Course correction on what to learn next

So as it tends to happen with me. I sat and marinated on the idea of learning programming for a while. I didn’t do much, I watched the intro video for the Harvard Extension class CS50, and did some idle searching.

Then with some changes in my life recent, namely, I am moving to Chile to teach English for 6 months. I’ve had some revelations, mostly due to help from /r/learnprogramming, a subreddit devoted to those of us trying to learn programming.which have led me to some interesting discoveries. A lot of this has to do with my buddy Dan who is an accomplished programmer and sys admin already. His depth and breadth of knowledge has been awesome to bounce general (sometimes stupid) questions off of.

I love tackling new things and as this is certainly a new thing, I’m excited about gobbling up all that I can. I might have the possibility for some work on the side in HTML/CSS, of which I only have a rudimentary understanding of HTML, so I think I am going to buy a “Learn HTML/CSS” book to take with me.

Along with HTML/CSS, I am going to pick up Python. The number of resources out there is astounding, to list a few…

http://learnpythonthehardway.org/

http://www.reddit.com/r/learnprogramming/wiki/index

http://stackoverflow.com/ -seems to be a huge compendium of all things programming/CS related.

http://www.diveintopython.net/

http://www.pythonchallenge.com/

There just seems to be an ever deepening gulf of information. Some isn’t as good as others, but man, it seems like just the law of averages in my favor for good information…

 

What are some of your go to resources when you’re learning something new?

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Posted in Geekery, Python, Technology

What to Learn Next

I’ve been realizing a bit of a problem recently, there’s so much content on the interwebs that it makes it difficult to zero in on the right content. This isn’t a new problem, but I find that I feel it more acutely when looking to learn a new skill. I am flirting with learning programming, and thus I am trying to do research on how best to accomplish this.

About 6-8 months ago I heard of an organization in Chicago called Code Academy, which has now been rebranded as The Starter League. The concept is that they will teach you Ruby on Rails so that you can, after 3 months, build web sites and web applications. It’s an enormously freeing thought to think that I could learn programming and not re-immerse myself in 2-4 years of studies at a formal institute, and still come away with a valuable skill. After socializing the idea with those close to me the honest question is “Is Ruby on Rails the right language to learn?”.

It’s a good question, one that I don’t know the answer to. After some Googling today, I came across two articles, What is the Best Programming Language to Learn in 2013? and 7 programming languages on the rise. Both bring up good points (albeit the latter was pretty old) and have content that should be taken with a grain of salt, but the over all point being, that it isn’t as easy as trying to pick the “hot new language” and instead go for something that has staying power. That’s a fair assessment as, just with anything else, trying to jump on the bandwagon of a fad doesn’t mean that you will ride it to riches. Taking time to learn a skill such as this also means that you now have a skill set, yes, but a very narrow one at that.

One interesting point is that it seems that certain languages are used for certain applications:

Ruby: primarily used for cataloging large amounts of data; could be leveraged to store comment threads, discussions, scheduling data etc.

JavaScript: seems to be used more and more frequently for a variety of tasks; could be used to replace MySQL, but would that take a deeper understanding of the tool?

Mayhaps it makes better sense to try and get an understanding of the field, then build some foundation skills, then try and focus. That sounds good, but I want it now! I don’t want to wait for foundations, and base learning!

The other point is that I keep finding content to consume, but am not making time to actually consume it. I downloaded all the videos from the Harvard Extension Online Series, but haven’t had the time to even watch one video.

So alas, here I sit mired in data and content trying to sift through it all.

How would you approach learning programming or getting your feet wet with Computer Science?

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The Future of BinaryDaze and the ESL Posts

There aren’t many of you that follow me, but for the few of you that do, I’m going to be changing up this blog a bit. The focus of this blog, BinaryDaze, will get back to technology and a bit of my personal thoughts and other stuff that isn’t teaching related or beer/liquor related (after all I have Hop Brained for the beer/liquor side of my life!).

That being said, if you find you still want to follow my exploits as an English teacher, please head on over to AwkwardESL. Thanks!

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My love of The Lord of the Rings is more real than yours!

I recently read an old article on Wired.com by Patton Oswalt about the death of geek culture. He posits that perhaps it should be hastened in order to usher in a new era of sub-/counter-culture with which geeks can become obsessed. I had a surprisingly visceral reaction… Read more ›

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Converting eBooks to Kindle Format

It’s the 21st century, the sum total of all human knowledge is accessible on the Internet! Thankfully, certain companies have made it easier to access and digest this information, I give to you: the Amazon Kindle.

This is a great little device, I’ve had mine for some years now and I love it. It has really saved me from accumulating tons of books, and has opened the doors for me to read some books that I might not have bought otherwise. The low cost of most Kindle editions makes it easy to buy a book that I am on the fence about. It also gives me access to lots of older material that I am interested in reading, but honestly, am not that interested in paying top dollar for.

Most of this older material can be found in anthologies so that’s double plus good for me. I can get all (or almost all) of an authors works and comb through at my discretion. Most recently I bought The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft: 67 Tales of Horror in One Volume (Halcyon Classics) for $1.99. It has taken me quite some time to read through this collection and it’s great to pick up when I am in between books, but I digress…

Unfortunately, there are some books that I can’t get through Amazon or they are at a price that I don’t agree with. This precipitates me looking for, um… er… alternative means, by which to obtain the book. Read more ›

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Posted in Technology

Best Laid Plans Of… Well, You Know

So the original intent of this blog was to get me writing, and here I am a full year after having started and I only wrote 4 posts. Such is life, right?

There has however been a shift in my life direction with respect to the possible point of this blog (of which there are many):

  • I am moving to Chile in about 4 months to teach English. (Wow. Even just seeing it in writing is still odd.)
    • Also started teaching a class once per week to the Latino/Hispanic community here in Chicago.
    • I am also learning Spanish.
  • I herniated a disc in my back, so the running has stopped after quite a while on the road to recovery, now i watch what I eat, and there is another aspect of my life I’d like to add to this blog, my adventures in new food.
  • I also got a new job which allows me a bit more time to myself, so I can focus on other pursuits (see the first bullet point).

So I am going to approach this more as an online notebook and not worry so much about the overarching goal or feel or look or… shit, much else, I just really want to get more in the habit here. No goals, no self-imposed timelines, just what I want to do when I want to do it.

Posted in News

Technology #2: Ruby Quick Start

Not coming from a Computer Science background, I find it hard to wade through the unending amount of information on the web to find what I am looking for.  I am sure that those that came up in the CS world also find it hard to get to the info they need, therefore, I am happy to share what appears to be a pretty concise list of books to get started with Ruby.  This is from another blog from someone associated with Code Academy, here in Chicago.

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Posted in Technology