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Tim Apple for Vets Who Code

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Getting comfortable using Google.

When I say get comfortable with using Google, I do not mean actually knowing how to use it. I am hoping you already have gotten that far. What I am thinking of more is using it to find your solutions.

I am currently in the Vets Who Code program. And to share a little history. I dropped out of High School, spent ten years in the Army doing one of the most non-techy jobs out there (unless you consider the art of running a floor buffer), and then working jobs all the way from pulling cable, electrician, tower climber, to sales.

Now, on the other hand, I am a geek at heart. I am comfortable at the hardware level. If you have read any of my other posts you would know I am really comfortable with operating systems also.

I even can grasp HTML and CSS pretty well now.

But JavaScript and the computer science double whammy kicks my behind. I really do have some difficulty picking it up. Once I get a concept I'm good. But getting it can take time.

In class, I can be given a problem to solve and I will just go blank. I can't even think of where to start. What do I have to do? I google it. Then I read it, most likely implement the version I found, test it, then try to make it my own.

I repeat this process quite a bit. Slowly it starts to sink in and I may not need to look that particular thing up again. Or maybe I get half the solution but need to look up the rest. I'm still making progress.

My hurdle was overcoming the fact that I felt like a cheat. A downright plagiarist! What I bum I was, copying code I found. Poser!

But what I am discovering is the process of finding what I need, making use of it, and then learning what it's doing as I test it and make it my own is teaching me. The very act of copying code is making me better at the craft. As time goes on I am convinced and starting to see that I need to copy less and less for more common tasks. They are sinking in.

I guess the point I want to make is don't feel guilty for having to look stuff up and even use it for a solution. With enough of it and much more practice, it sinks in, honest. I have to thank the staff and mentors at Vets Who Code for not letting me beat myself up and teaching me that it's part of the process. I believe if someone didn't tell me it's normal, even OK, I would have quit from guilt.

My last suggestion, don't copy and paste directly. Even if you're using somthing you found, type it in yourself. Test it as you go to help you figure out what's going on.

Finally, enjoy the ride. You'll get there.

** Note, there can be malicious stuff out there for you to copy. Be cautious and try to use trusted sites to get your info. If completly in doubt, maybe keep looking.

Top comments (2)

zenulabidin profile image
Ali Sherief

Something to add to your last paragraph. There may be a lot of rudimentary security vulnerabilities in code that you copy from the internet, like not checking arguments, NULL, return values, etc. which an attacker could exploit. Stack Overflow wrote about it here.

Sometimes I also find it hard to believe a particular rare condition in my code could ever happen but it's always possible. Which reminds me, I should stop using rand() in my code because it's not so random but it's the only thing that ships with C++ as far as I know. The GNU Scientific Library is chock full of better random number generators.

heytimapple profile image
Tim Apple

Good point, let me put a disclaimer.