Vim School and The Textual Katana

TLDR: I’m running a low-fi to the point Vim course once a week for 10 weeks and a spot in the forum for help.  You’ll get 10+ hours of video and my configurations and notes.  You can buy it at and the first Seminar is up.

I’ve had many people ask me how I use Vim, but I couldn’t really figure out how to write a book to teach Vim. I realized a while back that the majority of the things people need to learn about Vim are best demonstrated in an interactive way.  I can blast you a book with all the commands and tell you that 10cw will delete 10 words but, until you actually see someone who’s good at Vim do that it doesn’t seem to click.

The other thing I’ve realized is that everyone tells people how to use Vim, and then proceeds to do it in a totally different way.  It’s just too hard to keep track of all the ways I might use Vim, little tricks, settings, how I use power macros, and other things unless I’m really editing and then showing you how to do it.

So, last week I threatened everyone on Twitter that I’d create a series of videos I’m calling Vim School and this week I did exactly that.   I’m recording these in a Live Seminar format with a core group of students who are beta testing my Learn Code Live project.  That means there’s people asking me to repeat things while I’m demonstrating Vim concepts so they keep me honest and make sure I don’t gloss over things.

If you want to get in on this, then you can buy it at and you’ll get 1 seminar per week after my LCLive students have seen it.  The first seminar is up and it’s 1h 11m long with a crash course jump into Vim.  You’ll get an announcement on the part of the forum, and you can get clarifications and help.


Vim School is like Vim itself:  Low-fi, brutalist, no frills, to the point, and effective.  There’s no fancy graphics, diagrams, pretty buttons, or anything but Zed showing you Vim in all its blazing fast Text Mode Katana glory.   I’m doing these videos in 1080p, but honestly I could do them in 480p and they’d still work.

Here’s what’s going to be in the course:

  • 10+ hours of Vim training.  You can see the notes from this week’s seminar in the forum.
  • Starts off assuming you know nothing, then slowly goes through each concept needed to use vim until you have a fully configured vim for programming work.
  • It’ll cover everything from your basic motion and editing commands to more advanced automation, code searching, and configuration for real work.
  • It’ll be based on how I use Vim, which is a much simpler and more reasonable way to use it for a beginner.
  • You won’t be required to use hjkl to move around.  You’ll just use arrow keys, but more importantly, you’ll learn that the entire point of Vim is to not do tiny moves anyway.
  • All the videos will dynamic keystroke display so you can see exactly what I type.
  • There will be session notes posted shortly after the seminar is posted.
  • I do everything inside Vim.  I write up the sessions notes live, edit code, run it in a terminal, every single thing I can I do from Vim.  This helps you see if I’m using and secret tricks you haven’t heard of that you want to learn.
  • I’ll provide you with my configurations each week so you can build up your own configuration by learning what each thing does.  This first seminar I did a quick run through and put up a minimalist config for everyone to use.
  • Price is $19.99 for all of the videos, and you’ll get 1 per week assuming I don’t have anything pressing that week stopping me.  If I’m ever late a week you’ll get double the next week.

Wait, What’s LCLive?

I’ve been running live training for beginning programmers for the last 6 months in a private beta.  I’ve had to really change how it runs several times to simplify it and to figure out this whole online streaming thing.  Let me tell you, online streaming of a screen is much harder than it seems if you want to do it with any kind of quality.

The original incarnation of LCLive was the Junior Developer Certification Program but that was way too complex and involved for people to do successfully.  I’ve since stripped that concept down to just something that provides people who are learning to code with extra help from me in the form of:

  1. A private section of the forum where you get priority assistance with your code.
  2. Help with nearly anything related to becoming a programmer or working your first job.
  3. One main video a week where I cover some topic in a series.  We’re currently in the Debugging and Refactoring series.  I’m taking volunteer’s code and we’re all debugging it or I’m refactoring it to show how I’d do it.  We’ll probably do this for a while since it seems to really help people.
  4. Special bonus videos such as this Vim School.  That means yes, if you sign up for LCLive you just get Vim School included with your LCLive subscription.
  5. Access to all of the past LCLive videos, which is about 30 hours of content right now.

I’ve almost got the format nailed down, so I’ve been keeping it quiet and among my tiny group of friendly students who want the extra help.   I’m not quite ready to release it fully, but if you want to sign up then it’s $99.99 per month and you have to email me at asking to join LCLive.  You’ll have to understand that there’s going to be tech issues at times because it’s a beta product, but it seems to be going well as of this week.

What About Emacs School?

I could potentially do a similar Emacs course but I honestly really suck at Emacs as it’s not my main editor at all.  If you’re an Emacs grand master and interested in doing a similar course feel free to comment and let me know.

GDPR Changes to LCTHW

When I started Learn Code The Hard Way about eight years ago, I made a conscious choice to run my business ethically. I decided to never collect information unless I really needed it, to not track people as they went through my site, and to not sell anyone’s information to someone else. I felt this was the right move because education is a sensitive topic, and I didn’t really think it was appropriate for me to sell people’s behavior on an educational resource. I also would rather make my money by building good products rather than selling my customers like they are products.

For the last eight years I have only stored enough information to let you get back to your purchase. For example, I do not remember where you are in the book because if I store that information then I am tracking everything you’ve read, and that kind of violates your privacy. Some people have asked me to implement a feature for keeping track of what you have read, but I feel that that’s too risky of the feature to implement. I also didn’t include any passwords in my system. I simplified it down to the bare minimum necessary for you to access the content from your email. In fact, I store people’s names but I don’t even it enforce that they give me a real name.

I do collect people’s IP addresses, but that happened after almost a year of constant fraud and a barrage of continuous SSH attacks. I have to keep the IP address information for fraud prevention and security purposes, but I only keep your most recent IP address on your account and it gets wiped whenever your IP address changes. I also only keep logs for about a year, mostly because I’m too lazy to reconfigure the log rotation to do it faster.

I am also a very hated individual on the Internet. Because of this I have had to make sure that I have the best security I can get, but I also assume that no security is totally foolproof so I do my best to keep data off my service that I don’t really need. The data I do have is either minimal or I encrypt it with GPG and my private keys never touch the servers. Obviously none of this is totally secure in the face of a very determined attacker, but because I don’t really store much information about people and a lot of it is encrypted, the potential damage is very low.

Finally, I gladly delete people’s accounts if they email me, but I warn them that once they delete it all then our relationship is over and they would have to buy the product again to download it again. That seems reasonable to me because you can’t say, “Hey, forget everything about me,”  and then come back a month later and say “Hey do you remember me?”  No, because you told me to delete you.

I believe the only things I do is I have Google analytics on my site, and a Zendesk help chat system that nobody uses.  I’ll just remove the Zendesk chat, and if you want Google to forget about you then contact them.  You can still email me at when you need help or you can use the forum at  but that little chat thing is totally useless.

New Features

I actually believe that without a treaty between the United States and the EU, that the EU would be violating international laws by enforcing the GDPR.   But, complying with it doesn’t seem to be too difficult for my business, and if I comply with it I can go to Europe in the future and study art at Louvre.

I’m not kidding.  I really want to copy paintings at the Louvre.  I can’t do that if I owe 20 million euros to France!

With that in mind I am going to be slowly rolling out some features to make my business compliant with the GDPR and it will be for everyone around the world:

  1. You will have a delete button for your account, but you will need access to your email to prove that you actually are who you say you are, and once you delete you have to buy the product again to get it back. As I said it’s not fair for you to want to maintain a data relationship with me but then also delete your data.
  2. You’ll be able to get a a JSON dump of the data I have on you. You are probably going to laugh because it’s literally like two database rows.
  3. I will follow the GDPR  mandate to clear web traffic logs after three months, but I will keep all security related logs for two years because now the EU has declared IP addresses identifying information so I can start submitting your IP address from hack attempts against services to law enforcement in the EU.
  4.  I will keep your purchase information and my payment processor because my country’s tax system demands that I keep that information for at least seven years and maybe longer.
  5. I will be the data officer, until I can afford enough money to hire someone official in the EU, or I have a real reason to do it.

Hopefully that’s enough to show a good faith attempt to follow the law, and my track record of basically already complying with the law should be good enough to avoid the €20 million fine that they are going to give me.  I’ve been told by several Europeans that as long as I’m following the law as best I can that, “Totally nobody’s ever going to go after.  The EU is a nice guy eh? Buddy pal you can trust us? <big grin>.”  We shall see.

I like the spirit of the law, and it matches what I do already, but I will be honest and say I worry it will be abused by bigger corporations to stifle speech and stop bad press.   I also feel the GDPR will mean nothing to large corporations and that the EU government will only enforce it on small companies that can’t defend themselves.  Time will tell, but in the mean time, I’m going to keep my European customers happy and bring this out to everyone at the same time.

Learn JavaScript The Hard Way Has Begun

TLDR:  The JavaScript book is now in full development mode and exercises will start landing this weekend.  I’ve worked out a way to make this book be two books in one and will produce 2160p videos for it.  If you pre-ordered the book at $20 then you received an even greater discount as I’m upping the final published price to $45 instead of $40.  You can see the outline for the book at the end of this article.

I have finally sorted out all the problems related Learn JavaScript The Hard Way. I said that the that the first exercises would start coming down in April, but there were a few issues with the latest release of JavaScript that derailed my original plans for the book. I wanted to wait until I could figure out exactly how to do the book and make it resistant to possible future changes to JavaScript. JavaScript is a very fast-moving language and I didn’t want to be stuck with a obsolete book 2 weeks after I wrote it.

The other issue I had to solve was exactly what platform to support. I originally wanted to support browsers, but those are so diverse in what they allow, and so that I had to abandon that plan. I realized there are plenty of books that teach you how to use JavaScript in the browser, but not many that focus on the basic computer science concepts and fundamentals. So I changed the format and focused just on Node.js.  Node is a little behind on some of the features, but it has enough for people to learn basic JavaScript and complete a bunch of projects.

With the platform solved I then had to figure out a way to update and modernize the style of book that I write. I originally was going to do a book similar to my others, but then I realized I could most likely combine the beginner book (such as Learn Python the Hard Way) with my advanced book Learn More Python the Hard Way. Combining the two structures made for a much more complete book that takes someone from complete beginner to actually finishing many projects in JavaScript.

The final improvement that I worked on was improving the quality of the videos for the JavaScript book. In my last two books for Python I used 1080p as the format and it worked, but it still wasn’t quite enough screen to show multiple windows at the same time. With the JavaScript book I want to show people my actual development environment as I work on the projects. I normally use a really large screen, even larger than 2160p.

I found that beginners develop an unrealistic idea of how programmers actually is done because they see me using a different set up than I actually use when I code. When I code I don’t use a screen that’s 1080 pixels tall. I actually use a screen that is much larger than that and sometimes even used two screens.

For the JavaScript book I wanted to use a large enough video size that people could watch me code as close to how I really code as possible.  On a large monitor, with multiple windows, and without switching windows. To accomplish this I had to do several tests of different video encoding software, recording systems, audio equipment, and also did quite a lot of work in live coding sessions with other students. The end result is that I can now produce 2160p videos with higher quality sound a lot faster and cheaper than I could before.

The Planned Features

Given all that the features of the JavaScript book are going to be the following:

  •  UHD quality video at 2160P resolution, but with smaller files for people with limited download Internet.
  • A combined format that starts from a beginner level and goes all the way to completing many projects of increasing degrees of difficulty, effectively being two books.
  • As with all my books HTML and PDF formats will be available.
  • Focusing on more systems level programming with Node and using the most modern JavaScript I can get away with that Node supports.
  • A total of 62 exercises.

This weekend I will be publishing the first exercises that I’ve written which will be up to exercise 6. This first release will be a draft, and should include most of the videos for those exercises.   I will then be able to post probably three or six videos a week depending on the difficulty of the exercises. The first half of the book is just basics so that’s pretty straightforward, but the second half of the book is actual coding on small projects so those are little more difficult.

Finally, as I said before the price on the book now is $20 and that’s 50% of the final price of the book is done. Because this book is basically two books, and it’s going to use 2160p video the final price for the book is going to be $45 instead of $40. That means you original purchase of $20 is now even more of a discount once the book is released.

Current Table of Contents

Here is a breakdown of everything that I am planning on teaching in the JavaScript book. The goal with the Part I of the book is to get someone just dangerous enough to complete Part II.  In Part II you’ll learn more parts of JavaScript as you make tiny pieces of software.  This makes the JavaScript book much more a “learn by doing” book than before.

  • Part I: Basics
  • Section 1: The Beginning
  • Exercise 00: Gearing Up
  • Exercise 01: A First Program
  • Exercise 02: Comments
  • Exercise 03: Simple Math and Strings
  • Exercise 04: Variables
  • Exercise 06: Escape Sequences
  • Exercise 07: Prompting Input
  • Exercise 08: Command Line Arguments
  • Exercise 09: Files
  • Exercise 10: Files, Args, Variables, Oh My
  • Exercise 11: Functions
  • Exercise 12: Functions, Files, Variables
  • Exercise 13: Modules

You can see that this book goes a little faster than my other beginner books and has a lot less repetition.  By Exercise 13 we’re already loading in external code, writing functions, opening files, and other simple tasks.  In my previous books students didn’t reach this level until Exercise 25.

  • Section 2: Logic and Flow Control
  • Exercise 14: If
  • Exercise 15: If and Else
  • Exercise 16: While Loops
  • Exercise 17: Lists and For Loops
  • Exercise 18: More Lists
  • Exercise 19: Data Objects
  • Exercise 20: First Game

We then get into Logic and Flow Control, where you learn how to make the first useful bits of actual computation.

  • Section 3: OOP
  • Exercise 21: Simple OOP
  • Exercise 22: More Complex OOP
  • Exercise 23: Prototype Inheritance
  • Exercise 24: OOP Game

I then introduce OOP, but it’ll be just enough OOP to be dangerous, in keeping with the theme of Part I.

  • Section 4: FP
  • Exercise 25: Functions and Recursion
  • Exercise 26: Transforming Data
  • Exercise 27: Applying Functions
  • Exercise 28: Scope and Closures
  • Exercise 29: Currying and Accumulators
  • Exercise 30: Events and Callbacks

Modern JavaScript seems to shy away from OOP and go with more of a Functional Programming style, so I’ll spend a bit more time on this way of coding and most likely use it more in Part II.

  • Part II: Projects
  • Section 5: Hacks
  • Exercise 31: Parsing Command Line Arguments
  • Exercise 32: cat
  • Exercise 33: find
  • Exercise 34: grep
  • Exercise 35: cut
  • Exercise 36: sed
  • Exercise 37: sort
  • Exercise 38: uniq

Part II opens up with a series of quick hacks that just implement some basic unix tools in JavaScript.  These are nothing fancy, original, or cool.  The point of this first section of Part II is to get the student to work on the start of a piece of software and comfortable with making garbage.

  • Section 6: Data Structures
  • Exercise 39: Single Linked Lists
  • Exercise 40: Double Linked Lists
  • Exercise 41: Queue and Stack
  • Exercise 42: Sorting Algorithms
  • Exercise 43: Hashmap
  • Exercise 44: Binary Search Tree
  • Exercise 45: Binary Search

We then implement some very simply and naive versions of the classic data structures, and start to focus on quality and testing.

  • Section 7: Testing and Hacks
  • Exercise 46: xargs
  • Exercise 47: hexdump
  • Exercise 48: tr
  • Exercise 49: sh
  • Exercise 50: diff and patch

The student then combines testing and quality with quick hacks to apply their knowledge so far.

  • Section 8: Parsing
  • Exercise 51: Finite Sate Machines
  • Exercise 52: Regular Expressions
  • Exercise 53: Scanners
  • Exercise 54: Parsers
  • Exercise 55: Analyzers
  • Exercise 56: Puny Python
  • Exercise 57: Calculator
  • Exercise 58: BASIC

Section 8 will get into the very basics of parsing programming languages.

  • Section I: Final Projects
  • Exercise 59: blog
  • Exercise 60: bc
  • Exercise 61: ed
  • Exercise 62: sed

Finally, they finish off with a set of open ended projects that are meant to combine everything they’ve learned so far.

Perfectionism and The Epic Failure Meltdown

Hello, it’s been a while since I’ve written something here as I’ve been busy writing other things.  Today I would like to ask for help from people who might be struggling with learning because of an oddly specific problem. I have found that people who consider themselves “perfectionists” seem to have  trouble learning because of how they view the creative process. The problem is, I am pretty much the opposite of a perfectionist, so I have no idea what it’s like to feel this way.  I’d like your help understanding your experience with failure as a perfectionist.

As far as I can tell people who view themselves as perfectionists seem to give up very quickly. At the first sign of any errors or mistakes they have an incredibly negative reaction and either give up or get angry. I’m not exactly sure why but I believe it’s because they feel that the way you create something of high quality is to never make an error. But, this is completely different from how I actually make almost anything. For me creating something is kind of like a tight rope walk balancing on the edge of disaster. If I make a mistake I just assume that I have fallen off the rope and need to try again, or I have to correct and continue.

In an effort to understand how some of my students see the creative process I’ve started looking at how they tend to fail.  Or, more accurately how they seem to react negatively to small failures. I actually don’t think that you can really fail in programming or other creative activities, because you simply just keep doing them until you get better at dealing with potential disasters.

But I see many beginning programmers have what I call the “epic failure meltdown” at the first sign of any mistakes.  I would like to find out how this feels and any insights as to why this might be happening.

After some research on this I believe that part of the problem is a misunderstanding by perfectionists regarding how something is created.  They simply don’t understand the creative process. But I would love for people to reply in the comments on this blog post, and tell me how does it feel, as a perfectionist, to make a mistake. It’d also be helpful if you can explain why you think you are a perfectionist and whether that helps you make anything perfect.

I’d also really appreciate it if you have any insights as to how someone else might get past this negative reaction to failure. If you have coping strategies or a way of viewing things that have helped you then please let me know.

The end result of this research will be a blog post and a few videos aimed at people who misunderstand the creative process and take “failure” the wrong way. This won’t be specifically aimed at programming but just generally at people who create things and give up too early.

Finally, if you aren’t comfortable posting here publicly, you can email me your experiences at and I’ll keep what you say private.

Thank you for your time.