Programmer's Hostility Towards Beginners
joseph at kirtland.com
Sun Jul 6 21:49:54 CDT 2008
I think I'd better include the text of the email I sent to an
individual on the PIC list:
We have corresponded from time to time in the PIC Microcontroller list.
I came across your web page quite by accident while searching for some
material. I'll plan on bookmarking your pages and spending some more
I am still very much a beginner in programming. I am a professional
electronics technician by trade, but that has involved mostly building
engineering prototypes or servicing equipment. I'm currently
attempting to learn C as well as assembly via a few books and online
materials. I'll need to concentrate on a particular chip to do my
experimenting. Right now, I have a few different PICS courtesy of
Microchip's samples program. I chose chips for my samples that were
used in projects I wish to build. I do surface mount assembly under a
magnifier, and I hope to add some programming to my skills.
One of the primary things I want to build is clocks, particularly
Nixie tube clocks. I've seen so many neat examples online, and many
include their code with the schematics. I want to understand that
code, be it in assembler or C and learn to modify and add my own
functionality to the circuit.
My primary computer is a MacBook, and you've likely seen my posts in
the list about configuring the free Hi-Tech compiler, etc. Perhaps
I'm getting ahead of myself, as I'm not certain I'm ready for these
tools yet. Of course if necessary, I can boot into Windows XP and use
MPLAB / MPASM.
Thanks for your informative web pages. If you can offer any
suggestion for learning the programming, please do. I'm essentially
at ground zero as far as programming is concerned. :-)
The reply I received wasn't terribly friendly, and upset me a bit -
which led to my post here on AMRAD. I thought I had written a friendly
note. The individual did have a full PIC tutorial on his website, so
I didn't think my note out of line. I'm very careful about what I
post to a list, precisely because of the newbie factor. The PIC list
does have a searchable archive, so I do search prior to asking a
question. However, the response I received from the above email
wasn't the first incident. Admittedly, there are plenty of friendly
folk out there as well.
I'm not certain I want to start over with a new platform. We use
Microchip's PICs at work. I program them through MPLAB with the
provided hex file or even compile with PIC18 through MPLAB with the
provided C source from our engineers. I want to learn enough to
understand the code that I'm burning into the chips. Also, since I'm
also a ham and electronics hobbyist, I'd like to develop my own apps.
Perhaps someday code the equivalent of the old Curtis keyer chip on a
PIC. The engineers at work are somewhat helpful, but work is not the
time or place to pursue a hobby interest in programming.
All the tools I currently have for the PIC were free, including a
couple different C compilers that only are limited by the size of the
program. Some are even reasonably priced if I learn enough to advance
beyond the 2k limitation.
I'll certainly look into the other links provided. Good tools and
tutorials are always a good thing.
Pleasant Grove, UT
On Jul 6, 2008, at 8:09 PM, Robert E. Seastrom wrote:
> What mo said, particularly with the links that include connections to
> the Arduino and other AVR stuff; Atmel got it right by making their
> development environments open and giving them away for free, and the
> Arduino stuff is just a ball - in less than 30 minutes you'll be up
> and running and making LEDs blink and everything, without the PITA
> factor of trying to figure out fuse settings and all that other "fun"
> That said, as someone who's on the other end of this on a semi-regular
> basis in the IP network engineering arena, be sure you choose
> carefully where you're going to ask known newbie questions. There are
> appropriate fora (LadyAda hosts some) for asking super simple
> questions, but some random software developer's in-box is not the
> right place, and it's awfully easy to get a little snippy if you are
> getting emailed out-of-scope questions on a regular basis. I'm not
> defending the curt replies, just suggesting that if you're looking for
> maximum satisfaction, try to avoid doing the equivalent of posting
> "how do I wire up my CB radio and can I use this here coat hanger as
> an antenna?" questions to a ham radio group. You'll be happier with
> the results.
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