[H-GEN] Programing

Byron Ellacott bje at apnic.net
Sun Jul 30 20:01:59 EDT 2000

[ Humbug *General* list - semi-serious discussions about Humbug and ]
[ Unix-related topics.  Please observe the list's charter.          ]

On Sun, 30 Jul 2000, Simon Robertson wrote:

> I am a single 28 year old, that wishes to take his career into the
> future by learning progaming. I happen to live on the Sunshine Coast but

A couple of points on this itself.  First, you say you wish to take your
career into the future.  Unless you're actually interested in programming,
I suggest not trying to make it a career.  Not meaning to discourage you,
I highly recommend you do get started, and if the programming bug bites,
you'll not be able to stop, but if you don't find you enjoy it for itself,
you won't ever be a good programmer, no matter how much time you put into
forcing it.

> I have though not spent much time on programing so do not really have
> any specific idea as to what area of programing I would like to go into.
> The idea I have got is that 'c' is the base language and the most
> important, so if I concentrated on it first would that make every other
> easier and put me in the best position?

If you want a language that would make every other easier and give you a
deeper understanding of what is happening, learn assembler, and learn how
assembler becomes machine language, and learn how the CPU interprets
machine language.  As it happens, assembler is the easiest language to
learn the syntax of, and the hardest to get any actual work done.  It's
also not a good starting language, but I bet every other language will
look nicer afterwards.  Except possibly modula 2.  There are other reasons
not to use assembler, too, but I won't get into those here.

Programming is largely language independent.  Given a problem description,
I could quite easily produce a solution in BASIC, Pascal, x86 assembler,
Perl, C and Java, and with a bit of effort, in some other languages that
are only vaguely recalled now.  My favourite language is C, because C has
an excellent standard library, wide support, and plenty of expressiveness.
Conveniently, the syntax of Perl and Java are very similar to C, probably
because the designers of both languages came from a C background.

In your situation, the language you start with is probably best chosen
based on the training you choose.  I taught myself, using books that are
probably no longer even in print, and references that are now mostly
obsolete - anyone here remember SWAG?  You can do the same now, and
several people have suggested books and languages to get started with.
Like Ben, I believe you'll get plenty out of a University or TAFE course.
Contrary to aj, I think that things like the GTK library or Perl or how to
write Makefiles are not the interesting things, but rather patterns,
design techniques, algorithms, and gaining experience in seeing solutions
to problems are the heart of programming, and those are taught at

Oh, and what everyone else has said about solving some small,
simple problem you find interesting and reading other code and so on
applies, too.


* This is list (humbug) general handled by majordomo at lists.humbug.org.au .
* Postings to this list are only accepted from subscribed addresses of
* lists 'general' or 'general-post'.

More information about the General mailing list