On Nov 2, 2006, at 12:23 PM, Skotty wrote:

> Another noobrube question.
>
> Is this the "easiest" language to learn? I'm well aware that none  
> of these programming languages are "easy" but I've been struggling  
> with this for a while and don't want to give up.
>
> Or is there something else I should know first BEFORE going to  
> Ruby? Why's guide is a biggggg help but I don't know why I can't  
> retain this information.
>
> Any help guides?
> Anything?

There was a fun side conversation on this at RubyConf this year.   
Basically, you need to know this:  Computers are really, really  
stupid.  ;)

Don't buy that?  Try this exercise:

   Make up a random number.

You had no trouble doing that, right?  Well congratulations, because  
you just leap ahead of about 30 years of computer research in a few  
seconds.  ;)

Obviously, I'm being flippant here, but the point stands.  Learning  
to program is hard because you need to dumb yourself down to the  
level of the machine and express problems in terms it can understand.

Did you ever play that game in school where you had to tell your  
teacher how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?  You write up  
what you just know are excellent instructions and as you read them  
the teacher makes a mess all over the place, spreading jelly on  
unopened bread packages, table-tops, and other children, just by  
following the instructions literally.  The teacher is simulating a  
computer here.

In the RubyConf discussion we decided that our popular books and  
tutorials don't always do a very good job of teaching you how to  
think like that.  Therein lies at least one hurdle of learning to  
program.

Here's another interesting point:  most of us who have been speaking  
to machines for a reasonable period of time can pick up new languages  
pretty easily.  The reason is that we already have a lot of practice  
with the thinking-dumb part and we just need to learn the new  
syntax.  (Our books and tutorials *are* good at teaching this.)

Anyway, the point of all this is:  don't panic.  We all go through  
this adjustment period you're in now.  It gets easier.  The problem  
is that you're just way too intelligent.  Don't worry though, we'll  
have you dumbed down in no time!  :D

Welcome to programming.

James Edward Gray II