Engineer & Entertain

Ideas I grapple with

Archive for the tag “Autodidactic”

Python Now, Asp Kicking Later

I have two goals in life:

  1. Be better than sliced bread
  2. Know everything

I am not sure how to do the former and I am woefully behind on the latter.  To combat my lack of knowledge I have been picking an area of knowledge I am deficient in and I learn as much as I can about it.  Areas in which I have notable aptitude include obscure trivia from the space race and performing cheap tricks better than David Blaine.  My next foray is learning computer programming.  MIT’s Open Course Ware is allowing me to take 6.00 Introduction to Computer Science and Programming to satiate my thirst for operants and operands.

Lecture 1 focused on the syllabus, course mechanics, and introduced students to terms and concepts which will be used through out the course.  Points of interest include:

  • Memorization: The professor stated the ability to memorize was not nearly as helpful as the ability to think.  This is a point I believe all educators should try and get across.  It does not matter if you memorize “The Raven” or know all the knowable Mersenne primes if you cannot consider the impact of what it means.
  • Plagiarism: Plagiarism is relatively tolerated in programming.  The instructor encouraged us to look at other codes to see how they solved similar problems.  He did suggest we try working on the code rather than search for it, copy, and paste and call it our own.
  • Work: The instructor also commented that students do well if they attend class twice weekly, attend recitation (which is sadly not broadcast), and perform homework.  While this is an obvious statement for those who excelled in college, all too often I observe students who do not see the correlation between practicing what you learned in class.

Problem Set 0: Write a program that does the following in order: 1.  Asks the user to enter his last name.  2.  Asks the user to enter his first name.  3.  Prints out the user’s first and last names in that order.

Consideration: I encountered a road block immediately as I did not know how to query for input.  After discussing it with Corrie, who is also taking this course, I learned about raw_input.  I also learned there is a Wiki* workbook for Python to which MIT specifically refers.

Solution: The solution is remarkably simple and many with any form of coding experience will scoff it took me more than two minutes to do this.  When coders decide to learn first aid, I will scoff at them for taking a pulse with their thumbs**.

>>>lastname=raw_input(‘Enter last name’); firstname=raw_input(‘Enter first name’); print firstname, lastname

*There are many wikis for python, but the specific one listed by MIT provides decent examples.
**There is a palpable pulse in your thumb.  You may feel your pulse in place of the pulse of the victim.



Always wanted to go to MIT, but you dislike cream pies, tea parties, and mispronunciations?   Now you can take a majority of MIT’s courses with none of the Boston – online and for free!  MIT has taken an openware approach and posted a variety of courses online.  You will not earn a diploma from this but that should not stop you from teaching yourself calculus, physics, or urban studies (which sadly has nothing to do with hip-hop or break dancing).  I am not sure where I am going to start, but I will certainly heed the words of not letting my tuition-based schooling interfere with my autodidactic education.

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