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January 18, 2018

I’m Trying to Learn Python

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

I’m a C language fanatic. It’s my language of choice, primarily because I have books and online courses about teaching C, as well as the Unofficial C For Dummies companion website. It’s good to keep up my knowledge, but like many programmers, I yearn to know another tongue.

My first computer language was BASIC, which was standard on microcomputers way back when. Even the venerable IBM PC came with a BASIC interpreter in ROM. So did my TRS-80 Model III.

Eventually, I moved on to Assembly Language, which is what professionals used to code their wares in early years. Assembly Language is fun and I enjoyed coding it, but the development cycle is horrifically long. So I moved to C.

Over the years, I’ve learned various languages. For example, I know and use the PHP language. I’ve dabbled in Perl, which is a marvelous language but weird enough that if you don’t keep fluent in it you lose it.

Recently, I tried to learn Java, mostly to program Android devices. I had some success, but it never really stuck with me. Even Java programmers admit that it’s funky and odd at times.

Years ago, a nerd friend encouraged me to learn Python. I looked into it, but that was about it. I coded a project in Python once. I didn’t know the language, but any competent programmer can cobble together code in an unknown language. My code ran, but I’m certain it was inefficient and inelegant.

With my current fascination for the Raspberry Pi, I decided to finally crack open a book and learn Python. Lamentably, the book I chose was O’Reilly’s Learning Python by Mark Lutz.

I chose the O’Reilly book because I’m a fan of its references. They do nerd books well. Like any publisher, however, the titles are hit-and-miss.

What attracted me to Learning Python was its massive size: 1500 pages. I figured there’s enough material in there that I wouldn’t need to buy a second book. For most O’Reilly texts, this philosophy works as the material is thorough. The Learning Python title, however, isn’t thorough, it’s wordy to the point of being boring.

After absorbing the first few pages, I began to flip page after page faster and faster. My inner editor was saying, “This could be cut. That could be cut.” On and on: words, words, words.

You don’t actually get to code a program until you’re hundreds of pages deep in the text. Lutz takes pages of paper and ink to explain in the minutest detail all the Python data types, which is good, but dull. I want to code!

In my programming books, readers write code right away. I figure that’s what they want, so why not reward them? Eventually, the O’Reilly book might offer me that opportunity, but not until I’ve waded through more verbiage than I’ve read in a computer book since the 1980s.

I’ll keep you apprised of my progress.

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