Hulk, Smash! C for Fun

I struggled with Learn C the Hard Way. I wasn’t engaging with the exercises. I typed and typed and tried to motivate myself, but C’s function-based flat-file-ness and inscrutable function names stymied me.

This was the language I’d failed to learn twice before.

This morning I spoke with Jessica McKellar, a resident at Hacker School, and she turned this whole thing around.

She suggested ditching Learn C the Hard Way and instead learning C a different way, by diving into a book called Hacking: The Art of Exploitation. This made sense to me for two reasons:

1. Although I have no significant background in C, I studied information security in grad school and have broad context around network security.

2. It sounded much more fun.

After speaking with Jessica, I sailed through 100 pages of Hacking: The Art of Exploitation, typing code when I felt it would be useful and reading the book when I felt that would be useful and even, as a bonus, learning a little bit about how assembly language works.

I can’t wait to get back to it tomorrow. This experience reminded me that pivoting is not just for business ideas. If I’m learning something and not loving it, there is almost always a way to switch tracks without giving up.

This is some kind of basic life lesson that I have been forced to learn over and over. Keep adapting, and it’s almost impossible to fail. Fail to adapt, and failure becomes almost inevitable.


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