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Re: No clue what I'm doing...

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:25 am
by radicalbass
I plan on getting this with no knowledge in what I shall do with it or how to do it. From what I can see there will be more then enough support here at the forums or on the wiki, but I was wondering if it is a good idea just to jump into it (programming and anything else I might fancy) and teach myself by trial and error? Also anything I should start reading now to help prepare myself? High School senior who sadly may major in computer science yet has no knowledge really. Thanks.

Re: No clue what I'm doing...

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:56 am
by Docteh
It will come with a distro so no reason to not jump in.
Personally i am still working towards having an alarm clock that i can manage via a web browser. So far that has provided motivation to learn C/C++ and python.
There will be many different things done with these boards.
I don"t have any information on this but maybe it might be better to start with a small app in C and then start with one of perl,python,ruby,go,php

Actually to start, fiddle with a linux livecd a bit, get yourself used to simple stuff like cd,more,less also an editor like nano or emacs. Also if you grab a fedora livecd, install a package or two. That way you wont be stumbling around with the operating system while you"re trying to do other things

Re: No clue what I'm doing...

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:06 am
by mkopack
Well, never hurts to jump in...

If you're planning to be a CS major in college, what I'd suggest is pick either Java or Python (most CS programs tend to use those for their intro classes). Focus on understanding concepts more than language specifics. As you get farther along, you'll come to realize that most languages have very similar constructs and concepts, and differ mostly in syntax and details.

Data structures such as lists, arrays, trees, hashmaps, sets are all important to understand.

Don't worry about trying to make GUI programs, focus on just data processing - take information in, do something with it, push (print) it out. As you get comfortable with that, put multiple chunks that do that together...

That should give you a good starting point and help jumpstart you for your freshman year. The biggest thing is just keep digging, keep researching, keep learning. If you hit a problem, keep at it and figure it out. Trial and error. You'll learn more from the problems you overcome than you will from the easy stuff.

Re: No clue what I'm doing...

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:34 am
by TheEponymousBob
First thing to remember is that you will probably have little-to-nothing to lose by diving straight in. Worst case you fry a $35 board, but the chances of doing that from your keyboard are tiny. If you somehow knacker your operating system, you should be able to revert the SD storage cart to its original state and start again.

That said, I"d suggest a good way to kick off your learning is by looking around for projects others are working on, and picking something you think would be useful/cool to have. Chances are someone with more experience will be doing something interesting soon after launch, and sharing their code with the world at large. Find something that doesn"t look too ambitious and grab the code. Depending on how clear their instructions are, you should be able to recreate their results, even if you don"t actually understand any of the code at first. Now you"ve got something cool/useful, and full access to the code that made it. Try reading some of it; so long as the author is a half-way decent programmer, you should be able to follow some of what it"s actually doing simply by reading it as though it were a set of instructions written in English—for instance, while some lines might be unobvious, you might see something like "while (something) do (something else)", which does exactly what you"d expect. You may even see something that you could try customising for your own perferences: try it; if it works, great; if not, oh well.

Years ago, in the age of computers like the Spectrum, Commodore 64 etc. there used to be magazines that would have sections where they presented code listings for simple programs that you would sit at your keyboard and type out faithfully, whether you understood how they worked or not. I believe this sort of hands-on experimentation is far more valuable to people with no programming experience than any structured course could hope to be. After all, we all learned to talk simply by being surrounded by people nattering away, rather than being sat down at the age of 2 and told how to decline a verb!

Re: No clue what I'm doing...

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:44 am
by TheEponymousBob
Another advantage to the above approach, now that I remember, is that programming is a big field. Writing application software for others to use is very different to writing a graphical game, or creating a dynamic servlet-based website, to name but a few sub-fields. By starting with some idea of what you think would be fun to make, you can get a head-start in that area, then broaden your knowledge when you feel more comfortable.

Re: No clue what I'm doing...

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:19 am
by radicalbass
Thank you guys, as to what Bob said about taking code and working from there. That is something I have done before for my Robotics team, and will probably end up doing here also. Thanks again for the answers.