Learning to code, 420 hours later: How to teach yourself Python, for free

A bit about 1 1/2 year ago, I started to teach myself programming with Python. Today I feel confident to formally complete my project.

I am honestly a bit proud to be able to code on what I consider an intermediate beginner level. After continued and steep improvements over the past months, I am now past the “Coding Inflection Point”. This means that I have internalized the majority of the basic approaches to and patterns of Python programming and can now in some situations actually rely on established routines to write code.

If you draw a parallel to learning a spoken language, it is the moment at which you are able to hold basic conversations in your newly acquired language. Yet whatever you express is primitive, ridden with errors and characterized by a small vocabulary. You constantly have to look up words or grammar. Sometimes, when talking about more complicated stuff, you have to give up (but you’ll use this insight for future improvements). Still, you feel excited about your new skill.

With this post I want to briefly summarize how I taught myself coding with Python. This will be the last article of my my little inofficial series of posts, and from now on it it will the only one that matters. Let’s get to it: Continue Reading

Analyzing the Hacker News front page as a Python beginner

The following post might only be of interest to you if you want to know about my progress of learning to code or if you are an avid user of the tech news community Hacker News. Please also note that I cannot give a guarantee for the accuracy of the shown data, even though after thorough double-checking I think it is quite accurate. But don’t bet all your money on it.

As mentioned two month ago in this post, in my quest to teach myself programming with Python, I discovered the Hacker News API as an ideal way to learn about accessing APIs and to take first steps with data analysis and visualization. The API is rather simply structured and doesn’t require an authorization (although I subsequently managed to conquer the Reddit API as well which is more complex and requires an authorization via OAuth).

Something I have been curious about for a while is the dynamic with which articles submitted by a Hacker News user hit the front page of the site. So I went ahead and indulged in a little project to find out. Continue Reading

My year of learning to code, in review

This article can also be read in German.

At the beginning of the year, I started a Python beginner course at Codecademy. It was my first serious attempt to learn programming. My initial experience turned out to be quite positive. In my one-month review I described how the service managed to keep me motivated through various small success moments. However, it was unclear whether that would continue with increasingly challenging tasks. Would I eventually quit?

I did not. Even 11 months after I printed my first “hello world” with Python, I am still pretty eager to dive deeper into Python programming. It’s tremendously rewarding and enlightening to learn more about the processes that constitute the foundation of our digital world.

In hindsight, I conclude that the Codecademy course was the ideal entry point for learning Python. However, only one course is offered. Once you are done with it you have to find other options to continue. I was finished in May. Shortly afterwards I gave Codecademy Pro a try for one month (cost 19,99 USD) in order to unlock a few additional projects but I did not get too much out of it. Continue Reading