I'm Dave Henderson! For over 34 years, I've made a wonderful living for myself and family of four creating world-class water features using real and faux rock in sunny San Diego as well as professional sand sculptures all around the world. And now I'm taking what I've learned about starting successful businesses, contracting, sculpture, water feature construction, and more, and sharing it with the world. It's my mission to help people like you enjoy more success both in your business and in your personal life.
You may have enough experience typing to know most of the common keys - the letters, the space bar, enter, and I’ll bet you know that backspace! But you might be uncomfortable with some of the keys you don’t use as frequently. Do you have to slow down and look at the keyboard to type a number or symbol? If you program or work with spreadsheets you will use the symbol keys frequently. If you are a gamer there are probably CTRL, ALT and function keys that you fumble for in the heat of the battle. In fact, most all programs can be used more productively when you know the key combo shortcuts for doing common tasks. Hitting these awkward keys and combos accurately allows you to maintain focus on what you are doing, so make sure you include them in your typing practice.
As a self-taught programmer, you might also benefit from books that offer broader advice on the profession. You’ll improve your thinking and habits, traits you can apply to any language you decide to learn. Steve McConnell’s 900-page Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (2nd Edition) is considered the definitive guide for best practices, with data-backed advice on everything from project design to debugging code.
Start small, but think big. Your project should involve skills you currently have in your toolbox, but you should also have a plan for future features and skills you’d need to turn that vision into reality. Without applying your coding skills in a few projects, you wouldn’t even be considered for professional coding gigs—so start planning and practicing. (Our advice? Use your coding chops to build an amazing setup for game night.)
The programming community is full of people who are willing to help the next generation of programmers. GitHub, the online hangout for developers who use Git to manage their coding projects, is designed for online collaboration. Not only do developers host and share their projects with their peers, they also provide code feedback and general advice to the community.
Take a few minutes (or a day) to think about the reasons—the real reasons—why you want to learn a programming language. Be honest with yourself. Are you trying to learn the barest minimum to score a promotion? Are you looking to make a big career change? Do you want to create the next greatest app? Thrill your roommates by programming your various smart devices to do something awesome?