Welcome to Data Rebellion! If you’re interested in freeing yourself from boring, mindless, computer-based tasks and leveraging your skills to get a promotion, a new job, or just relax while the computer does the work for you, you’re in the right place. Let’s go over some basics to get you off to the races.
First, I suspect you may have some task in mind that you wish could be automated. But maybe you’re not even sure if it’s possible to automate yet. If that’s the case, here’s a handful of common jobs that are totally automatable:
- Getting data from the web
- Cleaning, organizing, or otherwise processing information
- Updating and formatting reports and presentations
- Moving and renaming files
- Sending emails
- Working with word docs, pdf’s, spreadsheets, powerpoints, and other files
- Launching programs at certain times
The above list is really only limited by your imagination (or by the demands of your drudgery).
So now we know most repetitive things on a computer are automatable. The next question is, “How should we go about automating them?” The answer is: Python. This is an amazing programming language that’s relatively easy to learn, and I highly recommend that’s where you start. Now, if you are a budding computer scientist and want a rock-solid programming foundation, I would probably recommend learning Java or C or something along those lines first.
But the Rebellion isn’t about training computer scientists. It’s about helping people from all fields and walks of life overthrow tedious work regimes as quickly, effectively, and ruthlessly as possible. And once you get Python down, it’ll be a lot easier to learn the other languages anyways if you’re so inclined. So we’ll be focusing on Python (in particular Python 3).
Now, you’re going to want a place where you can code in Python. If you’re brand new to Python and just want to test it out, try Repl.it. You can start coding right away for free without installing a single thing. When you’re ready to install Python on your computer, see the step-by-step guide to installing Python. Or if you’re ready to get serious with automation, see the step-by-step guide to installing Anaconda.
The last thing you need is a searing, deep-seated resentment of authority figures that demand your time and sanity be sacrificed at the alter of tedious, automate-able tasks. Well, I guess this isn’t absolutely necessary. But I highly recommend it.
Anyways, you’ll want to get started programming as quickly as possible. Check out this guided programming adventure Escape from the Office for a first taste of Python programming. And see the Resources page for places where you can pick up some more of the fundamentals.
But don’t spend too long learning. I can’t stress this enough. You don’t need to complete an entire course to start doing useful things. Get a handful of the basics down, and then pick something to work on and start winging it. Maybe you want to scrape a bunch of data from the web. Great, just Google “python webscraping” and you’re off. In time, you’ll find that automating your work is really all about finding the relevant packages, figuring out how to use them, and just hacking your way to something that works.
It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to get the job done.
Alright, that’s enough chit-chat. Get out there and wreak some havoc!