Code Year, the first week

Again, I am overwhelmed by the interest in the Code Year project from fellow catalogers. Kudos to everyone for taking on the challenge of learning to code. It’s time to dive in and get dirty!

How is the first week of Code Year 2012 for everyone (Code Year Course list/Calendar)? Did you complete the course yet or are you working on it bit by bit (lesson by lesson) all week? Who did the Supplemental lesson?

Did you feel like tearing your hair out? Or was it fun? Or was it both?

Who got started early? I admittedly signed up for Codecademy this weekend and plowed through the first 4 lessons of Getting Started with Programming course. I’ll be working on the other half of the course lessons throughout the week. I know it will help to cement it in my brain if I spread it out and have to keep going back and reviewing. I also have a sneaking suspicion I might have to create a command cheat sheet until they stick in my brain.

A trouble spot for me I’ve already identified: TYPOS. Lordy. Talk about error messages. I had to re-do a few of the lessons just because of typos. I know I have some minor dyslexia (spellchecker was invented for people like me, I swear it’s true), and I’ve learned I need to be extra careful when coding or writing in mark-up language(s) (HTML, MARC, etc.) where capitalization, spelling, and punctuation are critical. That was reinforced quite strongly by a couple of the coding lessons this week (damn “ReferenceError:” returns). Clearly I have to take my time, work carefully, and can’t do this when distracted or frequently interrupted so I don’t lose my focus. At least not yet. Maybe when I’m more comfortable/experienced I’ll be able to code successfully in my office. But for right now I need a quiet environment (no distractions) where I’m not interrupted by questions/staff/colleagues/etc.

What are your trouble spots? Does noise distract you or do you like music while you work? Does a busy environment help or hinder?

Oh, btw, I’ve learned that M&Ms help the coding process. 😉



About slmcdanold

I’m learning to laugh at myself on a daily basis. I’m a librarian (cataloger) and I love it. My job involves all things metadata related in any and all formats. I have been known to cause a ruckus when necessary (aka troublesome cataloger) and make no apologies for it. I have a passion for continuing education and teaching. I’m a newbie coder (still learning). I like to cook. I’m a fan of rugby (go Australian Wallabies!) and ice hockey (go Detroit Red Wings!). I’m car-free and bike/walk a lot. I’m learning to love running one stride at a time. I own (and love) a very mouthy cat with a punk attitude and a slightly neurotic rescue mutt.
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9 Responses to Code Year, the first week

  1. I'm not sure the typos ever go away. The trick is to work in small steps and keep testing so you spot these things quickly rather than waiting till you've done 1000 lines of code. I remember typing in Spectrum BASIC games copied from books. You'd copy out five pages of code you didn't understand then do RUN and get nothing but an error message you could do nothing about.

  2. yo_bj says:

    Typos are not your friend. Missing semicolons are your enemy. :cPThat last part about distractions brings up a very good question – how can one deal with work distractions when one needs to concentrate on an intensive task, like coding? Some folks have the luxury of doors, headphones, or a laptop where they can move to a quieter place. Turning off email and/or blocking off part of your work calendar work as well if you can get away with either.As for myself, I'm continually working out the best ways with dealing with constant distractions. Good documentation is key for remembering where you left off. Also I found that different music genres work well with different programming languages. I'm still wondering how XML relates to Metal…

  3. Andromeda says:

    I am going to have so much fun watching how other people respond to Code Year :).In re typos — so true! You've probably noticed that the editor they've given you has syntax coloring — that is, it's using different colors for different code "parts of speech". You can totally use this to help you identify & avoid typos. In particular with parentheses and braces, if you put the cursor on one it highlights its pair, or turns red if there's no pair. I am pretty much nonfunctional without syntax coloring so I'm glad the #codeyear editor includes it!Really looking forward to others' reactions.(Oh, and I did Week 1 and FizzBuzz — I have some code experience already but very little in JavaScript, so I'm interested in seeing how the pedagogy works, and how to translate the things I know about other languages to JavaScript. And thanks for mentioning the Connect group!)

  4. Ross says:

    How do you deal with distractions in your job now? I don't know how intensive it is to, say, catalog something or answer a reference question, but it seems like most jobs require some mechanism for blocking out the outside world.Back when I worked with other people (that is, before I became the social gnome that I am now), I had to wear headphones to block out the rest of the office (and my coworkers just learned to respect the headphones). I need to be able to focus intensely to get things done (otherwise I lose my train of thought or place), but once I am able to block out the outside world, momentum builds and code just pours out.It's *really* hard to get started every day (and, admittedly, some days it just never gets going). I also have a ritual and very specific setup and if that's disrupted for whatever reason (phone call, unexpected trip somewhere, whatever), it's really hard to get back on track.

  5. lrobare says:

    I've just gone through the first three lessons and it was fun! Tough to find the best time/place to do this though — trying from home this morning before work… nice and quiet but have not yet ingested enough caffeine so I stopped. I hope I don't forget everything…

  6. Steve says:

    Made it through Lesson 4. Fun. Potentially addictive. Previous work with OCLC Macro Language is a big help. Making a cheat sheet for myself is probably a good idea. I find the scratch pad feature useful for trying things out first before doing the actual lesson.

  7. Steve says:

    I just managed to accidentally create an endless loop in the "scratch pad" while working on Lesson 7, exercise 4. Had to hit ctrl-alt-del to pull up the Windows task manager and shut down the web browser. Is there an easier way to kill runaway programs?

  8. Steve – good question and I have no idea. If you're using a browser like Chrome you should only have to close the one tab since each tab is a separate instance. But for Firefox I'm not sure how to kill it without shutting down the whole browser. I've posted your question to the Week 1 page on the Catcode wiki:

  9. Bryan says:

    When I was testing something I needed to comment out a portion of a loop but used "#" instead of "//" I am also reading a book on Python, so that's how the "#" slipped in. I also made some silly typos or neglected a semicolon here or there. I appreciate the color coding, but I wonder if there would be any advantage to some kind of auto-suggest functionality.

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