Sunday, June 28, 2009

Practical Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science Using Python: Introduction: My Blog Entry

A few days ago, my dad said that a programming book about Python he'd ordered for me a few days (weeks?) previously had arrived. He had been saying, before, that the book focused not only on Python itself, but on the nature of being a computer scientist itself. The book is even called, before, and introduction to the science using Python, as opposed to an introduction to Python itself. When he handed me the book at my little brother's graduation ceremony, I was interested. I have Python for Dummies, and I took several stabs at it. Those stabs ultimately failed; I didn't go very far probably through a combination of too short an attention span, and the book having made assumptions that I already knew something about programming. The book even said that outright; it mentioned that a truly basic level of programming knowledge was suggested, but that really ended up being important, or at least I assume it did; there were more assumptions of what we knew than I was happy with.

I've liked the introduction to the book so far. Like the Dummies book, it gave a straightforward introduction to computer science; what is a program (a set of instructions), what purpose do they serve (to amplify humanity's potential dramatically wherever a program can help), an outline of how to think like a strong programmer (if there's something that isn't in account, take it there, and then get creative about your next steps), why Python is awesome (its use is widespread and deep, noobs can pick it up more easily, it's 'free and well-documented' [excellently put by the book], and it's well supported on ancient machines and other tools), etc. I think these were very well laid out in the introduction, and then finally it gave, very broadly, what the book would teach. This was put into a list of 4:

1. Solving real-world problems using programs

2. Using Python in particular

3. How to think and work like a professional programmer (the styles, formats, goals, and very generally the mindsets)

4. And finally, the book gives 'tools', the rest of the sentence going on to essentially say that these tools make 1 and 2 easier, effectively accomplishing 3 (but likely incorporating other materials... but that may also result from 3). I really shouldn't have said there were 4 before I actually reread them; I've liked the book and its approach quite a bit so far, but this 4th point is basically some rewording to give the authors a nice, even number of points greater than 2 (but, once again, this might also be a pile of things like other useful literature and files that would definitely help out).

Well, I've read some of the book beyond this point, and I've found it h4wt, to quote Cory Doctorow (I had... never seen that typed before I read Little Brother, although I thought it was a great book). More on the other chapters later.

No comments: