Not too Old to learn to Code

The geekiness of learning to code


The height of being good and geeky is using code or programming to get things done. I can remember way back when, I had a book about how to construct webpages. I specifically remember reading through this book while lying on a beach in the sunshine. These days I would do that reading on my iPad and I’d be using an e-book or maybe just reading from a webpage. Webpages were much simpler in those days though. During the last week I have been learning more HTML editing and now I am working through CSS coding. I have used CSS coding in the past but not really done much with it. Now I’m following a course going through it all step-by-step. I’m getting a better understanding of how it all works. For the most part, the HTML and CSS I’ve been learning I really don’t need it. For my webpages I’m using WordPress and I only have to worry about the content. There are occasions though when I do need to delve into the actual code of webpages. On such occasions, it is helpful to know more about what it is your looking at. This is why I’ve gone back to the online classroom to update my knowledge. I’m planning to take it a stage further and continue learning more about coding generally. For some of things I’m doing with home automation and home security I need more coding skills for the projects. There are different languages for working with the Raspberry Pi or for the Arduino and I also have an interest in Swift coding. Swift is the new coding language from Apple which is open-source┬ábut mainly used for creating for iOS and for the Mac operating system.

Thinking like a programmer

Sometimes the thing about working with code is not about the way the language works and uses words to do what needs to be done, but more about how your brain understands the logic. I was going through a Tapcoding course to learn swift programming and there were occasions where my head felt like it was going to explode. There are lessons where you need to flip-flop true and false states of Boolean logic to get things to work as they should. There are parts of these courses where I’ve had to do a section two or three times to work out what was supposed to be happening. It’s an interesting learning experience. I’m a firm believer in being a lifelong learner. In this day and age our earning capability is affected by an ability to learn new knowledge and skills.

One hour of code

Each year about this time there is an initiative called one hour of code. Children can go to Apple stores and have an hour learning to code. This year Apple has the new iPad application called Playgrounds which teach you how to think like a programmer. I have done a couple of these coding lessons and they are not just for kids. It’s a visual way to learn which is more suitable for children but works very well for this older adult. I also received an email from the Khan Academy about this one hour of code. This email offered me coding courses available within that online courses website. I plan to have a look at some of these because it’s good to do the same topics from different sources. When material is presented in a different way it can help to get the information ingrained inside your head. Often what you need to have the lightbulb moment is for the subject matter to be offered in a different manner.

Swift Playgrounds

A plan to learn programming

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Swift
  • Python
  • SQL
  • PHP

To a certain extent my list of programming languages to learn is a ‘Programming by Stealth’ approach. Starting off with something simple like HTML and moving on steadily through CSS and JavaScript is a good plan to steadily ramp up the learning process. Jumping directly into learning C++ or Java script would only lead to excessive head scratching and confusion. Swift has been presented as an easy language to learn and is without a doubt much easier than learning Objective-C. I tried learning some Objective-C before Swift came upon the scene and I got stuck fairly quickly.

Making use of coding skills

Esp 8266

Working with the Raspberry Pi requires knowledge of Python. I still have projects I’d like to complete using the Raspberry Pi as the starting point. I have got a couple of microprocessors coming to me from China. These are the Arduino killer ESP8266 12E boards. Basically they are Arduino compatible development boards with built in Wi-Fi and you can buy them for less than $10. I plan to use these to control one or two things around the house. I want to control the garage door and the gate which at the moment both work with radio remote controllers. It’ll be much better if I can make them operate by sending a signal across Wi-Fi. It’s going to be some fun to build some Wi-Fi gadgets using this microprocessor. I actually saw a video on YouTube where a young boy of 10 years old was showing how to control one of these devices from an iOS application. When I was 10 years old all I wanted to do was go and play football in the garden. How times have changed!