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Education Programming United Kingdom

Forget 6-Minute Abs: Learn To Code In a Day 306

whyloginwhysubscribe writes "The usually excellent BBC 'Click' programme has an article on 'Why computer code is the new language to learn' — which features a company in London who offer courses on learning to code in a day. The BBC clip has an interesting interview with a marketing director who, it seems to me, is going to go back and tell his programmers to speed up because otherwise he could do it himself!'s testimonials page is particularly funny: 'I really feel like I could talk credibly to a coder, given we can now actually speak the same language.'"
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Forget 6-Minute Abs: Learn To Code In a Day

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  • language != logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:43PM (#40985889)

    Writing code has little to do with "grammar" and more to do with logic. I wonder, how do you teach that in a day?

    • Maybe they teach LOGO. That can be learned in a day...

      • Re:language != logic (Score:5, Informative)

        by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:11PM (#40986227)

        It's a course in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Javascript is the only one of the three that is an actual programming language, they aren't teaching people how to program. They're teaching people how those three languages interact to create a web page. It actually seems like a pretty useful course for developers who work in any company that produces online products to send their marketing and sales teams to, so that those teams can at least get a glimpse about how these things work just so that they have a better understanding of what they're asking us to do. Or, so that they have more of an idea of what's possible. The #1 question I'm asked is "is it possible to..." Yes, it's possible, it's always possible, it's a question of time and money. I don't know how many times I have to answer that question before people realize they can just skip straight to the second question ("what does it take to do it"). A class like this may clue them in.

        • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:28PM (#40986407) Homepage

          Yes, it's possible, it's always possible, it's a question of time and money.

          Obviously, you've never had a marketing person ask for something that is so out of the ballpark that it would be an equivalent of solving "strong AI" problems (where you can't give an estimate) - it's not always "possible". The answer to which must be, "We can't do that, but we could do this," where "this" is at least a tractable problem and puts you back in the realm of your question #1.

          • I was thinking about factorizing the product of two large primes. There are numerous problems in computer science that we can't do with current technology;
          • Re:language != logic (Score:4, Interesting)

            by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @03:09PM (#40987907) Homepage Journal

            Yes, it's possible, it's always possible, it's a question of time and money.

            Obviously, you've never had a marketing person ask for something that is so out of the ballpark that it would be an equivalent of solving "strong AI" problems ...

            Heh. A team I was once on was asked to do a task that provably required an upgrade to the speed of light. It involved the time for getting messages between widely separated places on the planet. The managers couldn't accept that the universe imposes a speed limit on such things. It was clear that they understood this to mean that we weren't smart enough to solve the problem. We on the development team quickly updated our resumes ...

          • As a developer, I find it important to ask the question "Why?". Tasks are performed to solve problems. Those who contract out tasks (the employer) understand the problem but typically lack the expert knowledge required to devise the best possible solution. The employer can devise a solution, break it into tasks, and contract out those tasks; but results are typically less then optimal.

            What developers should to is to try to understand the underlying problem so their expert knowledge can assist in desig

            • For example, a person might go into a store and ask a clerk for an iPad. A good clerk would politely ask why they want an iPad. If the customer was looking for a highly mobile device for reasons .... then a 7" Android tablet might be better. In this example the customer lacks expert knowledge regarding tablet devices and their proposed solution was less then optimal. By understanding the underlying problem, the clerk is able to recommend the most appropriate device. It is the same for developers - take the time to understand the problem if you want the customer to be happy.

              The last thing I want when going into a store to make a purchase is some dillwad sales clerk second guessing my researched decision.

              I agree that you need to find out why people are asking for what they're asking. I just hate dillwad sales clerks.

              As a developer, I've learned that it's a large part of my job to educate project stakeholders on what is possible and practical, as well as to do what they ask. The most successful projects are ones where the stakeholders explain the entire process to me and we work

              • Wouldn't you be playing the part of the dillwad sales clerk when you educate stakeholders? And wouldn't you also be the one with the inflexible pre-conceived notion when you enter the store with what you call a researched decision?

                You may think no, there's a difference. But that's only from your perspective.

    • Re:language != logic (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:47PM (#40985935) Journal

      Studiously refraining from teaching somebody any of that boosts their confidence in a way that only years, or even decades, of advanced study can hope to equal!

      Incidentally, why doing you programmers just prove that your algorithms will never hang before shipping code? Are you lazy or something?

    • by NFN_NLN ( 633283 )

      Writing code has little to do with "grammar" and more to do with logic. I wonder, how do you teach that in a day?

      Pffft... "learning to code in a day"? During their lunch break they can take my new course: "learn how to become a marketing director in 10 easy minutes".

      That guy sounds like dead weight. Maybe he should get his ass down there and start coding. He can start by fixing spelling errors in strings bundle :).

      • by jeko ( 179919 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @02:14PM (#40987021)

        "learn ... in ten easy minutes

        Screw learning. With my new Sarah Palin Voyage of Self-Discovery and the Christian Buddha, you'll discover that you always knew the answers in your heart all along. Trying to become some so-called "expert" by doing things like "studying" just makes you an elite egghead who gets all wishy-washy when it comes to the truthiness of anything.

        You already know the answer, and you know that you do! Don't let those gosh-darned experts tell you any different!

        Act now, and we'll bonus you with the Anthony Robbins method "Solve Any Problem in Three Easy Steps!"

        Step One: It's not a problem. It's a challenge!
        Step Two: You can Always Decide to Meet That Challenge!
        Step Three: Once you Decide to Meet that Challenge, It's Been Met! Problem Solved with nothing more than the Power of your Mind!

    • Likewise, basic working knowledge != skill

      I could teach someone to fire a pistol or rifle in a day. Heck, I could teach you both in a day.

      Doesn't make you an expert marksman or skilled assassin. Just means you know where to stick the bullets, and which part you squeeze for the boom. I'd imagine a 1-day code class isn't much more comprehensive than that.

    • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

      The hope is that they already have logic, and need the grammar, and not even very much of it, just enough to understand the difference between a logical concept and the programmer parlance of a particular method of implementing said logical concept.

      In the same way that the first couple of weeks on the job as a programmer you hear a lot of MBA waffle, and have to figure out what it means and whether or not the upcoming quarterly report, retention bonuses or data-driven decisions matter to you.

      For non program

    • Writing code has little to do with "grammar"

      Incorrect. Grammar (syntax by any other name) is what keeps tripping me up when I get started on one of my occasional forays into programming. I just don't do it enough to get fluent, so I keep mixing up my $ and @ and {} (actual examples from a recent XSLFO project).

  • by CadentOrange ( 2429626 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:44PM (#40985897)
    ... is a dangerous thing! I can just see bosses putting more pressure on coders to "get the job done now!" and then failing to understand why code takes so long to be delivered.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, just tell the boss that the dwim feature of your compiler is broken, and you must work around it.

    • by knuthin ( 2255242 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:51PM (#40985987) Homepage

      If coding can be learned in a day, why do we have people who suck so badly at it?

      And if it can be learned in a day, most of the companies are ready to pay 100,000$ per year or more to guys who do it, and involves B16B00B5, I don't know what's stopping the rest of the world from getting rich.

      • by iamgnat ( 1015755 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:56PM (#40986053)

        If coding can be learned in a day, why do we have people who suck so badly at it?

        Because they learned it in a day?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:20PM (#40986317)

          The whole point of the class appears to be able to help people relate to the technicians that run their infrastructure. In the broadcast, the students learn how to use a GPS Java API along with very rudimentary HTML, and CSS. I have done that in a single 2 hour class. That makes them about as qualified to program as this /. post makes me qualified to write a sequel to Lord of the Rings.

          You can teach someone the rules of Chess in a day, yet it takes years to master the game. Programming is the same. I can teach the syntax of HTML, CSS, and basic Java in a day (just like the BBC broadcast depicted), but the student will not know how to properly utilize the logic for years. Good luck with recursion, overloading functions, vulnerability testing, and many other concepts.

      • Yes Mr. Boss I could code an entire program in just one day.
        It just won't work.
        THAT'S the hard part Testing the product & making it work bugfree. Even you know that testing takes a long, long time.


        Some of us prefer 5/^\A11B00B5 thank you very much. Like two scoops of vanilla.

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:06PM (#40986179) Homepage

        Meh I could teach you to write basic code in a day. The difference is, nobody hires people because "they know how to write code". Its about being experienced and knwoledgeable.

        I could teach you to drive a car in a day too.... but, being able to drive a car and being an expert, experienced driver are two very very different things. There is a huge difference between "I can step on the gas and make it go, and bring it to a stop" and "I have been in several skids, and am adept at steering out of them" (or rather into them, if you want to split that hair).

        I think they are doing a real disservice to their students if they are really leaving them with the impression that they are going to be competent or even "speak the same language" as someone who has been doing it for years.

        That said, I might believe in either the ability to teach some basic coding in a day or the ability to gain exposure to some concepts and learn to communicate better with coders in a day... but... to become a competent coder? That I would need to see to believe.

        • Meh I could teach you to write basic code in a day. The difference is, nobody hires people because "they know how to write code".

          Yes they do, a lot., because those people are much cheaper.

    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:57PM (#40986071)

      Hire me. Just pay me 10% more than the rest of your team combined but I will deliver the code you need within 24 hours.

      And I only have 2 requirements.

      1. It does not have to work.

      2. I do not have to maintain it.

      WRITING code is easy.

    • Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:59PM (#40986099) Homepage
      Someone who thinks they can code is far more dangerous than someone who realizes they can't and defers to experts. Pity the devs who'll have to suffer a bad manager going worse because of this!
    • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:03PM (#40986129)
      Fast, cheap, good. Pick any two.

      Problem is many managers pick fast & cheap and then complain when its not good.
      • Do good & cheap go together? If it's slow to develop, it wouldn't be cheap because of all the extra labor hours.

        • by ynp7 ( 1786468 )

          Sure. Just do it yourself on the evenings and weekends without paying yourself a salary. It'll be extra slow if "you" are a manager without any experience developing anything.

    • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:03PM (#40986131) Homepage Journal

      Response to your boss:

      Coding is like chess. it's easy to learn, but takes a lifetime to master.

      You can learn the rules of chess in a day, and you can play your first three matches on that same day. It takes a lifetime of study to be any good at chess, to be better than others at chess, or to compete in any way at chess.

      Another way to put it is like guitar, or piano.

      How long does it take to earn money playing guitar? Basic guitar takes about a week of practice, but how long will it take to earn money from playing it?

      As with anything, there are basics as well as subtle, underlying principles. Coding, chess, guitar, piano, or any other refined action takes years of practice, experimentation, and learning to master. About 10,000 hours [] all told.

      Then ask: "How many hours does it take to become a manager?"

      • "Response to your boss:
        Coding is like chess. it's easy to learn, but takes a lifetime to master."

        Boss: chess? what's chess? that stupid game about moving little men on a checkered board? *I* make real men move at my will and it didn't take me "a life to master" (which obviously shows how and why I'm light years above you).

        And now go do as commanded, you pawn!

      • by manicb ( 1633645 )

        And continuing the analogy, it is really helpful if you're playing in a band to have a basic working understanding of everyone else's instruments. It means you can ask the bassist to use more hammer-ons in this section, and understand why the singer can't do endless loud high notes.

    • On the other hand, know-it-all users are fun to talk to.

      Just today I had a chat with someone who complained that he could not use our IE centric webmail with his private iPad. It was funny seeing his gears running about how to make me confess the secret trick to make his iPad work with our system (including the usual reference to another organization vaguely related to us where "they can do it").

      Of course, the time lost with those wankers. Luckily today was a slow day.

      • by Teun ( 17872 )
        Who is the wanker when in 2012 your webmail is IE centric?
        • by cowboy76Spain ( 815442 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @02:13PM (#40986993)

          The one who thinks that, just because it is 2012, all our IT will automagically upgrade itself without the required investments, and that we will leave all our legacy systems because they are "not cool"

          Oh, and the one that the issue will be resolved by arguing with me instead of arguing with the boss of the boss of the boss .... of my boss.

    • In each interview im very frank with the PHB about my skill level. Ive coded infinite loops that execute in milliseconds and are written in under a week. These days whenever a big project comes around, the boss just nods and says "Wally's on it!"
  • by bjdevil66 ( 583941 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:47PM (#40985937)

    Learn how to really piss off real developers in a day.

  • Yeah, just like easy chords. And then after a day of that, you step out your door and any random guy who's been playing guitar for a few years blows you away. Next!

  • by stevegee58 ( 1179505 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:52PM (#40985995) Journal
    Yay! I'm a coder now!
    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Yeah but can you make it print backwards in Fortran and Cobol? The punch cards are waiting mister!

  • but in just a day you will only learn to cook (or code) spaguetti.
    • by 0racle ( 667029 )
      Next up, learn written English in a day.

      //Yes, I had to look up the correct spelling
      • Next up, learn written English in a day. /spaghetti //Yes, I had to look up the correct spelling

        Uh, isn't spaghetti an Italian word?

  • At first glance I thought, "Hee, the Onion is funny". After reading TFA I thought, "Sheesh, I wish this was an Onion story".
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Sometimes, you wish things in life were. For example, the "I spent a couple hours reading blog posts from a TV weatherman in California, and now I'm an expert on climate science!" crowd.

    • The summary started with:

      The usually excellent BBC 'Click' programme

      From this we can conclude that it was written by someone who either:

      • Is an employee of the BBC
      • Has never actually watched Click
      • Completely lacks any understanding of computers
      • Thinks 'excellent' is a synonym for 'cringeworthy and dumbed down to the point of inaccuracy'

      After that, it's safe to ignore the rest of TFS and skip TFA entirely.

  • by ashshy ( 40594 ) <<pooh> <at> <>> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:58PM (#40986073) Homepage Journal

    Code Monkey think maybe manager want to write god damned login page himself
    Code Monkey not say it out loud
    Code Monkey not crazy, just proud

    • I never learned how to use mod points but +1 for jonathon coulton reference, so true.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lissajous ( 989738 )

        I never learned how to use mod points but +1 for jonathon coulton reference, so true.

        You don't use mod points, you program them. Apparently there's a site that can help you with this.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @12:59PM (#40986089)

    The similarity with spoken language is uncanny.

    Much as I can teach you "beer please?" and "where's the bathroom?" and "my /. UID is lower than yours" in spanish in about a day, I can probably teach you the crudest basics of any programming language in about a day.

    I'm told that learning your 2nd 3rd 4th spoken language gets easier, every time you learn one you learn the next easier. Programming languages are certainly like that.

    Even the epic overconfidence is similar. "I know how to ask for a beer in Spanish, I'm now fully qualified, lets book our flight to Spain!"

    Also the teasing is similar. Sure kid, that "O(n^n^n) algorithm is perfectly scalable, you just roll that right out into production, testing in for wussies anyway" is the computer equivalent of teaching a noob that the foreign equivalent of "nice rack, wanna F" actually translates in English to "thank you"

    • testing in for wussies anyway" is the computer equivalent of teaching a noob that the foreign equivalent of "nice rack, wanna F" actually translates in English to "thank you"

      Please fondle my bum []

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Whoa I just thought of another crazy comparison.

      I dropped out of spanish because by third year my fellow classmates were entirely English as a Second Language students who were native speakers only showing up for an easy A, and as one of the last anglos I was way out of my league.

      In a similar way the 1st semester CS classes are oriented toward walking total noobs thru "hello_world" at a speed they can follow, but by junior year or so almost all my classmates were like me, doing this stuff since we were like

    • by Teun ( 17872 )

      "I know how to ask for a beer in Spanish, I'm now fully qualified, lets book our flight to Spain!"

      No, not until you can ask for two beers.

    • by firewrought ( 36952 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @02:12PM (#40986977)

      The similarity with spoken language is uncanny.

      The similarities go way deeper than that. Mainly, there is a strong isomorphism between how human and computer languages are encoded and interpreted/compiled.

      At the lowest level, a digital "alphabet" must be imposed on this unruly analogue world. Human languages use phonemes [] (generally a few dozen distinct sounds) while computer languages use a character set (such as ASCII or Unicode). These alphabets are all basically a set of finite, unchanging, and meaningless symbols.

      One level up are morphemes [] or words and word-parts that are constructed of phonemes. So "dog" is the name/morpheme we assign to the furry thing lifting its leg over your bedroom carpet; "urinate" is the morpheme we assign to its activity; and "ed" is the morpheme that signifies the activity has already completed (as in urinated). In computer languages this is called lexcal analysis [], and it happens very early during compilation, usually with the help of regexps. In both cases, this phase transforms the fixed set of phonemes into a large, ever-growing set of meaningful symbols.

      The next level up is syntax, in which a governing grammar (itself consisting of a closed set of abstract categories) is used to parse the morphemes/lexical tokens into tree-like data structures that will subsequently be used to determine relationships between word-units. This is where you start reading Chomsky or the Dragon book and reaching for the Midol. I don't know if it's Chomsky's fault or what, but there's a lot of similar terminology here between the same fields (e.g., syntax, grammar, parsing, production rules), as well as dissimilar terminology for roughly equivalent concepts (e.g., sentence<==>statement, clause<==>expression, paragraph<==>method).

      After that comes semantics (assignment of meaning) and pragmatics (what things mean in context), for which you could find some suggestive connections with compilation (type-checking and processor-specific optimizations, perhaps), but here the easy/clean comparisons start to break down... probably because we still have a very limited understanding of how the human brain works. In both cases, it seems that there has to be a translation from the abstract, extracted idea down into the series of electrical impulses that yield a change in state of the target brain/computer.

      As a completely separate topic, there is an isomorphism (in the sense of the term that Hofstadter uses in GEB []) between how both human and computer languages evolve and branch cladistically with time. (And unsurprisingly, there is yet another isomorphism between biological evolution and language evolution.... we live in an endlessly fascinating world.)

      Keep in mind, though, that we are ultimately finding similarities between things that are fundamentally different. Blindly inferring new "truths" about computer languages from human ones (or visa-versa) is a recipe for looking silly.

  • HTML, CSS, and Javascript all in one day and "in depth". Why not add C++, c#, regular expressions, and others as well?
  • Learn to write doggerel in a day. Have fun. Don't expect to earn a living as a poet.

  • Meanwhile (Score:4, Funny)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:05PM (#40986165) Homepage

    Meanwhile, us programmers don't need to take a "Management in 1 day" training. We develop translators: []

  • Make some insanely stupid comments of a technical nature and post it on /.

    Sit back and watch your site get millions of hits.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Then i can just beat a nerd into programming for me.
  • Most people would get more benefit from the Abs class. Even if they only remember how to do a plank [] afterwards. What good does one day do? If you need to learn programming, you need to spend more time at it than this. It might make for a good intro to something, but it won't teach a newbie how to do anything useful as it seems to claim.

  • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:21PM (#40986331)

    Look, you could sit anyone down in a day and teach them looping and conditional expressions. Most people already understand variables, but you may have to teach them arrays. So what? This does not mean a person knows how to program. What that PHB stated is the equivalent to saying "Because I know the alphabet I can speak any language and write any novel". It's pure idiocy!

    I have seen people come out of 4 years of College for coding and still not know their ass from a hole in the ground. Give them a non Microsoft product for development and they are completely lost. CSV or git, forget it. Distributed make? Maybe, but probably not. Half the time they don't even know how to find includes that are not spoon fed to them. Granted, there are some good ones out there, but mostly we churn out people that are retarded without a GUI to know most of what they need to know to do their job.

    I'm sure that the person making these claims thinks they are all that and a bag of chips, but let him design a real program and see how smart he is. Give him a project that would take a real programmer a week. By the end of the week, you would start hearing the asshole complain about how the systems are all broken, probably even providing faked statistics to show everyone how the compilers are at fault.

  • This obviously is a horrible idea, but I started thinking what could they do in a day instead that would actually be beneficial to an organization, and I came up with this:
    Spend a day teaching CPU architecture, memory structure, and end with showing how to manually layout a formal data structure or 2 in memory (something simple like a binary search tree). All done in lecture format obviously to get through it all.

    By the end of the day there would be tangible benefit in that: Some of the folks would be s
  • I know the Russian alphabet. That doesn't mean I speak or read Russian.

    In one day, you're picking up the programming equivalent of the alphabet: what the letters in the language mean. Learning what the words mean, and how to string them together into coherent sentences, that takes a lot longer. Becoming fluent in it at the high-school level... that takes pretty much what it took for you to become fluent in whatever your native language is at the same level: 15 or so years of 24-hours-a-day immersion in it.

  • "Do you know your Java from your CSS and your HTML?" Whoever wrote this, doesn't.
  • I'd rather they learn nothing than learn enough to fancy themselves ready to talk shop with a real programmer.
  • I have a Black & Decker Drill, a Leatherman, and a can of furniture repair spackle.

    Do any of you want to save money on health care . . . ?

  • i liked the testimonial comparing it to taking the blue pill from the matrix
  • Their website is down, look like they need to hire someone who has completed a 2 day course to fix it
  • To take over the Marketing Director's job?
  • by DaveGod ( 703167 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @02:11PM (#40986957)

    I didn't interpret anything in the segment implying that the one-day course is going to turn you into a developer. It seemed very obvious to me that it's an introducer type course - getting the gist over, a starting point for someone considering changing/supplementing careers or to have a vague idea what the developers at their work are doing.

    Perhaps they could have spelt it out over and over again - well they did keep saying "basic" - but it seemed quite obvious to me. That's not to say those interpreting differently are stupid. If the US TV imported over here is any indication, US TV likes to really spells things out - if that's what you're used to then it's quite reasonable to expect it.

    I'm a qualified accountant, I could teach the basics of accountancy in one day. Enough to be an accountant the next day? No. Enough to help someone decide if it might be a career for them? Yes. Enough to enable a manager to make good use of reporting? Yes. Enough for a manager to broadly understand what their accounting staff are doing and why they cannot have the accounts "Monday"? Yes.

  • Experience teaches you how to manage complexity, which is the number one limitation on building big programs. Anyone can learn to knock together a program with a few buttons on a window in a day, the same as I can teach you how to build a shed in a day. That doesn't mean you're qualified to build a house (or a skyscraper).

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham