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Master of All

© December 2007 Anthony Lawrence

Yesterday I wrote a post about Learning to Program. Here I'd like to talk a bit more about why you might want to do that.

This is directed mostly at bloggers, but really could apply to anyone who uses a computer for business. That cuts a pretty wide swath, doesn't it? Consider this: using a computer without having any programming skills, not even the most basic, is like driving a car and not knowing how to refill it with gas.

That's the level of skill I'm looking for here: just filling up with gas. No rebuilding carburetors, changing spark plugs or even checking the oil: just getting gas.

Well, I mean the programming equivalent of that, of course. If you are a blogger, that probably means knowing a bit of Javascript or Php, but definitely means knowing HTML (yes, HTML is programming: you are programming your visitors browsers). If you blog for a living, you need to know HTML and you had darn well better know Javascript and whatever language drives the blogging platform you use. If there's money involved, you should know quite a bit about whatever drives your site, from Apache, IIS or Ruby on Rails right on up.

"Oh, I have people for that", you say. Really? Do you have people fill your gas tank? If you do, if you are really that successful (and that lazy), you can go somewhere else now. This website is for and about people who work for a living.

I'm ready for the next excuse. It's "I don't have time to learn all that.", right? Yeah, I thought so. Here's the rebuttal: learning to control your computer will save you time. Stupid stuff that you do manually now will be done by silicon and transistors. Stuff that you should be doing but aren't because it's just too hard will get done. You'll end up with more time: lots more time.

But that's not the only reason to learn programming.

It's about control. It's about getting what you want. Earlier today I was reading comments at another site and some of the participants were talking about building index pages for archives - breaking them down by category, for example. Apparently their blogging software didn't do that, so they were building the pages by hand. That's not such a big deal for a small site, but it gets more difficult and more prone to error as the number of pages and categories increases.

Let's take a look at how I do that. My "Category" page is at Article Index. That's completely automated: I can add categories to pages at will, and as soon as I have four or more pages with the same category tag, it will show up in the index. It's a 33 line Perl program that does that - nothing particularly difficult.

Depending upon when you read this and how busy I have been, that page may be a bit cluttered and unattractive. It's been on my short list to "pretty up" for a bit now. The only thing that is stopping me is that I haven't quite yet figured out just what I want to do, but once I do decide, all I need to do is change that 33 line program and I'll have a new "Category" page. I have total control.

Control is important. Control lets you react quickly to customer requests and your own desires for improvement. Take control: learn to program.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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-> Master of All - Take control; learn programming.

Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

Take Control of Preview

Take Control of Automating Your Mac

Take Control of Numbers

Take Control of High Sierra

El Capitan: A Take Control Crash Course

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