Learning Python The Old Fashioned Way, From A Book

Working in IT, whether it’s security related or not, you should always be expanding your skill sets. The last thing you want to do is fall behind while the rest of the world moves ahead. Staying on top of your area of focus is a given but I feel you should also develop skills in areas that are not directly related to your current job. Being a technologist having programming skills in the latest languages is not a bad thing to have.

In my case I chose to expand my Powershell and Python knowledge, specifically Python. Why? It’s robust, easy to learn and widely used. However, I don’t have time to spend in the classroom and last year there were no classrooms so I relied on myself for self-teaching.

I did buy an online video course which was OK but I am old school and like textbooks I can flip back to. I bought a couple but the one I absolutely loved is from the Crash Course series simply called Python Crash Course.

This book takes you from the basics to writing a game and doing data graphing in Python. Those exercises you may not find useful in what you are building but they use all the foundational concepts.

The best addition to the book are the cheat sheets that come with it. I have these printed off and in a folder on my desk. Over time I will get these down as memory but especially when I am working with complex structures it easy to get backawards. The cheat sheets are invaluable and worth the price of the book.

Remember, I am a noob Python programmer, so anyone with experience with it this is kindergarten level. Yet, I taught myself enough to build many useful python apps such as:

  • RSS Downloader – Enter an RSS feed for a podcast and download all the episodes locally.
  • Weather Bot – Collect weather from an API and feed the data into PowerBI.
  • ShodanFTP Scanner – My personal favorite, use th Shodan API to search for open FTP sites, then connect to the FTP and get the root directory listing and store it in a sqlite3 database. I added a sync feature to take the local DB and sync it to Airtable.
  • Twitter Bot – Finishing a Twitter bot that will be running on a Raspberry PI I built that will run as a cron job, pull down a random motivational quote from a collection of 75,000 quotes and post it to a Twitter account I setup.

All those I wrote from what I learned from this book. It worked for me, it may not for you, but I can vouch for it that it’s easy enough to understand to get going.

Be aware, be safe.

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