Friday Bus Ride

Oh Atlanta. Your views delight me. And the bus is a wonderful thing.

That’s a strange thing to say, but it’s true.

I’m writing this now on my long ride home. I don’t really have a theme for this post in mind. Just looking to distract myself from the metaphorical brick walls taunting me at Iron Yard. They’re all really tall, and thick, and seemingly inpenetrable. And they’re laughing somehow.

I know that I’m learning at some rate, but I feel like whatever rate that is, I’m discovering how poorly I deal with stress at a far quicker one. Iron Yard has been great at revealing character flaws and illuminating areas for personal growth. The program acts as a giant mirror that shows you and all those around you who you really are. I hope that didn’t sound too hyperbolic. If you crave improvement — personal or intellectual— this might be a great forum for you to not only make a fast career change, but also to expand your consciousness, if only a bit.

Back to the present: one student today raised the question of the difference between syntax and semantics. It’s the end of day 10 and we’ve just been told we know about all the syntax we need to be productive Ruby programmers. Sure doesn’t feel like it. I will say I’m comfortable reading Ruby docs at this point, which I couldn’t have said at this time last week, but I definitely wouldn’t say I’m competent with the syntax yet.

Anyhow, an understanding of programmatic semantics takes longer to develop, and is more difficult to explain. My understanding is that semantics of a programming language take knowledge of all the different parts of a language and how they relate (re: syntax) and attempts to construct something from it that has meaning.

Syntax knows that a dog has a tail, four legs and a snout, but semantics knows that it barks, bites, wags its’ tail and can retrieve a stick.

That wasn’t exactly a relevant technical metaphor and was probably semantically very unclear, so sorry for that.