Day 11 – Story about persistence. Part 2

I wonder if there ever will be the time when I wake up at 5.30 by myself with the smile on my face.. Today is Sunday and I woke up with the alarm. Definitely without a smile… Takes time I know.

I play soccer at 7.20 am on Sundays in Brooklyn so I would probably reduce my physical part of the morning routine today. Ok, basement time.

6.36am and I’m back. I think I’ll start condensing this top section as it’s getting a bit repetitive. Will be starting from the meat next time unless something important happens in the early morning that is worth sharing.

Lets just assume that by default I wake up 5.30am every day and the wakeup process is a challenge.

I have just 10 minutes left for me to write because I need to jump in my car and drive 30 mins to the soccer practice.

Hopefully, once I’m back I’ll find some time to write something useful.

12.06pm and I have a small chunk of time to finish my writing. Like I said it’s extremely hard to get back to the zone later in the day. Before I opened my editor I had to switch from YouTube where I watched the music clip my brother sent me. Here is the link if you a curious, but it’s in Russian.

Then you know how YouTube works, you open one clip, then you click related videos on the right sidebar. A few moments later you realize that you just lost an hour of your time… I have to admit though, their recommendation system is very good!

Today I would like to continue my post about Persistence. Here is the link for the Part 1 if you missed it.

I remember the day when we were eating dinner together and my father mentioned that they were looking for a guy who can create a website for their small clothing manufacturing company. They were ready to pay $300 for the job.

Remember, it was my second year in college and I basically didn’t have any money. Oh man, I needed those $300 – the would mean I would be able to go the clubs and hang out with the girls much more often. There was one problem though, at the time I did know how to play computer games pretty well, but I had NO IDEA how to create websites.

Then I thought “hey, what if I just copy someone else site and easily get $300 within couple hours or so?”. Just a few days before the whole thing I stumbled upon some post (speaking of coincidences in life) in the computer newspaper I was reading back then (yep, real physical newspaper) and that post was describing how every site is basically HTML code. I tried it with some of the sites, clicked saved this page and it produced HTML files which I would then be able to open and modify.

The next day I basically told my father that I’ll do it for $300. Of course, because I was his son, he didn’t have any choice but let me try it. Most likely he thought that I would give up in a few days so he can just hire someone else to get the job done.

My initial plan didn’t work. I copied HTML from some other website, but then it wouldn’t open like I wanted it. I started looking at the code and noticed a bunch of weird stuff like CSS, JavaScript.. I not going to lie, I was very frustrated. My plan wasn’t meant to be after all…

Then something clicked in me. I would edit HTML files that I saved, refresh the page in my browser and it would display my changes! Magic! I was amazed by that. I started going online to look up information about HTML, CSS and all the unknown parts that I noticed on the page that I copied.

I think it took me about 2 months to get the site done. Then I had to figure out a way to upload my collection of HTML files to the Internet, so other people could see it. Domain names, hosting and all the rest of jazz.

In the end I managed to do all of that and I got my $300!

I was very proud of myself, but more importantly, I found a path that I felt like I would want to pursue in the future. I was very excited about all things related to building websites and could not stop reading all the articles and tutorials I could find about HTML and CSS.

One day about a month after we launched the website, my father came to me with multiple CD disks in his hands and said they just release new collections and asked me to upload those to the website.

For me that meant that I had to create about a hundred of new HTML pages (one for each product), plus a bunch of files for the listing pages, then update Next and Prev links on each product. Remember, at the time my site was completely static, just a pure collection of HTML files.

It was a lot of work. Mostly routine, repetitive and not very interesting and definitely not exciting work. I hated even the remote idea of doing it. At that moment I didn’t want to be web developer anymore. In my mind I already saw my father with more and more CDs, there was no escape. My dream was shattered.

Fortunately, I was a member of some online forum related to webdev, so I went there described my situation and asked for advice. Next day I got a reply that I had to learn how to generate html pages dynamically, create templates with PHP.

I started googling thing PHP thing and realized that it’s a programming language, totally new and scary world for me. I never considered myself smart enough to be a “programmer”. Sure I could figure out some HTML and CSS stuff, but programming? – that was another league…

The local book shop in my town had just one book about PHP4 and I bought it with the money I earned from the website. After reading a few chapters I confirmed my suspicions that programming is totally above my head. I could not seem to grasp even simple concepts…

Since I paid money for the book, I decided to follow it a bit longer, went through the Apache (omg) webserver installation process and then I created my first test.php file with just one line in it:

I refreshed my browser and then boom – my “Hello world” was on the screen! I just told the browser to display some words on the screen without using HTML files! That was truly life-changing, no matter how cheesy it might sound for you guys.

The book started to consume most of my free time. I was reading it in the evening. I was reading it at night. I think I probably read the whole book like 6 times.

The website that I built for my father’s company became the sandbox for me. I would read something and apply, read and apply. I built templates for repetitive stuff, file uploader so I could load photos from my browser!

I wasn’t afraid to see my father with fresh CDs in his hands any longer. In fact, I was looking forward to that, because that meant I would make some money for the website updates. In the end, the whole new collection upload process would take me about an hour or so, compared to weeks of fiddling with HTML files.

About half a year after I built the website for my father’s company they decided to ditch it and go with more “professional” version. Not going to lie, I was a bit hurt by that initially, but I was already thinking about my new project. The project that would consume next 15 years of my life! In fact, I keep investing my time and energy into making it better, bigger and faster to this very day!

Want to learn more about this major project of mine? The project I started about 15 years ago? If yes, then stick with me (aka subscribe below) as I don’t want you to miss it. That single project made me into professional I’m today.

As for my closing line I just want to say this: Persistence is the key. New things are always hard, especially as we get older. There is always pain in the beginning, but if you stick with something long enough, there is a big chance something magical will come out in the end. At the very least you will learn something new, something that could be useful in your next adventures.

Remember – growth mean happiness. Lets grow together guys.


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