by Natalie Muscat, contributing writer
How many of you play sports? Or play video games? You know that kind of high you get when you win a game, match or level? I remember dreading going to swim practice because well, I’m lazy. But on meet days, the moment the referee would say “Swimmers, step up,” the rush of adrenaline would course through my veins and the moment the race was over, I knew all those hours of practice I put in paid off. But when I realized I had to be at practice at 6am the next morning … that sweet moment quickly ended.
Programming has that sort of same feeling. I know it sounds nuts. Staring at a computer for some absurd amount of time is nuts, believe me. But no matter how frustrated you get while you’re coding your life away, you get to that point when you finish and you get this feeling of not only relief but a feeling that can make you want to conquer the world. You get a kind of high, it’s an addiction in itself.
So why is everyone so scared of coding? Just the word itself brings shivers to my friends when we talk about homework and what not. There’s no reason to be scared. Technology has become a part of everyone’s daily life, so why not have an idea of how it actually works? I believe everyone should learn how to code. Not so you become a techie like me, but so you can learn a new way of thinking. Learn how to conquer problems, enhance your problem-solving skills and most importantly use your lazy side to find an easy way of finding solutions.
Bill Gates once said that he, “will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job … because he will find an easy way to do it.” We’re all lazy by nature, right? I mean, come on, who really wants to wake up at 5:30 in the morning just to jump into a cold pool at 6am? We’ve become so attached to our phones and computers, so why not question how they’re made instead of thinking it’s made by magic?
Think of coding like an outline. You have your introduction, your body and your conclusion. It has to work in that order or else you wouldn’t understand what the heck the speaker is talking about. Now think of the app game Angry Birds. It takes you to the start screen then it lets you choose the level, then you get to hit all the pigs. Programming is like writing an outline, you do everything in steps.
How many of you speak another language? Have you noticed how it can open more doors and options? And today it’s common to know people who know two or three languages. Some of the best programmers are actually English literature or linguistics majors because of their strong communication skills. A good friend of mine is a technician at a Microsoft Store. She majored in Philosophy and is going back to school to do a Master’s in Theology, and she’s one of the best techs there. I’m not kidding when I say that anyone can learn how to code!
There are basic programs out there to help you learn. How many of you have played or heard of Temple Run? Well, when I first started programming I created an Android app that was based on it. And I had only started programming a few weeks before. It probably took me about 2 weeks to complete the app but it works, and it has about 45 downloads! Now, it’s nothing like Temple Run, with the graphics and monkeys and tree trunks and all that jazz. It’s a simple app, but does the same thing. I created it on App Inventor, which lets you create Android apps from scratch and upload them to a Gallery where fellow AppInventor-ies can download them, play them, or tweak them. There’s also a program called Alice, which is “an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web.” It’s being used in many universities across the country to teach anyone who has an interest in programming, but doesn’t want to sit and write line after line of jibberish. What I’m trying to get across is that anyone can do it and there are tools available to help you get the jist of what programming entails.
Programming doesn’t have to be scary. It can be as simple as clicking and dragging or copying and pasting. In an article on Wired.com, NBA player Chris Bosh spoke about his interest in coding and how every individual should at least have some knowledge of how it all works, and he talks about his childhood and how he learned how to code from a young age. In high school, he joined a programming club after school and was ridiculed and teased because of it. If it wasn’t for basketball, he would have let the teasing get to him. Only now does he realize how much times have changed and how it has changed his way of thinking, even when he’s in the middle of a game. He states, “it all came together for me and made one thing clear: the nerds have finally achieved their revenge. I’m the Miami Heat player with ‘1’ on my team jersey back. For me winning isn’t ‘winning’ — it’s 01110111 01101001 01101110 01101110 01101001 01101110 01100111 (that’s W-I-N-N-I-N-G in binary code).”
Learning to code gives you a new way of figuring out how to solve a problem: how to find a solution in the quickest way possible. Learn the basics of programming. I’m not saying to go and create the new Facebook or Flappy Bird game. I want you to learn a new way of thinking. So be lazy, learn a few lines of code and you will see that you can actually apply all this to real life.
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