I recently wanted to build a small project for GitHub. I've built a solid handful of web things in the past, but my skill has always been in constructing decent applications that are functional in the browser but not necessarily easy to use and rarely easy on the eyes. I find it really difficult to think critically about the design of a web page when my ideal look and feel for nearly everything involves imagining what it would look like in a terminal emulator.
Luckily, I work with people who know better than me the fine, possibly black, art of building applications that look as good as the purpose they serve and it was my fellow GitHubber @cobyism to whom I turned when I wanted a boostie up in the CSS and design department. Since Coby is currently living in the UK, the price for my lesson was remaining functional between 12:30AM and 4:30AM, which may have cost me the ability to pay attention in class the following day.
We set the entire thing up as a remote pairing session and after dealing with some fuckery regarding Messaging.app and being signed in to a Google account the screen sharing worked very well for our purposes. Though Coby drove nearly the entire time the fact that I could wield his keyboard and mouse made the few times I had a reason to take the wheel really seamless.
Can I just say that Coby is a fantastic teacher. His ability not only to establish a design, mock it up using Chrome Web Inspector, and then compose and commit it would have been impressive enough. But he was also able to explain his entire thought process to me along the way.
I learned a ton just as a fly on the wall. It was far more effective than reading books or articles on CSS, or trying to figure out what CSS expresses the design ideas I had in mind. Instead, I got to see the experimentation and process of someone who knows what they're doing.
If you think you'd like to learn code this way then you should send me an email and maybe we can pair on some open source awesomeness. If you like doing HTML, CSS, and front-endy things but are less sure of yourself when writing server-side code, let's be buddies!