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Subject:Re: If you were going to learn... From:"Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com> To:"TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Fri, 8 Mar 2002 05:53:23 -0700 (MST)
On Thu, 7 Mar 2002, Bonnie Granat wrote:
Bonnie>Part of me is afraid that this effort will be as demoralizing as my efforts
Bonnie>to learn C and C++. I would still like to learn them, but as a student in
Bonnie>the late Nineties, I found that every single book and every single class I
Bonnie>took simply did not explain it. I always wanted to apply technical writing
Bonnie>principles to the books I read, but I couldn't, because I didn't know what
Bonnie>the authors were really saying. Why on earth do they assume that they can
Bonnie>skip over crucial information and only allude to it? Sorry to ramble.
Bonnie>So I hope this doesn't turn out like my attempts to learn a programming
Bonnie>language went. Oh, I dropped the first course I enrolled in (a course that
Bonnie>was teaching C and C++ at the same time) and a year later enrolled in a
Bonnie>course in C++. With a private tutor, I got an A (or was it a B). But I know
Bonnie>NOTHING, I tell you, NOTHING. Why in the world don't they get people who
Bonnie>know how to present complex information to write those books? I give up.
Bonnie>They don't want people to learn it. LOL.
I'd strongly recommend getting started with a _real_
project with real goals. I've found that most technologies,
from HTML to MySQL to Perl to PHP to Java to whatever
are most easily learned if you're trying to apply them
to a real project, and ideally a project similar to
(but not identical to) one covered in a book or tutorial.
Why? If it's a real project, you'll do everything and not
skip steps. You'll have some motivation because it'll
meet some need that you have. You won't be tempted
to just type in the example or copy it off the disk,
'cause you'll have to modify the example to meet the
needs of your project.
For example, you might create a MySQL database to keep
track of your tech writing related books. Then,
you could connect your database to a Web page to let
people query your collection. Then, you could set up
Web-based forms to update the database. Before you
know it, you'll have a library card catalog program
_and_ an online portfolio piece that shows your SQL
abilities, broader database design understanding,
Web development skills (in the context that they're
most valuable to the marketplace), and more.
My two cents,
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