science

[EDUCATION] 7 Great ways to learn how to code

Chart showing the difference between a dreamer, a coder, and a hacker

Image courtesy of Paul Downey via Flickr

One of the most common pitches endured by freelance programmers comes from the enthusiastic, wanna-be entrepreneur who thinks that he or she has come up with the greatest idea for a web site (or app or technology) that the world’s ever seen. There’s just one problem: they don’t have the skills to create even a working prototype. So what do they do? They reach out to any coders who will listen to them for more than 5 seconds or who made the mistake of responding to their emails. And the pitch is always the same:

 

Budding Entrepreneur: “Hey! Listen! I’ve got this idea that’s gonna be the next Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Google! All I need is for someone to do the code! I don’t have any funding right now so I can’t pay you (though confidentially I’ve been working on a few angel investors and might have some funding coming through soon), but I’m willing to offer you an equity stake in my new company if you’ll do the coding for me! It’s the chance of a lifetime!”
 
Freelance Coder: “Uh…no.”
 
 

The problem is that everyone’s got ideas… but few people have the skills (or are willing to learn the skills) necessary to turn their ideas into something tangible enough to convince other people just how great their idea is. Those who have these skills — coders, designers, engineers, architects, Makers, etc.– acquired them with a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and hard work. Remember, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. The real key to success  having the creativity to innovate combined with the skills to create what you dream.

That being said, most people can learn how to code. Granted, you might not be cranking out new operating systems or single-handedly writing console games after a few months of practice, but you’d be surprised at what you can do once you know the basics and apply a little creativity. Better yet, these days there are a number of fabulous and free (or very low cost) ways to learn how to code online.

Interested? Check out 7 best ways to learn how to code on VentureBeat.

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[SCIENCE] Turn your smartphone into a digital microscope!

 

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[NEWS] Harvard and MIT scientists coax photons into forming molecules. Can you say lightsaber?

Researchers Mikhail Lukin and Vladan Vuletic (whose names sound suspiciously like never-before-mentioned Sith Lords) have done something that physicists had theorized about but hadn’t yet been able to pull off in the lab: coaxing photons (once thought to be massless particles that couldn’t interact with each other) into binding together into “photonic molecules.” As Lukin explains in Phys.org:

“What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they begin to act as though they have mass, and they bind together to form molecules.”

He then goes on to drop the bombshell that’s going to make Star Wars fans squeal like tipsy Ewoks:

“It’s not an in-apt analogy to compare this to light sabers…The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.”

 

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[NEWS] “Bohemian Gravity” explains string theory in 7 minutes

SafariScreenSnapz001You still might not totally get string theory after watching this video by McGill University’s Tim Blais, but you’ll still have a smile on your face. As Bora Zivkovic of Scientific American says, it’s “the smartest parody of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody ever sung.” Watch it and see if you agree!

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