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Python 101 (part 1): Snake Eyes
Learning Python will earn you respect, affection and bags of money. Find out why.

| Top Gun |

Perhaps it's just my imagination, but Python programmers seem to command a great deal more respect than their Perl or PHP counterparts.

In the consciously-elitist world of software engineering, a developer with a few years of Python under his belt gets the best cubicle, the prettiest girl and the respect of his neighbours; people move out of the way when he strides down the hall, and colleagues turn to him for creative and elegant solutions to the problems they encounter. Walk into a job interview and mention Python when reciting your qualifications; you'll immediately see a glint of recognition in the interviewer's eyes, an awareness that, in the hierarchy of software developers, you're one of the top guns.

I'm exaggerating a little, of course. However, the fact remains that Python, by its very nature, forces most developers to acquire an understanding of object-oriented programming concepts and, by implication, design software that is reusable, extensible and modular. In the long run, this translates into better software engineering, greater code maintainability and less testing - all of which are music to the ears of the average manager.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to take you on a guided tour of this powerful programming language, and demonstrate some of its capabilities to you. I'll be covering everything you need to know to get started with Python, from using the command-line and understanding Python's data structures, to trapping errors and writing your own Python modules.

If you already know Perl, PHP or Java, many of the concepts explained here may already be familiar to you; however, Python, like its namesake, does add some interesting twists to standard programming constructs, and I'll be sure to point them out to you. If, on the other hand, you're completely new to this, fear not - I'll keep it as simple and non-threatening as I can.

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