show you’re willing to take direction away from what you believe is best, and accept what others believe is best for them. This is essential to success, either as a freelancer, employee, or business leader.

Put it Together, and You Have Experience

When you’ve created the portfolio, without supervision, presented it, and accepted criticism from others, you’ve taken the crucial steps to gaining experience.

By the way, these are the same steps every business owner takes when creating a product, with the first additional, all important step:

  1. Find what customers want and why they want it.
  2. Organize: Design and produce what they want.
  3. Present: Make it available for the to buy it.
  4. Accept Criticism: Make changes so the product becomes and stays what customers want.

That’s invaluable experience.

My Real Life Examples:

  • I have a web page design that’s still in use since 1999.
  • My first job was a paper route, which was being an unsupervised 12-year old.
  • I do graphic design, for fun!
  • I create ad copy, for fun!
  • This blog is a portfolio of my writing, for fun and for you!

What is your experience and advice getting over the catch-22?