How Not To Learn Programming

Am just a guy who feels really lucky to be in this amazing industry and am still learning like most of us. But having passed the fledgling stages where some of our upcoming badoos currently are, I thought it wise to share common pitfalls they will …or are already facing which can stop them from learning to become programmers.

1. Wait till you find the perfect language:
If I was given a dollar for every time I heard someone say, larisoft, I want to learn programming, which language should I start with? I’d buy nairaland and redesign it (Tongue in cheek @seun). The problem is; the language really doesn’t matter most of the time. Every language you start with has something essential to teach you. While starting with a generally difficult language like C++ can be daunting and protracted for most people, it makes up for the delay by teaching you programming principles you will learn ‘years to come’ if you start with a higher-level language. On the other hand, starting higher up with a language like PHP hurries you to those ‘years to come’.

Pick a language…any language and start! There is no way you wont learn something that will guide you for the rest of your journey. If I may recommend I’d say, choose any amongst PHP, python, or javascript. But end that language search right now!!!

2. Start Coding without a project in mind:
Programming is not like academics where you are handed down theory and expected to regurgitate months later. It’s a practical field. You need to have something towards which you are coding. It could be a simple personal website, or an organizer, or a calculator, or an idea of an app you have which you’d be proud to share with friends.

Till date, I don’t know any badoo who learnt to code only by reading tutorials and repeating the examples in them. Maybe I will after this article. Roll up your sleeves and build something! I’d be happy to review any any app you share with me anyday.

3. Don’t ever try to solve a problem yourself:
This is one of the reasons why there are so very few female programmers. There are usually so many guys flocking around…trying to help!

Programming is not just about writing code that works. Its also about writing code that doesn’t work, understanding why it doesn’t work, and making it work. If you spend 4 hours figuring out why a script doesn’t work…yeah! That’s the spirit.

If even after staring at code for a long time, you don’t understand it; use google first before contacting someone you know. Not only will internet resources show you the ‘standard’ and ‘non standard’ way of doing things, they will also subconsciously teach you how to learn programming (i.e. how to follow tutorials)…and boy! Is there a lot of learning to do?

4. Start Making huge sums of money as soon as you can:
This is where a lot of people get it wrong. Mark Zuckerbarg is a billionaire today, but before he became that; he coded for at least 7 years. (Built stuff for his dentist father at age 14). Bill Gates had being coding for a long time before he started Microsoft. Without a donkey-years experienced programmer like Wozniac, apple would have kicked its pants no matter how much of a sales Genius Steve Jobs was.

If your major aim in learning to code is to make money FAST, consider saving yourself the trouble by getting a friend that will do the coding while you do the business. Better still, you could spend your time acquiring bogus certificates. Serious tech firms will reject you, but a lot of prejudiced firms will welcome you and pay you well. If however, you insist on making money from programming, you should know that nothing in programming happens FAST.

Let your efforts for the first 2 years be focused on gathering as much knowledge as you can. Am not saying you shouldn’t make money every now and then, but put your learning first and where both conflict, choose learning over money.

It is worthy of note to mention that about 4 years ago, you could come into the Nigerian tech landscape and become really super rich from building wordpress sites and crappy unscalable applications. Very few people knew tech then. Today, things are fast changing. WordPress sites are getting done for 15k and Nigerians expect your app to be fast, bug-free and elegant, just like all the international apps they are used to. The best gift you can give yourself right now is proficiency-not money. Money will come in tons later if you know your stuff.

5. Do not allocate too much time to coding everyday:
The truth is, once you start learning to code, your life should experience a paradigm shift. You should begin to have fewer friends…begin to appear in public less frequently. If you are doing it right, you should be spending so much time with your computer that sometimes, you realize the day has come and gone without you stepping out of your house. If you eventually drop out from school, or do something really socially awkward BECAUSE YOU JUST CANT STOP CODING …Halleleluyahh…the spirit is firmly planted in you and its only a matter of time.

If you are just starting to code and you are not spending up to 3hours a day coding…I am not an authority; but I have my doubts ooo.