useful, sort of

As part of my “learn Python” project, I’m building a desktop RSS reader. This could be a pretty straight-forward little dingus, but I want to use it to explore structuring code in a way that can be extended and tested later, so I’m trying a class-based approach. It has been like a lot of the other creative things I’ve done over the years, in the sense that you work on it for a bit, create something bad, then smoosh it down and start over with what you’ve learned.

My big take-away so far is that (SHOCKING!!) ChatGPT is not as useful as it looks at first. OK, so it definitely IS useful. You can ask it things like “how would I build a basic GUI using Python?” and it gives you Tkinter syntax examples to get the ball rolling. But it reminds me of doing translation (my day job) using a machine translation engine: 1) you get something that looks good; 2) great! you set out to tweak it and clean it up; 3) you find out it needs a fundamental re-write; 4) you’ve Ship of Thesus’d the thing, and it took longer than just doing it from scratch.

Still, it’s been useful when I get stuck, and it’s a nice place to get quick answers to easy questions. What this experience is reinforcing for me is that humans are still best at the big-brained strategic/creative planning. While something like Code Pilot can help you build the pieces, you’re the one who has to know how to put the pieces together.

One response to “useful, sort of”

  1. @pjk I think it generally correlates with how public advice works in general. If you start off with stackoverflow or reddit recommendations you'll have almost exact the same process. ChatGPT works best as an intern rather than a guide imo. At least for now.

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