ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

How I Built My First Python App In Less Than A Week

With No Prior Programming Knowledge

Photo by Brainy Quote

Failure is always an option. I firmly believe this yet find that some were raised in a household that condemns failure and places perfection above all aspects of life. If judgmental parents and strict boundaries ruined your childhood, let’s have a chat, and I’ll send a box of Legos.

However, we’re not all free from the ideals of perfection as we learn this concept from an early age thanks to the A+ or 20/20 we earn on a spelling exam. This system creates a notion that once something has reached perfection, it cannot be improved in any way.

But what is perfect? Does that mean if I draw a perfect circle, its area can be found multiplying pi times the radius squared? What if the circle has a small bump in it or the person who measured it didn’t find the circle’s true center?

When we use or see the word perfection, it isn’t easy to define what exactly is perfect. We make a valiant attempt to convince ourselves and others that our circle is the proper and ideal form of a circle. Perfection stems from values and opinions, and in this way, it’s impossible to define an accurate perfect.

If we found the perfect answer to anything, we would stop learning and growing. Our society would reach an unbreakable glass ceiling as all R&D would be halted, creative thinking outlawed, and entrepreneurs sent to prison for life.

Fortunately, humans are generally driven toward success, and while we each define success by our own means, we must learn to reach our definition of success. Some may see landing a six-figure career as success, while others might find success in their ability to use their voice and enthusiasm to make others smile through the power of song.

“There is a clear path to success, not perfection.”

We tend to base our successes on facts, not opinions. I can choose to define success by earning $5,000 on Medium, not by writing a good article. What defines a good article? Is this a good article?

As we begin to create our definition of success, we develop goals that act as pit stops along the way for us to reflect and recharge to continue pushing forward. We find that we may fail along the way, and that’s OK as our end goal to be successful will and should not change despite setbacks.

My recent hurdle was brought on my college as I was asked to quarantine for ten days before returning to college and had become angry by this request. For me, this meant I would have to leave my job early and could no longer be an Uber Eats driver for the time being. As the days grew closer, though, I found myself accepting this and using it as a time to begin exploring other interests such as coding.

Technology and computers have always played a vital role in my life as I’ve been breathing new life into them since a young age. Now, with seemingly unlimited time, I chose to look past the monitor and into the code and beating heart of these machines.

I had found a course on Udemy that promised to show me how to create ten different programs using Python, starting from the ground up. With no prior programming knowledge, I put my trust in this instructor and took a deep dive into the world of Python.

The next few consecutive days were spent mainly coding, eating, and drinking coffee. I found myself deviating from the course content after about six hours of lectures with the confidence to build a program myself.

The goal was to create a web scraper that logged me into Medium, pulled my stats, and saved them into an Excel file. A few hours later, I found myself looking at that infamous green bar graph accompanied by large numbers. A great feeling of satisfaction ensued. The code below is how I reached this page.

The script here opens a Firefox window to Medium’s login page, directs me to my college’s SSO portal, and leads me to the stats page. You don’t see buried in these lines of code the pain and agony of searching for specific boxes for the program to click and what seemed like nearly 1,000 runs of failed attempts. I quickly found that I was losing hope but still had some driving force.

To keep the motivation going, I found peace in returning to the class for a few more lessons, then using new skills to create a form bot to simplify college tasks.

A few edits of the code from my Medium scraper had allowed me to quickly login to my college email and search for a form. When it was time for the bot to finish the form for me, it stopped in a way that made me think the program crashed all together. It didn’t, but when I found the errors, I nearly went insane as I could clearly see the page (and the elements I was looking for), but the bot failed to recognize they were present.

Computers are stupid, and it’s essential to keep this in mind when using them, especially when programming. Every action and click must be made by you first. As much as I would love Word to finish this story for me, to the best of my knowledge, Microsoft has not added a mind-reading and writing feature… yet.

So the cycle continued with several cups of caffeine and many, many more failed attempts at executing this program correctly from start to finish. I had a clear definition of success, and that was to create a useful program that worked before I returned to college. The dream was there, but the code was not.

One last query, and I found a command that offered a solution, but only two lines of code. I did a quick test after implementing it and had finally created the program! It was fully functional, just required a few touch-ups to make the code more programmer (and user) friendly.

Screenshot of Dialogue Box in Program

I had finally found success in this project and was satisfied with my work, but it was not perfect by any means. I had learned that this program could be optimized in countless ways to improve its speed and usability but was delighted with my final product.

To someone who has minimal programming knowledge, this may seem like the perfect program for this task. I would have been that person just a week ago, but perseverance and determination have allowed me to succeed in this challenge and work to greater heights.

Going from zero to “I made my first program” in just about a week has taught me the power to learn and push myself to achieve my goals and find success.

Now knowing the human brain’s power, I understand why we fail and may become frustrated. That’s progress and shows that we care! Failure leads to learning, and learning leads to success.

Keep calm and fail on.

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Zach Goreczny

Zach Goreczny

College Student. Coffee Lover. Writes about Leadership, Business, and Data Science. https://www.udemy.com/user/zachary-goreczny/