Ladies Learning Code – Python Day. #ladieslearningcode

I’ve been playing around with learning python for nearly a year. I’ll admit, I haven’t put much effort into it, and tended to find other things to fill the time available to practice and learn. Part of it is because I have a programming background, from my university days. Which might not make sense, but there are so many similarities between programming languages, that eventually some of them blend into one language and from there frustration. In any case, I though it would be worthwhile to try the social learning method available through Ladies Learning Code (LLC). And once I saw that they were offering a python course I signed up immediately.

First thing in the morning you sign in with one of the LLC folks, and have breakfast. This one was being held at the Center for Social Innovation lower level on Bathurst Street. It’s an awesome space, which I’m now very slightly considering renting a desk/ or space from in the future. Breakfast was muffins and bagels, veganness unknown, so I skipped them, but I did have some really excellent earl grey tea. Then it’s was time to find a seat, and plug in my netbook – since this LLC even was BYOL (Bring your own Laptop.)

Overall I thought it was a good intro class. They had a phenomenal ratio of mentors (volunteer python pros) to students (1 mentor:4 students), and the general organization of the class was progressive. Starting with a quick reality check that computers are only as intelligent as we program them to be, followed by playing (and having as much fun as possible when you combine integers and strings or calculate numerical values) in the programming environment (in my case the IDLE Python GUI and Notepad++) but some people were using the terminal window of their mac, or IPython.)

I also relearned something about myself from the class too. I am not a social learner. At least not directly. I find having lots of people around while I’m learning great (which is why when I was “working from home,” I’d go to a cafe just for the background noise), but if people ask me if I need help, it drives me bonkers and I lose focus. The thing is that I know that there are people that respond positively to this sort of technique (probably most people?) and need to be asked, but for me, it’s just not my style. Although I did find it really helpful to have people around incase I wanted to know more, or figure out alternate possibilities for what I was doing or trying to do.Try it out, you might like it!

But I also really like explaining things to other people and helping other people understand new things. There is even a chance that I’m good at it (or at least I’d like to think I could be.) That’s an angle I could see myself getting involved in. I’m especially excited about the camps they have for girls, because I think it’s so important to encourage and cultivate interests that may not be mainstream or traditionally “girly.” But that’s a whole other topic.

End result – I can make a hangman program in python. I’m also silly. For further evidence – 

I was testing it out – Mission Accomplished! *note: ascii is not mine.

Maybe I’ll keep up the python practise, maybe I’ll just focus on the Coursera classes I’ve signed up for. I’m really looking forward to the Ladies Learning Code fundraiser happening later this week (May 3rd.)

Other helpful links:

  • I’ve got a good list (if I do say so myself) over on my initial python post here, including a collection of instructional YouTube videos from Google.
  • Project Euler – A website dedicated to the fascinating world of mathematics and programming
  • PyLadies – an international mentorship group with a focus on helping more women become active participants and leaders in the Python open-source community.

And if making hangman with python isn’t fun enough for you, this is another application of it with dancing robots at Pycon 2012: