StarvingFilmCritic

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Posts Tagged ‘Django

Falling down the steep learning curve: Python and Vim, week 1

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I don’t know how most people imagine learning curves, but they’ve always been downhill for me.  One slight mistake and you’ll fall tumbling to the bottom with no idea how you got there.  When I hear that there’s a steep learning curve, I know to grab my mental crampons and rope gear to begin my slow descent to the bottom of whatever subject I’ve decided to dive into.

Computers and every subject relating to them can be intimidating to learn because you have to know how everything interacts.  In this particular case I want to use the Django framework to rebuild the SFC website which is currently defunct with its last update in April.  I stopped updating because I couldn’t get WordPress to do what I wanted, so my computer savvy older brother suggested that I learn Django and make it myself.  It was a wonderful idea and I want to get a working website up and running as soon as possible.  The one hitch is that before I learn how to work with Django and the many internet related issues contained within (servers, networking, browser interaction, etc.) I needed to learn Python so that I can make Django do what I want.  The trick is that before I can even do that I need to learn how my text editor, Vim works.  It’s true that I could program in text edit or whatever generic text file program, but they’re slow and don’t have powerful editing tools like those available to EMACS and Vim users.  I’ve used Vim before, but it’s been a long time and I need to brush up on all the commands.

I’m also re-learning how to program.  I’ve programmed before in LC-3 machine and assembly code and done a few fun projects in C, but the last time I sat down and wrote code was almost seven years ago under the watchful gaze of a programming genius that took me under his wing.  Now I’m on my own and I don’t remember much of what he taught me.  I asked my brother how he became such an expert and he said that I should hack, a lot.  I should try to make this computer do all sorts of crazy stuff and keep frequent backups on the off-chance that I break something.  It’s a scary prospect, but I think I’ll have to give it a go if I want to understand computers better.

Thankfully there are open book projects on Python for people with no programming experience. I’m on chapter 3 of this book and it’s going well so far.  Learning Python is definitely easier than C.  There’s a seven-year gap in the process, but I think that the basics of Python are a lot easier since you don’t have to do as much setup with the main body of the program versus functions and other smaller pieces.  It’s like the difference between an Erector Set and K’nex; the latter builds similar structures, but you just snap it together instead of getting out a wrench and screwdriver to bolt everything together.

I’m excited and hopeful that I can get through this book relatively quickly and start working with Django and the next set of intimidating computer subjects.

Written by Christopher Siler

2011/06/14 at 01:55

Posted in SFC Website rebuild

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Crazy Months and New Beginnings

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The month of May has raced by this year.  I spent the first two weeks frantically attempting to finish projects and study for finals in three graduate level courses.  I was skeptical of a nine-hour maximum class load when I started last fall because it was half of the max load allowed at UIUC, but this past semester has taught me that the nine-hour maximum was there for a reason.  I didn’t have a job that semester and I still felt like I just squeaked by.  In hindsight, I would’ve taken either the video journalism class or the media law and digital essentials classes.  The video class was definitely the heavy end of that semester, but I finished May 16 for better or for worse and that kicked off the next two weeks of my crazy life.

My father wanted to get my car’s registration renewed in Missouri and not go through the hassle of re-titling it and finding insurance in Virginia.  Unfortunately, that meant I had a 700 mile car-trip to start right as I finished finals.  I made the trip over the course of three days and in hindsight I could have probably done it in two, but it was the furthest I’d ever driven alone and I was thankful for the 300-400 mile sessions.  I then started a new car-trip from St. Louis to Lawrence, KS to see my brother graduate from law school before things got really nutty.

Originally, I was supposed to fly back to DC for a class and then immediately fly to Chicago so that I could help my fiancée move in with me in DC.  The weather decided otherwise and I was stranded in Kansas City until Tuesday night when I caught a flight straight to Chicago.  The move went well, but that week of packing, driving, and unpacking rounded out the end of May and we’re just finishing up the last of the unpacking.

It’s been a long month and I’m glad to see it gone.  Hopefully I can get back to meaningful projects like, gasp, actually watching and reviewing films!  I’m also supposed to be rebuilding the StarvingFilmCritic.com website because I feel to constrained by WordPress to actually post on it.  WordPress is a great blogging client, but I’ve had a lot of difficulty trying to get the website to look and run the way I want it.  My older brother is a computer wiz as well as being a law-nerd and has agreed to help me rebuild the website with the Django web-framework.  I’ve had some experience with C and assembly languages for the LC-3 processor, but Django is based on Python and I haven’t touched code or an editor in a long time.  I have a lot to learn and relearn before the website will go up.  This is going to take a while.

In the meantime, I think I’ll try to use this blog to talk about things a bit informally.  I’ll post some light movie reviews and updates on learning about Django, but I’ll also put up some straight personal blog posts and nerdy things that interest me like Minecraft, Halo, anime, webcomics, and the like.

Cross your fingers and hope for the best!

Written by Christopher Siler

2011/06/04 at 08:19

Posted in Uncategorized

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