Is It Too Late To Start Learning?

14 posts
by JakeGrey » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:54 pm
I've always been interested in software and electronics, but my experiences with British IT classes (and other issues I won't go into) left me convinced that sort of thing was too difficult and complicated for an ordinary person and that I was incapable of ever getting good at it.
I've since reassessed that opinion, but... Well, I'm 27 and I know almost exactly bugger all. I've never written a line of code, I have no idea how to solder, and I barely trust myself to wire a plug. I've also got almost no money, which doesn't help; if I write off a Pi or an Arduino it's going to take me months to scrape up the cash to replace it.

Is it even worth starting out at this age, at this pitiful level of knowledge?
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by jbeale » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:06 pm
Too late, are you kidding, I was expecting you to say you were 72... anyway I'd say the same thing, that if you are interested, then why not? If the money is a problem, maybe you can find someone nearby who could lend you an Arduino or R-Pi for a bit, just to see what its like. Or maybe there are some local "hands-on" events where you could try it out, do you have a hacker space nearby? Looks like there are about 25 of them scattered around the UK, see for example

As for writing code, you can try that on any computer, for example have you looked at Scratch? It was designed with kids in mind, but you certainly don't have to be a kid to use it.
Last edited by jbeale on Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by croston » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:14 pm
Experience is directly proportional to equipment ruined. Saying that, it is not easy to break a RPi unless you are playing with GPIO. Software wise, you can reimage your SD card if you break the OS. This is really quick and easy and a mistake does not cost anything. If you want to learn electronics and microcontrollers then an Arduino is probably more forgiving of mistakes. I would suggest using a breadboard rather than soldering while you are learning.
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by fos » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:56 pm
I'm 61. It is never too late!
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by Thurnscoeboy » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:22 pm
hopefully not!
i dont know a thing about code ,grown up on every aspect and version of windows
i could physically build you a pc no probs , but finding my way around 'raspbian ' is slow going but i am ever hopeful
luckily i have a teenage son so that could be my trump card
as for the expense ..£35 for the pi and the power supply , keyboard and mouse ,dusty but free from back of garage,hdmi unplugged from sky box ,ditto network cable , sd card nicked from daughters camera
hey presto im up and running ,typing and surfing on the web :D
my advice ,,,just do it

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by bgirardot » Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:35 pm
It is totally not too late as others have said.

You can learn to program online from a number of websites, for free, no computer but the one you used to post this question required. For example:

I am in the same boat you are electronics wise, it is taking me a while and I haven't made much progress, but I am going to keep at it. I am hoping things start to click pretty soon.
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by JakeGrey » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:13 am
Somewhat belated, but...

Thanks for all the support, folks. I'm working my way through CodeAcademy, just downloaded Scratch, and if I can ever scratch together the train fare I'll pay a visit to NottingHack.
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by michele.x » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:19 am
I know a retired electrician that never used a computer before, that at age 75 got a second hand desktop PC and in less than six month was happily programming PIC microcontroller in assembly.

So it's never too late to learn programming.
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by scep » Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:06 am
codecademy is great -- though note that if you just start on their course from the home screen you'll be learning Javascript which isn't the best language to start with IMO (no language flame wars please ;)). If you click on the "Learn" button at the top you can choose other languages and courses. Python is as good a language to learn as any (disclaimer: other languages are available :))

If you are up for it, once you've built a bit of experience and confidence there are some world class free courses online (with video tutorials, support, quizzes, exercises etc). My recommendations to start would be:

CS101 :

CS50x : (this uses the excellent online programming environment so you can program and save your stuff on any computer that has web access. it's well worth a look even if you are not doing the course)

both of these courses teach Python and assume no knowledge of programming or computing at all. The edX one also teaches what they call interactive programming i.e. GUI stuff.

good luck and stick at it: being able to think 'computationally' and to program is a rare but very useful and amazing skill to have.
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by JakeGrey » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:34 am
Thanks for that; Java was making my head hurt but Python is much easier to grasp. I've even pulled up The Liberty Bell March on YouTube.
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by Dweeber » Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:56 am
I am constantly learning new stuff... hard to imagine anyone that doesn't do the same...
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by nicknml » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:02 am
I learned Visual Basic back when I was getting my Associates degree (now almost finished with my Bachelor's). This afternoon I've been making simple programs with C using this guide: Should I continue playing around with C or move on to C++ (or do both)?
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by liz » Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:57 pm
I only worked out how to apply undereye concealer properly when I was 35. You'll have no problems at all.
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by JakeGrey » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:33 pm
liz wrote:I only worked out how to apply undereye concealer properly when I was 35. You'll have no problems at all.

I'm not entirely sure what that is, but I'll take that under advisement.

And also go off and be inordinately, childishly pleased with myself that Mrs Upton herself felt me worthy of a response. :D :D :D
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