Archive for September 2011


6 Comments » Posted on Tuesday 13 September 2011 at 7:14 pm by Jacob Aron
In Inventions & Technology, Musings

I’ve been thinking about learning to program and thought I’d blog about it in the hope of soliciting some tips or advice.

First off, why do you want to learn programming?

Almost every day I write about people doing cool things with computers. I’d like to do some of those cool things. I also don’t get to do very much abstract problem-solving during my day job, of the type I did during my maths degree. Writing programs seems like a good way to come up with puzzles to solve.

There are also some practical reasons – I often get annoyed that software can’t do exactly what I want it to do. If I learn to program, I could maybe write software that meets my needs. And finally, I’ve got this vague idea that journalists of the future should know much more about making a computer do things than I currently do.

So what DO you know?

I’m not coming at this as a complete novice. I played with BASIC as a child, took courses in Python during university and dabbled with SQL in a former job, so I know about a bunch of the building blocks of programming such as variables and loops. I’m a bit more fuzzy on other concepts – I’ve heard of object-oriented programming, for example, but I don’t really know what it is.

How can I help you?

There are so many resources out there that I don’t really know where to begin. Ideally I’d like a single solid resource I can come back to, be it a website or a book. I had fun playing with Codecademy, an interactive Javascript tutorial, but as a start-up it’s fairly limited – are there more established alternatives out there?

I also don’t know if I should pick a particular programming language, and if so, which one? I’ve got a vague idea that I’d like to learn Java, with the aim of one day writing an Android app, but perhaps I should learn to crawl before I sprint.

Any and all advice would be appreciated. Also, if anyone else is in the same position and fancies learning to program together, perhaps we could berate/encourage each other – just let me know in the comments.