Chris J Powell

Taking on a New Challenge – So you Want to be a Programmer?

As if my life is not busy enough, I have decided that it is time to actually fulfill one of my long time challenges.  To properly learn how to code.  Yes I am taking the same challenge that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took at the beginning of 2012:

Bloomberg-vows-to-codeI remember seeing this first in a blog post over at and the title of the article was “Please Don’t Learn to Code”.  I have always had an affinity for it but I figure if I want to be able to truly expand my horizons, it is time to dive in with both feet.  What will I build first you ask…ha…wouldn’t you like to know!

Before I decide the “WHAT”, I have to decide on the how.  With so many different programming languages out there to learn…the first decision has to be on that.  I figured I would verbalize my thoughts on each of the major languages to help me decide:

Java/JavaScript: Fairly ubiquitous and relatively speaking easy language to learn.  I did some “copy and past” java programming years ago but never followed through.  I think that there is a place and a time for Java and that time might be waning though as there are better and more functional languages that do not place quite so much strain on the client side now.

PHP: I do this blog in WordPress, I have played with many other CMS tools and they all have one common denominator…they use PHP.  I think it would be interesting to develop plugins and real Web Apps that are functional and do what “I” want them to do.  This is a front runner for me.  The problem is there is not really a way to build a stand alone App using PHP and it is very much so browser bases.  With HTML5 it will definitely make that skill important but what about those times that there is no Internet Access….hahaha…like any of us could survive 5 minutes without the Internet.

Ruby: This would be an interesting skill, it is something that would expand my horizons at work as most of our development internally is done with Ruby.  My challenge with this…is that like PHP it is very much Web Based and it is not “as” universally accepted as PHP.

C++: Many have called for the demise of the Desktop but there is still a butt load made and used around the globe.  Linux is a true passion for me and being able to contribute either to existing projects or actually start one myself would be a pretty cool feeling.  The problem I see with diving into this…the time investment and the deep understanding of all the moving parts of an OS.

Mobile App Dev: The marketplace demands good mobile developers.  Everything is moving to the SmartPhone and Tablet Markets.  It would be fun and interesting to dive into the Mobile Space but with so much focus on Patent Infringement on the Mobile Side…I am genuinely afraid that if I built something really cool, and actually made some money off of it, I would lose everything because some Patent Troll decides that the 2 finger swipe using the left hand while holding the device behind your back is all theirs and I will need to pay royalties and damages totaling 20x the value and total sales of my 99 cent App!

I really do want to learn to Code.  It has been a dream of my for some time.  12 years in fact since the first time that I walked into a Career College in Ottawa to inquire about what I would get for the $14,000 in education.

The decision is not made yet…I have my ideas and preconceptions but maybe…just maybe there are some Coding Geeks out there that might point me in the right direction.

Cheers and Happy Friday!

Chris J Powell

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