Maia McCormick

Programmer, writer, nerd

Target: Acquired

At the end of Week 2, I’m still overwhelmed, but a bit less, and with a bit more conviction that I can in fact write code. I finished my first project in Python yesterday, and spent this morning implementing some code review I got. Here are some things I learned, mainly for my own reference but perhaps other beginning Python folks will find it useful as well:

  • 4x spaces instead of tabs (Sublime will do this for you really easily! Sublime is magic!)
  • instead of a million “or’s” in some truth statement, ask if it’s in a list instead. So for instance, instead of if a == 1 or a == True or a == true, use if a in [1, "True", "true"].
  • next time I write a program that makes the user pick among options from the command line (dear God, hopefully never again), instead of a giant string of if/elif’s, consider a dictionary that maps user responses to the functions they execute.
  • if I did this again, I’d have made better use of classes, both as a) a way to group related methods and b) a way to keep track of the objects I was modifying. (Had a hell of a time trying to change some global variable, only to find that I’d somehow modified it as a local variable instead. Calling a method ON that object would eliminate that problem.)
  • modular code is useful. Next time.
  • you can do way more in return statements than I ever thought you could (like funky if statements and for loops).

I’ve figured out my next project! I’ll be doing fun stuff with the English language (always a hoot) and Markov Chains. More specifically, I’m gonna write a program that will generate moderately-intelligible English text, based on patterns it learns from a sample text that I feed it. I’ll start simple (just learning patterns of the words themselves), and if that works, I’ll build a more complicated version (that recognizes syntactical patterns as well). Maybe if I have great success, I’ll be able to do something whacky like a haiku generator!

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