Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ten Days Down the Road

This always happens when I start studying. I get sidetracked. My actual work started to heat up, preventing me from proceeding with the CSS book. I did receive Training Guide: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS nearly a week ago and started noodling around in that, but didn't get too far.

I was advised this would be a good book to learn from even without working in Windows 8 and with Visual Studio (I'm not interested in the certification, just learning the information), but that means I get to skip a few chapters. The book is organized in "waves," so to speak, so you first get introduced to HTML, then JavaScript, then CSS. Later, you get more advanced information on HTML, then JavaScript, then CSS again, and so on. I'm only on page 32, so you can imagine things are still pretty elementary.

On the other hand, I did start the Codecademy JavaScript tutorial, but as usual, I got bogged down toward the end of "Introduction to Functions in JS." I've appealed for help to the forums so I guess I'll see what the error of my ways is by the by. 

I thought I was doing reasonably well there for awhile, but then the problems seemed to assume more knowledge than I had. I thought I had missed some key portion of a previous lesson and went back, working my way forward again, but it didn't help. One exercise gives me both an error and also passes me on to the next exercise, so that's confusing. On top of that, I thought my code was written exactly to specs.

The other exercise is beyond me. I don't find enough information in the instructions or the previous exercises to allow me to write code that doesn't complain at me. I know for actual programmers, these lessons would be painfully elementary, but to me, they're locked black boxes with no way in.

My real problem is that I don't naturally think like a programmer. I've read arguments back and forth on the web about whether anyone can learn to code. Sort of like the message in the Pixar film Ratatouille (2007), "Anyone can cook." 

I believe anyone can cook but not that anyone can cook well. The question remains, can anyone learn to code, even at an elementary level, or is programming a skill set for a specific population that no one outside that group can acquire? I feel like Codecademy's "teaching style" is good in that they don't just lead you around by the nose, giving you all the code upfront and then simply having you copy and paste, and then run short, small programs. On the other hand, when you get stuck, you're stuck. The hints on the last two exercises weren't helpful in the slightest.

Forums can be incredibly slow to respond, depending on how attentive the mods are, so I don't know how long I'll need to wait for a clue let alone an answer. A large part of programming is debugging, but that requires a sufficient understanding of how the code works to find the problem. I'm not there yet. The point of setting these work goals is to see if I can ever get there. Now that my job performance is riding on it, I'll have to figure out a way or be prepared (at least) to eat large helpings of humble pie.

That's my report, such as it is.

Addendum: Not that much time passed and I got two helpful responses on the forum. Turns out I made some minor, newbie errors. Oh duh. Now, back on track.

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