As I’ve shared with you guys before, my career history is as a statistician, however my new job has me doing other work. Nevertheless, my career goal now is to enhance my programming skills in order possibly to transition into development. I already am fluent in the syntax of SAS (the premier statistical programming software out there) and SQL (structured query language).
My current objective is to teach myself Python. I am a firm believer that once you are fluent in one programming language, picking up a second or third is infinitely easier than learning that first one, and so far I am finding this to be true with Python as well.
Before I invest any of my own money in costly books or programs, I decided to learn as much as I can for free from the Interwebz.
If you’re not already familiar with it, there is a free website called Codecademy where you can teach yourself a number of useful programming languages, one of which is Python.
The coolest thing, in my opinion, about Codecademy is that there is no need for the user to download any software. Rather, Codecademy has the interpreter you need right on the website. The tutorials always have the lesson on the left hand side of the screen, with a large chunk of screen space devoted to the area where you actually code, and the output window (not shown below) is off to the right.
Codecademy lists the estimated time for completion of the entire Python module to be 13 hours. I started it this morning over breakfast and was a quarter of the way done in about an hour, so I would say the estimate is way off.
While I will admit that I am learning some useful tidbits here and there (for example, that whitespace is used in blocks), I am going to be honest and say that the Codecademy Python module is way, way, way too easy. I mean, I get simplifying things for the lowest common denominator (a casual user who literally knows zilch about programming), but I honestly think Codecademy have taken this approach too far.
Seriously, Codecademy, I do not need to practice the len() function fifty zillion times! It would have been enough to say, “Printing len(string) will give the number of characters in the text string passed.”
I will most certainly keep teaching myself Python via as many monetarily attractive methods as possible, but I will need a lot of patience to put up with Codacademy’s overly simplistic, watered down teaching methodology.
On a lighter note, I learned the other day the Python is so named based on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Codecademy recognize this fact by including all manner of Monty Python references in the examples, which I do admit is a charming touch.
Now, at the risk of beating a dead parrot, if they could just make the tutorials a bit more aggressive, I’d be a happy coder.
Until next time,