Chris J Powell

Learning to Code – Geeks Unite

My love for computers has been there for a long time.  It runs deep and for the most part I have been involved with the hardware side of things with the occasional attempt to learn some coding.  I have tinkered with Visual Basic in the creation of Scripts to make my work environment a little easier, built some fanciful Big Data Applications to make researching easier and even tried my hand at building an application or two back in the post Dot Com bust but I everything that I have done in the past has always been to serve a very specific end.  I have learned just enough to complete the project that I was working on and never actually sat down and really learned how to do the things that would make me a true Coder Geek.


When I signed up for a Data Science course a few months ago I found myself completely out of my depths when it comes to being able to keep up with the relatively light course load and it was mainly because I did not have the practical experience of just doing a coding project.  I found myself having to do double and at times triple duty to be able to acquire the knowledge from the course and then acquire the basic skills to be able to complete the assignments.  This challenge took what should be a simple 10-15 hours per week and turned it into a 2nd full time job.

Not having an extra 40 hours per week to commit to this endeavor I decided that it was best to drop the “learning” project for a while and just enjoy the time that I had this summer with my daughter, and I am so very glad that I did.  The things that I learned from her about being strong, accepting change and moving forward in life…well those are the things that a parent should be teaching their kid and I guess we did it together in this time of radical change in our relationship.  As she finalizes her packing to start her new life 55 km away with her Mom I now have some time available to start focusing on me and on building those skills that will be marketable in the future.

I took a look at the Top Programming Languages of 2014 over at SitePoint who recently published the findings of an IEEE Spectrum Survey:

  1. Java
  2. C
  3. C++
  4. Python
  5. C#
  6. PHP
  7. JavaScript
  8. Ruby
  9. R
  10. MATLAB
  11. Perl
  12. SQL
  13. Assembly
  14. HTML
  15. Visual Basic
  16. Objective-C
  17. Scala
  18. Shell
  19. Arduino
  20. Go

During the Data Science Course I had grabbed a ton of resources on Python and with it being ranked #4 on the list I figured it was time to make a commitment to learn something real and concrete for the future so for the next 8 weeks, I am going to be getting my Geek On and focusing on pouring through some pretty intensive training and skill building.

At the same time though, I am intrigued by the other languages on the list and it may be fun to really start to dabble in some PHP, Java and actually learn HTML so that I don’t have to rely on WYSIWYG editors anymore.

So, 8 weeks and I will be attempting to build a new skill set that will include 4 programming languages.

Stay tuned, each Friday I will be giving an update on the things that I have learned in the 20 hours that I am dedicating to this new learning.

I do ask this…what are you doing to change who you are?  What Skill do you want to learn?  Commit 20 hours to anything for 8 weeks…and see what will change in your life!



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