Get Pocket, teach yourself a new language (and algorithm) via Project Euler, and fail at gaming to get better at life

A quick post this week, as I’m taking some time to build my own WP theme, (using Sass and Compass, of course).

First of all, a fellow Moveline engineer pointed me toward the solution to my obsessive bookmarking: Pocket, a bookmarking app. It not only saves your links, but formats them into a nice view, lets you tag, search, and archive them, and even has iPhone and Android apps for amazingly productive OFFLINE reading, which has immediately impacted my commute. Get the chrome extension. Just saying.

I started learning a new programming language, Ruby, at CodeSchool this week. CodeSchool’s language teaching tools are high quality, and I think it’s a good initial balance of teaching and solving some code problems yourself. They have a handful of free courses, and I got a month-long subscription for cheap because I backed the Ghost KickStarter (which looks awesome, by the way. Also by the way, an old art director friend of mine recommended I check out this KickStarter indie game (Radio the Universe) way back, and I finally did, and it looks just incredible.)

CodeSchool has been a good start, but Adam Gibbons made a great recommendation: just go attack the problems at Project Euler with your new language. Project Euler has over 400 algorithmic puzzles involving things like primes, Fibonacci numbers and palindromes. They are not easy, and I’m becoming addicted. I’m also reflecting on a point Adam reminded me of, something that every developer learns: learning a language’s syntax is completely different from learning how to make code “go” from an empty file. That’s the steepest part of the learning curve, and the most discouraging time. Online teaching tools are a big crutch until you are on your own. Go fail at it now so you can learn how to do it!

If you’re feeling solid or want something else to toy around with, HackerRank seems like a good tool. Try something new! Go? Something more functional? For now, I’m posting my answers to a Github repo (and so are Adam and Chris).

Speaking of learning curves and not giving up, I read a great article on the pain that gaming causes us, and why we do it anyway. “The Art Of Failure” by Jesper Juul seems like a good read, and gets into the idea that we are unhappy when we fail in games, but we are more unhappy when they are too easy. Games can teach us resilience, that we could get it right on even the very next try, not matter how many times we’ve failed before now. Reminds of me of the things I really like to hear Jane McGonigal talk about.

Now go make something, anything, a game, a website, anything! And don’t give up! You’ll probably figure it out in just a few more minutes. And it’ll be fun.

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