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Functional Me

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I recall very clearly the first time I ever saw a video game. It must have been in the summer of either '78 or '79, just before my 7th or 8th birthday. I walked into a local 7-11, just a short distance from my house, and was puzzled to see this big box surrounded by a bunch of older kids. Space Invaders. The first time I saw the screen, it blew my mind. I totally forgot the reason I had come to the store in the first place and ran home to beg my mother for money to play. In Christmas of that year, I awoke to find an Atari 2600 under the Christmas tree. That cemented it. I knew I wanted to make games when I grew up.

As it would turn out, my parents would never buy a computer. I did manage to get a little exposure to some programming manuals and a chance to try some things out now and again. Eventually, I gave it up and moved on to baseball. That was something my parents could afford. The programming bug was still there, just stashed away. I pulled it out again when I finally got my first computer at the age of 26. I slogged my way through books, online tutorials (including resources from a handful of sites that would eventually merge to form, and anything I could get my hands on. As a result, I never had any formal education or training in computer science. For years, I thought it didn't matter. But lately, it's been bugging me. And I blame D.

I got into the D community pretty much near the ground floor. There have always been some lively discussions in the newsgroups about which features to add or change. Over the years, especially after D2 came along, I've realized just how many gaps there are in my knowledge base. There are a number of conversations I've tried to follow, but in which I became completely lost. And forget about contributing! Then, there's the functional bits that have made their way into the standard library, particularly with regards to the range interfaces. That stuff is just completely alien to me. Recently, I decided to rectify that.

In the past few weeks, I've signed up for three free online CS courses. Two at edX (one starts next month, the other in March), and one at Coursera (which started last week). The latter is a Programming Languages course in which, for starters, we're learning functional programming with SML. Something I never thought I'd do, but, thanks to D, now have the motivation for. I'm actually quite enjoying it.

Once these courses are finished, I plan to look for more that can be useful to me. Hopefully, I'll be a better programmer as a result.
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dang I looked at the coursera CS offerings, theyre practically giving away the entire CS curriculum for free and none of that grade/GPA bullcrap to get stressed about. Why bother paying colleges when its all here? Now all they need to do is give a degree ;P

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In that regard Germany is stuck in the stone age. Althought we don't have to pay any fees for college which is a big plus, I don't know of even one free online course. That's because of intellectual property crap, you can't even get the slides for a lecture if you don't attend it physically as it might contain copyrighted images. So what they usually do is password protect the slides and give out the password in the first lecture...


Kinda ironical how my experimental physics prof recommended watching Walter Lewins course (MIT).

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