If you don't have access to Safari or books 24x7 through other means
(e.g. work, affiliation with a public or academic library), you can
get access to a decent collection of current programming ebooks by
joining ACM, see http://pd.acm.org/ for details. A Professional
membership is $99 annually. Though I haven't tried them yet myself,
Professional membership also provides access to online courses in
programming and related topics.


On Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 6:19 AM, Jon Gorman <jonathan.gor...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 2:24 PM, jenny <jennynotanyd...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> My question is, where would you recommend I would begin? What's hot
>> right now in the library world? Python, PERL, Ruby? Any advice you'd
>> have for a beginner like me or even recommendations for online courses
>> would be extremely appreciated
> Hi Jenny,
> You've gotten lots of good advice and debate about programming
> languages but my advice is going to be a little bit on a different
> track.
> First, in general I'd re-empathize what some other folks have said.
> Projects are great way to learn a language, although i find a "intro
> to x language" also useful to work through at the very beginning of a
> language.  I have found that classes are useful for me mainly because
> they give me deadlines and I usually try to go above and beyond the
> call of duty as far as classes go. It's not so much I'm learning from
> the lectures as it provides a structure for me to learn from and
> deadlines to work toward.  The standards for many classes though are
> lower than the standards I set for myself so I tend to do overkill for
> actual assignments.
> So community college classes might be useful for that purpose.  I'd
> also say some really good courses in software design and engineering
> can be really good, but it's hard to find good courses in those from
> what I can tell.  Some signs of a good course: frequent group
> projects, long-term projects, design being taught, a versioning and
> feature/bug tracking framework setup for students and students are
> expected to use it, professor does code reviews.
> Mostly, lots of reading and lots of coding.  Look around for tutorials
> on the web that go beyond "hello world".  Safari can be really good
> here, and 24x7 isn't bad.  If you can get someone else to pay for it
> or use an institutional account that would be good.  Choose some books
> on your programming language.  Also read some non-programming language
> specific books like The Pragmatic Programmer, Peopleware, and the
> Mythical Man-month.  (The latter two are older but still some of the
> best non-technical/management type books I've read).
> Find a programming environment that's comfortable for you and also try
> out some different operating systems and interfaces.  You could start
> easy and start looking into various "Live CD" distributions.  That way
> you can burn a cd or dvd with a new operating system and boot from it
> and poke around.  Another thing you might want to investigate is using
> Virtual Machines.  I have to confess that I haven't used virtual
> machines in my home environment much, but I suspect it would be
> really, really useful for learning.  That way you can set up a
> "virtual server" and install things like databases or web servers
> without worrying about mucking up your own system.  There is some
> (Indeed, had you asked this question six to eight years ago, I'd say
> make sure you have a setup where you can mess up your machine but
> recover).   Hopefully after trying different operating systems, text
> editors, IDEs, version control systems, etc you find tools you really
> like.  (Oh yeah, try to start learning some version control tools
> too...they're life-savers).
> Jon Gorman
> I
>> JC

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