2/14/13

Enough of you guys are interested in expanding your skill set to include some basic programming/coding that I had to tell you about this one-day-only deal. This morning I got an email from AppSumo with their deal of the day. Most of the time their deals involve things that make it easier to run an Internet-based company or what have you. But today they offered a deal on something everyone can use.

You guys know I'm a big fan of MOOCs and I love that you can find top notch education online for free in many cases. The problem with a lot of it, however, is that it's really high-level stuff when it comes to programming. For example, the MIT Open Courseware CompSci series and the Stanford Java Course are available for free on YouTube and they're fantastic, but they're not ideal for someone just starting out with no background.

That's where today's AppSumo deal comes in. They're offering a one-year Gold membership to Treehouse which normally costs $490 for just $49 - but for today only. For those who don't know, Treehouse is one of the most popular services for learning to program everything from HTML to Ruby to mobile apps - all from a standing start with no computer science background.

The structure of the Treehouse learning tracks are similar to those found at CodeSchool for $25 a month, but you get so much more. Treehouse is video-based learning as well as in-browser coding, and the Gold membership gives you access to a bunch of useful extra stuff. They even have a track on starting your own company, if that's something you're interested in.

Bottom line for me was this: at $490 there was enough other stuff out there that I could cob together to meet my learning goals. But for $49 this is an absolute no-brainer.

It probably seems like I harp on this stuff a lot, but it's only because becoming familiar with even a basic programming language is so critical to making you more competitive in today's job market. Is being able to set up a Wordpress blog going to land you a front office gig at Goldman? No, of course not. But having "Proficient in HTML/CSS/Javascript" on your resume sure is a nice differentiator. Step it up and learn Python and/or Rails and you'll really be cooking with gas.

Anyway, this is a really great deal on a really useful service and it's only for today, so I thought I'd let you guys know about it. If you've been wanting to learn to code and have been looking for a fun way to do it, you're not going to find a better opportunity.

Oh, and Treehouse has career services, of sorts. If you mark on your profile that you're looking for work and you finish the Treehouse learning tracks, they'll help place you with employers looking for folks with those skills. I can't say what their success rate is with job placement, but as far as I know they're the only MOOC offering it, so there's that.

Let me know what you guys think.

Comments (40)

2/14/13

bought it, thanks Eddie

2/14/13

This is definitely interesting, will take a look at the content they offer and might sign up! Thanks for posting, I've been wanting to learn a language for a while now.

2/14/13

Eddie - think I'm going to buy this. Thanks for the heads up...would love to be able to help my developers more.

In reply to WallStreetOasis.com
2/14/13

WallStreetOasis.com:
Eddie - think I'm going to buy this. Thanks for the heads up...would love to be able to help my developers more.

Yeah, you know me, man. I'm not gonna spend $500 to get something I can probably put together for free with enough Googling, but for $49 you have to do it. Aside from all the learning modules, the extra stuff you get is really cool (interviews, video reviews of new apps and techniques, etc). I spent a couple hours this morning just cruising through the extras.

2/14/13

Eddie, I have an even better deal.

1.) Download Eclipse (free). http://www.eclipse.org
2.) Follow the instructions for Eclipse on Eclipse.org to build hello world
3.) Learn Java through Oracle's tutorials (free) or learn C++, Python, or any number of other languages that are supported in Eclipse through other tutorials (free)
http://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/

http://www.cplusplus.com

http://www.htmlgoodies.com/

If you guys really want, you can go out and spend $49 to learn how to code. Frankly, learning how to program is generally easier and cheaper if you do it yourself than if you go through some fad training site. This is how MIT, Berkeley, UIUC, Carnegie-Mellon, and all of the best CS schools operate. Hand you your books, put some professor in front of you who isn't good at or interested in teaching, and then have you learn the material at home on your own.

Think about it. $49 buys a lot of PBR. Don't waste money or time; download the actual IDE you'll need to code stuff in (Eclipse) (free), and learn the language you want to code in (free tutorials).

It's really that simple, and it's been available for years. This is how nearly all of the best programmers got started and it will *probably* stay that way; just given that it's generally most efficient to learn coding in the IDE you plan on working in.

TreeHouse might have a better system, but if you're a college student, do you really want to waste the money on it? I'm just a bit suspicious here because Restaurant.com is the only other site that needs to offer a 90% discount to sell stuff.

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
2/14/13

IlliniProgrammer:
Eddie, I have an even better deal.

1.) Download Eclipse (free). http://www.eclipse.org
2.) Follow the instructions for Eclipse on Eclipse.org to build hello world
3.) Learn Java through Oracle's tutorials (free) or learn C++, Python, or any number of other languages that are supported in Eclipse through other tutorials (free)
http://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/

http://www.cplusplus.com

http://www.htmlgoodies.com/

If you guys really want, you can go out and spend $49 to learn how to code. Frankly, learning how to program is generally easier and cheaper if you do it yourself than if you go through some fad training site. This is how MIT, Berkeley, UIUC, Carnegie-Mellon, and all of the best CS schools operate. Hand you your books, put some professor in front of you who isn't good at or interested in teaching, and then have you learn the material at home on your own.

Think about it. $49 buys a lot of PBR. Don't waste money or time; download the actual IDE you'll need to code stuff in (Eclipse) (free), and learn the language you want to code in (free tutorials).

It's really that simple, and it's been available for years. This is how nearly all of the best programmers got started and it will *probably* stay that way; just given that it's most efficient to learn coding in the IDE you plan on working in.

IP - I respect you and your posts a lot I'm sure you are going to retire with lots of savings to enjoy and never be worried about money, but I don't think you and I would ever be friends with how frugal you seem to be. It just sounds boring.

My god - it's $50, that's about 1/5 of what today is going to cost me. If it's easy and approachable, why not spring for something that's a good introduction to programming. Clearly this site is not intended for people who could or have the inclination to study CS at MIT, nor who want to slog through a dense textbook.

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

2/14/13

IP,

Having done what you suggested a long time ago, I can tell you that it takes more than an entry-level interest in programming to even install Eclipse and get it working, much less get started with a burly object oriented language like Java or C++. Believe me, the comfort level a beginner achieves by going through something basic like this is worth the $50, and probably worth the $500.

I'm guessing you're not familiar with AppSumo. Noah Kagan (employee #30 at Facebook, got fired and became employee #4 at Mint.com) is the rogue genius behind it and he basically goes out and convinces web providers and app companies to let him sell their product for a day or two at a deep discount. This deal doesn't have anything to do with Treehouse or the quality of Treehouse's offerings (which appear to be really solid). It has more to do with Noah convincing them to let him blow out annual memberships for a day (which I'd frankly be pretty pissed about if I'd paid $500 for it yesterday).

2/14/13

My god - it's $50, that's about 1/5 of what today is going to cost me. If it's easy and approachable, why not spring for something that's a good introduction to programming. Clearly this site is not intended for people who could or have the inclination to study CS at MIT, nor who want to slog through a dense textbook.

Otter my point is that this isn't how it's done.

If you want, go out and waste money on stuff. I've wasted money on books on linear programming and financial products.

Or you could take it from somebody who's done this- who's actually a professional programmer.

Save yourself the $50 and just download Eclipse if you want to work in Java or C++. I believe there are also Python plugins, and HTML is also supported. (You also get that with MS Visual Studio, which is generally free for students IIRC.)

So you can get something with a known value for free (MS Visual Studio- retails for $1600 to professionals, but Microsoft kindly gives it to students for free (with a permanent license) so they can learn to code in it in industry ala Apple Educational discounts) Or you can get TreeHouse, with an unknown value, for one year, for a 90% discount.

And don't forget that some of the best stuff is open-source. In this case, Eclipse is worth at least $500 (some would argue $10,000) as an IDE, but it's free, not unlike Wikipedia.

So there's a reason TreeHouse needs to offer a 90% discount. The alternative is pretty much free, and a lot more value has gone into it. If TreeHouse really valued their customers, they'd just set up a link to Eclipse.org, and Visual Student student as well as the tutorial websites and have them learn the stuff there (at no extra charge besides the $49 finder's fee and the feeling you just wasted $49).

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
2/14/13

IlliniProgrammer:
My god - it's $50, that's about 1/5 of what today is going to cost me. If it's easy and approachable, why not spring for something that's a good introduction to programming. Clearly this site is not intended for people who could or have the inclination to study CS at MIT, nor who want to slog through a dense textbook.

Otter my point is that this isn't how it's done.

If you want, go out and waste money on stuff. I've wasted money on books on linear programming.

Or you could take it from somebody who's done this- who's actually a professional programmer.

Save yourself the $50 and just download Eclipse if you want to work in Java or C++. I believe there are also Python plugins, and HTML is also supported. (You also get that with MS Visual Studio, which is generally free for students IIRC.)

Fair enough. I just went to the Eclipse website and I'm already a little lost. Ok, there's a yellow "Get Started Now" button, fine. But I click it and then what? It gives me 10 different download options. For someone who just wants to get an intro to "programming", they might not even know what all these different languages are, nor why they should download a Java-specific version of Eclipse vs. Eclipse Classic. I certainly have no idea which one to get.

I just think it's useful to get an introduction to things in a much more approachable way, that doesn't require 200MB downloads (I'm at work at Chrome tells me that it's going to take 45 minutes to download).

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

2/14/13

If you have a recent windows computer, just click here, unzip it, and copy/paste the purple eclipse.exe file to your desktop:
http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/download.php?file...

If it's a very old computer, you will need 32 bit eclipse; you will also need a different eclipse for a different version of computer:
http://www.eclipse.org/downloads/packages/eclipse-...

Dealing with, boiling down, and being undaunted by complexity is one of the things that programmers need to learn. And this is much better practice.

2/14/13

I have to respectfully disagree with you on this one, IP. Not everyone needs to become an expert coder like you; most would be killing it just to get comfortable throwing around a little HTML and CSS.

I totally get what you're saying, and the whole "grab a book and grind it out on Notepad till you're cross-eyed" definitely used to be the approach. It's how I learned HTML and Perl. But if it were the best approach for beginners today, we wouldn't see the proliferation of sites like Codeschool, Treehouse, Codecademy, Tuts, Khan Academy, etc.

You're an expert. Take if from someone who isn't - Eclipse is a bitch, as are most IDEs. For beginners anyway. Sites like Codecademy, Codeschool, and Treehouse offer in-browser development environments, so a beginner can start coding right away without having to tackle a full blown IDE installation and set up.

Your approach is perfect for someone who wants to know a language inside out and backwards. But most of us just want to learn how to make shit work. That's where training like this really shines. I know because I've learned both ways.

2/14/13

Fair enough. I am still going to grit my teeth on this. It's like watching people spend $100 on Video Professor software so they can learn how to use Windows (which they have already somehow managed to install and figured out how to install a program on).

2/14/13

Is Treehouse better than Codeacademy and Codeschool? Haven't done much research, so I would appreciate any input. Thanks, guys.

"We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. We are monkeys with money and guns." - Tom Waits

2/14/13

I concur with IP, but I think it mostly comes to how each person learns best.
I'm an awful programmer but I did go to MIT as a "visiting scholar" for ChemE (Course X) classes.
For me, I prefer books because I can read faster and thus it takes me less time than getting the info from videos. And if you were to sit and watch all videos that would be an enormous time investment.

If you want to follow IP's advice then these links will help you:
http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/opensource/libra...

http://eclipsetutorial.sourceforge.net/ (These second link contains videos as well)

Cheers.

In reply to crazylikeafox
2/14/13

crazylikeafox:
Is Treehouse better than Codeacademy and Codeschool? Haven't done much research, so I would appreciate any input. Thanks, guys.

I'm new to Treehouse but what I've seen so far looks really good. I've used both Codecademy and Codeschool extensively, however, and I love 'em. Codecademy being free is a huge plus, but if you like video support it's not there. Codeschool is nice because many of their offerings are free and they do have video support. Once you've done the introductory stuff, though, Codeschool is $25 a month. At that price point Lynda.com becomes a strong competitor with a vastly larger course library (but no in-browser IDE).

If you want to learn Python, Codecademy is the place to start. Just be sure to do all the projects as well as all the lessons.

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
2/14/13

IlliniProgrammer:
It's like watching people spend $100 on Video Professor software so they can learn how to use Windows (which they have already somehow managed to install and figured out how to install a program on).

There's some truth to that, I'll grant you. Maybe I should do a post that just includes links to all the free training I've found over the years. God knows there's tons of it. Probably take longer than a four-year degree to get through it all.

If you guys think that's a good idea, I'll do it. But the big benefit I see to programs like this is the structured, methodical approach to learning. When I've picked and chosen from the pile of free stuff that's out there, I've always felt like I was probably missing something and it was definitely a disjointed approach. But there's lots of great shit for free.

2/14/13

Just to try and add a little perspective. I have been using Treehouse for about 6 weeks now. I got interested in programming after learning how to write VBA at work, but had no other experience. I tried the MIT OCW classes, but couldn't ever stay interested. Treehouse has been great for me. It starts out extremely simple, and you will definitely have to do a ton of work outside of the videos to become even close to proficient. But, for someone with little to no knowledge I think it's a good way to start.

2/14/13

Thank you, Eddie and Billy. I'm new to coding and have put this off for far too long. Just bought the deal--super pumped.

"We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. We are monkeys with money and guns." - Tom Waits

2/14/13

What are the most useful coding languages to learn these days?

2/14/13
2/14/13

Purchased, good look.

If you can't kill them with kindness, just kill them.

In reply to RealMittRomney
2/14/13

RealMittRomney:
What are the most useful coding languages to learn these days?

That's sort of like asking what's the best stock to buy. There's no right answer (lots of wrong ones, though, lol). It really depends on what you want to be able to do. I know that's not a particularly satisfying answer, but if you give an example of what you want to be able to do there's enough of us here with some experience that we can probably point you in the right direction.

Failing that, gun to my head, I'd say learn HTML5 if you're starting from a blank slate. It's the language of the Internet, it's basic and easy to learn, and the "5" convention is the wave of the future so by learning HTML5 from scratch you'll be all caught up with web designers who've been doing it for almost 20 years.

2/14/13

Anyone want to refer me the deal and we can split the savings? I like the purchase at $44 even more.

2/14/13

Edmundo Braverman:
you'll really be cooking with gas.

http://cache.gizmodo.com/assets/images/8/2009/10/b...

Wow, thank you, this is really good stuff

Get busy living

2/14/13

When I saw the title of the post I was certain this had something to do with weed smoking rather than coding.

2/14/13

If there is anyone here that has already learned a bit about programming, but is looking for some free extra practice there is a reddit community that posts daily programming challenges (for varying levels of difficulty). It's a good place not only to practice, but see what other strategies people use. Definitely recommend checking it out.
http://www.reddit.com/r/dailyprogrammer/

"He chose money over power, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mcmansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn't see the difference."

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
2/14/13

IlliniProgrammer:

1.) Download Eclipse (free). http://www.eclipse.org

Hey IP, the Eclipse website is currently down, is there an alternate place to download?

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/14/13

Edmundo Braverman:
RealMittRomney:
What are the most useful coding languages to learn these days?

That's sort of like asking what's the best stock to buy. There's no right answer (lots of wrong ones, though, lol). It really depends on what you want to be able to do. I know that's not a particularly satisfying answer, but if you give an example of what you want to be able to do there's enough of us here with some experience that we can probably point you in the right direction.

Failing that, gun to my head, I'd say learn HTML5 if you're starting from a blank slate. It's the language of the Internet, it's basic and easy to learn, and the "5" convention is the wave of the future so by learning HTML5 from scratch you'll be all caught up with web designers who've been doing it for almost 20 years.

Would you consider Python, Ruby, HTML, etc to be useful in finance... or any corporate work environment? Just curious because I'm currently in the process of wrapping my head around VBA, which I'm told is not nearly as intuitive as Python or Ruby, but I know is useful at work.

Remember, once you're inside you're on your own.
Oh, you mean I can't count on you?
No.
Good!

2/14/13

This is partially answering my question, but I just found an awesome article with a demo video about Python plugin substitute for VBA in excel (http://gigaom.com/2012/06/08/another-reason-you-sh...)

Remember, once you're inside you're on your own.
Oh, you mean I can't count on you?
No.
Good!

In reply to snakeplissken
2/14/13

snakeplissken:
Edmundo Braverman:
RealMittRomney:
What are the most useful coding languages to learn these days?

That's sort of like asking what's the best stock to buy. There's no right answer (lots of wrong ones, though, lol). It really depends on what you want to be able to do. I know that's not a particularly satisfying answer, but if you give an example of what you want to be able to do there's enough of us here with some experience that we can probably point you in the right direction.

Failing that, gun to my head, I'd say learn HTML5 if you're starting from a blank slate. It's the language of the Internet, it's basic and easy to learn, and the "5" convention is the wave of the future so by learning HTML5 from scratch you'll be all caught up with web designers who've been doing it for almost 20 years.

Would you consider Python, Ruby, HTML, etc to be useful in finance... or any corporate work environment? Just curious because I'm currently in the process of wrapping my head around VBA, which I'm told is not nearly as intuitive as Python or Ruby, but I know is useful at work.

No, not really. I mean, they're all great languages in their own way, but none of them are particularly germane to finance. If you're already learning VBA you should stick with that because there are a lot more finance applications for VBA. Python and Ruby are good all-around languages for coming up with computing solutions and overall web development (and it's true, they're both extremely intuitive - Python slightly moreso than Ruby in my opinion), but you're not gonna build a quant career on them (which is possible with mastery of VBA).

If you're not familiar with HTML, maybe you should tackle that first because you can put together a good working knowledge of it over a long weekend (like the one coming up). Just keep in mind that it's a markup language (HTML = Hypertext Markup Language), so it's all about how things visually display on the Internet and isn't particularly useful for applications. Here's a great place to learn HTML quickly for free:
http://learncss.tutsplus.com/

In reply to snakeplissken
2/14/13

snakeplissken:
This is partially answering my question, but I just found an awesome article with a demo video about Python plugin substitute for VBA in excel (http://gigaom.com/2012/06/08/another-reason-you-sh...)

Dude, if they ever built a reliable framework for Python to extend Excel, it would be a whole new ballgame. I'll definitely be watching how this develops. Thanks for finding that.

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/14/13

Edmundo Braverman:
IlliniProgrammer:
It's like watching people spend $100 on Video Professor software so they can learn how to use Windows (which they have already somehow managed to install and figured out how to install a program on).

There's some truth to that, I'll grant you. Maybe I should do a post that just includes links to all the free training I've found over the years. God knows there's tons of it. Probably take longer than a four-year degree to get through it all.

If you guys think that's a good idea, I'll do it. But the big benefit I see to programs like this is the structured, methodical approach to learning. When I've picked and chosen from the pile of free stuff that's out there, I've always felt like I was probably missing something and it was definitely a disjointed approach. But there's lots of great shit for free.

Those links would be invaluable to many I'm sure (myself included!).

2/14/13

For a finance work environment, you want Java, C++, Matlab, and maybe R.

HTML has largely been replaced by Dreamweaver and templates. VBA is also helpful for Excel, but everyone who studies a business or applied econ discipline comes in knowing some of that.

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/14/13

Edmundo Braverman:
snakeplissken:
This is partially answering my question, but I just found an awesome article with a demo video about Python plugin substitute for VBA in excel (http://gigaom.com/2012/06/08/another-reason-you-sh...)

Dude, if they ever built a reliable framework for Python to extend Excel, it would be a whole new ballgame. I'll definitely be watching how this develops. Thanks for finding that.

You can download it for free. I'm gonna give it a shot... while learning Python. I hope it's earth shatteringly awesome

Remember, once you're inside you're on your own.
Oh, you mean I can't count on you?
No.
Good!

In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/14/13

Edmundo Braverman:

If you're not familiar with HTML, maybe you should tackle that first because you can put together a good working knowledge of it over a long weekend (like the one coming up). Just keep in mind that it's a markup language (HTML = Hypertext Markup Language), so it's all about how things visually display on the Internet and isn't particularly useful for applications. Here's a great place to learn HTML quickly for free:
http://learncss.tutsplus.com/[/quote]

Thanks for this. I'm gonna take a crack at it tomorrow.

Remember, once you're inside you're on your own.
Oh, you mean I can't count on you?
No.
Good!

2/15/13

so damn busy today and didnt check wallstreetoasis on time and missed the deal.

In reply to IlliniProgrammer
2/15/13

IlliniProgrammer:
For a finance work environment, you want Java, C++, Matlab, and maybe R.

HTML has largely been replaced by Dreamweaver and templates. VBA is also helpful for Excel, but everyone who studies a business or applied econ discipline comes in knowing some of that.

When I was an analyst, I think our pitchbook add-on to powerpoint was written in VBA, and I have to say it seemed like a pretty crappy application. Lots of crashing and very slow execution. Kind of made me think that VBA was a lousy language.

I know we talk about picking up programming here on this site a fair amount. I, too, am interested in picking up programming (been learning Python via Zed Shaw's "Learn Python the Hard Way"). What I'm curious about, is the process of taking this pursuit from a hobby to something you can actually use at your vocation, and I have two questions along these lines:

(1) What level of proficiency is required to use these skills in a meaningful, value-add way in your work environment, and can you pick this up largely on your own? To be clear, I'm not talking about being a software engineer at Google or developing the entire trading algorithm for a quant shop. I'm talking about maybe streamlining a few elements in a financial reporting process or more efficiently manipulating large sets of data. Basically being that guy that works in an environment where coding is not necessarily required, but it could be very helpful.

(2) Related to the first point, do any of you guys have examples of where you've picked up some programming proficiency and put it to good use? I'm especially curious on this last point because I've always been somewhat enamored with building models and reports in Excel, and this seems like a natural outgrowth of that interest. However, my current level of programming ignorance makes it hard to see where specifically these skills could come in handy, and further, how one would go about finding a gig where one could put those skills to use.

2/15/13

To be clear, I'm not talking about being a software engineer at Google or developing the entire trading algorithm for a quant shop. I'm talking about maybe streamlining a few elements in a financial reporting process or more efficiently manipulating large sets of data.

People tend to write bad code because they don't understand data structures or algorithms- and knowledge of this stuff allows you to fix other peoples' slow, clunky, or broken code. After a basic programming class, I'd recommend a data structures class (likely the second practical CS course) and a basic algorithms class (sometimes called Theory).

Algorithms sounds really theoretical, but when you realize that in computer science, the theory is all about not doing the same work over and over again, it's suddenly very practical.

2/15/13

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In reply to Edmundo Braverman
2/16/13

Remember, once you're inside you're on your own.
Oh, you mean I can't count on you?
No.
Good!

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