Welcome back to my In Depth project! Last time, I just went over my plan for the In Depth project. Questions like who my mentor is, and what I was going to do were all addressed in the last post. This time, the In Depth project has officially begun as my mentor and I have started meeting on a weekly basis.
First off, I had to begin by downloading and learning about the program that we would be using to write the code. The main programs that we are using is called VMware Workstation. This is a program that is able to run other, smaller programs. So, within VMware, we had to download another program called Ubuntu. This is a program that basically emulates a computer or a desktop.
The main difference between this program and a normal computer is that this program was specifically made to support coding, as it has different programs that is able to write and run code. This program took a little while getting used to it, but once I got accustomed to the different apps, we dove straight into coding.
Before learning about coding, I had almost no prior knowledge on any functions, codes, or applications of these parts. So, the first lesson that I learned about code is that it is very precise. The computer can only understand very specific instructions, and will follow and execute those specific instructions. There are so many different functions, strings, and even different languages that when slightly altered, can cause an error within the code. For example, one of the most important rules that my mentor told me was that every command or function must end with a semicolon. Let’s say you had more than 500 lines of code that you wrote. If at least one line was missing the semicolon, the entire code would not work. So, it’s very important to be meticulous and precise when coding.
On that note, the conversations between my mentor and I also had to be equally as meticulous since the topic we were discussing was a complicated and different subject. On one hand, we have someone who has spent years of her life developing this very specific skill, while on the other, we have a high school student with no experience on said topic. So it was important to first lay down some groundwork so that we could understand each other during the conversations. My mentor actually did a lot of back tracking so see how she had first learned coding herself. She put a lot of thought and effort into each of her words so that they were all terminologies and ideas that I could understand. But when she explained an idea to me, I never simply agreed for the sake of agreeing. I tried to come up with analogies that could help me further understand the ideas, and always made sure to ask questions or confirm my understanding.
Now, my mentor and I have only met once so far, but I’ve already learned quite a bit from her during this first session. I was first taught the formatting for code. Each code must start with the command: #include <iostream>. This basically tells the computer what library of codes to use. Even though I am using the language C++, there are many different libraries containing different codes within this language. So, we have to specifically tell the computer that we will be using the code from the library called iostream. Then the two main functions that we focused on were cout and cin. These simply stand for computer out, and computer in. They are what is being output or input my the computer or the “coder”. These two functions can be used to make programs that act as quizzes, or can guess someone’s age based on the information that the person inputs. We also grazed on other functions and commands, but we have yet to go in depth just yet. However, this is only for when you are writing the code. There are also a specific set of procedures and code you must go through just in order to run the code as well. I will not be going too in depth about these commands here, so this is as much as you will need to know for now.
We have yet to develop any impressive code just yet, but by next time, I will surely have some fun little programs to show off. So, I’ll see you next time, cheerio!