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Head First Programming: A learner's guide to programming using the Python language [Paperback]

David Griffiths , Paul Barry
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 38.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

4 Dec 2009 0596802374 978-0596802370 1

Looking for a reliable way to learn how to program on your own, without being overwhelmed by confusing concepts? Head First Programming introduces the core concepts of writing computer programs -- variables, decisions, loops, functions, and objects -- which apply regardless of the programming language. This book offers concrete examples and exercises in the dynamic and versatile Python language to demonstrate and reinforce these concepts.

Learn the basic tools to start writing the programs that interest you, and get a better understanding of what software can (and cannot) do. When you're finished, you'll have the necessary foundation to learn any programming language or tackle any software project you choose.

With a focus on programming concepts, this book teaches you how to:

  • Understand the core features of all programming languages, including: variables, statements, decisions, loops, expressions, and operators
  • Reuse code with functions
  • Use library code to save time and effort
  • Select the best data structure to manage complex data
  • Write programs that talk to the Web
  • Share your data with other programs
  • Write programs that test themselves and help you avoid embarrassing coding errors

We think your time is too valuable to waste struggling with new concepts. Using the latest research in cognitive science and learning theory to craft a multi-sensory learning experience, Head First Programming uses a visually rich format designed for the way your brain works, not a text-heavy approach that puts you to sleep.


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Head First Programming: A learner's guide to programming using the Python language + Head First Python + Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner
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Product details

  • Paperback: 442 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (4 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596802374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596802370
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 20.3 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 334,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

David Griffiths began programming at age 12, after being inspired by a documentary on the work of Seymour Papert. At age 15 he wrote an implementation of Papert's computer language LOGO. After studying Pure Mathematics at University, he began writing code for computers and magazine articles for humans and he currently works in the UK, helping people to create simpler, more valuable software. He spends his free time traveling and time with his lovely wife, Dawn.

Paul Barry is formally educated and trained in Computer Science and holds a Masters Degree in Computing Science. He has been programming professionally, on and off, for close to 25 years. Paul already has two textbooks to his name, and is also a Contributing Editor to Linux Journal magazine. His day job is with the Institute of Technology, Carlow in Ireland where he has spent over a decade preparing Ireland's next generation of computing folk to be productive in the workforce. His role as a third level educator affords him the opportunity to explore, learn and teach the very latest programming technologies and practices, which is something that he enjoys even though he knows this makes him a bonafide "geek". Paul lives just outside the town of Carlow in Ireland with his wife, two sons, daughter, dog and cat. There's a bunch of computers and a growing collection of music instruments in the house, too (and like a lot of the Head First family, Paul is a struggling guitarist trapped inside a geek's body). He has so far resisted any suggestion that the family acquire a hamster ... or a set of drums.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suits my learning style perfectly 5 Jun 2010
By Majikal
Format:Paperback
I'll start this review by explaining that I am a very finicky learner, and have always had great trouble in simply reading from textbooks to achieve any kind of comprehension of any subject. I have also never done a single bit of programming in my entire life, despite being an IT professional. Not a line of code has passed my fingertips, and I'm 33 now.

So, the story is that I decided I wanted to learn to program, and after plenty of research, came to the conclusion that C sharp was the way to go. I then began to research appropriate books for me, and came across the "Head first" series. Using Google books to flick through some chapters, and reading reviews, I decided that "Head first" was undoubtedly the way to go. However, surfing around the "Head first" site (which I recommend as as a resource, by the way) it became apparent that a new revision of the C sharp book was coming at the end of the month. Being an impatient so-and-so at the best of times, my surfing on the site took me to the book I'm reviewing here, "Head first programming". I could instantly justify buying this book to satiate my wanton to get stuck in to learning, ofcourse :)

Fast forward to now - about four weeks later. I'm not a man with an enormous amount of time on his hands, but I've kept the book and my Mac to hand to go through chapters whenever I could afford myself some time. The book has introduced me to some key concepts in programming Python, and programming in general. I'm only about a third of the way through the book, but already I have made a guessing game (including improving upon it myself using what was taught and a bit of nouse!), interacted with Twitter and automatically grabbed info from a website. The examples are interesting, practical and progressive.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is the first book that I have tried in the fairly extensive 'Head First' series, which includes a number of titles to do with computers and computing. I haven't yet decided if it will be the only one because I have rather mixed feelings about it.

The first thing to say I think is that this is definitely not a comprehensive introduction to using Python, but then it doesn't claim to be. Python, which is a very powerful and intuitive programming language, is employed as a vehicle to introduce the over-arching concepts and routines of programming which are applicable to most of the languages in use today, to a greater or lesser extent.

The second point I should make is that although it is a basic introduction, it provides enough knowledge and understanding to make it much easier to grapple with any current high-level programming languages using guides specific to them.

In my view, the book is a strange mixture of over-reinforcement of some simple concepts and rapid and often confusing progress through others, which might not be quite so simple. At times, it gives the impression of plodding lugubriously through its subject matter and then it suddenly decides to rush on in leaps and bounds as if it thinks it it is running a 100 metre race.

There are lots of practical exercises, most of which are very satisfying to accomplish correctly, but the reader is led in short developmental steps and sometimes up some blind alleys (on purpose) to appreciate the methods that languages use to overcome various common programming problems and to finally end up with a set of code that does the job for which it was intended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather frustrating 12 July 2011
Format:Paperback
I too am completely new to programming, but even with the help from this book I have to admit that I'm struggling. Yes, I "don't get it", which isn't the book's fault, but I'm finding several aspects of this book very frustrating. I admire their approach and the style in which it's written, but there is not enough on the basic principles of programming, particularly on the way that you need to think about things. While I appreciate that some people find Python intuitive and easy to use, I'm obviously missing that particular neural circuit! For example, the information about indents was about five pages too late, and I agree with a previous reviewer that the pace is too slow in some places and way too fast in others. I'm going to keep trying, but overall I'm finding my programming experience frustrating rather than rewarding.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not for beginners 22 Jan 2012
By mike
Format:Paperback
Although this book is intented for people with no programming experience it really doesn't live up to that promise. There is not enough information give for you to be able to complete the exercises. There is not a lot of explanation of the syntax you have to use in order to solve the problems. So really a shame if you want to learn programming there are better books than this.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars learn programming ;) 26 July 2011
By mko
Format:Paperback
I have read Head First series for quite some time. These books are just amazing. My first book was Head First Servlets and JSP and I liked the series from the very beginning. Now, I have few of them on my book shelf - I like the style of the series: well served knowledge. I know how to program and by reading Head First Programming I din't meant to actually learn programming - I wanted to get into Python. And I think, this is quite good way to achieve that. You not only get the idea of what programming is, you also learn basics of Python. This is a good start for people who have never used it. David and Paul go through all important topics for every beginner: branches, data structures, functions, file access, basic of the GUI and much, much more.

The way book is organized is very similar to other titles from Head First series. Authors utilize recent concepts related to cognitive science - not only what, but also how is important. By introducing image based explanations (we humans base our cognition on pictures) and by explaining everything with very basic language (authors are not afraid that avoiding academic fuss will make them look "less competent") David and Paul go straight into what is most important - knowledge presented such way, that everybody can learn it. I know people who doesn't like this series - they assume that books like these are simply silly. They have right to think that way. In my opinion, Head First Programming is as good as other titles from Head First series, and if you want to lear Python and learn how to program - you have to buy it.
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