A crash course on failing to learn programming | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 20, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 20, 2018

A crash course on failing to learn programming

I have always heard that coding is a difficult craft to master. Loops, strings and arrays are jargons I am rather familiar with on account of being friends with Computer Science students. And such is my curse that on a lazy Friday afternoon, one of my friends piqued my curiosity and I found myself on the website codeacademy.com, where I decided to quench my thirst for some coding knowledge.



As I proceeded to enter the website, I wondered what I would take away from this experience. Will I finally be able to make my own website or perhaps my own RPG based on Hatirjheel? Or perhaps I'll make a new operating system that will take up the majority of the international market share, eventually leading to the monstrous reign of a monopoly. It was time to find out.



I logged into the site for a 7 day trial period, confident that I would barely need 7 days given my excellent grasp on calculus and fundamental mathematics. The language I chose to learn was Python, because according to my coding-enthusiast friends, it was the easiest one to learn and the most recommended one on the Interwebs.

The instructions that followed showed me how I could use coding to create colourful, animated, bubbly text on the output. There were 7 steps and while I started out feeling rather enthusiastic about learning more about this alien subject, I soon realised this is not for me.

Somewhere between adding in data into the code to create the animation, I lost focus and delved into the depths of YouTube where I started going through conspiracy theories and making some of it up myself.



As it appeared, codeacademy.com was too primitive to contain the focus of my sharp intellectual abilities. So I decided it was time to go through YouTube and learn from the masters themselves. I typed in “coding 101” in the search bar and I clicked on the first video that had over a million views. It was an Indian man called Rajesh from IT and it was a 32 minutes long video claiming to be the end all be all to Python.

As preparation, I racked up all the candy I could find in the fridge, got myself a tube of pizza flavoured chips and a bottle of coke and watched an episode of That 70s Show. Of course it extended to three more episodes, given I had to finish the food.

Once I'd finished all my food, I went back to Rajesh from IT. I got myself a nice new notebook and wrote down “Coding 101” on top and started the video. The first thing I noticed was that the thumbnail of his channel was a yellow duck. As a result, instead of focusing on what variables are, my mind got stuck on the duck song. This was hindering the immense progress I was already making and I decided that I would have to watch a different video.



Soon after, I found another video titled “How to Learn Code (The 3 Main Ways)” and I was instantly pleased with the channel's professional approach to coding.

The narrator spoke of the steps towards attaining a bachelor's degree in Computer Science. The other approach towards learning programming language by the narrator was through attending a coding boot-camp that would cost me about USD 5000 - 20,000. The last path that the narrator suggested I follow was a path of self-enlightenment. This meant that I would take a bunch of online courses that would barely cost me any money or watch a lot of tutorials online that would help me do coding. By this time I had realised that I haven't learnt a single line of code and that it was time to script out “Hello, Goodbye World.”



In hindsight, I learned that if I ever have to do any kind of job that will require me to know a few basics about coding, I can do two things: I could just watch YouTube videos and learn whatever I need to when the time comes or I can find myself a job that will never require me to know programming. Till then, I think I'll stick to learning guitar chords instead of computer codes.

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