Yesterday I started my first Coursera course – Programming for Everybody (Python) with Dr. Chuck. My first impression is that I can’t believe it’s free! I took a MOOC a couple years ago in Python but it was difficult to follow because it used a variety of free online tools that required me to jump around from website to website, reading a bit here and doing a bit of programming there. I quickly got lost. What a difference it makes to have videos and a syllabus and people there to answer questions. It is awesome how different computer programming is from writing. I feel like I’m using a completely different part of my brain.
Today in a writing Facebook group I’m in, someone is asking a question about what metaphor works for birds, while in the programming one someone is asking about running the command line in Windows 10, which I didn’t know existed yet. When someone says something stupid in the writing group, they tend to be ignored but when someone says something stupid in the computer group, at least three people tell them they’re stupid and to stop posting. Not that writers are better people, they tend to ‘like’ sad and tragic posts like “having a bad day dealing with devastating news”. The programmers are also far better at ‘liking’ and giving positive comments to those that are just looking for validation. The writers tend to ignore those posts. What’s really funny is that the programmers correct grammar and spelling far more than the writers do! I figure if writers and programmers can get along and be allowed to marry, why do we have so many wars between religions that all started in the same place?
My advice to anyone starting to program in Python is to not type “Python” into YouTube. You will get a lot of large snakes eating things from chairs to people. My finger couldn’t scroll through them for fear of being bitten so I changed my search criteria to “learn python”.
Dr. Chuck’s book, “Python for Informatics” is available free online.