Advice From An Old Programmer


I have been through this Python book called “Learn Python The Hard Way” from Zed A. Shaw. I find it really interesting at the end of the book.

This is something I have to agree with him. You can find full content at Chapter “Advice from and old programmer” page 201.

You’ve finished this book and have decided to continue with programming. Maybe it will be a career for you, or maybe it will be a hobby. You’ll need some advice to make sure you continue on the right path, and get the most enjoyment out of your newly chosen activity.
I’ve been programming for a very long time. So long that it’s incredibly boring to me. At the time that I
wrote this book, I knew about 20 programming languages and could learn new ones in about a day to a week depending on how weird they were. Eventually though this just became boring and couldn’t hold my interest anymore. This doesn’t mean I think programming is boring, or that you will think it’s boring, only that I find it uninteresting at this point in my journey.
What I discovered after this journey of learning is that it’s not the languages that matter but what you do with them. Actually, I always knew that, but I’d get distracted by the languages and forget it periodically.
Now I never forget it, and neither should you.
Which programming language you learn and use doesn’t matter. Do not get sucked into the religion surrounding programming languages as that will only blind you to their true purpose of being your tool
for doing interesting things.
Programming as an intellectual activity is the only art form that allows you to create interactive art. You can create projects that other people can play with, and you can talk to them indirectly. No other art form is quite this interactive. Movies flow to the audience in one direction. Paintings do not move. Code goes both ways.
Programming as a profession is only moderately interesting. It can be a good job, but you could make about the same money and be happier running a fast food joint. You’re much better off using code as your secret weapon in another profession.
People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect. People who can code in biology, medicine, government, sociology, physics, history, and mathematics are respected and can do amazing things to advance those disciplines.
Of course, all of this advice is pointless. If you liked learning to write software with this book, you should try to use it to improve your life any way you can. Go out and explore this weird wonderful new
intellectual pursuit that barely anyone in the last 50 years has been able to explore. Might as well enjoy it while you can.
Finally, I’ll say that learning to create software changes you and makes you different. Not better or worse, just different. You may find that people treat you harshly because you can create software, maybe using words like “nerd”. Maybe you’ll find that because you can dissect their logic that they hate arguing with you. You may even find that simply knowing how a computer works makes you annoying and weird to them.
To this I have one just piece of advice: they can go to hell. The world needs more weird people who know how things work and who love to figure it all out. When they treat you like this, just remember
that this is your journey, not theirs. Being different is not a crime, and people who tell you it is are just jealous that you’ve picked up a skill they never in their wildest dreams could acquire.
You can code. They cannot. That is pretty damn cool.

You can find the full book of Learn Python The Hard Way from this link


One thought on “Advice From An Old Programmer

  1. An interesting find and I can see how if someone got into programming because they wanted to tick off as many languages as they could would eventually lose their mojo. I’m surprised that Zed might consider that a pitfall so common, it’s worth a word of warning in his book though.

    I mean, do people really do that??!!

    I guess you could call me an ‘old programmer’ too and I have to say that in 20 years of commercial software development and a good 8-10 years of hobby programming before that, I’ve never met another developer who simply wanted to cut ‘new language’ notches in their bed post! Perhaps I’ve just been lucky.

    What I have seen though is exactly the opposite where developers are reluctant to learn new languages, something I find equally unfathomable but over the years I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that this is often the case.

    I actually think that the vast majority of people who code do it as a means to a creative end and therefore can’t forget that. Yes there’s plenty of banter about the merits or whatever of different languages but if you boil the arguments down to their guts, what you get to is something along the lines of, “I don’t like this language / tool / platform / RDMS / MQ / etc etc… because it does something that gets between me and my creativity.”

    Even those who don’t want to learn new things, I think do that from the position of, “I’m productively creative with the tools and languages I know, learning something new will slow me down.”

    The biggest killer to developers’ creativity is an unreasonable project demand. I really hope Zed mentioned that somewhere in his book. Provide a good coping strategy for that and he’d be offering real value.

    By the way, I love the T-Shirt. I’m gonna have to go get me one of those!

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