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Infographic: How to Choose Your First Programming Language (Based on the Life You Want)

Infographic: How to Choose Your First Programming Language (Based on the Life You Want)

Programmers have an easy life. There’re tons of jobs, and the jobs pay well.

Even if you don’t want to pursue programming as a career, it still makes sense to learn to code. Especially for jobs in web design, digital marketing, business and IT.

But what language should you learn?

Udacity.com made a pretty cool infographic (shown below) that helps you choose. But I want to go a little deeper.

Building on their awesome chart (found at the bottom of this post), I’m going to break recommendations down into specific categories based on what you want to do. For example, recommendations for travel lovers, designers, IT people or those in other career paths.

I have interviewed many candidates over the past 24 months for various roles and often compared notes with other tech companies who are hiring. This gives me a good idea of where technology is heading in the long term. (Quick disclosure that I now work for IBM.)

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How to work from anywhere

Do you love to travel? You should choose web languages like Python and invest less time in learning C.

Cloud platforms to learn: Think high-level: Heroku, BlueMix, Azure. Amazon AWS is good to know, but has a big learning curve in comparison to the other options. As a newbie, you will want to focus on programming concepts, not configurations.

You can find remote work opportunities in Stack Overflow Careers and Angel.co.

How to make cool hardware

If you plan on making physical things, there are 2 great hobbyist prototyping boards: Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Here’s a comparison.

In my opinion, Raspberry Pi is a better starting point, since Python is easier to learn than C. But if you want to do hardware, C (and C++) is ultimately unavoidable.

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bluemix_iot2

    However, for personal “Internet of Things” projects, sometimes it’s easier to buy a cheap iPhone or Android with a broken screen.

    You can instantly track your smartphone’s 3D position and vibration with no programming using IBM’s BlueMix IoT demo. You can then modify their Python demo code and do cool things. (Like hiding the iPhone under your ex’s mattress and finding patterns.)

    How can I increase my pay as a programmer?

    Aside from learning a new language, one strategy is to learn more niche enterprise systems. For example, you can learn about big data systems such as Hadoop and Spark. (There are many places to learn these technologies for free, like IBM’s Big Data University or EdX.org.)

    What if my chosen career isn’t programming?

    For IT and web design, I have recommendations below. But what about other industries, where having some programming knowledge can help? First, if you don’t know what sumif() is, you should probably invest in a course in Excel. Spreadsheets are a lot more powerful than people think. Most programmers will try to use a spreadsheet to calculate something (if possible) before diving into code. For example, to make a cool graphical chart out of data, it would take minutes in Excel but many hours (or even days) of raw programming time.

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    After that, you should learn:

    1. HTML: Every website is written in HTML. (And, many apps now are as well.) Whether you’re trying to go beyond the basics in WordPress, or need to set up digital marketing tools, some HTML is good to know.
    2. CSS: CSS, or “cascading stylesheets”, are a special formatting code used by websites to choose the fonts and colours used on a webpage.
    3. Basic JavaScript: A little bit of JavaScript will help if you need to fiddle with a website plug-in for your boss.
    4. Either PHP, Visual Basic and/or ASP.net: Those are very easy languages to learn independently that will let you make something useful quickly.

    Again, these are languages used in everyday scripting and website work. For example, WordPress is written in PHP. Visual Basic lets you make custom Windows apps quickly (but not websites). Knowing languages like Python or Java isn’t going to help much with “average Joe workday” programming problems. (Those are mainly used for larger-scale computer server programming, app development or systems scripting.) Worth noting, it’s pretty easy to move from JavaScript or PHP to Python later on. The basic concepts are the same.

    What programming language should I learn for an IT career?

    If you’re a Windows guy, then learn HTML and PowerShell. If you’re a Linux guy, then it’s HTML and bash scripting.

    You don’t need to learn to program to make big money in IT: IT people with certifications or specialization in enterprise technologies make about as much as programmers, occasionally more. But knowing how to script is an edge.

    What programming language should a web designer learn?

    Learning CSS-based languages like SASS is a great first step. Then, focus on JavaScript. Finally, learn Node.js, which is just JavaScript that runs on a server. The Node.js market is hot, and will be for a long time. Do not leave JavaScript. Instead, specialize in it with Node.js and learn it in depth. (Note that over time, io.js may replace Node.js. You’ll need to keep up with the JavaScript community.)

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    Final note about the chart

    When Udacity charted the trend for JavaScript, I do not think they factored in that Node.js is simply JavaScript that runs outside of a web browser. The demand for Node.js in 2015 has been insanely high. To hire someone with solid Node.js experience would be hard without a six-figure offer (as of October 2015). As more people learn Node.js, the market might cool off a little. Fair warning: Node.js gets a lot more hairy than traditional JavaScript. So, if you’re a beginner, start with traditional JavaScript and move to Node.js later.

    How-to-Choose-Your-First-Programming-Language–Udacity

      Featured photo credit: Riona Fitzpatrick at CoderDojo, by connor2nz (Flickr) via flickr.com

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      Last Updated on February 15, 2019

      7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

      7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

      Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

      Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

      Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

      So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

      Joe’s Goals

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        Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

        Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

        Daytum

          Daytum

          is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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          Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

          Excel or Numbers

            If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

            What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

            Evernote

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              I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

              Evernote is free with a premium version available.

              Access or Bento

                If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                Conclusion

                I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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