After being a programmer for ten years I get quite a few people looking to learn the basics and asking me how they can become a programmer as well. Here is my general advice on how you can get into the tech world, and find out fast if your cut out to be a real geek.
1. Think of an idea and build it, don’t waste time going through tutorials or copying and pasting others peoples code. Its simply will not stick.
2. Learn Linux. If you are using windows, it’s going to be really hard to learn how to become a good programmer. Learning Linux will allow you to better understand how computers work. Using a mac is fine, but it has a lot of higher level programmers, first learn linux.
3. Use Vim. Once you become a programmer you will need to select a editor to use, you will get a lot of passionate input on the best text editor, but at then end of the day VIM is the best way to become and efficient and brutal programmer.
4. Work on an open source project. If you don’t have any ideas, thats ok too. Get involved with an open source project. You will get to work with a lot of very talented people and learn how to write great code at the same time. If your not sure of what open source project to go with something you enjoy, if your interested in the voip & PBX IVR industry I would recommend getting involved with Asterisk or Elastix, both are really great PBX system with IVR, Call functionality and more. Another cool technology is the speech recognition system Sphinx.
5. Use Git and share your code on Github. Git is a program for managing your code base, besides the internet it’s the biggest breakthrough in technology since the 90′s.
6. Don’t ask questions, Find answers!!! Asking questions is a waste of time, you HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT YOURSELF. Google around like crazy and if you can’t find what your looking for try changing your approach to the problem.
7. Drink Coffee & Redbull. To get good, you have to spend days upon days girding away – Redbull is your friend.
8. Get exited. If you don’t care about what you are doing, there is no way you can put in the time. You have to work on stuff that interests your.
9. Make Money!!! If your project or idea is not making money, you probably won’t be able to keep it up. Making money with your project is the sure way to keep you motivated.
10. Just do it. It’s weird how much people talk and consider something before they start, you just got to sit down and hack stuff out. There is never going to be a best way to do something, just do your best and ship the code.