I’ve been involved with Free Code Camp from nearly the beginning. I stumbled across an article by Quincy Larsen about how difficult it is teaching yourself to code. The thing that stood out to me was that he acknowledged how much time can be wasted, and progress stunted, but jumping from one tutorial to the next or one language to another without really learning the things you need to learn to becoming a well versed coder.
I have been a programmer since the age of 12 when I first entered some game contests programming in Basic using an Apple ][e computer. We didn’t own a computer then, save for some ancient IBM thing that ran lotus 1-2-3 on a flip down keyboard and a monitor that looked like an old oscilloscope.
Yet I still struggled getting up to date on current web technologies for interactive applications with the end user.
Before med school I worked for a year as a “database systems analyst” which was a fancy title for what I actually did. I programmed hand-held bar code scanners for custom applications that worked with our company’s larger Computerized Maintenance Management System. I had to learn a new coding interface for these devices, and had to know our own code well enough to integrate these cool little tools with the system software.
When I held a meeting for our sales staff to update them on the handheld scanners (about the size of shoebox for a pair of baby shoes), I passed out name tags in bar code. They had to scan them to find their own name tag in order to learn how the devices worked. It was really a lot of fun and I’m thankful I had mentors who taught me so much about programming interfaces, user interaction, database programming and design and more.
But it also poisoned me…I have enough knowledge of how the back end works that any time I have an idea for an application or interface, I know just how I’d like to implement it… in 1997 technology.
But catching up to web 2.0 and beyond has been a years long pursuit.
All this while still working as an ER physician and a triathlon coach means I do it in fits and starts. Free Code Camp tracks my progress for me which is also a huge asset of the website. And it’s free!