I’ve had a change of direction since I resurrected my blogging efforts. I have found 24 things to be pretty uninspiring I’m afraid. I’m sure many people get a lot out of it, but it’s not for me.
I have been keeping busy with my professional development though, and have been working my way through various resources trying to teach myself the program in Python.
Ruby I could never really get excited about, but Python I am really enjoying. It seems to me like it’s more mature as a language and so there are a lot more resources around to help the learner, be they structured courses or just examples and explanations on StackExchange.
So, here’s what I’ve been using to help me learn:
- Programming foundations with Python – free course through Udacity, not very long, but a good introduction to certain aspects of programming, particularly the concept of Objects
- Web development – another free Udacity course, much longer (I haven’t completed it yet), and steps through the process of creating a web application using Python and Google App Engine. The lecturer used to work at Reddit I think. The course assumes Python experience so it’s a step up from the first course. Very good so far.
- A Byte of Python – a book written by an Indian programmer and blogger named Swaroop CH. Excellent starter book for learning Python
- Learn Python the Hard Way – another book on learning Python. Focuses on doing lots of fairly repetitive ‘drills’ involving lots of typing. A bit annoying for a crap typist like me, but it does help the remembering process. Quite a Victorian approach to learning I reckon.
For the first time recently, I feel like I’m starting to really understanding programming, at least at a basic level. Not sure where I’ll go from here, but for now I’m just going to keep doing tutorials and MOOCs. It’s fun, so why not.
So 24 things is going a bit slowly. Most of the things have been somewhat uninspiring if I’m honest. I guess because my specific situation means I’m not exactly an academic librarian, just a casual, I don’t see the tasks relating to each thing as particularly relevant to my primary role, as librarian in a government agency.
Anyway, a new ‘thing’ I’ve discovered through work is Udemy. I’ve started working through a Python course we purchased at work as part of a stacksocial bundle. It’s really good so far. I’ve done a few online programming courses through CodeAcademy and W3Schools that have been good, but it always feels a little theorhetical. This course is different in that it goes from basic Python programming right through to building a database driven website using Django, and even some SQL along the way.
As an aside I’ve always ignored SQL but turns out I think it’s something I, and librarians in general, would be really into – it’s basically advanced boolean searching from what I can tell. The W3Schools SQL course is a good place to get an overview.
I’ve been trying to improve my coding skills sporadically over that last year or so. Mostly I’ve used Codeacamedy to do this.
The lessons are built around an interactive coding environment where you are set tasks to write, or complete, bits of code and then run them. If you get the right result you progress to the next lesson.
It’s not perfect though, I’ve found several examples of lessons where code is technically correct but doesn’t pass because the Codeacademy validator is expecting a different solution. It is also fair to say that some of the lesson instructions are a bit confusing.
Thankfully each lesson is supported by a Q&A forum which is pretty active. You can usually find an answer there if you’re stuck, or ask a new question if you need more help.
All told I highly recommend Codeacademy for upping you coding skills, and it’s all free!