What A Mess – October 2015 Retrospective

You may already know I host a podcast about learning. If you don’t, it’s called Learn To Learn With Garrett Mickley and you can check it out at LearnToLearn.club. In that podcast, I teach you to learn more efficiently so you’ll be more competitive and stay one step ahead in your field.

Here, I’m going to show you how I put that knowledge and those techniques to use in my daily life. You can consider this a lifestyle blog of sorts. Learning is a lifestyle, after all.

October was a rough month. I announced that I would be getting started with everything, and then my world fell apart. I’m just being overdramatic, it wasn’t that bad.

As Sean McCabe says, “People don’t notice announcements, they notice consistency.” I was unable to provide consistency this month and that’s where I see failure.

My website got compromised by some malicious code, and that was like…I can’t even think of a good analogy. It was gross. The code was everywhere so that if I found and deleted one file, there were 10 more hidden elsewhere. I got blacklisted by Google and any security plugins people have for their browsers, and my host threatened to ban my account. I spent days cleaning out the content. Some days I would wake up and log in to the host and there would be 5 more instances of the code. I figured out they were getting in through compromised FTP accounts, so I deleted a bunch of old ones and changed the passwords on all of the ones I kept. I used a random password generator and at this point even I don’t know the passwords. I also ended up paying for a site security service that is kind of pricey but hopefully solves the issue, and prevents them from happening again. If it works out, then it’s worth every penny. I see it as an investment.

I could say “because of the hack…” I didn’t keep up with weekly updates that I planned to do (like this one, but based on the previous week instead of the previous month), but that would just be a crap excuse. The truth is, I used that as a reason to justify to myself not to write anything, so that I could spend more time doing things I like to do (like play Heroes of the Storm, watch Twin Peaks on Netflix, run around pretending I know photography, etc).

I did write my October 2015 Introduction, but it didn’t get posted until just now (a month late). Let’s see how much of that I stuck to.

Just a reminder: “Main Quest” is my primary learning goal, and “Side Quest” is my secondary learning goal. I refer to them as “quests” because I’m a dork and I like to allude to video games as often as I can.

Main Quest:

My main quest was to learn HTML/CSS, again, after learning it when I was younger and then only barely putting it to use. A lot has changed, but I feel pretty comfortable now with the stuff that’s newer than when I initially started learning it over ten years ago. I’ve already started to apply what I learned to my day job and it’s really motivating to get to use what I’ve learned last month so quickly in my every-day life.

I did fail on finishing the Treehouse course, but I intentionally skipped some stuff. For example, the classes on HTML tables. I know tables pretty well; there’s not a whole lot to them. I was able to skip that. I also skipped the graphic design classes because I was focusing on learning the code end of things. I do plan on going back and learning that stuff in the future, too, because I know they’ll benefit me immensely, but this month I couldn’t squeeze it in. The one thing I didn’t finish that I wish I had was the SASS class. I really want to get into that because I’ve seen some really cool stuff made with SASS. I also skipped out on the SEO class because I do that every day for my job; I don’t need to sit through an online class of that. I may go back and watch it one day on the clock (R&D time!) to make sure they don’t have some revolutionary new idea I seemed to have overlooked in my over seven years of doing SEO (doubtful but possible).

Side Quest:

As far as my side quest, sudoku, goes: I finished that. The book I had was cool but the puzzles were all too easy, and it didn’t go up to five stars as I had thought. I did some puzzles from one star all the way up through the four stars and I found it all too easy. Since there were no five star puzzles, I downloaded a free sudoku app for my iPhone and started playing with that. I had to play a couple games of each star level to unlock the next level, but it only took me an hour or two to unlock all five levels. At that point, I was completing five star sudoku puzzles in less than an hour, but I had mistakes and had to use hints. I researched some tips and eventually, through practice, was able to beat five star puzzles in less than thirty minutes with no hints or mistakes. I can’t do it every time, but I did it a few times. I’m going to mark that off as a success.

Day Job:

I picked up some extra work at my day job, and was offered some other opportunities to take on in the future, and my boss is happy with my performance. That’s really all there is to report on that for now. I’ll talk more about the potential future opportunities when they’re more relevant.


I tried to start daily vlogs but failed after 2 days. I just don’t think my life is that interesting (I say as I’m typing a blog about my life…c’mon Garrett be real here). I mostly sit at a computer and do internet marketing stuff, and then sit at a computer and do learning stuff. And work on my new podcast. That’s about it. I think I can salvage some of the footage and start doing weekly ones. That might be more interesting. Enough happens to me in a week that I have things to show and talk about. The hard part is remembering to turn on the camera to record stuff. I’m not the type of person to take photos or video during a concert; I like to live in the moment and not really worry about recording it, so it’s tough for me to remember to grab the camera and turn it on when something worth recording is happening.


I also read The Martian by Andy Weir. I got kind of bored about two thirds into the book, but after taking a week off, I finished it. I’m glad I did, but I probably won’t read it again. It was a pretty stressful book, and was very repetitive in that it’s just a series of unfortunate events for the main character. The book was will written and the main character was really funny.

Moving Forward – November 2015:

For November 2015 I’m not doing a side quest. My main quest is to learn how to podcast, and I’d like to focus on my podcast without worrying about keeping up with something else. I think I spent a lot of time on the sudoku side quest last month and I believe that was part of my problem with getting everything done last month. I’ll write more about podcasting in my November 2015 Introduction post.

I’m going to continue doing one big monthly recap at the end instead of weekly recaps. That would be better for everyone. Or would you rather weekly recaps? Let me know, I’m sure I can swing it.

I’m going reorganize my website a little bit and definitely going to redo my website theme because this one loads to slow. I’m also going to redo the colors to match the branding of my new podcast, Learn To Learn With Garrett Mickley.

Oh yeah, I’m going to start a new podcast, Learn To Learn With Garrett Mickley.

Once the podcast is up and running and I’ve got a solid queue of content prepared, I want to start doing weekly vlogs to coincide with the weekly recaps. I’m very inspired by CharliMarieTV and Casey Neistat, and I also bought a sweet new camera so I might as well put it to use, right?

I also have some weekend projects planned including a music project, a text project, a couple games, and some other stuff. I miss game design. I’m going do more of that. Weekend projects are for hobby stuff to help me recharge. Weekend projects don’t necessarily take one weekend, and often are spanned across multiple weekends, so check the Weekend Projects page regularly to see if there’s anything new. Or just sign up for my newsletter (below).

Looking even further forward, I want to release a book in 2016, and of course there is A LOT of learning to be done, so let’s get back to that!

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