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Five years ago

Coding. Me.

Coding, to me, has always seemed rather unapproachable. A little bit like magic. Not the fun "as much chocolate as you could ever want, for free!" kind of magic; rather, a way in which to accomplish things that I could never hope to master. I know how to count in binary (of all the useless skills in the world); I am fascinated by programming languages (without really understanding them); I'll happily read books on the Difference Engine or the Enigma machine (although that may in part be due to my fascination with Lovelace and Babbage and Alan Turing); and I'll admit to sometimes staring at my iPhone in a sort of gleeful "how? HOW did you do that?" kind of way, while my mind tries to connect ContreJour with the opening and closing valves of 0 and 1 (who doesn't?).

I have always preferred books to computers, and my fear that the machine would die (possibly taking me with it) if I accidentally pushed the wrong sequence of buttons has entertained (and possibly frustrated?) Tor immensely. Much as I love technology that makes my life easier, I have had a (healthy) respect for the digital. You know where you stand with books. Unless you set fire to them or drop them in water, they will not accidentally get rid of your text; the worst they can do to you is give you a paper cut or fall on your head.

There may, however, be something in the idea of immersion as a treatment against phobias (though I will deny its applicability to arachnophobia to my dying day), because I woke up one day to find I was suddenly one of the tech whizz kids at work (granted, this may not be as great an accomplishment in literature as it might be in some other fields).

I would like to conjure up a mental image of Tor, over the last 14 years, slowly, imperceptibly, approaching me with a computer; think Jane Goodall and the chimpanzees in really slow motion and slightly more civilized. Macs were involved: Technology became something to be enjoyed, not just endured; and while I once managed to bring a Windows computer to a halt (and severely traumatised myself) by accidentally moving all the important files to the wrong place, it is very hard to screw up anything using OSX. I am still not comfortable using Terminal, but I do not turn into a ball of panic if I have to start a program or download a file using it.

And so I have decided I am going to learn how to code. Tor does it all day every day; how hard can it be? No, I don't mean that (Tor is very smart, and since he is teaching me this coding thing, I should probably stay on his good side). What I mean is that it doesn't look that hard. Actually, that is not true, either; rather, I am angry that it was understood, when I grew up, that this was not something I would want or need to learn, and that I was therefore deprived of really, really useful tools which would frequently make my life more fun/easy/interesting/entertaining (while too many long hours were spent teaching me how to balance household budgets in fucking Excel -- is it a wonder I am scarred for life?).

To the point: We'll keep you up to date.
Tor likes this


Are,  05.04.13 22:01

I'm quite looking forward to this! Well done! (Don't underestimate the value of Excel skills, though.)

I do not think I will ever be happy using it for anything.
Tor,  06.04.13 13:14

Kristian once said that Excel is too good, so people keep using it long after they should have changed to something else. For example, I talked to a guy who was trying to do numerical integration in Excel and ran into problems because he could only have 65000 rows.

It's fine for budgets and some other things, but not for Real Science™. Of course, budgets and some other things are probably more useful for most people.