Thoughts on learning to become a web developer

I was recently asked by a friend for advice on a career change; he wants to get into web development and wasn’t quite sure the best place to start.


  • Where do I start??
  • How do I decide between being a front end or back end developer?
  • Attend a course with an instructor or self-learning online?

My thoughts on learning to become a developer

Instructor-led courses or workshops are great for intense, short, periods of studying, where you can ask questions to get explanations for things you may not have understood. I sometimes teach via and love how I can focus on whatever areas the attendees want me to; I’ve previously taught an Advanced MVC5 course, but it morphed into an Advanced MVC5/6 course with a focus on security.

I would suggest starting with Pluralsight – you get a free trial of something like 10 days or 200 minutes’ worth, then if you stick with it you pay either $30 or $50 a month for unlimited access to the excellent training videos (and coursework if you pay the $50); I use this all the time to seriously cram before I train a course – usually watching it at double speed!

Pluralsight is extremely well respected as a learning resource for all levels of ability. There are fantastic beginner courses – and even courses for teaching kids to program! I’d suggest checking out the Learning to Program Part 1 and 2 by Scott Allen – his stuff is usually great.

Personally I prefer to use pluralsight to an in-person course, but that’s just how I best learn. You may be different and want to get some in-person help as well.

Check out for angularjs (popular javascript framework) videos; again, some free, some paid.

As for Back End vs Front End; just learn the basic concepts, then work out what you prefer.

So. How does that sound to you? Any suggestions?

Thoughts on current (early 2015) options for a cheap, family, desktop computer

I was recently asked by a friend for advice on buying a reasonably priced family computer; I’m sharing my opinions and asking for your thoughts.


  • kids homework (project research and documentation),
  • kids learning to type and use a computer,
  • some gaming (minecraft & sims!),
  • Skype,
  • email,
  • affordable

My Response

If Mac, then something like this Mac Mini would be good (~ £470, but you’d also need mouse, and keyboard, so maybe £520ish or more):

Mac Mini

If Windows, then I’d recommend something like this Acer Aspire; also tiny, less expense (~ £350), comes with everything except screen:

Acer Aspire

If your budget is tighter than that Aspire there are similar ones around, plus refurbished Windows PCs are way cheaper. To keep up with changing requirements of software the specifications are reasonably good, so you could go down a notch (i.e., less RAM, slower CPU, smaller hard drive), but then it would become annoyingly slow that much sooner.

The specs to look for when shopping around for a PC:

So. How does that sound to you? Any suggestions?