I started programming with the ZX81 and basic way back in the early eighties. I had a small black and white TV with a stick on green screen which gave it that computer look and was also supposed to reduce eye strain. After a couple of years I got a Vic 20 and continued programming using CBM basic. Typing in games and code from magazines and books. Onto the Amiga in the early nineties with Amos and Blitz and finally I started using Visual Basic at work in the mid nineties. Most recently I was learning C# by doing online tutorials with the likes of Bob Tabor and reading many books. My favourite book so far has been The C# Players Guide which reminded me a lot of working through the Bliz basic manual and the additional tutorials that were sent out in the post every few months.

My chosen technical path on the RADAR program was Artificial Intelligence or A.I. Part of learning how this all works we needed to get a good grounding on the chosen coding language which is Python. Python is something that I have been aware of over the years and have occasionally picked up a bookazine on the subject and worked through some tutorials but never used to produce something. Reading through the course material I realised it wasn’t just a matter of installing Python and away we go. There was more, much more. Python Libraries and lots of them for data science. Thirteen were laid out as the top libraries and having read through the descriptions a lot of them seem to duplicate in areas what the next one on the list would do so I would imagine it is a matter of finding the one that does what you need and also clicks for you personally. Ill let you know how that works out…

I am hoping that learning Python properly and producing something will enable me to assist my son in his learning also. After attending a recent parent’s evening I saw my son, who has been working on Scratch, had put on his goals for the spring of 2022 to learn Python. We have played with the Turtle components and done some basic Python over the last six months so there is a spark of interest there. So I am hoping this opportunity will enable me to work on the A.I training and also help me to help him learn Python also.

Until now I have always used Visual Studio Code to work on any kind of coding project like Powershell scripting or Python but during this A.I course it has been suggested we use Google Colab as its in the cloud and has ALL the plugins and libraries we might need. So I have set up my Colab environment and done the traditional “Hello World!” test. All seems to work ok, not sure I would drop Visual Studio Code in the long term but for the duration of this course it makes sense. I will just add it does have a good system where you can embed notes against the code which would be useful for looking back on in the future.

We have been given a Linkedin Learning course to work through by Joe Marini. I started to follow along for a while but the speed at which he goes I soon learnt that it was best to sit back and let Joe do his thing then load up the sample code and have a go myself. The course Joe has on Linkedin covers the basics such as outputting to the screen and receiving input from the user. working with various variables and their types for example integers, strings, tuples and boolean. The course also covers working with files, working with the file system in the hosting operating system, working with dates and times, internet data such as xml or json. At the time of writing this I am about halfway through but so far so good.

I have just started the next part of the course for Data Science by Lavanya Vijayan and Madecraft where I hope to learn how to use the libraries mentioned earlier alongside Python.