Computers are nothing but a stupid machine...


Take a look at Ben Pavey's, Business Test Analyst at Lloyds Bank, review on our Teach the Nation to Code Python session.

Computers are nothing but a stupid machine.

Not the first thing I was expecting to hear when I attended the Teach the Nation to Code class this weekend. Craig Fletcher and I attended the free class put on by QA Consulting held at Bristol University this weekend. I had prepared myself for a full on two day class and that is exactly what was delivered.

Why did I decide to go?

Over the past 12 months, I have an increasing interest in the 'technical' detail of the software we use every day, also coming from a software testing background I have a good basic understanding of how software is built. I believe increasing my understanding will only benefit me in my career going forward. A quick google search will come back with a huge amount of sites telling you why it is so important to have coding skills.

Day one

The QA Consulting team introduced themselves, Shafeeq Muhammad, who obviously has a lot experience, delivered the bulk of the content with his colleagues being available for help. Craig and I happened to find ourselves sat at the front of the Lecture room meaning were always under the scrutiny of Shafeeq's questions, and we generally didn't know the answer. As I mentioned earlier, Shafeeq constantly referred back to 'Computers are stupid' but why do we use them? Two reasons, in Shafeeq's view;

  • Speed
  • Accuracy

To solve a problem, the computer needs to be told how to solve a problem, for everything. Why bother? For speed and accuracy. We continued to discuss in a lot of depth the fundamentals of writing basic programs using Python to solve problems, we covered:

  • Using Data Types
    • Float
    • Integers
  • Giving Mathematical problems meaningful names to end users
  • Printing results on screen
  • Flow Charts and then converting it to Python
  • Logical Operators
  • Boolean Operators
  • Modulus Operators
  • WhileLoops

The above is extremely high level, but in a nutshell Shafeeq would explain the basics then increasingly ramp up the difficulty. He would proceed to write a problem on the board and then ask us to write the code. "You have two minutes, write your code. Quickly" in reality we had more than two minutes and the support of Shafeeq and his colleagues if we were struggling, but it made both Craig and I were constantly on our toes as we were afraid he either ask us a question or ask us to write code in two minutes.

Day two

Day two started with a small pitch from one of Shafeeq's colleague who explained his background and journey to QA. Essentially he did not study in Computer Science and picked it up in 3 short months, after spending time with QA who taught him the core modules they believe to be essential in programming. After this Shafeeq, who had obviously had his Weetabix, picked up at the same pace we left off from on Saturday. We did a few more exercises with some of Saturday's content then moved onto;

  • Nested Loops
  • Functions vs Procedures
  • Functions in more depth
  • Lists
  • ForLoops
  • How to use txt files
    • Read, Write, Append

We of course had 2 minutes to either replicate what Shafeeq had written on the board or solve a problem he had given us. 2 minutes quickly turned into 15 minutes but I think everyone on the course benefited from the extra time. 

Summary

Was it worth spending my weekend with the QA Consulting team?

Yes.

Do I understand everything we covered?

No, but sometimes I just had to accept it and move on after taking a note to do some more research

Do I want to understand it?

Yes, it has increased my interest in the technical content for sure.

Can anyone do it?

Yes, although you have to have a keen interest in programming and be prepared to invest time and effort.

Thanks for your feedback Ben, we look forward to seeing you at the next one!

Find out more about our Teach the Nation to Code initiative, and if your interested then get in contact with camilla.trigwell@qa.com for more information on locations and dates!

You can also see a short video of a Teach the Nation to Code event we recently delivered in co-partnership with Northumbria University and the Institute of Coding here.

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