The Computer Youth
I was fortunate enough to grow up on computers.
My Dad worked for some branch of Apple at some point, and was one of the original computer nerds, into programming and all that jazz. He would always be the ‘computer guy’ for all our friends whenever they had issues that needed fixing. He’d always grumble and rage about it, but, then again, that’s par for the course. He’d still do it and always help people out with whatever tech problems presented themselves.
He was an Apple guy to the point of making his license plate “MAC ONLY.”
I was playing the original Warcrafts, Command & Conquer, Power Pete, MDK on a mac computer before the iMac back before my memory really grew consistent.
By the time we had our mandatory typing class in 3rd grade I was busy showing off how I could already type without looking. I was so cool. Look at me showing off my privilege.
A fair number of my friends growing up, and more as I got older, were from a young age equally well versed in the computer world.
It’s such a strange thing to take for granted, considering it’s likely the most valuable skill one can have in the modern world.
The reality of our time is that if you have computer skills, you will have a job, and usually a well paying one.
For a long time, (being rebellious and all) this is what put me off of the whole idea of learning programming etc.
I wanted to go my own way, and go on the paths less traveled. And I’ve spent the better part of my life doing so. I’ve have learned the value of doing so, and intend to continue on my own path – making decisions, as much as possible, from a rational basis while never betraying the heart. This is how I like to think of it. I like to think we all know what a betrayal of the heart is. It’s the opposite, I suppose, of following your gut. When you know something is right, you have to do this thing, and you choose not to.
At any rate – I dove away from computers in every way I could. I transferred from the well-respected successful polytechnic university I originally enrolled at, and ended up at a more well-rounded, less academic city school. I’ve pursued music, community service, languages, the whole Japan thing, education, cycling, small business, coffee, photography, interviews, and freelance videography. Now I’m here. And it’s been a drawn out period of instability and uncertainty, and I’ve come to really face the skills I have and the ones I want to have to be able to really be an asset in society.
Working with stak has given me a chance to dive into many newer fields and see where I really am, and am not, useful. And it’s one of the most gratifying things perhaps – to feel useful.
Asking for something else to work on for the company, I was prompted with learning the html for our new website. So I’m going to dive in – there are so many resources for learning programming. It’s just another language after all.
How hard could it be?
Finding a Structure
This is paramount to learning anything. Whatever the system is, if it works for you, it’s good. There is no perfect system for learning something, and some of the worst (what does that mean?) structures can be the best for some people. If using it helps you make progress, it’s correct. If it doesn’t, try something else. Find structures and stick with them no matter what.
For learning Japanese, I had several structures that I would stick to religiously. One, namely when I was learning Kanji, was Wanikani. Though it’s a paid service, it gave you words to ingrain into your memory at spaced intervals so it would remind you right before you forget each meaning. These kind of things are really important if you find one you are able to buy into.
One thing I did with Japanese was begin a project. That was, along with you know, being able to live basically as a Japanese person, to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from the beginning to end. When I was started it would be grueling; looking up practically every single kanji on the page, and if I worked really hard, finishing a page in a day. By the time I got halfway through, I was reading without looking up more than a word a page. The closer you get to the start of my battered copy of that book, the more covered in ink each page gets. Whereas the second half has practically no markings at all.
So what’s it going to be for HTML? Well, I’m lucky because I have the project. Turning our website design into usable HTML code. That’ll be my Harry Potter. As for my Wani Kani, my steady ‘vocabulary’ study…
I could watch videos telling me how to learn like this or this. Both great content but, there is a common trap of talking about learning instead of just learning. Supplements are only ever supplements. The true path of learning is not so clean-cut and predeterminable. It’s more about the time spent with that which you don’t yet understand.
Do Lots Of Work
This is one of my favorite quotes ever. Due to its lack of elegance and feeling of honest, and just the fact that it’s advice I don’t often hear:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
So. Let’s dive in.
I used this, and I made this:
Which looks like this:
All in all, html is definitely a more satisfying way to start learning about programming than python or anything else I’ve tried before.
Onwards and upwards. Until next time.