From Weather To Web Design: 6 Month Front End Design/Development and Working With Brad Frost Anniversary

Februrary 4th marked my 6 month anniversary of working in the web design/development field. I would have waited for the 1 year anniversary, but in the web field you realize that things develop very quickly (no pun intended). February 4th also marked the anniversary of working with Brad Frost, my older brother and one of the faces of today’s web. I am forever grateful to him for giving me a chance to work in this field that I had little experience with before. Here’s the scoop with how I got here, what I have been doing, what I have coming up, and my advice for those of you new to web design/development.

How Did I Get Into Web?

I got my B.S. from Penn State University in meteorology. I graduated and got a job with MDA Information Systems in Gaithersburg, MD as an operational meteorologist, forecasting for stock traders, utility companies, and agriculture companies. I worked there for 4 years and decided my girlfriend at the time was worth marrying. I left my job, moved to Pittsburgh, and got married to my wife all within a 4 day period. I looked for meteorology or any related jobs in the field for 2 years in the Pittsburgh area prior to moving and realized 1) weather jobs in Pittsburgh are few and far between and 2) anything related to meteorology you needed a more specific degree (i.e. environmental engineering). I also went as far as taking civil service tests in case all else failed. Time was running out before the wedding and I needed something.

Enter my brother, in Germany at the time, at 2am on Facebook one night while I worked a night shift at my weather job.

Brad: “Hey. Have you found a job yet?”

Me: “I’m waiting to hear back from a few places. Hoping something comes up”

Brad: “Well you get married in like a month. I might need some help so you could possibly work with me for a bit.”

Me: “Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind in case I don’t find anything.”

The interviews I waited on or had failed in various ways. Being the type of person who would rather get bailed out by family or friends, it was tough accepting my brother’s offer, but it was an opportunity I was willing to try. I had some programming experience in Visual Basic, C++, and Fortran from high school and college and thought about going to college for computer science. But coding in the real world was frightening to think about. I had 3-months to test the waters. Something must have gone right since it is 6 months later and Brad hasn’t kicked me to the curb. The good news: I enjoy web design/development. Do I miss forecasting weather with good people? Yes. Do I miss waking up at 2:30 every weekday morning to get paid so-so in a place I didn’t want to live that was 3 and a half hours from my wife? No. Do I think there is more opportunity in web design/development? Absolutely.

What Have I Done So Far?

What do I do exactly? I basically help create websites by coding the structure, style, and functionality of what the user experiences. My brother wrote a good article about what I help do. How did I start and what have I been working on?

  1. Codecademy. I worked my way through HTML, CSS, and Javascript classes.
  2. Brad’s advice in addition to Codecademy also helped.
  3. Death to Bullshit. Brad’s brainchild of a site that has simple black text, clunky blue links, and a simple design. Turn bullshit on. I helped make that annoying content you see now. We used vanilla Javascript which is good and probably allowed this site to load quicker than most sites despite having more ads. Yes, my first website I had a hand in coding was how not to make a website look.
  4. Frost Finery. My sister-in-law needed her jewelry company’s site redesigned. This was the first project that I developed mostly on my own with some assistance, clean up work, and tips from Brad. This was also the first full-site redesign I ever did. This was my first experience using WordPress in-depth, PHP, Mustache, JSON, JQuery, and Pattern Lab. I learned a lot from this site.
  5. Pattern Lab. I’ve been in an on and off relationship with this website redesign for a little while now. I’d imagine this site will get done before the end of the year. It has allowed me to get more practice in with straight up HTML, CSS, and JQuery. Also, I got experience with writing YAML and markdown. I have also assisted with adding some features that Pattern Lab 2.0 will come out with when the new Pattern Lab tool is released.
  6. First client project that isn’t a family member. Currently working on a site for a company out of Times Square in NYC. Can’t disclose details, but I got to visit their office where it always feels like the afternoon thanks to the bright (and annoying) lights of Times Square. First project with a bigger client. First time working with their designers/developers/project managers in a team. First time working in XML and Freemarker. First time with a legitimate deadline.
  7. Brad’s personal projects. For those of you who know him, he always has something brewing. I have been helping with the design of one of his personal projects. Need to learn more about Node.js to help with more. Brad’s other personal projects include helping him reseed his lawn, redo his brick patio, build hammocks, and shovel dirt. It’s a good break away from the computer screen.

What Do I Have Planned?

I have felt like I have done a lot in 6 months and it looks like there are some potential bigger client projects ahead to help work on. Finishing the new Pattern Lab site redesign is also something that needs finished. I also really need to redesign this site.

My Advice If You Are Newer To Web Design (Like Me)

  1. Use Codecademy or some type of tutorial/class to get started in a language. I suggest starting with HTML, then moving to CSS, and then Javascript. If you are looking to get into Ruby, Python, etc., more power to you (Codecademy also has these tutorials).
  2. Read books. Read Articles. Follow Successful Web People. Reading books is good, but can be a little out of date with web design. Articles are usually more up-to-date and following smart web folks on Twitter can be helpful.
  3. Dive in. Fail. Learn. Fix. Remember. My best advice is to just dive into a project, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, and fix these mistakes. I have learned that the more projects I do, the more I remember certain best practices. If you want to test something out, Codepen is a great place to design and develop quickly without needing a server set up.
  4. Ask questions. My brother probably hates me for asking so many questions (I hope I am getting better at this), but in all honesty it helps tremendously. From what I have seen, the web community is open about best practices and will gladly help you if you hit a snag.

If you are interested in front end design/development or have any questions feel free to contact me on Twitter. I’ll gladly help you out or point you in the right direction if you need help with something. Thanks for reading!

Winter Storm Warning/Winter Storm Advisory For Western PA

What: A wintry mess will move northward tonight into Tuesday.
Timing: Tonight into Tuesday. (Below is HRRR Model precipitation type for 8PM Tonight, 12AM Tuesday, 4AM Tuesday, and 7AM Tuesday respectively)
Effects:
-Erie: I think it stays all snow in this area and that 4-8″ of snow is expected here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more than that depending on how far the rain snow line moves north and where that heavy band sets up.
– Oil City/Mercer/Titusville: Area I am most concerned about. Will stay as snow during most of the event, but could transition over to freezing rain by the morning. I think these areas could see 4-8″ of snow with potential for locally more depending on how much warm air advection causes the rain snow line to move north. If could air wins out, I could see up to 12″ of snow in some spots within this area. Snow could be heavy at times. The further north and west you are into western PA and eastern Ohio, the more likely you’ll see higher amounts of snow.
– Butler: Start out as snow before changing over to a rain snow mix and then over to freezing rain/rain for most of the event. I think they could see 2-4″ of snow or so before it washes away. Rain will transition back over to snow before the event ends though.
-Pittsburgh and southward: Looks to start out as a rain and snow mix before changing over to rain overnight into Tuesday. Freezing rain could also cause for slick roadways. Could see maybe and inch or 2 by the end of it.
East of Pittsburgh in the mountains: More freezing rain expected than anything. Snow and rain could mix in at times though. Could see up to a 0.5″ of ice, which is very significant.
Hazards:
– Icy roads, especially east of Pittsburgh in the mountains and north near I-80
– Snow covered roads
– Heavy snow at times in NW PA
Risks With Forecast:
– More warm air advection could decrease snow totals from Butler County to Venango County
– Colder air could increase totals, which I think is more likely with the timing of this system overnight
What to do:
– Stay off the roads if you don’t have to be on them, mainly overnight into Tuesday morning.
– If you have to drive, take it easy. If you live in the mountains east of Pittsburgh, I suggest staying off the roads.

Winter Storm To Impact Mid-Atlantic/Southern Northeast

Final Forecast Snow Totals Through Sunday:

  • DC: 18-24″
  • Baltimore: 18-24″
  • Frederick, MD: 18-24″
  • Philly: 12-18″
  • NYC: 5-10″
  • Oil City: 0″ ‘
  • Pittsburgh: 2-5″
  • South Hills: 3-6″
  • Uniontown, PA: 8-12″

Locally heavier amounts of snow are possible, especially near DC/Baltimore.

Risks With Forecast:

  • Generally conservative with my forecasts
  • Slow moving storm = higher snow amounts are possible.

Main Threats:

  • Heavy snow Friday afternoon through Saturday
  • Wind gusts up to 60mph possible near DC/Baltimore/NYC
  • Power outages possible with heavy snow and wind, especially near DC/Baltimore/NYC

Best Way To Go About Dealing With This Storm:

  • Stay the hell home if you are in DC/MD/Northern VA/Philly. Don’t go out and try to drive in the snow.
  • In DC/Northern MD/Philly, have some sort of heat source that isn’t run on electricity
  • Make sure you have plenty of food to eat.
  • BE SAFE!

 

Summary of Next 3 Days and Thoughts on Friday/Saturday Winter Storm

Thoughts on Storm Friday:

  • Winter storm likely to occur on Friday/Saturday. Rain to impact SE while significant snow/mix is possible in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
  • Still too early to tell the exact track of the system. Start to narrow margin of error and potentially get into specifics on Wednesday.
  • Latest models have recently been shifting the system southward. However, some models still keep southern PA in a significant band of snow.
  • Recent cold air will help snow to stick in areas that are near the rain snow line where the heaviest snow will likely fall.
  • DC/Philly/NYC are currently in a good zone for getting significant snow, but like I said, models are still shifting the track of the storm.
  • I’ll try to keep you updated with my thoughts. Be aware of this and plan accordingly.

3 Day Forecasts:

Western PA:

Today is obviously a cold day in western PA as mostly cloudy skies stick around and some flurries may fly around at times during the day. NW PA (Erie, Crawford, Warren, McKean Counties) remains under a lake effect snow warning until Tuesday morning as 3-6″ of additional snowfall is expected with potential for higher amounts in localized areas. Tuesday will bring partly sunny skies to SW PA while NW PA looks at a chance of snow showers and mostly cloudy skies. Wednesday looks to keep a chance of accumulating snow showers to western PA. Up to a few inches could fall in most locations in western PA. Highs will only reach into the upper single digits to low 10s today before highs bump up into the low to mid 10s on Tuesday and mid 10s to low 20s on Wednesday. Lows will drop into the mid single digits tonight before mid to upper single digits move in on Tuesday night and mid 10s roll in on Wednesday night.

DC Region: 

Dry conditions will hold across the DC Region through Tuesday as partly cloudy to mostly sunny skies are expected. Wednesday will see an increase in clouds and a chance of some light snow during the evening. Afternoon highs will rise into the low to mid 20s today before mid 20s move in on Tuesday and low to mid 30s roll in on Wednesday. Lows will drop into the low to mid 10s tonight before mid to upper 10s move in on Tuesday night and mid to upper 20s track in on Wednesday night.

Have a fantastic weekend folks!

Summary of the Weekend Weather in Western PA and DC Region

Western PA:

Looking like mostly cloudy skies will persist throughout the day today before a threat of rain moves in during the night before changing over to snow by Saturday morning. A chance of snow will persist into Saturday, mainly early. Sunday will see a chance of snow move back into the region. Highs will rise into the mid to upper 40s today before temperatures decline into the 30s by the afternoon on Saturday. Mid to upper 20s are expected on Sunday. Lows will drop into the mid 30s tonight before low to mid 20s move in on Saturday night and low to mid 10s settle in on Sunday night.

DC Region: 

Rain will move into the region later tonight before partly cloudy skies move in on Saturday. Clouds will increase on Sunday. Highs will rise into the low to mid 50s today before low to mid 50s settle in on Saturday and mid to upper 30s on Sunday. Lows will drop into the low 40s tonight before low to mid 30s move in on Saturday night and low to mid 20s roll in on Sunday night.

Have a fantastic weekend folks!

Bitterly Cold, But Dry. Warming Up A Bit Into the End of the Week.

Forecast:

Western PA:

Main threat:  Cold today and tonight. Wind chills in the single digits.

  • Today: Mostly sunny. Highs: Mid to Upper 20s Overnight Lows: Low to Mid 10s
  • Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Highs: Mid 30s to Low 40s Overnight Lows: Upper 10s to Mid 20s
  • Thursday: Increasing clouds. Highs: Mid to Upper 40s Overnight Lows: Low to Mid 30s

DC Region: 

Main threat: Frigid mainly tonight.

  • Today: Mostly sunny. Highs: Low to Mid 30s Overnight Lows: Upper 10s/Low 20s
  • Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Highs: Upper 30s/Low 40s Overnight Lows: Upper 20s/Low 30s
  • Thursday: Chance of spotty showers. Highs: Low to Mid 40s Overnight Lows: Upper 30s/Low 40s

Good News: Freezing temperatures start to loosen their grip into the end of the week.

Bad News: Rain and snow move into western PA late this week into the weekend. Rain chance continues into this weekend for DC.

Cooling Down. Snow For The New Year in Northwest PA. DC Dries Out After Today.

Forecast:

Western PA:

Main threat:  Areas in NW PA could see some snow accumulations on roads New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Nothing too significant though.

  • Today: Chance of showers, mainly later today. Highs: 40s. Near 50 in SW PA Overnight Lows: Upper 20s to Mid 30s
  • New Year’s Eve: Chance of lake-effect snow in NW PA. Flurries possible elsewhere. Highs: 30s Overnight Lows: 20s.
  • New Year’s Day: Chance of lake-effect snow. Light accumulations mainly in NW PA.  Highs: Low to Mid 30s Overnight Lows: Low 20s

DC Region: 

Main threat: Wet roads possible today.

  • Today: Cloudy. Showers likely. Highs: Mid to Upper 50s Overnight Lows: Mid to Upper 40s
  • New Year’s Eve: Partly sunny. Highs: Low to Mid 50s Overnight Lows: Mid 30s to Low 40s
  • New Year’s Day: Partly sunny.  Highs: Mid 40s to Low 50s Overnight Lows: Low to Mid 30s

Good News: For those of you winter lovers you get another taste of winter over the next several days. Conditions look to stay seasonal to above normal through the middle of January.

Bad News: Cooler conditions could cause more people to get sick.

Freezing Rain Potential in NW PA and Higher Elevations of Western PA Into Tonight. Be Safe!

Forecast:

Western PA:

Main threat:  Freezing rain potential into tonight, mainly for NW PA and higher elevations of western PA. Watch out for slick roads.

  • Today: Wintry mix today with freezing rain possibly moving in this afternoon/evening. Highs: 30s Overnight Lows: 30s. Temps increase overnight.
  • Tuesday: Rain likely in the morning. Chance decreases into the afternoon. Highs: Mid 40s to Low 50s Overnight Lows: 30s
  • Wednesday: Chance of showers. Highs: 40s Overnight Lows: 30s

DC Region: 

Main threat: Wet roads could cause for slippery road conditions tonight into Tuesday.

  • Today: Chance of rain increases into tonight. Highs: Mid to Upper 40s Overnight Lows: 40s. Temps increase overnight.
  • Tuesday: Rain likely in the morning. Chance decreases into the afternoon and evening. Highs: Mid 50s to Low 60s Overnight Lows: Mid 40s to Low 50s
  • Wednesday: Partly cloudy. Chance of rain late. Highs: Mid to Upper 50s Overnight Lows: Mid to Upper 40s

Good News: Cooler weather will move in this week for those who were complaining about the warmth. Temperatures increase overnight, helping to get rid of icing in W PA.

Bad News: Freezing rain could cause for dangerous roads in western PA. Cooler conditions move in after Tuesday.

5 Day Forecast: Warm, But Wet, Lead Up to Christmas

Forecast:

Western PA:

Main threat:  Rain chance moves in through the middle of the week.

  • Today: Chance of spotty showers. Highs: Mid 40s to Low 50s Overnight Lows: Low to Mid 40s
  • Tuesday: Rain likely. Highs: Mid 50s to Low 60s Overnight Lows: Mid 40s to Low 50s
  • Wednesday: Rain likely. Highs: Low to Mid 60s Overnight Lows: Mid 50s to Low 60s
  • Christmas Eve: Chance of showers. Highs: 60s Overnight Lows: 40s
  • Christmas Day: Partly cloudy. Highs: Low to Mid 50s Overnight Lows: Mid to Upper 30s

DC Region: 

Main threat: Rainy conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday could cause some wet roads for holiday travel.

  • Today: Increasing clouds. Slight chance of showers late. Highs: Low to Mid 50s Overnight Lows: Mid 40s to Low 50s
  • Tuesday: Rain likely. Highs: Mid 50s to Low 60s Overnight Lows: Low to Mid 50s
  • Wednesday: Rain likely. Highs: Low to Mid 60s Overnight Lows: Upper 50s/Low 60s
  • Christmas Eve: Chance of spotty showers. Highs: Upper 60s to Mid 70s Overnight Lows: Upper 50s/Low 60s
  • Christmas Day: Mid 60s to Low 70s Highs: Low to Mid 40s Overnight Lows: Low to Mid 40s

Good News: Warmth persists into Christmas for those who don’t want a white Christmas.

Bad News: Rain looks to put a damper on travel plans. But I’m sure many would take that over ice and snow. Christmas day looks like a nice day though.

6 Day Forecast Because It Is the Cool Thing To Do

Western PA:

Main threat:  Wet roads today. Chance of snow Friday and Saturday. Could see 1 or 2″ in NW PA.

  • Today: Rain. Highs: Mid 40s to Low 50s Overnight Lows: Mid 20s to Low 30s
  • Friday: Chance of snow. Highs: Low to Mid 30s Overnight Lows: Low 20s
  • Saturday: Chance of snow. Highs: Low to Mid 30s Overnight Lows: Upper 10s/Low 20s
  • Sunday: Partly cloudy. Highs: Low to Mid 40s Overnight Lows: Low to Mid 30s
  • Monday: Chance of rain. Highs: Upper 40s/Low 50s Overnight Lows: Mid 30s to Low 40s
  • Tuesday: Partly sunny. Highs: 40s Overnight Lows: Mid 30s to Low 40s

DC Region: 

Main threat: Wet roads today.

  • Today: Rain. Highs: Mid 50s Overnight Lows: Low to Mid 40s
  • Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs: Mid 40s to Low 50s Overnight Lows: Low to Mid 30s
  • Saturday: Mostly sunny. Highs: Low to Mid 40s Overnight Lows: Upper 20s/Low 30s
  • Sunday: Partly cloudy. Highs: Mid to Upper 40s Overnight Lows: Mid to Upper 30s
  • Monday: Increasing clouds. Slight chance of showers late. Highs: Low to Mid 50s Overnight Lows: Mid to Upper 40s
  • Tuesday: Chance of showers. Highs: Mid 50s to Low 60s Overnight Lows: Low to Mid 40s

Good News: A chance of snow this Friday and Saturday for those who like snow. Warmth on the other side of that for those who like warmth.

Bad News: A taste of winter moves in on Friday and Saturday. Chance of moisture lingers in western PA for much of the next 6 days.