Learning Computer Languages

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Xenops
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Learning Computer Languages

Postby Xenops » Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:47 pm

I think it's time I start learning how to use computer languages. My two main interests are these:

1. Editing a website (maybe use Wordpress as a base?). I would like to have my own website for my creative pursuits.
2. Data programming for biology research: I'm thinking Python and/or R

I'm familiar with the basics of HTML, but not much beyond making a text bold or whatnot.

I was wondering if there is an order that I should approach things?

Thanks in advance. :)
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Re: Learning Computer Languages

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:44 pm

Lots of good advice in this topic:
How to get started with programming languages
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Re: Learning Computer Languages

Postby Sgt Schultz » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:52 pm

I've been a software engineer for 20 years now. If I were starting today, this is how I'd approach it:

HTML5 -> CSS -> JavaScript -> Angular JS (and TypeScript)

That will cover you for the majority of front-end and UI related things.

WordPress runs on PHP, so PHP might be useful to pick up the basics of too. Basic Linux commands wouldn't hurt either since WordPress is mostly installed and deployed on Linux.

A helpful website is: https://www.w3schools.com
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Re: Learning Computer Languages

Postby Jim » Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:28 am

I learnt quite a bit of Java a while back using MIT Opencourseware, which was excellent, but I can’t find it anywhere on the MIT website. They have an introductory Python course, too. Take a look here.

I would recommend taking a formal course though, because it helps to be able to properly structure things - as you get more advanced a well structured code is far easier to read and debug. It will also save you time in the long run.

I’m no expert at all, just an enthusiastic amateur!
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Re: Learning Computer Languages

Postby Whodathunkitz » Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:03 am

Op (@Xenops) the post might be a bit extreme but I wanted to describe for others what is possible and perhaps learn some tips myself.

I've spent most of my life programming. Often fixing other people's work in languages I don't know well.

I recently had to get a new job and realised I needed to get certified quickly.

I hadn't done many certs / exams before.

Language learning helped me. I stopped thinking I had to know everything, relaxed about missing details and instead just had to pass exams.

I had access to pluralsight which I think costs less than 200 GBP per year. Trials available. CBT Nuggets and others as well. Loads of free Microsoft / vendor ones plus proper ones YouTube. Pluralsight has subtitles in many languages. Not sure how good the translation is. I tried some courses with Spanish subtitles but I couldn't concentrate (L1 English, A2/b1 reading Spanish). Interesting possibilities though. Also the transcript links to the video so you can scan until you find something you want to watch and then click to go to that moment in the video.

I had a kind of exam syllabus but not exact.

My technique was

1) to find relevant courses. Often a series (path) and often multiple / different ones from different authors. About 80-120 hours per exam. No expectation of finishing all. Some video lists were compiled by others for passing vendor exams.

2) play them with subtitles on, at double speed for 25 minutes, then 5 minutes break. Pomodoro, stops me getting bored by slow presenters (often English is second language or they know audience may not be L1 English so need to go slower or just waiting for results of clicking the mouse! Mostly waiting for computer.). Get through more using subtitles and double speed. Bad presenter? Skip course. Already know content... Fast forward. I didn't do the labs but often stopped / rewound when needed.
Let it flow over you

3) on weekends up to 14 hours. Few hours after work most days.

4) watch lots of overlapping courses that way the most vital info is reinforced. More comprehensive coverage than a single course.

5) consider vendor exams as something to aim at , CV , way to judge your progress.

Pluralsight has thousands of hours of it videos. Some aimed at technology, level, exam, area of knowledge. Often a PATH covering beginning IT / Programming / big data. A path might be 30 plus hours.

Clear the decks, sign up for a trial and go mad for the trial period is my advice. Double speed with subtitles in your L1, relax if you don't get it, next similar course will reinforce.

From my exam experience, none of the courses was comprehensive enough and just using one wouldn't have highlighted the really key knowledge which is reinforced on every course and therefore has higher weighting.

I did extremely well, doing in weeks what many take a year or more to do. I probably did 40-80 video hours (so halve it) per exam taking exams every 2-3 weeks. Most people take 3 months per exam and many don't pass first time(s). They also do a lot of lab (hands on) work.

I did learn a lot, a lot of placeholders for later. But I still regard it as a trick to pass exams but with some core learning as a side effect. At the end I was frazzled / burnt out. But it's doable for a short time.

I just wish I could do it with learning languages. I can't seem to though unless it's apps like memrise / Duolingo (vocab/sentences).

For learning how to program well... Code complete 2 by Steve McConnell. Funny as well. Pretty old book. Try library.
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Re: Learning Computer Languages

Postby Iversen » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:05 pm

I touched my first computer terminal keyboard around 1970, and the language was a simple version of Basic. Then again for a short time around 1972, but after that I don't remember any digital activities before 1983 where I bought a Commodore 64 - named "64" because it had 64 kB of memory, of which 2x8 kB were overlaid with system programs during normal function. It provided some floating shapes, but it was so limited concerning graphics that its Basic even couldn't put a dot in a specific position on the screen. So I decided to make my own little program stump in machine code that added a Basic function for that purpose which I could call to draw curves. This meant writing a program in numbers (I couldn't see the advantage in using assembler since that just was using codes in letters instead of the raw numbers). You could also buy preprogrammed games (in those days on cassettes), and I owned one that could make the Commodore thing play chess ... but I preferred programming it myself, even though the results were less spectacular.

In 1986 I took a computer course (Symphony, Basic) and ended this with a one month internship where I was supposed to use the things I had learnt. And basically I just clinged on to that job until I retired a couple of years ago. In the meantime I had to learn a few other computer languages. I made some applications in Pascal, including one that downloaded fonts to our laser printers and another that transferred accounting data - and it was funny because the accounting department ask me to do the latter because the module they used took forever. I was first told that my 'app' didn't work, but then they got the information that they had sent the same data several times. The problem was that the transfer went so fast that they didn't notice it had run. Then I added a 'done' message, haha.

However most of my programming was done in the inbuilt Basics for applications in our office packages (plus HTML and Javascript), and I made things here that normally would have been done using stand alone language packages. But with time, the strategy of my employer became to eliminate such homemade applications, except when they couldn't avoid it because they needed them here and now for some specific purpose.

I followed a few courses (maybe three or four all in all) during the 29 years I worked there, but didn't really learn much from the teachers. Most of my knowledge came from tinkering with a practical problem while looking in some hardcore documentation. In those cases where I was lured into attending a course I did my own thing in the background while the teacher droned on and on at the blackboard (or later: whiteboard). I have always preferred learning things that way, and you could say that I learn languages the same way.
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Re: Learning Computer Languages

Postby Cainntear » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:09 pm

I'd get an account on Packt Publishing's website. Every day one of their books is available as a free electronic version. I've got an account full of books that I'll never read, but I know that if I ever need to learn a new technology, there's a chance I've already got a relevant reference for it in my library. Can't be bad.
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Re: Learning Computer Languages

Postby mcthulhu » Sat Mar 24, 2018 12:33 am

Coursera has some good free courses on both Python and R, some of them as part of its data science specialization, as well as on building Web sites. You might also be interested in their bioinformatics courses, given your interests, though I don't know whether they assume some programming background already.

Given your other interests, Applied Text Mining in Python, which gets you involved with natural language processing and NLTK, might also be fun once you have some basic Python.

Generally I've been able to audit courses there for free, sometimes with access to automated homework assignment grading and quizzes, sometimes without, but always with full access to the lectures and materials and the discussion forums. You would have to pay for course credit and certificates, which I don't really care about, as I've been exploring personal interests.
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Re: Learning Computer Languages

Postby kulaputra » Wed Jun 20, 2018 8:52 am

If you want a language that is both very good for building websites and for data science, Python is the way to go. It is pretty much as good as R when it comes to data but unlike R can be used for many other purposes. Depending on the complexity of the website you wanna build, you'll wanna learn Django or Flask, which are heavy weight and light weight (respectively) web frameworks in python.

Scala is also an interesting language that's worth learning both because of its usefulness in data science (Spark, Hadoop, etc.- it has a very large ecosystem in this regard) and its general utility. But Python may be a better first choice since to learn to program well (as opposed to merely adequately or subpar) in Scala you have to understand functional programming, which can be very difficult for novices unless you have a strong mathematics background.
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Re: Learning Computer Languages

Postby israelrt » Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:54 pm

1. Learning R
A Step-by-Step Function Guide to Data Analysis
O'Reilly Media

2.R in Action, Second Edition
Data analysis and graphics with R
Robert I. Kabacoff
Manning

3.RDataMining.com: R and Data Mining
http://www.rdatamining.com/

4. R for genomics
https://www.bioconductor.org

I understand that R is used by a number of hedge funds.
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