On Mon, Mar 16, 2009 at 06:05:33PM -0500, PJ wrote:

> Paul M Foster wrote:


> Thanks Paul for the explanation. It really does help and iis much
> appreciated.
> I must respond to your chastisement of me, because i believe you may not
> be aware of the fact that most books on programming really suck. I have
> had my taste of enough of them to not bother. The kinds of things that I
> am trying to do just cannot be learned from a book or from most of those
> "tutorials" one finds on the Internet.  

How do you think *I* learned this? Back in 1974, when I hooked up my
high school teletype via an acoustic modem to the school district
mainframe and logged in for the first time, I had one choice for
programming languages: Mainframe (Dartmouth) BASIC. So I bought a book
on the subject, still in print today, called "Basic Basic". Thus I
learned Pascal (Turbo Pascal). Thus I learned C (Kernighan and Richie).
Thus I learned Linux (man pages). Thus I learned Perl, Python and PHP.
*All* from books. I didn't have anyone to ask. Even when I got a job as
FoxPro programmer, I had only FoxPro books to tell me what to do. If I'd
pestered the other coders by asking them questions about how to do
things all the time, they would have fired me on the spot. I benefitted
there from having programmed in other languages before. FoxPro was
then just another language.

The only disadvantage to my approach is that I sometimes wonder if,
having learned all this stuff in a virtual "vacuum", everyone else knows
a better way than me. But my experience has been that that is
infrequently the case.

Yes, programming books *can* suck. And most assume you know more than
you do.

I benefit because I programmed in C before I programmed in PHP, which is
virtually C for the web. And my C benefitted from knowing Pascal before
that and BASIC before that. Multi-dimensional arrays are part and parcel
of Pascal and C. So encountering them in PHP was no big deal. Syntax
varies from language to language (in Python, you don't do $arr[] =
'blah'; you do arr.append('blah')), but the concept is the same. Once
you know the concept well, the syntax is relatively simple to learn,
unless you're trying to learn Scheme or something (;-}). 

> They are either moronically
> basic of sadly flawed or outdated. It's something like the
> do-it-yourself-wikis... any dolt can put of whatever they think.
> That's the downside of the net, of course. The upside is that there are
> great people, like yourself and a number of other who have been very
> helpful and who are willing to share their knowledge.
> Anyway, I find very little in the tutorials on the web that goes beyond
> total basics. 

You're not looking hard enough. I've found help with a great many
esoteric ("edge case") problems by searching on the net. You can't just
decide "Well, all the books suck and the net sucks, so I'll just ask
someone who knows." That's why they write books. So people don't have to
use up all the time of people who know, by asking them masses of
questions. The people who know are busy producing products. Professors
and teachers get paid to teach people things, not productive
professionals in a field. You're lucky the professionals are willing to
spare the (free) time to explain what already plainly exists in books.
"Learning PHP5" is a crappy little O'Reilly book for anyone who's
programmed in another language and wants to learn PHP. But it's
perfectly fine for a non-programmer learning PHP.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against you personally. And I'm more
than willing to share my knowledge with others in general. I allows me
to clarify my concepts and gives others an opportunity to dispute what
I'm saying. And of course, it helps others get it, when I know it's
sometimes hard to figure out a way through.  But I've done enough years
of tech support and instruction to recognize the symptoms I'm seeing

I'll let other people hold your hand from now on. And when they get
enough of it, they'll chastise you as well.


Paul M. Foster

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