snakes on a plane: learning to code in python at the airport

I’m nearing the end of the Python tutorial on Codecademy. I just cursed out loud at Sky Harbor International Airport. I’m sitting at a small counter in Terminal 4 in Phoenix, trying to recall how to make my code evaluate as True. Crap. I just did this.

I yelled “F**k you!” at the computer after my 37th consecutive “Oops, try again” message. No one looked. And, it’s OK. I feel confident that this is how I know I’m doing it right. I learn, forget, relearn, repeat. This is really a lifeway that I will have soon perfected with more digital experience.

Then Google. I should have gone there sooner. That was lesson one. I ended up spending 45 minutes on one section of one lesson at Codecademy to learn how to make my function return as “True” when I could have solved the problem with a 90 second web search. It turns out that the spaces and the curly brackets are the heart of Python. They gotta be in the right places for it to work. I almost had it. Almost.

And, hey, now I can throw out (or donate) the English-Piglatin dictionary that’s been taking up space on my shelf.

The lesson, then, is that I can’t get so absorbed into a particular task that I disregard the other tools we have acquired over time. I have to integrate new knowledge into previously learned things in order to grow intellectually. Otherwise I’ll have plenty of knowledge but I’ll be unable to apply it constructively and unlikely to contribute any new knowledge or ideas. Maybe this is a big leap from not googling for Python code sooner, but really, it’s the same.

So, now, the real question is how will I use Python coding. I’m really not sure yet. I guess that over the next week or so we’ll work on writing code that will manipulate data formatting so that it will be easier to engineer in other applications. I’m surprised that most applications wouldn’t already have that kind of functionality built it. Perhaps that’s my Apple-ized computing bias speaking. They’ve taught me that they’ll provide everything I need to work easily. The point of this class, however, is to tear down those barriers so we can grasp the possibilities afforded by custom coding.

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