-QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”
― Richard Feynman
This article is a special edition for those of you who, like me, have the “good student” syndrome and want to do their best to get fully prepared for the Piscine. Or simply like to make sure they got all the chances on their side before the real adventure starts.
The first and most important thing to know is that YOU CAN’T be fully prepared. The main idea of the Piscine is to test your limits and thus by definition you can’t and shouldn’t really be striving (IMHO) to prepare for this. Otherwise, the whole point of the exercise (or its biggest part) lose its magic.
This said it doesn’t hurt to have a look on what is waiting for you on the other side of the wall. It’s aways better to have a more or less clear picture of what to expect from the “learning” part of the experience.
Here are some sources I found useful when making myself to get familiar with the code land overall and the friendly face of C language. There are surely plenty you can find on the internet, but for my part I prefer to have a limited selection of really good ones rather than an unlimited choice of everything there is. It also can be a useful reference to keep on the top shelf for when the 42 starts, as you will most probably need the backup / catch up support for the things that you didn’t get the hold of that or another day.
So here are my personal Top 5 resources:
- Codecademy (free/premium) – a really great platform that I have discovered 3 years ago. It’s, unfortunately, not offering any C language course, but is a great library to get the programming basics in other languages.
The reason I like this website is its user experience and the learning approach: which is the whole opposite of the 42’s intensive diving. On any given topic you will have short portions of exercises that are divided into an even smaller step-by-step-learning-by-practicing bits. I did learn the HTML and CCS3 only with Codecademy and did pretty good in this in fact.
Free or premium? When I registered on the website back in 2013 there it was all free, and when I connected back this year I discovered that there is a premium version now. As long as you want to follow the courses Free will be fully sufficient, the paid part will offer quizzes and somewhat more flexibility in constructing your learning path, but for my personal use, I didn’t opt for that one.
As for the 42 preparation part, the most relevant element would be the Terminal course,.This one will give you a feel of what your work environment will look like for the upcoming month. It will also find it extremelly useful during the first 2 days of the Piscine.
- Treehouse (premium only, starting 25€/month) – probably most complete online library of Code related courses. Each course is a mix of short instructional video, quizzes, and practical exercises. Compared to Codecademy it would take much more of your time by the simple fact that you have to watch videos. This said, it offers a little more variety and so easier to stick up.
The down point, is the fact that there is only a paid option. There is a 7-day trial, hovewer, which might be long enough depending on your motivation and the free time.
As for the 42 preparation, there is a C dedicated course for the beginners, that I do really recommend if you never saw the C before.
- [add in] Pluralsight (3 months free trial with Visual Studio Account) – On the recommendation from one of the 42 peers (Alex, who left the comment), I’m ammending the list with a one more great resource which has a huge choice of coding materials, including C! And to top it up, there is a way to get 3 months for free (unfortunately not 6 as Alex said), whereas usually subscription plans start at 29$/month. To do so, you need to create a free Visual Studio account first and then redeem your Pluralsight trial in the benefits section.
- [add in] Freecodecamp (free) – A great new resource I have discovered thanks to one of my peer swimmers (this add in was done on the D+6 of my Piscine). Great library of different coding languages and great challenge format of learning. Explore! 🙂
- Pays 42 (free) – this one is the spot on resource for what you will learn during the Piscine. With one BUT it’s in French. Personally, I took it as an advantage as my Piscine will be fully in French, so it was a good way to get used to the terms I didn’t know. The second plus, design-wise it’s a perfect copy-paste of the standard Terminal environment, which is another good point on the “get used” list.
- Friends who know the drill (free, or coffee credits) – well for this one I’m not gonna share a URL , obviously. But might be useful to have a quick search in your close network and save some “emergency-go-to” phone numbers for when you will feel stuck and desperately stupid. In case your network did offer a zero yield on the effort, it might be also a good idea to make some new friends, why not current students of 42 (well, it was my strategy anyway).
- Norme 42 – to continue on the subject of current-students-becoming-friends, here is of the examples of a hands on advice they mignt give. The first one I got was a pdf document that is a bible-like thing at the school. Basically, it’s a set of rules to follow when you write your program. If I’m not mistaken it’s one of the first things you get to read as a part of the first day program. And you better make sure it becomeq your best friend for at least first 2-5 days of C, depending on how fast you acquire new reflexes. Personally, I found it useful to have a read in advance and was reassured that I did understand the utility of it (well the real challenge is to put it into practice, but you need to start somewhere, right?)