Three-minute intro into an IT career | News | – Porterville Recorder

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Updated: November 22, 2022 @ 2:49 pm

I’m going to take a big risk today. I’m going to try to convince you to try a new career in three minutes. It will be good for you, or maybe for your kid. You won’t want them to move out once they’re helping you pay the mortgage.
There’s a 28-year-old girl named Ania Kubów (born in Poland, educated in Dubai, and now living in the UK) who teaches courses on YouTube. She has one called “Build and sell your own API” and I think it’s the most remarkable piece of IT education I’ve ever seen. It literally shows how to build and launch a profitable business in a couple of days, and ANYONE can do it. Sounds too good to be true? Go to if you want to dive right in. But it might be better if I walk you through it first.
Why am I telling you about this? Because I think there are more than a few readers of this town’s newspaper who would like to get their feet wet with a web-based business. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so if you’re one of those ambitions nerds, this is your chance. And if you read this article, and then your neighbor’s kid becomes a millionaire, you won’t have to wonder how he did it, and you won’t call him a “computer genius.” I hate it when they do that.
An API (Application Program Interface) is a web endpoint (a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) — what goes after “http://” at the top of your browser — that “returns” something. It can be rows from a database in a form a program can read (usually, JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), but sometimes eXtended Markup Language (XML)). But it can just be a web page with links in it you can click on. Clicking on any of the links takes you to the referenced article.
So why would you want one? Google is an API that reads the entire web and returns links to pages that match your search criteria. But the results are unfiltered, and it’s not uncommon to get back 30 or 40 MILLION hits — not really all that useful. Ania’s YouTube video article referenced above shows how to build a curated list of links to articles from authoritative sources (for example, respected publications) that deal with a specific subject. And unlike Google, the first four or five won’t be product placements the authors paid for.
Users who don’t want to waste their time will appreciate such an API, and will be happy to pay for it if the price is right. You can include additional information about each article, such as the PubDate and the author’s name. And since it only takes a couple of hours to build this kind of an API, the price can be pretty darn reasonable. Finally, since it’s YOUR API, you can add features Google doesn’t have, like filtering, sorting by date or author name, reader rankings, or any other criteria. If readers ask for a feature, you can add it before your competitors do. You learn to adapt or die, which is what IT careers require. It’s thrilling and terrifying at the same time, but seldom boring.
First, pick the topic your API is going to cover. Ania’s topic in her demonstration article is climate change. As her article shows, you start by providing a list (an array) of sources in JSON format (Google it) that deal with your chosen topic. Each publication is one “object” in the list. Once you pick a field, it will soon become obvious which sources are trusted and which ones aren’t. This is what I’ve been doing for the last two years — fact-checking, weeding out the fools and liars. A vetted list of trustworthy sources is actually quite valuable on its own. (Your first year writing a doctoral dissertation consists of doing exactly that. So take your time and get it right; write off the idiots and liars immediately. BTW, that’s why I don’t read my hate mail).
Next, start a LOOP to go through the names of websites that have the lists of articles you’re looking for. In Ania’s example, she’s looking for climate articles. You’ll use a function library called Axios to return each web page. You will use a function library called Cheerio to extract the pieces of each web page — usually “anchor” tags you want to publish. You’ll decide how you want each “card” (reference) to look. Finally, you’ll use the RapidAPI hosting service to offer your API to the public and decide how you want to charge — for example, free for the first 10 searches, and $1 each thereafter. You’ll publicize your API, maybe get a few reviews in popular journals, and then sit back and watch your hit counter and bank account balance go up.
I won’t whitewash this process. Ania’s complete sample code is maybe 100 lines, but I’m guessing it took her days to perfect. Writing code that looks simple isn’t simple. I’ve written more than 260 technical journal articles containing code, and I’ve never written one that worked the first time. But once you get it right, your readers can copy it and make a few changes, and it will still work. That’s what I recommend you do in this case. Standing on the shoulders of giants is a good way to see into the future. You can download the source code for free from her YouTube page.
I wish Porterville Unified School District would offer a course in this, or in any of dozens of practical Internet skills. I’d teach it for free. I’m already preparing to teach some free programming courses through the Porterville Public Library. I hope to see some of you there.
Les Pinter is a contributing columnist and a Springville resident. His column appears weekly in The Recorder. Pinter’s book, HTTPV: How a Grocery Shopping Website Can Save America, is available in both Kindle and hardcopy formats on him at lespinter@earthlink.netWhat won’t the do?
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Note that any programming tips and code writing requires some knowledge of computer programming. Please, be careful if you do not know what you are doing…

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