[thelist] programming info

John DeStefano john.destefano at gmail.com
Wed Apr 19 20:40:16 CDT 2006

Peter Brunone (EasyListBox.com) <peter at easylistbox.com> wrote:

> This problem you describe seems just a bit unusual.  You seem to have
> done quite a bit of reading/learning; how often do you actually attempt
> to program?
Not often enough.  I'm always anxious to get started and I make a
little progress, but I inevitably meet an obstacle that I just don't
know enough to overcome, which usually results in my abandoning the

> Could it be that you just need to dive in and swim a bit longer?
Absolutely.  I just need a swimming pool/pond/lake to swim in, a
target to head toward... and someone to push me in from behind!

> Another thought (in all seriousness):  is it possible that you have some
> sort of learning disability?  These can show up in anyone, but -- in my
> experience -- they seem particularly pronounced (and undiagnosed) in
> people who are otherwise quite intelligent.
Yup: it's called "wife and three young kids!"  Actually, my wife is
convinced that I have ADD.  I feel the need to have two or three
things going on, and to finish either all of them or none at all.  I
definitely get easily distracted, but when I hit a wall, I either
abandon the effort or ignore all else until I work through it... which
drives everyone else crazy.  Either way, it's not healthy.

Scott Dexter <dexilalolai at yahoo.com> wrote:
> When you have a problem to solve, do you dive right into writing code,
> hoping the magic will, well, magically appear?
Kind of, and that's when I get burned instantaneously: I can usually
use logic, reason, and "pseudo-code" to map things out some or most of
the way, but I just don't have the code "chops" to follow through and
write functions that come close to working.

> Have you tried taking pen to paper and diagramming out what you want
> to solve? Make a picture. Draw boxes and connect lines to them. Scribble
> and erase. Once you have laid out your process on paper, THEN start
> converting that into code blocks. If you want/need a formalized approach,
> UML is one (but really heavy and esoteric unless you live in it daily), but heck
> some simple flowcharting[1] will work too. My dad is fond of saying, "If you
> can't draw it, you don't know it." I think it applies more often than I realize....
Funny: in doing tech writing or instructional design, I have created
tons of flowcharts to get ideas across, even have charted code
snippets when writing about SQL, XML, etc. But I never really thought
about using that approach for programming.  Ironically, in my current
trade, there are two similar (but paradoxical) sayings that I often
- If you can't teach it, you don't know it. And,
- Those who can't do, teach.
I don't know which is more accurate, but I know which one I believe.

Thanks to you both for your thoughts. Maybe I need to pursue a
combination of better charting, perseverance, and understanding to
work through some programming exercises.

In my limited experience, I've found that the books and tutorials I've
read utilize one of two approaches: assuming the reader is brain dead
and providing too much or all of the raw code they need to accomplish
a task, or initiating a brain freeze by assuming the reader has
learned too much and providing little or no guidance.  I need to find
a happy medium somewhere, and to keep working.


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