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Old 10-29-2014, 08:31 PM   #1
traynor
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Why Learn Basic Programming Skills?

So you can write your own handicapping applications is the obvious answer, and it is a LOT easier than many would have you believe. If you find BuckysRoom.org a little too simplistic (and incredibly boring) take a look at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMzH3tfP6f8

It is a quick overview of the basic (first or second semester) computer science courses at Stanford (the entire series of 26 or so videos all available free on YouTube), it explains a lot of the why that the dry, musty, incredibly slow, boring, repetitious offerings at other institutions (can anyone say, "MIT"?) turn off most new to the field by dwelling on the trivia of how.

The first semester (CS106a) is (IMO) as good as David Malan's CS50 from Harvard (also available in its entirety on YouTube). I suggest you watch the video above (which is actually the first class of the second intro course (CS106b rather than the first class, CS106b) to learn why you should learn the basics of CS (solving problems rather than just fiddling with computers).

It is also a joy to listen to people who are able to communicate at vocal communication speed, rather than meandering along carefully formulating what they want to say as if writing (rather than speaking)--and doing little more than conveying the impression they don't really understand the topics they presume to teach. The instructors of both CS106a and CS106b--along with David Malan's and CS50 at Harvard--make learning complex topics both easy and enjoyable. The way things should be--but rarely are.
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Old 10-29-2014, 08:55 PM   #2
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My mistake--CS106a and CS106b are quarter courses, not semester. Life moves a bit quicker on the left coast.

First class, CS106a, is seriously recommended if you have little or no prior programming knowledge (or have self-taught basic programming skills):

http://web.stanford.edu/class/cs106a/

The quality of instruction (in both classes) is superb.
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Old 10-30-2014, 04:43 AM   #3
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If you think basic programming skills (all that are really needed for most "handicapping" applications) are "too difficult" or that you are "too old to learn new ways" it is only because you have had poor instructors or poor instruction.

Take a couple of hours out of your otherwise hectic life to see how the real instructors teach computer science. It is liable to make a world of difference in how you think about computers, and using computers to do the specific things you want them to do.

David Malan's CS50 is one of the few classes in which the students are so impressed with the quality of instruction that they (enthusiastically) applaud. Not quite the dry, boring, ponderous nonsense sold as "computer science" by many other colleges and universities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79g...Ml6WRDA9anaEzBe
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Old 10-30-2014, 09:12 AM   #4
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Also:
The very best introduction to programming, that I always suggest to novices, is the following book:

http://web.mit.edu/alexmv/6.S184/sicp.pdf

On YT you can also find a complete sequence of the related MIT lectures:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Op3QLzMgSY

Take your time, spend a few months going through this material and you will probably learn enough about programming computeres to assist you in your research.

In my opinion, it is way better to go through these material instead of just starting from Excel or Access that curiously appear to be so popular here in PA

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Last edited by DeltaLover : 10-30-2014 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeltaLover
Also:
The very best introduction to programming, that I always suggest to novices, is the following book:

http://web.mit.edu/alexmv/6.S184/sicp.pdf

On YT you can also find a complete sequence of the related MIT lectures:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Op3QLzMgSY

Take your time, spend a few months going through this material and you will probably learn enough about programming computeres to assist you in your research.

In my opinion, it is way better to go through these material instead of just starting from Excel or Access that curiously appear to be so popular here in PA





Good advice, with one disagreement. I think a novice will get further faster with the CS106a from Stanford than the equivalent from MIT (which is great if you are already familiar with some of the basic information). Jumping straight into the fine points of sort algorithms might be a bit arcane to a newbie.

David Malans is far and away the best instructor, but the CS50 from Harvard places too much emphasis on the trendy web-related material (JavaScript, etc.) rather than the basic foundation novices need.

That basic foundation is covered elegantly, engagingly, and thoroughly by Mehran Sahami in CS106a, and expanded in CS106b. One thing it won't do--that so many dry, boring presentations like that from MIT manage to do--is completely turn off a novice from pursuing further studies in computer science.

The "talking heads" model of instruction is seriously deficient. It is also pervasive. One should be able to distinguish good instruction from bad instruction, benefit from the former and soundly reject the latter. I did a lot of research on the consortium attempting to fill the gaping deficiencies in computer science education (Monash, BlueJ, and others). The world needs more David Malans' and Mehran Sahami's. Fortunately, both Stanford and Harvard seem to realize fully that teaching is more than just talking and reading prepared notes.
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Last edited by traynor : 10-30-2014 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:47 PM   #6
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I strongly recommend that one should watch (at least part of) the MIT intro lecture. Then watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHx...lJChW2B-gIH81Lx
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Last edited by traynor : 10-30-2014 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 10-30-2014, 05:32 PM   #7
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Great stuff, guys.

Took a few programming classes in college, but didn't develop the skills.

This could make a good winter project.

As an aside, I see this a the future of education, with the best teachers teaching the most students.
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Old 10-31-2014, 02:10 PM   #8
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I was thinking of taking an adult class in javascript at the local college. I was wondering, where do you download the data from?

I called Twinspires and they said all they have is pdf.

so, how do you do this?

Thanks!
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Old 10-31-2014, 02:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HUSKER55
I was thinking of taking an adult class in javascript at the local college. I was wondering, where do you download the data from?

I called Twinspires and they said all they have is pdf.

so, how do you do this?

Thanks!


What data are you referring to?
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Old 10-31-2014, 03:31 PM   #10
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just the PP's for right now.
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Old 10-31-2014, 05:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HUSKER55
I was thinking of taking an adult class in javascript at the local college. I was wondering, where do you download the data from?

I called Twinspires and they said all they have is pdf.

so, how do you do this?

Thanks!


Try Bucky first:
https://buckysroom.org/videos.php

JavaScript is mainly for animation and websites. It might not be the best way to start (unless you are building a website).
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Old 10-31-2014, 07:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by traynor
If you think basic programming skills (all that are really needed for most "handicapping" applications) are "too difficult" or that you are "too old to learn new ways" it is only because you have had poor instructors or poor instruction.

Take a couple of hours out of your otherwise hectic life to see how the real instructors teach computer science. It is liable to make a world of difference in how you think about computers, and using computers to do the specific things you want them to do.

David Malan's CS50 is one of the few classes in which the students are so impressed with the quality of instruction that they (enthusiastically) applaud. Not quite the dry, boring, ponderous nonsense sold as "computer science" by many other colleges and universities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79g...Ml6WRDA9anaEzBe


I'm enjoying this, so far. You're right. He does present the material in an engaging way.

He's a pretty looking guy for a computer genius. He probably nails a lot of coeds at Harvard.
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Old 10-31-2014, 07:37 PM   #13
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he seems to be pushing the c program. how tough is that program ?
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Old 10-31-2014, 08:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HUSKER55
he seems to be pushing the c program. how tough is that program ?
If you're new to programming, forget about C or C++. In fact, forget about object-oriented programming altogether if you have never coded before. Try learning something like BASIC first. It's been around forever, and the syntax is pretty straightforward. Liberty Basic has a demo version and there's also FreeBasic which is...um...free. Learn to program procedurally and work your way up to OOP. (If you're really adventurous you can use Visual Studio 2013 Express to learn Visual Basic .Net, but I think that might be too much of a challenge for n00bs. Microsoft Virtual Academy has a beginner course in VB .Net -- also free. You could watch the first couple of videos and take the assessments to see if you're ready for it.)

I only watched a few minutes of each, but unless you think that you could get into Stanford or MIT those are not the best videos for beginners imo. Beginners aren't going to do any bitwise functions, so I'm not sure why someone would need to know binary at a beginner level. I don't have something that I can recommend offhand, but anyone trying to write code should learn programming logic and how to create a flowchart. You could know every command/function in a programming language but if your logic is flawed and you can't get your program from point A to point B, what's the point of knowing that you can make a call to the Windows API?

And I'm not shooting down suggestions by traynor or DL. They are much better programmers than I am. But because of that I think that they may be overestimating the average person's coding ability.

Last edited by headhawg : 10-31-2014 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 10-31-2014, 09:53 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by headhawg
If you're new to programming, forget about C or C++. In fact, forget about object-oriented programming altogether if you have never coded before. Try learning something like BASIC first. It's been around forever, and the syntax is pretty straightforward. Liberty Basic has a demo version and there's also FreeBasic which is...um...free. Learn to program procedurally and work your way up to OOP. (If you're really adventurous you can use Visual Studio 2013 Express to learn Visual Basic .Net, but I think that might be too much of a challenge for n00bs. Microsoft Virtual Academy has a beginner course in VB .Net -- also free. You could watch the first couple of videos and take the assessments to see if you're ready for it.)

I only watched a few minutes of each, but unless you think that you could get into Stanford or MIT those are not the best videos for beginners imo. Beginners aren't going to do any bitwise functions, so I'm not sure why someone would need to know binary at a beginner level. I don't have something that I can recommend offhand, but anyone trying to write code should learn programming logic and how to create a flowchart. You could know every command/function in a programming language but if your logic is flawed and you can't get your program from point A to point B, what's the point of knowing that you can make a call to the Windows API?

And I'm not shooting down suggestions by traynor or DL. They are much better programmers than I am. But because of that I think that they may be overestimating the average person's coding ability.


Good post. For me when we talk about getting complete novices off the ground with programming I think back to an old book like John Smiley's Learn To Program VB6, maybe there's something more current on the order of that. VBA and VB6 have a lot of common ground between them. I started with Basic on the VIC20 and Commodore64. Being just a young kid at the time I would've benefitted a great deal from formal instruction and never got it which didn't help matters, so I can see where others are coming from. On the other hand it's a different time, I have a hunch that it may be more efficient for the aspiring computer handicapper / researcher to choose software tools first like Excel / Access and learn hands on as never before by leveraging online resources, tutorials, forums etc. I guess the big question is what do people want to do, what type of output are they looking to get out of the software.

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