[Tutor] Learning to program, not code.

Brandon Dorsey brandontdr at gmail.com
Sun Dec 21 02:16:37 CET 2014

> I'm 28 years old, currently unemployed and not in school until fall of
> 2015 as a junior.  I picked up python a little under a year ago, with the
> hopes that I could make a career out of programming - when I finish school
> that is.  So, as of right now you could say it's a hobby, however, I
> figured that I would jump the gun and learn it now, on my own, with widely
> available resources we have today.  Currently, I have a solid foundation of
> how data structures and how OOP works, but the problem lies within having
> analysis paralysis.  I have a tendency to over analyze everything, and with
> programming - as we all know - there are a million ways to accomplish the
> same task.

On Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 8:06 AM, Dave Angel <davea at davea.name> wrote:

> On 12/18/2014 09:09 PM, Brandon Dorsey wrote:
>> Hello All,
>> Programming has always been a passion of mine,
> A great start.  Can you tell us a little more about yourself?  Is Python
> the first language you've tried, or are you successful at other languages?
> Are you in school, at what level, do you already have some other career and
> this is a hobby?  Do you have some hobbies that programming might synergize
> with?
> > however, I'm frequently
>> frustrated at
>> simple fact that I've been learning python for 8 months, and I have yet to
>> start, and finish, a simple
>> project.
> How are you learning python?  Are you in a class, did you buy a book,
> download a tutorial, what?
>   I find difficult to not only visualize the execution,
> There are tools that may help with that, but it's not clear to me whether
> that would really help.  If you want to play, you could look at:
> ttp://www.pythontutor.com/visualize.html#mode=edit
>  but to figure out when and where to
>> use data structure 'x'.
> Alan gave some brief descriptions.  You should realize that those are just
> the particular collections that are in the builtin section of python.
> There are many more in the standard library, MANY more out on the internet
> (eg. pypi), and many more in your head, just aching to come out.
>     Any suggestions on how to approach programming
>> from a different angle?
> That's a great perspective.
> We're now drowning in a sea of riches, information on any topic.  But in
> most cases, you have to be introduced to a topic systematically, with
> controlled flow, in order to understand what the fancier concepts are all
> about.  When I "started" programming in 1966, it was with a borrowed
> Fortran book over spring break.  I wrote a number of programs on sheets of
> paper, but had no machine to execute them on.  (I also expect there were
> more errors than useful statements, but I didn't know anything about that
> either)  I went on a field trip to the nearest computer, which was at
> Yale.  I got to see the actual machinery through some large windows, but
> didn't have a chance to run anything till almost a year later, at my own
> college.  Even then, freshmen weren't taught anything about them, and I had
> to learn from another student how to submit punched cards to the computer.
> And how to run jobs without having a legitimate account.
> Frequently when people develop an interest in programming now, it's in
> order to write a game, design a website, or to solve some fairly complex
> problem.  If they then try to research the tools, they get overwhelmed with
> the possibilities. And without a narrower focus, they never get that
> satisfaction that comes with finishing a project.
> Without knowing anything at all about you really, I'd suggest you either
> take a course, or really *do* a tutorial.  Many people just read a book (or
> site) about the subject, and don't actually try the exercises.  In my case
> it was excusable, since I didn't have the several million dollars necessary
> to buy a computer, but the principle still holds. Start small, and
> systematically build up your abilities.  If you're disciplined enough to do
> that on your own, there are many Python tutorials that you can download.
> And when you get stuck, you'll have a manageable problem that somebody can
> help with.
> If you've done all that, and you're still stuck, then be much more
> specific in your question here.  Pick a project (or exercise, or
> assignment) that you've started working on, and describe the following:
> 1) python version and OS version
> 2) project description
> 3) code fragment that shows your present difficulty
> 4) what happens, and what you hoped would happen
> 5) any error messages (show the full stack trace) you get
> 6) meaningful subject line
> Python is a fabulous language for learning.  You can get feedback a few
> seconds after you run the code, and you can make a change and try again in
> under a minute.  I worked in one environment where the turnaround for a
> compile was about a day and a half.  And in another where the compile of
> the complete application was done only once a week, and making it was a
> half-time job for the build-master.
> I've also worked in environments where I had to build my own programming
> tools, starting with a text editor.  And in environments where we entered
> the code in hex.  And generating the hex was a pencil/paper exercise.
> Looseleaf notebook was the source code.
> --
> DaveA
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