Fwd: Re: [Tutor] Why I'm learning Python (OT and long)

curtis horn curtishorn@home.com
Fri, 31 Aug 2001 04:28:59 -0700

Ooops sent this to author and not list:

>2 things helped me allot in the beginning:
>Once I "got" object oriented programming I reread Alan's book then started 
>over with all the rest (about 5 also) and felt I understood MUCH 
>better.  Don't know if this is a common sticking point, but understanding 
>what OO is really about helped me tremendously.  Now I'm looking for a 
>cheap laptop so I can practice coding wherever I am :)
>At 10:27 AM 8/30/01 -0400, you wrote:
>>I spent some time reading Useless Python last night and went to bed
>>totally depressed. I feel that even Useless is above my skill level. So,
>>what follows is the story of why I'm trying to learn Python. Perhaps some
>>will understand; some may be in a similar situation; some may want to send
>>me money. Maybe it can become an installment for the soapbox on Useless.
>>So here I sit, pretending that I know a little something about
>>Python. I own 5 Python books; I have been attempting to program in Python
>>for over a year; my title is something like "systems analyst"; I have a
>>wife, many children and a dog. Allow me to explain how this
>>all happened...
>>I never pretended to be a programmer. I was trained to do public health
>>research. But, the tight job market of recent years forced me to take on
>>various computer tasks in the course of my research. It started with
>>WordPerfect. I was something of a WordPerfect wonder kid. I could somehow
>>do anything in WordPerfect. Looking back, I guess this was my first
>>programming - WordPerfect macros. I just grokked other macros and read the
>>help files. Massively complicated mail merges, text manipulation, complex
>>and tedious tasks rendered trivial in the wake of my macros. I began to
>>build solutions for the secretaries, co-workers, people on the street.
>>Then M$ began pushing that third-rate wannabe word processor of theirs and
>>nothing was ever the same.
>>So, I sorta learned MS Access the same way. Of course I knew Access was
>>just a desktop database. But it was fine around the office. I wrote a few
>>simple applications, and that was fine; after all, I'm a researcher not a
>>programmer. But guess what? People started coming to be with requests for
>>Access applications. And before I knew it, I was writing a very complex
>>accounting system for my employer. I was being labeled, and I knew it. I
>>tried to resist but it was futile. I thought long and hard about going
>>back to school for a PhD in epidemiology; I was trying to escape becoming
>>a programmer. All the while there were bills to pay and groceries to buy
>>and mouths to feed. I didn't have time go back to school. I couldn't afford
>>it. And then one day I was offered a real job as a programmer...
>>Some folks in the private research world had decided to build a large
>>system in Access. I was doing some part time work for this company because
>>as a university employee, I couldn't make ends meet. They knew me as a
>>WordPerfect and Access guy, and asked me to join the project full time. I
>>was flattered but declined; after all, I'm a researcher not a
>>programmer. I told them repeatedly "I'm not a programmer". But they
>>were desperate. I knew they were desperate. I was the only person
>>they could find. And even though the university didn't pay very
>>well, I still loved my job there. So one day they asked, "What
>>would it take?". Have you ever been asked that question? I was 29
>>years old and driving a worn out car I paid 450 dollars for. Three
>>kids. Working a full time job and a part time job. So, I told them
>>what it would take and they said ok. Of course my wife was
>>happy. This meant financial freedom. Perhaps we could have a
>>normal life. But I was afraid. The day would come when they would
>>learn the truth and I would be thrown out like the pitiful code I
>>Well, it's been nearly four years and I haven't been thrown out yet. I was
>>assigned the title systems analyst by the people who were in charge of
>>making up the business cards. I guess I've fooled them so far. But I
>>haven't fooled myself. Sure I can get by in Access/VB. But I know
>>Access is kid stuff compared to Oracle and MySQL. I want to write
>>solutions for non-MS platforms; I want to understand the difference between
>>bound and unbound methods; I want to understand other people's code; I
>>want to be Danny Yoo!!!
>>So that's why I'm trying to learn Python. To bring legitimacy to an
>>otherwise illegitimate career.
>>Some of my Python scripts seem ok. They do useful work on a daily basis.
>>And yet, even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes. I'm plagued by the
>>feeling that I am a blind squirrel.
>>Thanks folks. This has been therapeutic. Python people are the best and
>>this list is fantastic. Today I'm going to make one of my useful scripts
>>run from a Tk button widget. And I'll stumble through. Perhaps I'll get
>>lucky and find a nut.
>>Tutor maillist  -  Tutor@python.org