A Cambridge coding evening class/club?


I want one. Now.

Because I can’t make WordPress.org work in the way I want it too and there are too many gaps in my knowledge and I can’t sit still for five minutes and work from a book and I need people to bounce of and…and…and…I’m tearing my hair out!!!

The only providers I can find locally are corporate ones – and no, I don’t have a spare eight-hundred quid going. I had a moan about this back in February but little came of it other than a number of coding wizards tweeting the joys of a particular coding language.

Some of you may have seen this charming little digital video doing the rounds – all about Code Club. Is anything like this happening in Cambridge? Perhaps the stereotype is that we’re all geeks in Cambridge and that if anywhere doesn’t need something like this, it’s Cambridge. I beg to differ if the stereotype is to be believed.

Patience dear boy, patience. You’ve had too much coffee and sugar today!

Well…there is that. The energy of a power station combined with the attention span of a gnat is never a good combination. Ditto the curse of loneliness associated with being a freelancer who some may see as the sort of person who turns up to the opening of an envelope or a front door to make up for it. I assure you that’s not the case on the latter. It’s more a case of having a more clear vision of what I want to achieve, knowing it can be done but not really knowing how. That’s part of the whole “Cambridge L!VE” thing – there are a whole host of things that I know can be done but they are not necessarily things I have either the knowledge or capacity to do them myself.

The frustration I’m having is similar to the problems I had with French until my former French teacher introduced me to the concept of grammar. One thing I hold Thatcher and Major responsible for was allowing me to go through school up to the age of 15 without knowing what a verb or a noun was – or how to conjugate the former. Hence when my now late grandparents bought me one of those new electronic translators circa 1994, I wrote off the gizmo as useless because it could not translate word-for-word. I wanted to know what the “French” word for “was” was. When the screen responded “pt to be/etre” or something like that, I had no idea what to make of it.

Examples of the conundrums I’m struggling with are all there on my personal site – which I see as my ‘playground’ for learning as much as anything else. On the left-hand column how do I slightly tweak it so it’s not so close to the main central column? How do I tweak the end section of each of the posts and page? (The bit around the comments section). How do I get the icons for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn displayed properly and appropriately on the site?  Remember I want to learn how to do these things myself so they become as effortless as I find blogging. I don’t want to go down the route of asking people for one-off pieces of advice knowing I’ll probably forget it later on down the line.

So…what would work for you?

I’m almost designing my own evening class that I want to be delivered – or even a coding club that meets regularly that can get a reasonably sizeable group of us off up and running. A group that say would meet on a Sunday evening in a wifi-enabled pub on a similar formate of Teacambs but with a bit more structure. What I don’t want is a strictly formalised evening class taught by someone who sucks the life and soul out of what is actually a very powerful skill to learn. Last year I did an intro to web page design and the tutor killed it with the most unimaginative course book downloaded off of the internet somewhere. Creating a homepage for your dog? Get out of the 1990s!

A mini coding club for Cambridge? (Or at least my neck of the woods of it?)

Well…if you don’t ask you don’t get. Anyone with a clue about coding (and in particular on my part WordPress) fancy hosting a summer coding club in Central Cambridge on a Sunday (or other) evening to help numbskulls like me get over the first hurdles? I have no idea where to start – perhaps getting everyone to go through CodeAcademy together might be a start? Just makes a change from being stuck alone trying to work things out.

6 thoughts on “A Cambridge coding evening class/club?

  1. Hi PBB, perhaps I’m a dinosaur but no one I know who got into programming did it like this! Personally I’d suggest that for immediate things you need to get done you’ll need individuals to help you out – you might learn from seeing them work on it but probably wouldn’t know where to look to start with alone! This page is interesting: http://learnpythonthehardway.org/book/intro.html it indicates some of the skills the author thinks are key to the task and how he seeks to grow them in his readers. But this probably doesn’t fit with the Twitter zeitgeist…

  2. Largely agree with Andy. I think there are two separate issues here trying to do what you want to do and learning to code. If you want to learn to code then I’m afraid its the rather dull task of picking a language and building dull “Hello World” applications and building on that to understand branching, looping, memory management … Such work gives you a good theoretical underpinning whereas hacking with webwidgets is less likely to give you the strong theoretical base.

    I guess it depends on what you want a good analogy is between learning to use a calculator and understanding algebra. The former can get you to a point where you can do the basic maths required with most trades whereas the latter enables you to have the deep understanding to solve such problems from first principles and do more creative and exciting things.

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