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20 Something: Computer Programming is Fun!

I recently picked up computer programming. Or rather, I’ve started learning some computer programming. I’m focusing on JavaScript at the moment. Some people have told me that Java is going the way of the mammoth, but I don’t see how. Some of it is clunky, but from my understanding, it is still the primary coding language of the internet. And of course that could change, but it seems like a decent starting point.

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The most fascinating thing about coding to me is how much writing goes into something that looks incredibly simple. I recently did a lesson that involved building a rock, paper, scissors game, and the code amount wasn’t huge, but for the output (prompting the user to input rock/paper/scissors, the computers choice of rock/paper/scissors, and the resulting victor) it seemed like a lot.

I did a course over HTML and CSS on Codecademy, and I really loved it. I’m now working on basic Java on the same site. I mostly like the format of the lessons, and I feel like I’m learning a lot.

However, I both love and hate the lessons on Codecademy because for some things the lesson leads you step by step into the kiddie pool, and then it suddenly turns into an older brother and launches you from the diving board saying “Don’t worry. You can totally swim. I’ll give you a hint; move your arms.” Move my arms which way?

It’s sometimes extremely frustrating, but I was watching a TEDx talk by Josh Kaufman on YouTube, and it really put the whole learning something new into perspective. For those who don’t want to watch the 20-minute video (though it’s quite a good talk) he basically posits that it takes 20 hours of practice to get relatively good at something new. And he says that 20 hours gets you over the prohibitive speed bump of feeling stupid.

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I think I find the coding lessons frustrating because in those moments when I’m windmilling wildly while trying not to drown, I feel stupid. I hate feeling stupid. I’m so used to things coming to me easily that actually having to try to get this whole coding thing down frustrates me beyond reason.

But I’ve been sticking with it. Sometimes I get too mad at myself for not understanding how I’m supposed to word things no matter how many times I go over my notes or talk my way through the script and what I want it to do. At those times, I just have to step away for a bit and come back to it. And every time that I come back to it, I figure out the piece I was missing. Usually it’s a quotation mark or a semi-colon. Oi.

Despite the setbacks, I’m having a lot of fun with this whole programming thing. I don’t really have a goal for what I want to do with it, but it’s a lot of fun just learning the language and the various things I can use it for. Eventually, I want to design my own website. And who knows, maybe eventually this could lead to a career path?

But for now, I’ll just keep trying to remember the syntax of a for loop vs. a while loop while trying to figure out ways they are actually useful to me.

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