Tuesday, 2 August 2011

An Introduction of Sorts, Part 1

Learning to program can be a very daunting task. It doesn't seem that way at first, of course, but once you dive in you finally get to see what it's all about. It's like being a parent. No one can prepare you for being a parent. I realize that phrase is getting cliche but that makes it no less true. Your kids can make you incredibly happy and unbelievably angry. You're tired all the time. You get no time to yourself. You're delirious with frustration and lack of sleep. Same with programming. Well, except having no time for yourself. You get a lot of that.

Like most kids, my life with computers started with video games. The problem is, the more you play the more critical you become. "These graphics suck!" you say, and "That's a terrible bug! How did this junk ever get out the door?" Eventually, you might even think, "I can do better!" So, you put your money where your mouth is and here you are. Programming. Ya, not so easy is it?

First off is language choice. Now, if you decide to pursue programming as a career and head to college or university your choices are narrow. You basically get to pick whatever it is your school curriculum decides to teach first year students. But, if you're like me and went to school to attain some other degree or didn't go to school at all, you'll find out that the choice isn't a simple one. There are literally hundreds of languages for all kinds of tasks which are all perfect for you! Which one is right? Which should I pick first? I wish I could help you. There's no easy answer and I have neither time or desire to help. Sorry.

Now, I did happen to putter around with BASIC when I was in high-school and I tinkered with a rather obscure language called LPC. I did happen to take a first year programming course in college in which I was introduced to C which was remarkably like LPC. Later on I took a Visual BASIC and second year C++ courses. I did well with Visual BASIC  but I failed miserably in the C++ course, dropping out early in the term. To program you need to be in the right frame of mind. You need to be ready for the world of programming as much as it needs to be ready for you! "Look out world! Here I come!" BLAM! Right into a brick wall. That's how it is. If you expect it to be easy, think again. Anyone who says that it is, is either a liar or a genius. Smart money is on the former.

Many years down the road I decided to give programming another go. I still played with LPC a bit but now I wanted to do "real" programming (to understand why I felt this way, perhaps check what LPC is used for). My path lead to me back to C, and this time, I was ready.