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posted by martyb on Thursday September 03 2015, @09:23AM   Printer-friendly
from the ignorance-is-bliss dept.

Olga Khazan writes in The Atlantic that learning to program involves a lot of Googling, logic, and trial-and-error—but almost nothing beyond fourth-grade arithmetic.

Victoria Fine explains how she taught herself how to code despite hating math. Her secret? Lots and lots of Googling. "Like any good Google query, a successful answer depended on asking the right question. “How do I make a website red” was not nearly as successful a question as “CSS color values HEX red” combined with “CSS background color.” I spent a lot of time learning to Google like a pro. I carefully learned the vocabulary of HTML so I knew what I was talking about when I asked the Internet for answers."

According to Khazan while it’s true that some types of code look a little like equations, you don’t really have to solve them, just know where they go and what they do. "In most cases you can see that the hard maths (the physical and geometry) is either done by a computer or has been done by someone else. While the calculations do happen and are essential to the successful running of the program, the programmer does not need to know how they are done."

Khazan says that in order to figure out what your program should say, you’re going to need some basic logic skills and you’ll need to be skilled at copying and pasting things from online repositories and tweaking them slightly. "But humanities majors, fresh off writing reams of term papers, are probably more talented at that than math majors are."


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  • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday September 04 2015, @01:22PM

    by urza9814 (3954) on Friday September 04 2015, @01:22PM (#232232) Journal

    I do this a lot actually. But it's never directly copying and pasting someone else's code. If you do that the damn thing won't even compile most likely. You're gonna get five lines from them that need to fit into your thousand line file, so what are the odds that they're using the exact same variable names, the exact behavior you need, the exact error checking, etc? Basically zero. Of course you have to understand how it works, or you can't copy/paste at all!

    On the other hand, Google is replacing reference docs. So I'll go to Google to see if the language has a built-in function to do what I need before I go write my own. And maybe I find that it doesn't -- but here's a function someone else wrote to do what I need. Assuming it's halfway decent code, what kind of idiot *wouldn't* take advantage of that? I wouldn't be a programmer if I wasn't lazy -- the whole point is making the computer work so I don't have to :)

    Also, there's really zero difference between constantly Googling code and using any halfway modern IDE. They all do autocompletion and tooltip function definitions and all that. Personally I don't particularly like IDEs, so I use Notepad and a ton of DuckDuckGo/Google/Yahoo -- I find that more efficient than fighting an editor that thinks it knows what I want better than I do...but of course, YMMV.

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