How I learn

How do you learn a new programming language?  How to you learn anything new for that matter?
I usually start by reading and researching – web sites, books, manuals.  Anything I can get my hands on.  But there comes a point when you need to get your hands dirty.  Doing is a great way of learning.  And when it comes to learning a programming language the only complaint you will get is from the compiler reporting a syntax error.  No real harm there.
So what I was after was a series of exercises that would take me through developing a program in Objective-C and iOS.  And I found an easy winner fairly quickly.
The Big Nerd Ranch books are an excellent choice.  I have lost count of the number of times I have created a new empty iOS application and then created the first UIVIewController and so on.  Almost always hand coding from scratch, though they cover the Interface Builder as well.  Repetition is a great way to learn.  I have both the Objective-C book and the iOS book.  I have been working through both of them in parallel.
I have yet to find an error nor any explanation or instruction that was hard to understand.  A few times I have repeated the exercise to make sure I understood what they were suggested.  I have also eschewed their instruction of always using BNR as the class prefix to save confusion (or compilation/build errors).  I have a fair idea where and when I need to change BNR to my own prefix – and it keeps me on my toes.
So far I have about half way through both books.  Its taken a while, life has got in the way this year.  But small steps in progress regularly has certainly paid off.  I am confident that if I ever had to write a loan amortisation program, I would be able to do a better job …

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