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Which language should I learn this summer?

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TTewell

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Post Sat May 30, 2009 11:13 pm

Which language should I learn this summer?

Hey guys.  I'm looking to study up on 1 programming language over the summer while I'm not in classes.  I want to learn something that will be a "resume stuffer"  ie. help me get an admin/security job and something that will be useful.  The ones that I was looking at that seem to be doing well are Python, Ruby, and PHP.  What do you guys think?  I was leaning towards Python.
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RoleReversal

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Post Sun May 31, 2009 6:28 am

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

TTewell,

depends on your skills and purpose. I've been playing with Python lately and have found it really usable and simple to learn (but still powerful). Alternatively, I'm considering switching my attention to Ruby so I can try my hand with some of the Metasploit goodies. Decisions, decisions...

Andrew
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TTewell

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Post Sun May 31, 2009 8:42 am

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

As far as purpose, it's mainly to make myself more attractive and versatile to employers.  I was considering Python because it seems to be the "hot" programming language right now.
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Post Sun May 31, 2009 9:55 am

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

In that case any language should suit your purpose. Last bit of advice, which I've mentioned in similar threads; pick a project to learn with. Personally I find it really difficult to learn a language for the sake of it, learning the little bits as and when I need them seems to make the whole process more natural.

If your sticking with Python I'd suggest http://www.diveintopython.org/, was originally introduced to it through this site and it hasn't let me down yet.
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Skinner_au

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Post Sun May 31, 2009 10:02 am

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

Yeah it seems to me that everywhere i look there's Python too.

I hadn't done any programming for > 10yrs and I picked up Python really easily, despite my philosophical objections to certain traits of dynamic languages! (no declaring variables etc).

It's a great language, massively powerful, and has so much builtin functionality. I joined showmedo.com and watched most of their videos, while keeping a good book or two by my side.

It's faster and seems more mature in a structured/organisational sense compared with Ruby.

That said, depending on what kind of Admin you're planning on being, you may want to consider Perl. I've never done any myself, but it seems pretty popular with the Admins I know. (classic quote from the maker of perl: "Perl is worse than Python because it's users wanted it that way" :))

I Python it in so many more ways than I ever thought I would.
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former33t

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Post Sun May 31, 2009 2:24 pm

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

I'll add my $.02.  I have a pretty advanced programming background and find that once you know how to program, its just syntax to pick up 80% of a language (the other 20% comes from learning the nuances of the language itself, how to do things more quickly with builtins, etc). 

I can't speak for Ruby because I don't know a line of it.  I do know PHP very well and did some large scale web development (> 20k lines of custom code) on a contract a couple of years ago.  Its handy for the web, but not much for anything else (despite the fact that a PHP GTK module exists among others).  I'd stay away from it if it is going to be your only strong language.  OTOH, if you already have another language and want to sell yourself as being able to deliver web solutions to problems as well, then maybe its the ticket.

I'm a Perl person when it comes to doing admin stuff.  I find they have a great user community at perlmonks.org.  For three years, I prototyped most of my code in perl (for proof of concept/rapid deployment of a stopgap solution) before writing a final product in C++.  As you know, sometimes the software life cycle doesn't work out and you never get around to a final solution.  Some of my perl code is still out there and has scaled VERY well.

I'm just now having to learn Python to incorporate functionality into a client's existing application suite that is written in python.  I can't speak for it either.

I agree with Andrew that you should definitely learn with a project rather than for learning's sake.  That's been my key to learning anything was to put it into application.  There are plenty of open source projects out there that need help, even scripting help.  If you are looking to learn the language for a resume builder, get involved withe one of the projects and contribute while learning the language or build an add-on (like ndiff for nmap).  Pick the project you contribute to by the community you want to work in and possibly by the time you are job searching your technical interviewer will have heard of (or used) the project you contributed to.  That's a resume builder.
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TTewell

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Post Sun May 31, 2009 4:18 pm

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

Thanks guys.  There is some great advice in here.  Thanks Andrew for the site.  I'll have to check it out!

I'm in school for Networking right now and plan to go into network admin then into security.  I am definitely not a "programmer" and don't really have any desire to do a lot of coding in my career.  I think that a project would be a little over my head for that reason.  I'm just looking to pick up a language to add another dimension to my abilities.
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don

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Post Sun May 31, 2009 4:46 pm

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

A project can be any size. I think his point is more along the lines of having a useful end goal as opposed to just doing some exercises in a book, web site, etc. So even if it's just a program to take 2 files and compare them, that's a project, too.

BTW - My vote goes to Python. I'm reading, "Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners." Loving it for anyone, even 30 year IT vets who want to finally learn programming. It uses Python. Review coming in a couple weeks.

Don
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apollo

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Post Sun May 31, 2009 7:26 pm

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

I also agree on Python.  As for a project, since you are studying networking, why don't you work on doing a quick tool in python to take ip/netmask information and turn it into CIDR notation.  That is something that will ensure that you have a quality understanding of ip subnetting for your networking stuff, and may be usefull in other scripts that you may need down the road for projects or jobs.  It should also (hopefully) give you a good introduction to libraries, functions, and a few other core constructs of programming languages. 
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TTewell

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Post Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:06 am

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

Thanks for the book suggestion Don.  I didn't know that book focused on Python.  I'm going to have to pick it up now!

Thanks for the suggestion of subnet mask to CIDR, apollo!  That is genius yet simple.  I love it  ;D
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Post Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:12 am

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

So you go with Python?

In my opinion it doesn't matter which programming language you pick. As former33t already said it is more about understanding programming in general rather than knowing a synthax. Once you understand the concepts it won`t be hard to change to another programming language or learn another one.

If you want to learn programming just because to add it on your resume, I think it is the wrong thing anyway. If you just learn it because "you have to" you probably won't become a good one and it won't help you or your employer.

Easy ones to learn or start with are Visual Basic, .NET languages and Python. When you want to work in the network field a scripting language such as Python will not be a bad choice but when you aim to be more in the security field you may have often to program tools by yourself where you might get stuck by those languages.
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TTewell

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Post Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:01 am

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

I figured I'd get some people who say that learning it just to say that you know it is a bad idea.  I want to learn it because I know that I'll need it at some point down the line.  And it would add to my versatility.  Right now I have a strong understanding of TCP/IP, servers, operating systems, and cisco devices.  Call me crazy but I don't think adding another dimension to my skill set is a bad idea, especially in these economic times.
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mohsinhafeez

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Post Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:56 am

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

Hey people, Hope you are doing good, my name is Mohsin Hafeez, just completed CCNA, now i want to learn a programming language. I have read the posts here and the information is really good, you guys are doing a great job. So you people think I should start learning python now???
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mohsinhafeez

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Post Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:59 am

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

I have already started downloading video's of python, CBT python, from Demonoid, I think I have an invite, if someone wants an account then let me know, i can send you an invite.
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don

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Post Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:22 am

Re: Which language should I learn this summer?

Welcome to EH-Net and thanks for the compliment. Without a doubt... start learning Python now.  ;D

Looking forward to your contributions to our community as you learn,
Don
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