Sunday, April 08, 2012

Programming School Dropout and Redemption

I've been avoiding telling folks this but it is time to come clean and start again. I am the beauty school dropout in Grease.

I hate quitting anything. Really, I can be guilty of hanging on for dear life until I get it done. Well, life snuck up on me and went booger-booger.

Strike 1. I was doing okay. I wrote my first program and thought my homework was done. What I failed to realize was there were a whole bunch of lessons underneath the first one. I catch that mistake two days before the first quiz and try to cram it down.

You can't do that with an intro Python programing class. I tried but it was painful.

Strike 2. My day job at the Salt Mine got crazy. I can't go into details but let me just say the widgets were asking questions of the whatsits and the whatsits were waiting on the doohickies and in the meantime salt is flowing all over the conveyer belt.

It was lunar baby, stuff was flying everywhere and all I had was a spoon.

Strike 3. I came home and tried again. I'm in Lesson two. I'm still learning vocabulary and programing at the same time. The dude shifted from vocabulary to concept and then from concept to implementation.

I was still on understanding the concepts when bango zoom he was talking about the rafinstinbonk.

It was over. I cured up in my bed, I knew I didn't have a flipping chance.

A Possibility for Redemption

A new session of the class is starting up on April 16th. I'm stubborn. I do not like not learning what I set out to learn. You don't get to be this old without picking up some life skills.

Boomer power baby!

I am gathering supportive tutorial materials:


Khan Academy has some programming videos:

I can watch or listen to these on my phone via YouTube.


One size does not fit all and I'm looking for re-enforcements.
  • At there is a Beginner's Guide page for non-programmers to access tutorials and resources.
  • There is another interactive tutorial at Learn
  • Python Turtle is for kids and those willing to think like one. There is no shame in my game. You download the software and the follow the instructions to learn concepts in order to move the turtle.
  • Yes, there is a podcast for just about everything, this one is for young programmers so if I add the numbers my age I could be youngish.
What About Life?

I know. I could be setting myself up for a fall again. Salt is still shooting across the room but the flow is now in check for the time being. If I can get a better bead on the topic before the new session starts I'll sign up again.

If not, slow and steady will have to be my workflow. Monty would have wanted it that way.

(The programming language was named after Monty Python, which is nice to know but I still feel like a git.)


  1. Rubette here. Don't feel bad. I watched most of the video and think the material is poorly presented and touches on way too many concepts for beginners. Most techies aren't good teachers, as this guy demonstrates.

    The video assumes that the viewer knows what data types, variables, constants (aka literals), functions, decision (aka branching) structures and repetition (aka looping) structures are. In several examples he used nested functions, but did not call attention to that fact. If a viewer isn't comfortable with functions, she will surely be confused by nested functions.

    Another example of poor presentation was the use of single-character variable names. A good instructor would have clearly labled the variables as such, so instead of a, b, and c, which many beginners might confuse with literal characters, the variables should have been named something unmistakable like VarA, VarB, and VarC. Also, good programming practice requires clear, meaningful names for all programmer-created objects.

    If the preparatory material and exercises for this video were inadequate or nonexistent, I'd suggest you find a better online programming course.

    I'll keep an eye out for you at the Festival of Books.

  2. I'll consider some of the points you brought up. I taught myself old school BASIC a long time ago and I was able to get it and create a simple program.

    I thought it would be like that. It might be the delivery method. I'm half tempted to create a learn as I go version that would be one concept at a time.

    I'm keeping that fantasy in my head at the moment.

    I'll do my best to make it to the festival. Bookaholics unite.