Author Topic: What should we learn?  (Read 4455 times)

emily2244

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What should we learn?
« on: October 16, 2012, 08:46:40 AM »
I have a frugal friend (another Mom) and we want to learn a hobby together that has potential to be profitable. We are thinking of learning some computer skills. Any ideas for what we should learn/where to begin? I am interested in programming and have dabbled a little... Would that have any potential? Any ideas would be appreciated!

Use it up, wear it out...

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Re: What should we learn?
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2012, 08:54:16 AM »
Re: programming - a great place to get started is codeacademy.com

They have free online lessons in basic java, and now python. I've taken them (I studied programming in school years ago, never really used it in my career) and found them to be quite good.

They're not enough to get you to a job, but will let you dip your toes and see how you like it, while learning something actually useful.

If you want to go much deeper, MIT offers free online courses, you may find something there. I'd recommend starting with codeacademy.

http://ocw.mit.edu

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: What should we learn?
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2012, 08:55:50 AM »
http://www.computerscienceforeveryone.com also has some good and easy to follow videos. They start with the very basics and work up from there.

Jack

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Re: What should we learn?
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2012, 09:04:32 AM »
coursera.org has free college-style (including homework and tests with due dates) classes in programming as well as many other topics. It may even have enough programming classes by now to string together a whole CS degree program (although you won't actually get college credit).

Donovan

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Re: What should we learn?
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2012, 09:53:51 AM »
Another option would be to study the Design side of applications. For example, studying HTML and CSS with an eye towards being a designer.

I've found that good people with these skills are harder to find that people with programming experience.  I think it's because most colleges seem to pass over the discipline entirely, leading to a bunch of professionally educated Software Engineers who can't put up a good website for themselves (which is a great skill to have, in my opinion, even if you aren't specifically designing a web app) or do any sort of UI design at all.  This leads to a good niche for people who can help them put out beautiful front ends for their products.

I don't have any proof (never been a freelancer), but I feel like being a designer lends itself a little bit better to freelance work as well (which I assumed was what you meant by making it profitable). With design, you can free lance and control your number of clients carefully, which means control over your number of working hours.  In order to have the same control and demand as a programming, I would think it would take a much heavier learning investment and some concrete proof that you can do the work (for example, a successful web app that you had previously created).

That being said, Coursera, EdX, and Udacity are all great online resources. I always have at least one free class going on through one of these at all times just for fun/learing.

freelancerNfulltimer

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Re: What should we learn?
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 11:18:30 AM »
Another option would be to study the Design side of applications. For example, studying HTML and CSS with an eye towards being a designer.

I've found that good people with these skills are harder to find that people with programming experience.  I think it's because most colleges seem to pass over the discipline entirely, leading to a bunch of professionally educated Software Engineers who can't put up a good website for themselves (which is a great skill to have, in my opinion, even if you aren't specifically designing a web app) or do any sort of UI design at all.  This leads to a good niche for people who can help them put out beautiful front ends for their products.

I don't have any proof (never been a freelancer), but I feel like being a designer lends itself a little bit better to freelance work as well (which I assumed was what you meant by making it profitable). With design, you can free lance and control your number of clients carefully, which means control over your number of working hours.  In order to have the same control and demand as a programming, I would think it would take a much heavier learning investment and some concrete proof that you can do the work (for example, a successful web app that you had previously created).

That being said, Coursera, EdX, and Udacity are all great online resources. I always have at least one free class going on through one of these at all times just for fun/learing.

Being able to code AND having the design skills is definitely a plus. That's what I do and I feel very secure in my job and future prospects. I worked 100% freelance for 5 years and now I work fulltime and freelance on the side. Once you build a good portfolio it's easy enough to find work. I don't advertise at all and I have more work than I can complete. I keep raising my rates to scare away business but so far I'm still busy. I didn't search for my fulltime job, they called me and invited me to interview. 

mustachecat

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Re: What should we learn?
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2012, 02:04:42 PM »
How would you suggest building a good portfolio? Doing mock-ups for imaginary projects, spec work, etc.?

Nords

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Re: What should we learn?
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2012, 02:15:34 PM »
I have a frugal friend (another Mom) and we want to learn a hobby together that has potential to be profitable. We are thinking of learning some computer skills. Any ideas for what we should learn/where to begin? I am interested in programming and have dabbled a little... Would that have any potential? Any ideas would be appreciated!
Whatever you decide to do, blog about the whole process.

flyfamily

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Re: What should we learn?
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2012, 02:38:04 PM »
I was also going to suggest Coursera.
And also do not overlook your public library.
Ours offers no cost computer courses.
More advanced classes are very low cost, so it does give you room to grow in your knowledge.

Good luck!

JJ

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Re: What should we learn?
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2012, 03:31:57 PM »
How would you suggest building a good portfolio? Doing mock-ups for imaginary projects, spec work, etc.?
I've hired a few developers over the years.  I would look for something useful that you have done in your own time.  Contribution to open source projects is a really great way to showcase your work as the finished application is great, but understanding how you put code together so it does what it is meant to and is maintainable by someone else in the future is even better.  Open source facilitates this. 

The intellectual effort and time to put together a nice piece of software is large.  Building something to get a job that doesn't have a real outcome in mind will be a wasted effort in my opinion.

For graphic designers a static portfolio is fine.  For UI/HMI/usability screen mockups are great - balsamiq.com may be a handy way to build a slightly more dynamic portfolio.