In a dim and distant past life I thought it might be a good idea to try to learn a general purpose programming language. Those in the know were keen for me to learn C, on the basis that it’d been around for a while, is easy to learn… and they were using it themselves. But, as it turned out, learning in a vacuum has low appeal for the object-oriented. When pointed at some C tutorials and left to my own devices, I found my interest waned fairly quickly. For best outcomes, I need specific, measurable goals – preferably ones that are useful to me in some way.

Many years later I had another stab at programmery-things, this time to meet a university unit requirement. The goal was to create a little test-website as part of a project, using HTML. There didn’t have to be much content, but it had to be seen to work. This gave me something to aim for and I set to with more enthusiasm than skill. Fortunately I had some in-house tutors in the quirks and mysteries of HTML when the wheels tried to fall off (the project). DaughterDearest and BoyChilde, each computer wizards in their own way, displayed remarkable patience when I yodelled for help with some of my more elaborate errors during the learning phase.

Whilst the programmery-skills I picked up remain in the minor-league, I’ve retained just enough HTML to do some low key fiddling about on a couple of websites I’m contracted to update, although my involvement is largely content management rather than programming of any sort.

One of these sites was set up for a local community centre by a small media company in Perth. Frustratingly, with many of the mysteries of the Joomla set-up and templates restricted, any changes to the site structure currently have to be done by the set-up guy. I find not knowing how it all hangs together or how to change things myself a source of continual low-key irritation. I concluded some time ago that only way I’d be able claim a higher level of website management control would be to learn how Joomla works and then take it from there.

Glyde-In Community Learning Centre has a contract with the same media company and has had similar concerns regards to access to their website. Having come to similar conclusions with regards to site management access, the coordinator decided to organise a couple of Joomla training sessions and invited me to join in. Since Joomla has been on my to-do list for a while, I accepted with alacrity (thanks, Ann).

The sessions were informative, although more an overview than a hands-on. We looked at different levels of access and what they enable people to do on a specific website, recent changes to that website and how they were made, and managing file systems and template structures.Our tutor, Lorenz, was well prepared (always a plus!) and answered our questions clearly, using relevant examples to show what he meant. By the end of the second session I felt a renewed sense of purpose.

It’s pretty clear that if I want to learn anything of substance, I’ll have to get stuck in and poke around in the gubbins  of Joomla, creating and breaking things to see how they work. I’m thinking of mirroring one of the sites I work with regularly to see what happens when I change things. It’s as good a way as any of figuring things out, I reckon, but I’m open to suggestions from those of you who’re already Joomla-savvy.

I’ve taken the first steps by installing Joomla and XAMPP locally, both on my laptop and on my Mac (because, reasons). This took up a large portion of my afternoon yesterday and was intensely frustrating. No doubt you’re thinking, as I did, Ah yesinstallations… that fun-filled circular pastime, abundant with satisfying outcomes… 

joomlaadventures1I am getting there, but must admit to loosing heart to some extent after spending what feels like a ridiculous amount of time on the installation two-step so far. Still, once it’s all installed (!!) and running (!!!), I’ll be able to start playing (theoretically, anyway). Woe betide the offspring if it isn’t working soon – their combined computer-wizardry may be called upon!

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