“If you want a raise, learn Python”

Kevin R. Brown
Mar 29, 2019 · 6 min read

A story of false starts and blunders while trying to impress punk rock girls

I am a big fan of end of the year lists and advice. Like many people, I take the end of a year and reflect on what I have done and look for opportunities to grow. Then I make a New Years resolution that I promptly forget.

But this year was a bit different.

A friend, I won’t call him out here, had shared an article on Linkedin of top advice from CEOs. As I trolled through the list, one line stuck in my head.

“If you want a raise, learn Python”

Working at HR Innovate this past year, I have seen quite a few job specs cross our platform. The companies that seem the most interesting to me personally, often ask for Python as a skill. Also, you must know, I am a big fan of Robotics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (and dogs) — and as such (minus the dogs) what do I run into during my daily reading? Python.

I found myself repeating this line in my head… if you want a raise, learn Python.

I wouldn’t call myself a coder by any means. But to be fair, I have dabbled in computer languages since the 80s.

Coding Journey

Mid Eighties. Lexington KY. My first coding class was in Junior High School. We were learning to code DOS using 8-inch floppy disks. I worked very hard on this program that asked you your name and other questions and responded to you. My goal was to impress this punk rock girl named Amy. She wasn’t impressed — so I quit. I flunked the class.

the eighties were punk af

In the early nineties, I tried my hand again. This time with AUTOCAD Release 11 (Computer Aided Drafting). I felt pretty cool when I walked around my High School with a 3 1/4 inch disk in my back pocket. CAD was difficult for me because when I fixate on something I get stuck in the minutia. It had a function that would auto connect two perpendicular lines… but if you zoomed in they wouldn’t be connected. So I would auto connect again. and zoom in and again and again… Finally, the whole thing fell apart when I realized our version of CAD came with an animation software — that we weren’t studying… I spent my days creating digital animations of Bugs Bunny smoking a variety of things… I flunked that class too.

By the early 2000’s the internet was booming. I was back in Washington DC finishing my Masters degree and teaching public school — so obviously I spent my free evenings blogging about rock and roll — lol. I used Blogger but it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more functionality and I wanted to track statistics. I also played drums in a rock band… and we wanted a website. So… I started in on HTML. I built a little website for our band (the fed) and added statcounter to my blog. My blog didn’t go too far but one of my blogger buddies made quite a name for himself in the local blogosphere.

rotflol

In the early ‘10’s I was leading the Education project in Peace Corps, Costa Rica. I worked a lot. But I took a spurt where I wanted to improve my skills. I went back into HTML now moving quickly into HTML5 (which is significantly easier for me) and improved my knowledge of CSS. I dabbled in JavaScript, Xcode, MySQL, PHP, — the stuff you need to make websites and apps do what I want them to do. I didn’t really take to any of it because I needed a server and knew nothing about it. So I began looking at free options and dove into the Apache world ruining more than one computer playing around with Linux, Ubuntu, Lubuntu and Mint trying to make my own server without the appropriate hardware or really reading instructions — early signs of Oppositional Defiance Disorder? maybe.

Rise of the Robots

o.m.g. robots.

That Thanksgiving, while on vacation in the States I went to the now defunct RadioShack and bought my starter gear to begin my journey into robotics. The base language of Arduino is written in C — so — I began studying just enough C to get my little bots working.

In the video below, you’ll see a bot I made, powered by the Arduino board (robot brains) a 9 volt battery (side note here I always dreamed of moving into lithium because of the weight issues posed by the 9 volt), an ultrasonic sensor that sends a high frequency sound out and monitors the return, wires, two 180 degree servo motors and wire coat hangers for legs. BobbyBot, as he is called, is programmed to walk in a straight line until he “sees” a wall in front of him at which point her turns left.

You can see my projects, videos and code at https://goldenbrownrobots.blogspot.com/

A Note on Loops

“Our lives are filled with loops that hurt us, heal us, make us laugh, and, sometimes, leave us wanting more. This hour, Radiolab revisits the strange things that emerge when something happens, then happens again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and… well, again.”

I thought this article was about Python?

Within the first 24 hours I had ripped the code out of a bunch of websites and crashed my laptop. I had no idea.

January 12, 2019. Nicosia, Cyprus. I logged in to Udemy and found a super cheap course on Python titled Complete Python Bootcamp: Go from zero to hero in Python 3

10 euros? I spend more than that on cigarettes, I thought. I’m in.

100 lectures. 20 hours of video? I counted the hours on my fingers and decided I could write an article about my experience sometime in February 2019. False.

Two and a half months into my first Python Course and I have completed 37% and am approaching my first Milestone Project.

So at 3.70 Euros, what have I learned? A bunch. Mostly, that I wish I had paid attention in math class instead of spending my days trying to impress punk rock girls.

About a month ago, I was sitting in for my friend at Zen Production Studios and I typed the following line of code into my laptop

result = input(“What is your name? “)

And there I was. Back where I started almost 30 years ago. Writing a program that asked you your name and other questions and responded to you. Except this time that punk rock girl was impressed. And she is my wife.

Post-Mortem

Will I get a raise with my new knowledge? Honestly… probably not. Also — I pay myself… so there’s that.

Was the ten bucks worthwhile? You bet your sweet bippy it was.

Why is it taking me so long to get through the course? I’ve really dug deep into the aspects of the course. For example, I’ve spent the past two weeks building twitter bots and working with APIs. You can follow my twitter bots shenanigans @DogsCyprus on Twitter. In my head it’s the newest version of BobbyBot who tries to promote Dog Awareness in Cyprus on Twitter.

Really? Yeah. It’s the perfect amalgamation of Dogs and Robots.

What’s Next? Spyders, Django, A GUI, Data Analytics, Augmented Writing… at least in the short term.

Would I recommend a young coder to learn Python? For fun? Hell yeah. For money and future? I usually tell them to learn Go.

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