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Getting Help

Flying Man Dealing with computers can sometimes be frustrating. However, many problems you will encounter as a beginning programmer will quickly disappear as you gain a little more experience. That may be little comfort if you feel like you're stuck for an hour and can't quite get a handle on the problem. Here are a few tips to help you through those difficult computing moments:

Read the Manual

Sometimes you just have to read the instructions.

  • In particular, your programmer's reference guide does a good job of explaining how to use the various C/C++ library tools.
  • You can find similar information online by using the man program. e.g. you can use man <command> to get information on any shell command and on most C/C++ library functions. Note: sometimes there is as shell command with the same name as a library function. If you type man printf you will get information on a printf command that works with your shell.
  • Also refer to the links on the class homepage.
  • And make good use of code examples. Refer to examples in the text, class notes, and also the Lab and Homework solutions. You can learn a lot by looking at working code, so make sure to look at the solutions for additional ideas and tips. Compare your work with the solutions and see how your approach to the problem and your programming style agrees or differs.

Office and TA-Supervised Lab Times

Use the weekly office hours to ask questions or setup an appointment if you need to pick another time. Probably the most important source of help you will find is the TA-Supervised Lab Hours. You may work on part of your homework in Room 022-C with your TA available to help for several hours each week. Can't figure out why your code won't compile? Just stop by and ask for advice.

Asking a good question

When asking a question about a programming problem (especially when you are asking the question in writing), be sure to include all the relevant details in your description. You should ALWAYS include the following:

  • What you were trying to do and what happened: e.g. “Failure when I try to compile my program.”
  • What is the exact error message? If you type a command and get an error, include both the full text of the command and of the error message with your question. Otherwise it generally won't be possible for anyone to comment on your specific error.

These simple steps will greatly increase the ability of others to offer you assistance.

NEVER pose a question along the simple lines of “Program X doesn't work…”
It is overly optimistic or even impolite to expect someone to spend time guessing at your problem and inventing multiple answers.

help.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/21 10:41 by neu