3.1. How to be a Successful Programmer

One of the most important skills you need to complete this book successfully is the ability to debug your programs. Debugging might be the most under-appreciated, and under-taught, skill in introductory computer science. For that reason we are introducing a series of “debugging interludes.” Debugging is a skill that you need to master over time, and some of the tips and tricks are specific to different aspects of Python programming. So look for additional debugging interludes throughout the rest of this book.

Programming is an odd thing in a way. Here is why. As programmers we spend 99% of our time trying to get our program to work. We struggle, we stress, we spend hours deep in frustration trying to get our program to execute correctly. Then when we do get it going we celebrate, hand it in, and move on to the next homework assignment or programming task. But here is the secret, when you are successful, you are happy, your brain releases a bit of chemical that makes you feel good. You need to organize your programming so that you have lots of small successes. It turns out your brain doesn’t care all that much if you have successfully written hello world, or a fast fourier transform (trust me its hard) you still get that little release that makes you happy. When you are happy you want to go on and solve the next little problem. Essentially I’m telling you once again, start small, get something small working, and then add to it.

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