More grows in the garden than the gardener sows. -Old Spanish proverb
Question #90814 posted on 01/10/2018 11:14 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

As our world becomes ever more reliant on technology, I see the need to learn some basic coding skills. However, I don't have any natural skill when it comes to programming. Like most millenials I'm pretty tech savvy but when it comes to the behind the scenes work I'm clueless. I took CS 142 for about 2 weeks before I dropped the class because I was hopelessly lost. I tried again with "C++ for Dummies" several years later but again found myself utterly confused shortly after the introduction. I've said multiple times that my brain was not built for coding. But I want to give it at least one more try. Is there any place where I could get super dumbed down programming lessons for little to no cost?

-Underemployed humanities graduate

A:

Dear Aziraphale,

I get your plight on a fundamental level. Like you, CS 142 made absolutely no sense, and coding in general does not come easily to me. However, I needed to pick up coding regardless for my major, and despite my total lack of natural skill in this area, have become at least decent at it. Here are a few tips that have helped me become proficient:

First, do you really need to pick up programming through learning C++? I ask because I despise that language, and think it's super confusing; it's just too finicky about things that don't really matter (in my opinion, that is). I definitely suggest looking into other languages that may make more sense to you. Personally, I'm a huge fan of Python. I learned Python through my classes (specifically by completing all of these labs), so I'm not very familiar with good online sources to learn it on your own. However, these results from a quick Google search look promising.

Another thing I found useful was using LaTex. LaTex isn't really a language you actually program in, but it's useful for formatting papers and typing up math. Simply writing various things up in LaTex helped accustom me to basic coding syntax, and built up my confidence for dealing with technology (which I consider to be very important for developing any kind of skill). I was able to teach myself the basics using Overleaf, which--conveniently--is free.

As a piece of parting advice, I'd say to stop telling yourself things like your brain just isn't built for programming. Perhaps it doesn't come naturally to you, but that doesn't mean that you don't still have the potential to pick it up. In my own life, I've noticed that whether or not I tell myself that I can do something, the vast majority of the time it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Good luck!

~Anathema