Resources for Learning

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    For learning new languages, I prefer books because it is easier to quickly find the exact syntax of something by searching for it in the index (you can quickly look for the if statement, for instance), flip to the page and quickly skim that topic for fifteen seconds and be on your way. In addition, having computer related books is a sign of how geeky you really are (some of my books are more history of computing books than computer books since they are so old, some so much so they make Eli’s Knoppix book look new, but C++ is C++, more or less). I have found that it is harder to quickly get a small amount of information on a function from a video (I recommend YouTube’s thenewboston for programming tutorials) or the popular codecademy.com, which are both very good if you know nothing about a language or technology/system.

    A good way to reinforce skills and knowledge is to apply them. While you are learning a programming language, you should start to build programs and improve upon them as opposed to just watching a tutorial on it and never thinking about it again. I think that it is a good idea to make projects (if the projects become significant enough) open source, because then other people can benefit from your work and you can get your name out there or show off your work (Linus Torvalds is a good example of someone who is famous for an open source project: Linux and Git). You could get a group of your geek friends together to build the next Microsoft (hopefully without Windows 8).

    Do not spend twelve hours per day learning; rather spend two to three at the most. You need time to absorb what you have learned, so after three hours, you will have diminishing returns in knowledge gained. It is helpful to be fluent in several languages, so your project or projects can take advantage of more than one language. Python is a good language with which to start. You should then start learning other languages like C++ and Java; your first language is the most complicated to learn (after your first language, it is mostly a matter of syntax). For software, it is helpful to get an IDE like NetBeans or Eclipse to make programming easier, especially for compiled languages. When developing for some platforms, like Android, some more items need to be downloaded.

    You can always ask someone on a programming forum for help if need be. I am essentially a self-taught programmer, and I have been able to acquire a lot of skills and knowledge using the methods I have described. For those who are curious, I will graduate from high school next year and from a major university two years after that (with two bachelor’s degrees). I then hope to attend graduate school at MIT (if my mother lets me go that far away 🙂 ). I am 13 years old.

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  1. James August 10, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Enjoyed reading this post.

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