Tidbits @ Kassemi

A collection of opinions, thoughts, tricks and misc. information.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Adopt good programming practice before it's too late

I've been programming now for as long as I can remember. If you can name the language, I've dabbled with it. My first programs were on my old Packard Bell 500, and written in C. They weren't written well, but I was eight, and I didn't care. So long as the system made a beep or I returned a list of numbers with a for loop, I was happy.

When my neighbor learned that I was using the computer, they donated a Commodore, which I (despite the downgrade), I absolutely loved. I played text game after text game on it, and even attempted making my own. BASIC became my language of choice, as it was simple enough for me to fully understand. I didn't have to worry too much about strange syntax, and could always use the GOTO statements, which were so much easier than writing good code.

My switch to BASIC from C has turned into the biggest mistake I ever made. Instead of becoming proficient with a powerful language, I turned to something that would make quick work of small projects. I gave up true programming for a while, and started working on web pages back in middle school. These days that doesn't seem like much, but this was when the internet was still it's fastest at 14.4 and none of my teachers even realized that it was possible for them to put up their own pages. I remember the shoddy interface of JKLinks, my collection of valuable internet resources, of which I wish I had a copy today. The JKLinks Award was sent out to many sites, none of which accepted the obvious advertising ploy. The site was a failure, as all of mine have been so far.

Javascript was my next structured language, and with it I created a great menu system similar to the Windows start menu, but a year later a technology came out that made the system useless: CSS. Menus similar to what I programmed were (and are) popping up everywhere, and I had no chance of any type of commercial marketing - not that I was thinking of it.

Some friends' parents took a look at what I had done with JKLinks, and decided they'd hire me to make their web pages. I was making fifty bucks here and there fairly regularly, and then another parent approached me. This one in real estate. I spent countless hours on site designs for her, none of which were good enough. In the end I received a check for $25.00 for my effort, and none of the pages were ever used. I gave up.

During high school I explored mIRC and AOL chatroom 'servers'. I ditched mIRC when I was able to more reliably get content by the America Online method. I followed lead and started programming in Visual Basic. Another bad move. Luckily my time spent there didn't last long, and I quickly moved into Java, Delphi, C++ and currently, PHP.

To get to the point though, which I understand you must be dying to hear right now, I'm having a hell of a time getting some of my programming done because of my lack of focus early on in my programming lifetime. When I was working with each of the languages that I'd learned, I was never doing anything too important. Never anything that was to be released and expected to run well. Currently, though, I am working on an important project, the nature of which I cannot yet reveal. To get this project done, and done quickly, I heard I should use PHP with a mySQL database backend. The language was simple, much like C++, and very easy to work with. I started learning immediately, and felt I was doing fairly well.

The problem? NEVER start learning a programming language by programming what you're learning the language for. Let me qualify. NEVER for a program that you need to have running well, and NEVER for a very large program. I'm currently at the 52MB mark in code. And I just came across I huge problem that I need to fix with the code I started writing as I was learning. It's so sloppy and bug-ridden that it will take me weeks to fix it. That's my advice to you today. I know, promising introductory story, weak conclusion. Any of you with any more universal programming advice, feel free to comment here.

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