Learn To Code: A Lenny's Space Station Book Review
Hi! I’m Ahmik, and I’m a Lenny who loves the pursuit of knowledge. My owner, Kat, loves to tell us stories about how she learned to code twelve years ago when she became a Neopian because she learned HTML and CSS to create beautiful lookups, pet pages, and more! I love listening to her stories about how she learned, and I decided that I would go on a mission, to go where no Lenny has gone before: behind the scenes at the Virtupets Space Station.
As we know, the Virtupets Space Station was home to Dr. Sloth and his evil minions in Y2. Now that it’s an amusement arcade, Neopians are free to visit and have fun playing games, visiting relics of Neopian history, and talking to the Grundos that keep the place running. My owner took me and my siblings for a visit back in Y19, and I was fascinated with all of the fancy technology! So I decided to visit the Space Station and stay for a while, get to know the staff, and learn all that I could. Being a Lenny, of course I had to start my journey for coding knowledge with all of the books about the topic that I could get my feathers on! Here is my review of the five books I read, as well as one elusive, extremely rare book that I am still on the hunt for:
1. Programming Book ~1,125 NP / Level: Beginner
Programming Book is your classic, intro 101 book. It’s the cheapest, easiest to find book about coding, so it was a no-brainer that I start with this one! I learned syntax for the way one would write “Hello, Neopia!”, as well as creating loop structures that one might use to count the number of times they pulled the Space Station's Lever of Doom and calculate the number of NP that was taken from them. There was a basic introduction to neoHTML, with a quick plug for a future book, How to Code for Artists, that will give a more in-depth look into writing code that makes things beautiful. It covered so much more because it was massive! But you’re going to have to find a copy and read it for yourself because I cannot possibly introduce all of the concepts I learned in this little book review. Lucky for you, you’ll be able to find one fairly easily using the Shop Wizard, or in the Booktastic Books shop if you visit Kreludor. All in all, Programming Book was an excellent book for me to get my feathers wet into programming, and only made me more excited to continue my mission for knowledge!
2. Programming For Grundos ~2,150 NP / Level: Intermediate
This next book was where I really started to get to know the Grundos who run the space station. When I first arrived, I met a Grundo named Gruada who became my fast friend, and let me stay on the couch in her cabin. She helped me practice a few of my loops and Hello Neopias while I read Programming Book, and she even let me borrow her copy of Programming for Grundos. Even though it’s an unofficial manual for the Grundos working on the Space Station, they only have enough for copies for each Grundo employee at the Space Station to have one, and the coolest thing is it does not disappear for employees! (Don’t worry, if you want to read this book on Neopia, you can easily find it in the Magical Bookshop or via the Shop Wizard, but the copy you find there will disappear upon reading. Bummer!) Because of the disappearing loophole, I had to read the book with Gruada, which I’m glad for because there were so many concepts she had to reinforce for me about code in the Space Station that I would have failed to understand if not for her. After I finished the book, she even let me shadow her during work for a day, which was so cool; although I love devouring books like most Lennies do, she convinced me that hands-on learning is really the best kind.
While Programming for Grundos was dense, it was extremely interesting and it really gave me a foundational level of knowledge about all the 0s and 1s that are behind keeping the Space Station running. The book also incorporates a brief history of what happened in the Virtupets Space Station after Dr. Sloth was defeated, and how the native Grundos turned the Space Station around into a fun, family-friendly place to visit and enjoy. The history described is very brief, though; for further historical reading, I recommend Space Faerie vs. Dr. Sloth - The Novel, Mr. Sloth - The Tale of Dr. Sloth Senior - A Biography, Mechanical Winners - A Virtupets Story or Beating Sloth (if you can find it—it’s very rare!) I absolutely recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn about mechanical coding, the inner workings of the Virtupets Space Station, or who wants to build a foundation of knowledge so they can shadow an employee for a day!
3. How to Code for Artists ~3,250 NP / Level: Beginner
How to Code for Artists was awesome! It beautifully complements the book How to Draw for Programmers, which I’ll review next. While the book title suggests this book is for artists, and the other is for programmers, I considered myself neither of those things at the start of my knowledge journey. Now, I consider myself both! This book was extremely accessible in terms of the level; I quickly made it through the first few chapters about foundational programming concepts (I’m glad I read them, though, because they helped reinforce my knowledge—a Lenny never skips pages in a book!) I would say you could pick this book up on its own and come away with the ability to create beautiful neoHTML signatures, code a snazzy lookup for your owner, or really make your pet page your own. Artists, you have an incredible resource in this book; be sure to pick it up via a Shop Wizard search, or you might win it as a prize during this years Altador Cup Staff Tournament!
4. How to Draw for Programmers ~5,850 NP / Level: Beginner
How to Draw for Programmers is a very beginner level book, and it all boils down to one thing: practice! This book puts drawing into a programmers perspective and goes through some drawing practice algorithms (you can learn what this fancy word means in Programming Book) that can really get a programmer to wrap their head around how to make beautiful art that they already know how to show off with their code. I am proud to say that I call myself an artist now, but an amateur one at that. A few other drawing guides are How to Draw Guide or How to Draw a Raindorf, both very affordable and beginner level; each is less than half the cost of How to Draw for Programmers, so one of those might be a good first book for you to read before you’re willing to shell out the NPs for this one. This book can be found via the Shop Wizard, and it also might make an appearance as an Altador Cup Staff Tournament prize this year—stay tuned!
5. How to Break Codes and Influence Plot Events ~66K NP / Level: Advanced
Wow, this book was a doozy! The back of the book told me that I might need to read it six or seven times to understand it, but being a smart Lenny, I scoffed in response. But. It. Was. Not. Wrong! How to Break Codes and Influence Plot Events was a lot to digest the first time around, and it was still pretty tough the second time I read it. Yikes! It’s very advanced and very expensive. (It’s a relic from The Return of Dr. Sloth times, so no wonder it’s so expensive!) Gruada, my brilliant friend at the Space Station, doesn’t even understand a quarter of this book—she’s tried to read it many times too. But I am determined in my quest for coding knowledge to understand it one day. If you want to learn all about breaking codes and influencing plot events like me, here is my advice: read it again and again, and wait for a Neopian plot to roll around. I am hoping we get one soon! Then, use it as a guidebook during the plot, because only then will some of the concepts make more sense. Good luck!
Honorable Mention: Decoding a Coded Decoding Book ~2M NP / Level: Expert
Decoding a Coded Decoding Book is the most elusive book about code there is! I have not read it yet, but I really, really want to. It’s so expensive and rare, that I am saving up all my NPs for it and visiting the Magical Bookshop as often as I can to try to pick it up. If I find it one day, I will absolutely be back to review it and try to reveal all of the decoding secrets I learn. Until that time, I will continue my pursuit of coding and programming knowledge throughout all of Neopia with other books and hands-on practising!
As a smart Lenny, I know that my knowledge increases both the more I learn, as well as the more I discover what I do not know! My mission to the Virtupets Space Station was an amazing journey that included a lot of studying, hard work, and even made me a lifelong friend. (If you’re wondering, after lots of convincing Gruada the Grundo decided to take a break from her Space Station job and come home with me, to explore Neopia. I can’t wait to show her around my home like she showed me around hers!) I learned so much, but I also learned that there is so much more for me to learn! As with many informative books, my learning increased greatly when I was about to dive in and practice something feathers-on. That’s the beauty of coding and programming: there is so much fun and growth to be discovered in writing code and creating something new. I encourage you to read these books, and pursue your coding passions, whether they be in designing a pet page, giving your owner’s neosignature a fresh look, or working behind the scenes on the Virtupets Space Station! Happy coding!
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