Re: Suggestion for python learning

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Re: Suggestion for python learning

MDX-LE
Hello,

# Had this email sent earlier, which got trapped by the spam filter as I was not a member of edu-sig.
I have a wish and / a suggestion  which I hope will help newbies/noobies deal with the learning curve of python.

I have a background in one of the biological sciences and had always wanted to learn programming to do useful things in my profession. I learnt more concepts about programming in the past few months using python than any other programming language I tried to learn in the past. (VB.NET often DIMmed my hope of useful programming and a cup of java often only made me PUBLICally VOID after listening to programming STATIC (er... noise). :). I am pretty amazed by what I can do with python just with what I have learnt so far. Listening to some podcasts like the python 411 gives us newbies good highlights about some features of this language. Some discussions like - about threads, pygame, simpy, are simply just exciting to listen to.

Wished there was an audiobook by some python expert discussing and high lighting concepts in programming using python. Since python is basically "Executable pseudocode", why not someone create an audio book about the basics of this language?

Or at-least a companion to an already existing book or yet to be published book, so that newbies like us can get the highlights of what is to be expected when we sit down at the computer and try out the code. It would have been extremely useful to have an audiobook about python which one can listen to while sitting in a tram, waiting at a doctors office, walking on the treadmill, driving a car.... The same topics that will take about an hour to read through in a book can be listened through in 10 or 15 minutes.

Hope someone will do it soon, that then python would become the only programming language that can be learnt by listening!

Thanks for listening

:Deepu John


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Re: Suggestion for python learning

David MacQuigg
At 06:21 AM 7/10/2008 +0400, deepu john wrote:

>It would have been extremely useful to have an audiobook about python which one can listen to while sitting in a tram, waiting at a doctors office, walking on the treadmill, driving a car.... The same topics that will take about an hour to read through in a book can be listened through in 10 or 15 minutes.
>
>Hope someone will do it soon, that then python would become the only programming language that can be learnt by listening!

Can you really learn Python this way?  Try writing some code after listening to a verbal explanation only.  Even if you have amazing powers to visualize what you hear, the verbal description, even for something as simple as a for-loop, would be tedious.

There is a reason programming books are written the way they are - programming is a visual thing for most people, even a tactile thing, at least for me.  If I don't actually write some code, I quickly forget what I have just read.

That said, it would be nice to have more tutorials written for targeted audiences, like biological scientists.  A well-written tutorial integrates the code and words in a way that your thoughts are not disrupted by having to find an example buried in a complex figure on another page.  The best person to write a tutorial for biological scientists is a biological scientist who has just learned Python.  Go for it!!  I'll be glad to read and offer suggestions.

-- Dave


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Re: Suggestion for python learning

kirby urner-4
I wanted to thank web2py author Massimo Di Pierro for cluing me re
Vimeo, a higher bandwidth "tube service" that isn't putting my Python
for Math Teachers intros behind a PayPal firewall (what happened on
ShowMeDo, where I also archive. also higher rez than YouTube).

http://www.vimeo.com/user595710/videos

(
lower rez Google Video versions:
http://controlroom.blogspot.com/2007/01/python-for-math-teachers.html
)

Python 411 has been a good source of podcasts for my iPod, which I
usually keep with me, at the gym, on the plane, in the car, so I can
listen to interviews with luminaries mostly, not so much listening to
read-aloud source code, or even pseudo code.

We each have different mixes of sensory input we prefer, when
learning, sometimes gets in the way, sometimes just what the doctor
ordered, so as a teacher I try not to dictate too stringently, as if
it were my way or the high way.

On the other hand, when it comes to media *production* I need to stick
with my talents and/or team up with simpaticos who help make up for my
weaknesses, capable software also a boon (made these initial three
with Camtasia Studio, open to FOSS on my Ubuntu Dell especially).

Kirby
4Dstudios


On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 10:48 AM, David MacQuigg
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> At 06:21 AM 7/10/2008 +0400, deepu john wrote:
>
>>It would have been extremely useful to have an audiobook about python which one can listen to while sitting in a tram, waiting at a doctors office, walking on the treadmill, driving a car.... The same topics that will take about an hour to read through in a book can be listened through in 10 or 15 minutes.
>>
>>Hope someone will do it soon, that then python would become the only programming language that can be learnt by listening!
>
> Can you really learn Python this way?  Try writing some code after listening to a verbal explanation only.  Even if you have amazing powers to visualize what you hear, the verbal description, even for something as simple as a for-loop, would be tedious.
>
> There is a reason programming books are written the way they are - programming is a visual thing for most people, even a tactile thing, at least for me.  If I don't actually write some code, I quickly forget what I have just read.
>
> That said, it would be nice to have more tutorials written for targeted audiences, like biological scientists.  A well-written tutorial integrates the code and words in a way that your thoughts are not disrupted by having to find an example buried in a complex figure on another page.  The best person to write a tutorial for biological scientists is a biological scientist who has just learned Python.  Go for it!!  I'll be glad to read and offer suggestions.
>
> -- Dave
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Edu-sig mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/edu-sig
>
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Re: Suggestion for python learning

Charles Cossé
In reply to this post by David MacQuigg
On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 11:48 AM, David MacQuigg
<[hidden email]> wrote:
> Can you really learn Python this way?  Try writing some code after listening to a verbal explanation only.  Even if you have amazing powers to visualize what you hear, the verbal description, even for something as simple as a for-loop, would be tedious.
>

If you are stuck in a car for an hour each day and you want to listen
to such an audio book, then it's a 0,1 proposition.  You could at
least learn about object-oriented thinking, and qualitative features
of the language.  It would be a good challenge to attempt to make
programming understandable, to a degree, through an audiobook.

> -- Dave
>
>

Good Idea!
Charles Cosse
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Re: Suggestion for python learning

Atul Varma
For what it's worth, Kernighan and Plauger's "The Elements of
Programming Style" claim that "If someone could understand your code
when read aloud over the telephone, it's clear enough. If not, then it
needs rewriting."

I first came across this quote when reading Graham Nelson's paper
"Natural Language, Semantic Analysis, and Interactive Fiction", which
describes a programming language called Inform 7 that would be
particularly easy to teach using only audio:

  http://www.inform-fiction.org/I7Downloads/Documents/WhitePaper.pdf

It's not Python, of course, and works written using Inform 7 aren't
usually very algorithmic in nature.  In fact, I think that it's more
mathematics in general, rather than programming specifically, that is
hard to convey with only audio, but this could be because I've only
ever learned it visually.  Allowing the listener to easily rewind the
audio seems like a must-have, as it often takes people a variable
amount of time to understand mathematical concepts, especially when
they're continuously being built on top of one another.

- Atul

On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 12:45 PM, Charles Cossé <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 11:48 AM, David MacQuigg
> <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Can you really learn Python this way?  Try writing some code after listening to a verbal explanation only.  Even if you have amazing powers to visualize what you hear, the verbal description, even for something as simple as a for-loop, would be tedious.
>>
>
> If you are stuck in a car for an hour each day and you want to listen
> to such an audio book, then it's a 0,1 proposition.  You could at
> least learn about object-oriented thinking, and qualitative features
> of the language.  It would be a good challenge to attempt to make
> programming understandable, to a degree, through an audiobook.
>
>> -- Dave
>>
>>
>
> Good Idea!
> Charles Cosse
> _______________________________________________
> Edu-sig mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/edu-sig
>
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Re: Suggestion for python learning

Jeff Rush
In reply to this post by Charles Cossé
> On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 11:48 AM, David MacQuigg
>
> If you are stuck in a car for an hour each day and you want to listen
> to such an audio book, then it's a 0,1 proposition.  You could at
> least learn about object-oriented thinking, and qualitative features
> of the language.  It would be a good challenge to attempt to make
> programming understandable, to a degree, through an audiobook.

This is an interesting challenge so I may try to put something together.  I've
been wanting to do something anyway that focuses on the philosophy and meaning
of programming, as opposed to the specific syntax, and I've got the
programming background to do that.  An elegant program sings to me.

It also fits into the keynote of PyCon 2007 by Robert "r0ml" Lefkowitz re
programming literacy, whether you can ever "speak" a program or is it only a
written form of communication.  I took that as a challenge. ;-)  It may
require the development of a certain vocabulary specific to programming,
similar to how graphic symbols like flowchart blocks and other diagramming
elements have arisen.

-Jeff

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Re: Suggestion for python learning

Matt Carlson-4
Hi,

I like the idea of a companion to an existing book. The audiobook might be
more useful as a supplement to a programming text rather than a replacement
for it. Instead of trying to explain programming generally or finding a way
to usefully recite code, it might be interesting to hear discussion of a
specific programming problem. The problem could be introduced visually while
in front of a computer, and then taken along in memory while away.

I'm new to both Python and programming, but I've already had the experience
of thinking about how to solve a programming problem while walking to work
or driving somewhere. I would be surprised if other, more experienced
programmers don't do this as well.

Also, since I started learning Python, I've wondered about how programming
is talked about among people who are working on a project together. At least
for those who work in the same physical location, a programming language
probably also extends into spoken language. I'm guessing people don't speak
code to each other, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are more and less
understandable ways of talking about programming. These could be different
between languages too. I would be very interested to know if people talk
about Python differently than they talk about C or some other language.

So, what would happen if an expert Python programmer sat down next to you on
the train while you were thinking through a problem? Maybe the audiobook
could let you in on this conversation. It could work many different ways.
Maybe there is a recording of a newbie (similar in skill level to the
listener) explaining the problem to an expert, and then a discussion between
the two about how to work through the problem. Maybe it is a discussion
between peers. Maybe it works like those foreign language learning tapes
where a pause is added that gives the listener time to think or respond.
Whichever way it's done, the value would be in building off of the memory of
a specific problem, and then taking what is learned back to the computer and
the normal visual environment.

I've learned a lot mulling over problems by myself until I eventually find a
solution, but it might not be bad to occasionally get some help. Beyond
that, if I ever actually did find myself sitting next to an expert
programmer, I might be a little more prepared to discuss our common
interest.

Matt


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Re: Suggestion for python learning

David MacQuigg
In reply to this post by Jeff Rush
At 03:37 AM 7/11/2008 -0500, Jeff Rush wrote:

>>On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 11:48 AM, David MacQuigg
>>If you are stuck in a car for an hour each day and you want to listen
>>to such an audio book, then it's a 0,1 proposition.  You could at
>>least learn about object-oriented thinking, and qualitative features
>>of the language.  It would be a good challenge to attempt to make
>>programming understandable, to a degree, through an audiobook.

Please be careful about quoting.  The above words are not mine.

>This is an interesting challenge so I may try to put something together.  I've been wanting to do something anyway that focuses on the philosophy and meaning of programming, as opposed to the specific syntax, and I've got the programming background to do that.  An elegant program sings to me.

There is certainly much to be done that would fit nicely into an audio format, and not require syntax details - philosophy, opinion, experiences, comparisons (different web frameworks, for example).  Even an experienced programmer would enjoy hearing, for example, on how to chose a relational database from the many available in Python.

I see three levels of interaction - casual listening (music, news, etc.), concentrated listening (maybe with frequent pauses and replays), and full interaction (viewing code, working exercises, etc.).  I would focus on the first two levels, and avoid any need for visual interaction.  Although it is possible to display snippets of code with the new iPods, that would limit the audience too much, and would be inappropriate while driving, which is the biggest chunk of "free time" for most of us.

>It also fits into the keynote of PyCon 2007 by Robert "r0ml" Lefkowitz re programming literacy, whether you can ever "speak" a program or is it only a written form of communication.  I took that as a challenge. ;-)  It may require the development of a certain vocabulary specific to programming, similar to how graphic symbols like flowchart blocks and other diagramming elements have arisen.

Your counting too much on the listener's ability to visualize, and retain a mental image despite interruptions and distractions.  If you need code, make it a separate module, to be used later at a computer.  The audio could provide the motivation for the later, more concentrated effort.

-- Dave


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Re: Suggestion for python learning

kirby urner-4
In reply to this post by kirby urner-4
A follow-up to the posting below:

Ian Ozsvald of ShowMeDo has been good about hunting me down to correct
this misinformation.

Apparently, that one day I couldn't access all my videos was a glitch,
some "Club logic" getting in the way that only pertains to other
videos.

All my videos are available for free to anyone, and at higher screen
resolution than on YouTube or Google Video here:

http://showmedo.com/videos/series?name=JkD78HdCD

The higher rez is important for showing source code, other screen
stuff, which tends to be too fuzzy on YouTube.

I encourage others here to consider ShowMeDo as a way to distribute
educational Python videos.

Jeff Rush already does this effectively.

Kirby


On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 12:21 PM, kirby urner <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I wanted to thank web2py author Massimo Di Pierro for cluing me re
> Vimeo, a higher bandwidth "tube service" that isn't putting my Python
> for Math Teachers intros behind a PayPal firewall (what happened on
> ShowMeDo, where I also archive. also higher rez than YouTube).
>
> http://www.vimeo.com/user595710/videos
>
> (
> lower rez Google Video versions:
> http://controlroom.blogspot.com/2007/01/python-for-math-teachers.html
> )
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Re: Suggestion for python learning

Ian Ozsvald
Hi Kirby, thanks for the clarification.

As discussed in email, I still have no idea what happened on that day - I didn't find any bugs in our code and we'd never hide submitted videos behind a PayPal wall, that'd be unthinkable.  Whatever happened, it appeared to be transitory and couldn't be reproduced, as we discussed in May.

Just for the record - we consider it a privilege to host freely submitted screencasts.  We make them freely available (always have done, always will do), we don't add adverts to the pages nor do we profit/resell them - they're entirely free so that others can get them easily.  As Kirby says we host at a much higher resolution and screensize than YouTube.  You're also free to embed any of the free videos into your own sites.  

Everything that comes in is checked so that no rubbish gets published (we're anti-YouTube in that respect), we're very proud of the collection that has grown over the last few years.

There are over 300 Python videos (http://showmedo.com/videos/python), we're getting to the point where there is something of interest for most people.  We welcome submissions, just get in contact if you'd like a hand with tools or techniques.  

We would love to see more screencasts on using Python for education, experimentation is welcome.  One of our authors (Horst Jens) has his school-kids make videos (you see them on the webcam) with Python as a part of their lessons:
http://showmedo.com/videos/?author=71

Cheers,
Ian (co-founder of ShowMeDo)

kirby urner wrote:

> A follow-up to the posting below:
>
> Ian Ozsvald of ShowMeDo has been good about hunting me down to correct
> this misinformation.
>
> Apparently, that one day I couldn't access all my videos was a glitch,
> some "Club logic" getting in the way that only pertains to other
> videos.
>
> All my videos are available for free to anyone, and at higher screen
> resolution than on YouTube or Google Video here:
>
> http://showmedo.com/videos/series?name=JkD78HdCD
>
> The higher rez is important for showing source code, other screen
> stuff, which tends to be too fuzzy on YouTube.
>
> I encourage others here to consider ShowMeDo as a way to distribute
> educational Python videos.
>
> Jeff Rush already does this effectively.
>
> Kirby
>
>
> On Thu, Jul 10, 2008 at 12:21 PM, kirby urner <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> I wanted to thank web2py author Massimo Di Pierro for cluing me re
>> Vimeo, a higher bandwidth "tube service" that isn't putting my Python
>> for Math Teachers intros behind a PayPal firewall (what happened on
>> ShowMeDo, where I also archive. also higher rez than YouTube).
>>
>> http://www.vimeo.com/user595710/videos
>>
>> (
>> lower rez Google Video versions:
>> http://controlroom.blogspot.com/2007/01/python-for-math-teachers.html
>> )
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