Threading The Needle Of Interesting And Informative While You Learn To Code - Episode 283

Summary

Learning to code is a neverending journey, which is why it’s important to find a way to stay motivated. A common refrain is to just find a project that you’re interested in building and use that goal to keep you on track. The problem with that advice is that as a new programmer, you don’t have the knowledge required to know which projects are reasonable, which are difficult, and which are effectively impossible. Steven Lott has been sharing his programming expertise as a consultant, author, and trainer for years. In this episode he shares his insights on how to help readers, students, and colleagues interested enough to learn the fundamentals without losing sight of the long term gains. He also uses his own difficulties in learning to maintain, repair, and captain his sailboat as relatable examples of the learning process and how the lessons he has learned can be translated to the process of learning a new technology or skill. This was a great conversation about the various aspects of how to learn, how to stay motivated, and how to help newcomers bridge the gap between what they want to create and what is within their grasp.

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Announcements

  • Hello and welcome to Podcast.__init__, the podcast about Python and the people who make it great.
  • When you’re ready to launch your next app or want to try a project you hear about on the show, you’ll need somewhere to deploy it, so take a look at our friends over at Linode. With the launch of their managed Kubernetes platform it’s easy to get started with the next generation of deployment and scaling, powered by the battle tested Linode platform, including simple pricing, node balancers, 40Gbit networking, dedicated CPU and GPU instances, and worldwide data centers. Go to pythonpodcast.com/linode and get a $60 credit to try out a Kubernetes cluster of your own. And don’t forget to thank them for their continued support of this show!
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  • You listen to this show to learn and stay up to date with the ways that Python is being used, including the latest in machine learning and data analysis. For more opportunities to stay up to date, gain new skills, and learn from your peers there are a growing number of virtual events that you can attend from the comfort and safety of your home. Go to pythonpodcast.com/conferences to check out the upcoming events being offered by our partners and get registered today!
  • Your host as usual is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Steven F. Lott about finding a project that you care about to aid in learning to program

Interview

  • Introductions
  • How did you get introduced to Python?
  • Can you start by outlining your experiences working with and teaching Python?
  • Does your day-to-day experience at work suggest ways to help newcomers learn about Python?
  • How have your experiences as an author influenced your perspective on how to help newcomers become motivated to learn programming?
  • One of the common pieces of advice that I and others have given to people learning Python or other languages is to find a project that they want to build, but that’s not necessarily a practical approach. What are some of the difficulties that might come of that approach?
    • What are some strategies that you have tried for helping learners identify what kinds of project are possible and practical?
  • Beyond the difficulty of understanding what is possible and what is going to require a dedicated team of engineers to even attempt, there is the question of remaining motivated for long enough to follow through on a project in the face of syntax errors and design challenges. What can language developers and ecosystems do to improve the newcomer experience in exploring possibilities?
    • How can we make syntax errors educational and recoverable, rather than needing accrued knowledge, or hours of web searches?
  • As an author, there are complementary goals that may lead to conflict in the form of wanting to provide structured guidance and progression while allowing for creativity and experimentation. How have you approached those objectives in your books?
  • What are some of the projects that have motivated you to learn new skills?
  • What advice do you have for anyone who is working on or considering writing a book to teach a technical skill?
  • What advice do you have for anyone who is trying to learn programming or acquire a skill in a new language, platform, or framework?
  • Why are both of you movie picks black and white? Are you a film noir fan?

Keep In Touch

Picks

Closing Announcements

  • Thank you for listening! Don’t forget to check out our other show, the Data Engineering Podcast for the latest on modern data management.
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Links

The intro and outro music is from Requiem for a Fish The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

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