"I want to learn programming. How should I start?"

Wed, Aug 22, 2012 - 1:21pm -- Isaac Sukin

This is a slightly edited response I recently wrote to someone who asked how to learn skills that would be useful at a hackathon. It's my usual response when someone asks how to get started programming.

You should start by approaching the problem from a different perspective. You should be thinking "I want to build X. Now what do I need to learn to build that?" not "I want to learn to build stuff. What can I learn?"

Programming's Impact on Personality

Mon, Aug 20, 2012 - 6:08pm -- Isaac Sukin

Tim from Crowdcademy recently wrote about the ugly side of programming:

I've also discovered that learning to code can have a big impact on your personality. Coding uses a lot of thinking patterns that I hadn't really used since my math and statistics classes in college, and even back then not in this intensity. As a result I've become more focused, more logical and smarter. But I've also become more detached from everyday life and less fun to hang out with.

How to Solve World-Changing Problems

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 - 11:10pm -- Isaac Sukin

The other day I read an article about global warming, and something about it keeps bugging me.1 My initial reaction was that someone would figure it all out; someone always does. But "someone" doesn't seem to be getting very far this time, and this is a big, important, world-changing problem. So, I thought, why is that "someone" not me?

How to Build a First Person Shooter in the Browser with Three.js and WebGL/HTML5 Canvas

Tue, Jun 26, 2012 - 4:46am -- Isaac Sukin

Last weekend I created Nemesis, a 3D First-Person Shooting game completely in the browser using WebGL with Three.js. I'm really excited that this is possible in the browser and that I was able to do it with no prior WebGL or Three.js experience in 23 hours for the AngelHack hackathon. This post is intended to explain the code so that other people can do the same.

The Cloud Might Not Be for You

Mon, Jun 4, 2012 - 3:30am -- Isaac Sukin

Like most things in this world, the question of whether cloud hosting is for you is not black and white. Since you're reading this it's pretty likely that you've already read The Cloud Is Not for You and the counterpoint at Heroku Isn't for Idiots. Though both pieces are well-written and offer useful (if pointed) insight, what everyone actually wants to know is when to use each kind of hosting.

Learning to Code is like Learning to Drive

Tue, May 22, 2012 - 11:59am -- Isaac Sukin

A lot of people think about programming as some huge, difficult discipline that you sit down and learn like you would learn History or Math. I think I'll learn how to code today, one might say, and I've really been looking forward to that quantum physics class.

Here's the thing: almost no one learns how to code in a classroom, by hearing about it or by reading about it. People learn how to code by doing it, like driving a car. But most people learn how to drive a car because it gets them from Point A to Point B, not because driving is fun. Lots of people drive for fun, but hundreds of millions of people slog through traffic on their way to work every day.

Big Screens Matter Too

Fri, May 11, 2012 - 4:05am -- Isaac Sukin

I have a problem with mobile-first design.

I spend a lot of time every day sitting in front of three 1920x1080 screens. That's 6,220,800 pixels to play with, and web developers are not using them well. Take, for example: the Tweet column is 496 pixels wide. That's 26% of the width of just one of my screens for all of the content on the site that I'm supposed to read and engage with. When I'm sitting 3 feet away, the text is small, and it's a small target for my mouse (I've sped up the cursor so I can efficiently pan across screens).

Website Downtime

Tue, May 8, 2012 - 12:59am -- Isaac Sukin

Two weeks ago at about 2am I had the brilliant idea that now would be a great time to upgrade this website to Drupal 7. Long story short, I messed up the upgrade, and the site was down for two weeks. Whoops. Everything should be back up now, though I'm working on a new theme.

Startup Talent Bubble

Sun, Apr 22, 2012 - 3:47pm -- Isaac Sukin

I believe that the world of tech entrepreneurship is definitely in a bubble. But more than a startup bubble, we're in a coder talent bubble. Take a minute to read 2012 is for buying startups. Companies are getting bought not because they made anything of value or with a revenue model, they're getting bought more and more because the acquirers need more engineers. Have you looked at the list of sponsors for any hackathons lately? Huge companies (Google, Yahoo!, and Facebook come to mind) have sponsored several small hackathons reasonably close to the Philly area in just the past few months. They're not doing it mainly because it's a good thing to do, they're doing it because it's a recruitment tool and they desperately need to find engineers. (But keep doing it! Hackathons are awesome!) And then there's this phenomenon:


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Isaac is a student with a passion for technology, entrepreneurship, and design. He also pursues writing, politics, and music. But mostly he builds things.