“Noob”-ian Fair

Being that I have Fridays off (or at least out of work) I am given a few extra opportunities to get to Luke’s classroom for the various activities.  So far it’s been great to be able to do both Halloween and the sixth grade Ancient Egypt and Nubian Fair.  His project this year was on hieroglyphics, so to demonstrate a 3D object (as per requirement), we used our talents together (his creativity and my practical execution) to come up with a cool project.  We built a large tablet that spelled out a phrase.  To build this project, we took a large piece of styrofoam, carved out the glyphs, coated it with modge podge to seal it, sprayed on a base coat of spray paint that wouldn’t melt the foam and then covered it with a cool rock texture spraypaint.  It really looked great.  For an activity during the fair, the boys had participants being timed on translating hieroglyphics and if you did so under the time, you’d get a prize. 

So for the week prior to the fair, the term “noob” meant something more historical than a slang term (shortened form of ‘newbie’) for an inexperienced person.  It really got me thinking about what I do on a daily basis though.  In my line of work, a lot of what we do is translation of what looks like glyphs to most people, and in fact, sometimes are.  Website programmers know that there is an ascii chart to translate characters from numbers (® = ®).  So there is a literal hieroglyphic translation.  There is also a figurative piece.  I have spoken to many people who tell me that they can barely turn a computer on, so there is no way they’d understand what I do.  But again, it’s a matter of knowing that certain tags mean certain things, and I don’t need the Rosetta Stone to figure it out. 

In HTML and Coldfusion, the symbols < and > designate a tag.  What’s inside those angle brackets tells the browser how to translate that tag.  If there is an <i> the browser says ‘ok, I’ll italicize everything’.  Since traditional html websites are top down programmed, meaning that the code reads just like you read from a book, that’s how all the functions work.  If the <i> shows up, it says ‘everything after that tag will be italicized’ until it runs into a ‘close’ tag which is designated by the use of a slash: </i>.  That says ‘ok, we are done using the tag, put everything back to normal now’.   Coldfusion uses tags just like regular HTML, which is what makes it so easy to throw in to any interactive website.  It is really very basic, where there is a beginning, there must be an ending.  You can have as many beginnings and endings inside each other as you want (nesting), but they all need to be paired up or the code may not run right.   There’s nothing worse than missing a closing tag that shows off the ‘noob’ in you.