general thoughts [off-topic]

Albert Hofkamp hat at
Fri Sep 20 08:00:47 EDT 2002

On Fri, 20 Sep 2002 07:28:52 GMT, Benjamin <> wrote:

> i have an unusual problem with programming python,
> nothing tecnical, something which goes "deeper".

After reading your post, I am not even sure that it is Python related,
it just happened while learning Python.

> you may call it inspiration, see me as an artist
> who lacks of inspiration (i know there are many
> people who think programming is an art).

I do think that, but w.r.t solving the problem only.

> some weeks ago i began learning python as my first
> (i hope some others will follow) programming language,
> i've been going through some tutorials, but they begin
> to bore me. the only interesting thing (from a beginners

A programming language is just a tool, just like a hammer. You can read
about hammers as much as you like, but after a few descriptions you
understand what a hammer is, and tend to get bored (at least, I do).

> point of view, of course) i programmed is a small
> database script which receives user input and stores
> things in a txt file. that was real fun, writing code,

Applying the hammer to solve a problem is a very different matter however.
I agree that using a tool to solve something is very satisfying.

> the problem, in one word: coding. but now i don't know
> what to programm. sounds weird, doesn't it? :) what
> should i program?? at the moment i have windowsXP

One the problems of a computer is its flexibility :-)
I wouldn't recommend fixing that, but it does imply that there are little
limitations w.r.t. the type of problems you can solve.

The best answer I can think of, is 'whatever you consider fun to program'.
Preferably a stupid time-consuming task (since computers are good at that).
That varies (for me) from computing the minimal amount of money that needed
to be given or paid to balance a cost-sheet in the student-house I lived
in to solving logical puzzles.
(i.e. a small problem that is easy to understand, yet often surprisingly
complicated to program (especially when you generalize the problem, such as
balancing for n students instead of 3).

> installed, but i hope to switch soon to some linux
> distribution or freeBSD. maybe my problem gets better

Probably not. A unix system is much more flexible, and can be modified at
much more points (i.e. there is lots to explore!), but it is still a tool.
If you don't have a problem, there is no need to apply the tool.

Ask yourself the question with everything that you do "can a computer do
this better?". If you think the answer is yes, you have a problem to solve.
Another trick can be to see what simple repetitive job you don't like (and
washing the dishes is not simple :-) ).

> i've been learning python not for becoming a programmer
> (i study modern languages at the university), but for having
> fun. my personal motto is "i want to know how it works".

Good motto, I use it too.
With Python, it seems that you now know how it works, so it seems to be
time to move on. That does not mean you will never use Python any more. You
know it, and when you stumble upon a problem that you want to be solved,
you go back to the tool that can help you.

I do this quite often. I look at software packages a lot, and keep in my
mind that software for solving such and such problems exists. Then, when I
find a problem that fits, I go back to the package, and try it.

> to write the ultimative windows security patch that fills
> all security holes in m$'s os & co. and get rich ^_^). it

There are easier ways to get rich IMHO :-)

> certainly wouldn't be boring. i don't think i will ever write

I tend to disagree here, finding and patching holes also gets boring when
you do it long enough.

> the opposite. i think if it's a job, it's something i MUST
> do - and therefore not interesting anymore -, and not something
> i CAN do if i want.

Correct, so I do the boring stuff while I work, and the fun stuff during my
free time (if I feel like it).

> well, i hope i didn't bore you :) i would really like if you
> share your opinions about those things with me/us.

Ok, but it's a whee bit off-topic here.

Unlike popular belief, the .doc format is not an open publically available format.

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