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Looking to expand my skillset

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Rick NeelyLooking to expand my skillset
by on Apr 20, 2012 at 3:11:26 pm

Hey guys,

Thought I'd post here and get a couple opinions. this might sound a bit immature, but if you never ask, you never know :)

I've been a contract video/editor graphics guy for the past 15 years and have loved it (and still do). But with the past few years of tightened budgets and cheaper equipment. Work seems to slow a bit and the advice I've been getting from producers to stay competitive is to buy a camera & lights and go one-man-band, or to move to a bigger market (which to me spells higher cost-of-living & more competition).

So I've been thinking the past year about trying to tackle other avenues that interest me and one is computer/web programming. I'm not trying a complete career change but am not afraid to intern or going to get certified in some beneficial languages and skills. I'm hoping some of you could give me some practical advice in this area.

Quick background of my existing program/website skills and what I'd 'like' to do

- I have done a pretty decent amount of HTML
- I've read and studied CSS, and currently reading up on ASP.NET
- I have interest in learning Javascript & even AJAX
- I have worked with applications like Photoshop, Fireworks, flash (even did a touch of actionscript) and currently 'play' with Joomla & Virtual Studio

- I am not really interested in programming video games or internet security. I would be interested in learning how to help designing practical apps (either for smartphone/table) or even regular computers. E-commerce is also an interest

- I would love to work as closely to the video field (media management, encoding, social media, player apps; etc) as possible, but I might be kidding myself.

- And lastly, I need to go where there's a need. Not greedy or impatient, but I'd like to avoid programming arenas that only average a few bucks above minimum wage.

Again, I know this all sounds like the letter of an 18 year old kid- The reality is that the languages change so quickly and there are so many directions one can go. I also wish I had a better gauge on what I wanted to do exactly and the best way to approach things. But any ideas, suggestions, or areas of need that someone with my background and skillset could effectively break into would be very appreciated.

Thx and sorry for the long posting.


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Curtis ThompsonRe: Looking to expand my skillset
by on Apr 20, 2012 at 5:14:04 pm


well - a few random thoughts come to mind:

- there is still definitely a market for developers and designers to do sites, etc. for small local businesses. i think that would be a good place to focus. start talking to people you interact with like hair stylists, personal trainers, plumbers, etc. - other local biz professionals. get your name out to them and they can help spread the word to others when they hear that people need a website.

- i wouldn't bother with asp. your best bet if you are going to be a small shop is something like php

- smart phone apps are an option but definitely require some real programming skills. languages like c#, etc. not saying that's not you, but it would take more training than stuff like php and javascript/css

- ecommerce is somewhat of a loaded term, but the thing to learn there is how the process works - for example, merchant accounts, how php and other languages can connect to secure payment options, etc...also learn how to use things like paypal so that you can properly give all the options to potential clients

- you can most definitely leverage your video skills with a local market. for example, realtors - perhaps you can set up a full-circle video package to put virtual tours of houses up on a custom-built website. slim margins there, but doable.

just some random ideas to perhaps give you some guidance - thoughts?


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Rick NeelyRe: Looking to expand my skillset
by on Apr 23, 2012 at 9:23:54 pm


thanks for your input. Yes, I still consider websites and option, and I have done some basic webpages/sites (with email, hotspots, urls and embedded player codes), but want to expand into incorporating shopping cart (beyond paypal) and dynamic text & submissions (which means databases) so I can separate my self from the pack :)

I've heard ASP.NET has more applicative use across the board so that's why I might still look into it, but yes, html, php, css, sql, would be a great initial start point.

And yes, I've thought about virtual tours (don't really want to do the 360 dynamic thing, but if that's what is wanted) and have reached out to a couple realtor friends. Maybe they have a better gauge.

anywho, thanks a lot. I welcome other opinions if others want to contribute.


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Curtis ThompsonRe: Looking to expand my skillset
by on Apr 23, 2012 at 9:38:45 pm


[Rick Neely] " I've heard ASP.NET has more applicative use across the board so that's why I might still look into it, but yes, html, php, css, sql, would be a great initial start point."

i'd agree that at the enterprise level, is definitely more common...but if you wanted to do smaller mom-and-pop size things, it would probably be overkill for that, and you'd also be a bit more limited in finding hosts for sites that supported it. but it's certainly a viable option...


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Sam WrightRe: Looking to expand my skillset
by on Apr 28, 2012 at 2:25:19 pm

Definitely get into HTML, CSS (duh), PHP and Javascript, and then take a look at AJAX, jQuery etc. Once you pick up one programming language (PHP for arguments sake), it is quite easy to pick up another (Objective C as in iOS apps) as most of the core concepts are the same, although with different syntax.

I personally recommend W3Schools for HTML/CSS reference, whereas I learnt basic PHP at I also recommend you make full use of somewhere like StackOverflow where you can get answers to your questions within minutes. You may also wish to look at web design blogs etc. (SmashingMagazine is a good one) to expand your horizons.

Sam W from [url=""]Technologetic[/url]

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