Coffee and Coding

A Cup of Coffee

When I was first learning to code (or computer program – I will use the terms interchangeably), a friend asked me to write out the steps I would take to make a cup of coffee. My quick answer was something along the lines of “fill the pot with water. Add 2-3 T coffee grounds to the machine. Pour the water through and turn it on.”

He responded by saying, “where is the water coming from? Is there water? Where is the measuring spoons? Do you need to plug it in first? Perhaps first you have to get out of bed and walk to the kitchen?”

This small exercise was to teach me that even when the task seems very simple, there are many parts of the task that are actually automatic simply because I have already know how to do the task. Computers, on the other hand, do not come “prebuilt” with this knowledge. The first starting point when learning to code is to assume nothing. Although most people would know how to fill a coffee pot with water (i.e., turn on the faucet) a computer is, honestly, pretty stupid. It can only do what you tell it to do. And this is precisely computer programming.

What is Coding?

Coding is essentially providing very specific instructions to a computer to complete a task. You may remember from your computer classes in high school or college that computers only understand zeros and ones. When you write the code in a computer language and run it, a computer will then compile (or process) language into binary (the zeros and ones.)

If this seems to not make any sense, don’t worry. My mistake when beginning was that I let myself get so bogged down by these details, and I froze up and thought I would never learn this. Right now, just know that you will be learning a new language, and the computer will translate that language into one that the computer can understand.

What are the languages?

One of the first widely accepted and used language was “C”. It is fairly easy to learn and will allow you do make certain programs, but it quickly was replaced with C++ and C#, which allowed programmers do write more sophisticated and complex code. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the backbone for creating webpages (and the languages I am focusing on currently.) PHP and Python allow for much more interactive websites –  Facebook uses PHP.

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