A n00b dicks around with Python

Flowcharting programs is ridiculous. When we’re talking software and interconnected files, okay yeah, I can see how that would make sense. But for simple, ASCII programs I think you can narrow the design spec down to 1) an example text file showing what you want the input to look like and 2) an example text file of what you want the output to look like. After this, pseudocode is just a waste of time. You might as well sit down, open your browser to Google and try to hammer text file number one into text file number two.

It’s a lot like that game where you try to get from one word to another by changing one letter at a time:



I think it’s a mistake to try to make programming into some sort of “clean” business, adhering to timetables and such. It’s a lot more like math than engineering or science: you’re faced with a problem and you either “get it” immediately and knock it out in a couple of minutes or you bang your head against it for hours and days until you finally “get it”. The only way to get better is to be able to draw on a large number of previous experiences. It’s not a fluid intelligence thing, but rather intuition and crystallized intelligence and practice.

I think it would be fun to write an RPG, starting from the lowest possible level of abstraction. Of course, I feel the need to sorta maybe learn something useful in the process, which is why I’m not starting with assembly (although that’s a rabbit hole I’ve previously explored with great fascination).

About Aeoli Pera

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6 Responses to A n00b dicks around with Python

  1. LizardKing says:

    From what little programming experience that I have…I always hated pseudocode and flowcharts. It didn’t make much sense to me. I’d rather just write the program and be done with it. I have similar experiences with either “getting it” right away or having to wait for a bit and then “getting it”.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      You read my philosophy for self-study of mathematics, so you understand why this is, correct? It’s a pretty simple connection.

      • LizardKing says:

        The first connection that comes to mind is that it’s all cumulative. If you miss a few bricks then the whole house comes crashing down. My instructors’ style of teaching programming was: “Hey, do this project that you don’t know how to do.” Then I’d spend hours on the internet looking up all the requisite thingies that I needed to know and become familiar with. This would be followed by about 2 hours of actual programming followed by 3 hours of fixing everything that wouldn’t work. >.< The instructors would always be available via email or cell phone if any serious problems came up.

        I guess it works. It's like teaching a kid to swim by throwing him in the pool and then standing by to make sure that he doesn't drown.

        Most of my problems involved trying to get visual studio to actually work like it's supposed to.

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        Yes, that’s it exactly.

        “I guess it works. It’s like teaching a kid to swim by throwing him in the pool and then standing by to make sure that he doesn’t drown.”

        Except that it’s the Prussian method under teachers with variable sympathy. Which is more like throwing a bunch of kids into the pool and rescuing as many as possible while also trying to publish your papers. And really, shouldn’t they already have basically known how to swim when they got here? The Asians all seem to.

        R-selection at its finest. It disgusts me both in theory and in all forms of practice.

      • LizardKing says:

        Yeah, if my professors had been the uncaring sort, I wouldn’t have learned a single thing. Two out of three of my professors were competent and actually cared if we learned how to do computer machine type things. The other one just read off of a slideshow presentation in a monotone voice and…well, it was rather boring.

        What good alternatives are there to the Prussian method? I had a crazy leftist professor who insisted that he was teaching in the Socratic method. It was…well, interesting. No one cared about the shit he was shoveling except for the easily-swayed women and man-children in the program. Oh wait, that was everyone. The two of us who were intelligent knew that he was full of crap and came close to falling asleep every class period. Ahh, college. The good days, the boring days, the days you shall certainly forget.

        I’m afraid that this comment is going to reply to the wrong comment but I’m just going to go ahead and post it.

        • Aeoli Pera says:

          Alternatives to the Prussian method? Tutoring, self-teaching…really, any organic method that you can think of. If you’re talking about mass schooling, then the single-room schoolhouses of 19th century America seem to be just fine (producing some unbelievable literacy rates).

          The Prussian method is primarily a means of control, secondarily a method of stratification…everything’s out of whack, if you want to think about education correctly you’ll have to throw out all of your assumptions and start from scratch.

          Example: You know how to read and your child doesn’t. So you teach them that B says buh and so on. If they get it wrong, you correct them. Then you introduce them to more rules, exceptions, etc. This is tutoring. It’s pretty natural.

          Now imagine you have two children. You tell them B says buh. One of them gets it and the other doesn’t. What do you do? Reason from scratch like this for larger numbers of children, adults, whatever.

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