My name is Michael E. Vigil. I write science fiction here on Minds. I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m looking for new challenges. One of these challenges is to become a successful novelist. I’ve made significant progress on that front. By objective standards, the quality of my writing has improved substantially compared to when I first started on Minds almost a year ago, thanks to the input of fellow Minds authors (you know who you are). This challenge is far from complete, and I’m still working on it.
Recently, I’ve come to the realization that it is not enough to have just one major goal. If that goal fails, what am I left with? I would lose my sense of purpose, I would lose sight of the vision of the future I want to build, and I would end up living as a zombie: drifting mindlessly, carried along by the current of momentum until the day I die.
So I need a new challenge to work on. I want to learn to code. But that alone isn’t a good enough goal because it isn’t specific. What programming language do I want to learn? What do I want to do with the knowledge and skills that I intend to acquire? Without a specific goal in mind, I have nothing with which to direct my learning. Furthermore, if I lack a clear vision of what I intend to achieve with my self-directed learning, I would have no motivation to get started. After all, why learn a random programming language if I have no plans to use it on a specific project?
So here’s the very specific thing that I want to accomplish by the end of my self-directed learning: I want to contribute a useful feature to Minds’ blogging function. Let’s get into the details:
This includes: 1) the ability to organize the blog into a chapter-book format, complete with a table of content that automatically links to each chapter, and each chapter automatically links to the previous and next chapters; 2) the ability to use a ‘bookmark’; and 3) the ability to copy and paste from another document without losing formatting.
I am certain that, by the time I complete my learning, some or all of these features will have already been implemented. That’s fine. I will simply focus on implementing another feature that would be useful to have. I’m not looking to radically improve Minds’ blogging function. All I want is to make a small but useful contribution in order to prove to myself that my self-directed learning is successful.
1) What programming language should I focus on, keeping in mind the specific goal that I have?
2) What applications do I have to download to get started?
3) How do I test my ‘code’ to see if it actually works?
4) What learning resources can you direct me to? I prefer free learning resources, if possible, as I would like to be able to tell young people that they don’t need to be rich to be able to afford a good education. I am willing to try online courses, if the price isn’t too high. I will not consider community college or university as I have a strong bias against these institutions, and I want to prove to others that self-directed learning is the superior method of learning.
If I am successful in this endeavour, I will have proven to myself that it is possible to learn a difficult skill on my own without having to pay exorbitant fees to an uncaring, bureaucratic, and price-gouging institution of ‘higher education’. I will apply the same self-directed learning strategy in the acquisition of other skills, and hopefully this will open up new opportunities for me to build the life I want to live.
On a side note, I’ll also be learning how to play the guitar and how to produce music using a DAW. I have songs in my head that I simply need to get out into the world.
Yup, I got a lot of work ahead of me.
Wish me luck,
Michael E. Vigil
PS. Given the limited functionality of Minds' blogging feature, I must say that the table of content I created for my novel, Red Eden: Homeworld Bound, is a rather ingenious method of keeping track of all the chapters here on Minds: