An Outstanding Article on Systems Used for Learning

This essay, by Bret Victor, is excellent. I feel that I consistently hit roadblocks and humps the size of mountains when learning to program and I couldn’t quite figure out what I was butting against. Victor’s essay,  
http://worrydream.com/LearnableProgramming
 was not only interesting in its criticisms of current learning environments for programming, but also answered some questions I didn’t even know I had about programming. A great read!

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Programming it Up!

Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a programming upswing. Thanks to Codecademy I’ve been able to work on my learning throughout the work day as well. Python has been on a bit of a back burner while I concentrate on the JavaScript heavy lessons featured on Codecademy, but I am all caught on lessons with nothing to do!

So, soon it will be back to Python. I’m nearly done with “Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python” and it has been a fantastic break from “Learn Python the Hard Way”. It isn’t challenging and holds your hand the whole way through, which is what I needed, a bit of baby stepping to get me through some of the tutorials. I stopped “Learn Python the Hard Way” at the point where I had to create my own game. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do what it was asking me, but that I wanted to do more. I was trying to create a control scheme for my game and wasn’t quite getting it, which is how I ended up at PyGame, which is also how I learned about “Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python” in the first place. Wow, what a cicle!

Now that I’ve been working with a different language I can also more clearly see how the structure of a program doesn’t change much from one place to another. The JavaScript I’ve been learning is only going to help enhance my understanding of Python.

There’s another great game-making tool out there called Melon.js. It is a game-making framework for JavaScript. It’s still in development, but is quickly updated with new features and bug fixes. There is also a nice Google Group where questions can be asked and are usually answered quickly at MelonJS Google Group.

Speaking of Google Groups I have joined a number of them, which has also helped me keep up with the latest goings on of various people’s projects. Living in Minnesota I joined PyMNtos, which is the Python meeting group for Minnesota. I have also joined PyGame, Django, Google App Engine, and various others. And, I’ve signed up for some fantastic email lists like Hacker News, JQuery, JavaScript Weekly, Python Weekly, PHP Master (which I’m not sure if I’m ever really going to bother to learn), Sitepoint and others.

Basically, I’ve mostly been reading. Reading, practicing and reading. What I need to do is decide on a project and a language and just have at it. I believe once I complete “Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python” I will go ahead and do just that. I have grand ambitions for a game, but will start more simply. I would like to create a simple, graphical game based on a board game. I love Boggle (so much!) so I think I’ll start by making a Boggle clone. Awesome idea dude! Oh yeah!