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Programming, Day 14 — Lauren Ipsum

Since I’ve been having so much trouble grasping the basic fundamentals of coding, I decided to learn from “children’s” books.

Lauren Ipsum has been lying in my library for a while now. Here’s the summary from the introductory pages,

Lauren, a clever girl lost in Userland, applies logic and problem solving skills to find her way home, encountering along the way such concepts as timing attacks, algorithm design, and the traveling salesman problem.

And that somehow gave me the map to this huge unknown land of coding, programming, computer science, what have you.

Breaking everything down to first principles in delightfully simple language, it’s wonderful.
Almost like a Zen koan, with levels.
Learning aside, the story’s so engaging that on my first run, I just read through to know whether Lauren finds her way home (spoiler: she does :P)

As you read through a couple of times, you get the principles and then you get several ahas when you see them in the real world.
The last chapter explains all the references and characters in the book. I got only about half of them.

My main takeaway from the book was to “Make your own map.” Computers only make sense when they do what you need done. Also use the five whys to really know what you want, so that you can then figure out a solution that might not be what everyone does or uses, but something that uniquely solves your problems :)

Case in point, i was looking for a Visual Studio Code extension that helped me create reference style links with Markdown. And for the life of me I could not find one.

And then I did the five whys.
And realised that all I needed was something that took my selected text and wrapped them in square brackets. That was my pain point and that was all I needed solved. Realising that, made me look for something accordingly and it led me to Embrace.
Et voila! No more pain :)

Lauren Ipsum is awesomely funny … or funnily awesome …
Either way it’s a must read :)