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Newbie coding puzzles and problems

This is an Ask a Geek Feminist question for our readers:

I am a relative newbie in the world of coding. I took two semesters of intro to programming with Java this past school year and I’ve been to a few python workshops. All in all, I’ve only been building programs for about eight months. I was wondering whether there are some good sources of newbie-friendly project ideas out there that will keep me going over the summer so that I don’t lose all my skills before my fall data structures class.

I have had Project Euler recommended to me in this capacity, but I don’t take the amount of delight in mathematics that the person who recommended the site to me does. Are there others that are a bit more down to earth?

This question seems to be seeking less ongoing projects, and more a source of short exercises and puzzles. Anyone got anything? I only know of Top Coder but it’s not newbie-focussed and from what I know of it it’s also rather focussed on mathematical puzzles.

10 thoughts on “Newbie coding puzzles and problems

    1. Daniel Martin

      Another recommendation for codingbat. It’s very good at scaling up the difficulty gradually.

      Another place you might want to check out are the old “Ruby Quiz of the Week” problems: most don’t require ruby use in any way, and the problem difficulty is all over the map (some hard, some easy, and many where the level of difficulty depends on how much of the optional bits of the problem you tackle)

  1. K00kyKelly

    I’d recommend trying to recreate an arcade game like PacMan with some kind of AI. IMHO figuring out the AI is what makes it interesting. How do the ghosts move? How far away can they sense PacMan? What should the levels look like? How should the level data be stored with the moving things? The graphics could be a challenge, but theoretically at least you could do the whole thing in ASCII and erase and reprint the screen a lot.

  2. puzzlehunter

    You could try looking at the free HTML version of the book http://learnpythonthehardway.org/book/ . It has a lot of short programming exercises that you can use to learn/review Python basics, and it even has some exercises geared toward helping the user create a simple game.

    MIT also has the (free) materials for a couple of intro classes up on OpenCourseWare:

    Intro to Java: 1.00 / 1.001 Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving

    Intro to Python: 6.00 Introduction to Computer Science and Programming

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