On top of my everyday use of Bash, Perl and R, I’ve been scratching up on Python, lots of data science command line tools and most recently HTML.
I was never very good at learning new languages at school. I spent several years learning both French and German, both of which have now completely been lost to me! Attending a state school I had never really come across Latin, but when it came to learning, understanding and even pronouncing species name, when I came to my undergraduate Zoology degree at the University of Reading, all of a sudden I found I had at least a handle on where to start with European languages!
I have found this true also of programming languages. It seems the more you have an understanding of the fundamentals of one language, the quicker you will be able to pick up other languages.
With this in mind and a general interest in improving my general coding/programming skills as I start to come to the end of my PhD and start thinking about the next step, I have embarked on a number of short courses, which have very quickly massively increased my skillset and abilities.
And one of the most important points is it has all been free! There are so many tutorials, free ebooks and dedicated internet companies/organisations keen to get more people programming, that I came across all of these courses in the space of about 3 hours!
I would like to take a quick moment to thank and promote the places where I have been picking up these new tips and tricks:
HTML – Dash.GeneralAssembly – a free interactive online course that teaches the basics of designing websites.
HTML – Sunday Times: Learn to Code – a course that took place over two weeks in the Sunday Times, which they made completely free online. Helps you design your first website.
Python – Python for Biologists – a (mainly) free website and free accompanying ebook with downloadable examples and exercises by Martin Jones. If you want to take this course further there is a purchasable follow up book Advanced Python for Biologists.
Data Science – The Data Scientist’s Toolbox – free course with Coursera, with forums, video guides, projects and exams! You can even get a certificate if you’re prepared to pony up a bit of cash. Very reputable course by Jeff Leek, Brain Caffo and Roger Peng.
Data Science – Data Science at the Command Line – interesting ‘follow along’ webcast from O’Reilly and Jeroen Janssens who has an accompanying book. This webcast is like a taster for the content of the book, but does include access to his website and a free download of a virtual machine with loads of free data science tools!
Finally I’ll just wrap up by directing you towards my first little website hosted on Dash: The Leaf-nosed Bats of Buton, Sulawesi. Dash recommended that you design a website for your business (real or imagined) to encourage you to practise the techniques you have learned in their course. I chose to write something relevant to me, a very quick webpage with some images and information from my field trip to Buton, Sulawesi in Indonesia in 2012, my first bit of independent field work for my PhD.
Seb is a third year NERC funded PhD student studying horseshoe bat diversification and speciation with large scale bait capture techniques and transcriptomics.