The word virtually is overused. In many cases using the word virtually simply means not. For example:
I have finished virtually all of my homework.
This new surgical procedure is virtually pain-free.
In Modern American Usage, Bryan A. Garner counts virtually as a weasel-word. Weasel-words are so named because of the habit of weasels to attack birds’ nests, and eat their eggs by sucking the meat out, leaving an empty shell.” Likewise, words such as virtually “have the effect of rendering uncertain or hollow the statements in which they appear.”
So be careful using virtually, or other words that similarly diminish the words around them. Other weasel-words commonly used by writers today include significantly, obviously, very, and quite.
A user recently asked:
Has anyone “learned how to program in 21 days?”
I’m not a fan of these learn how to program in X amount of days books. Some even boast, learn how to program in 24 hours. This is a joke and an insult to me as a software engineer who went through a rigorous discipline in computer science and mathematics.
So a question to the community, have you benefited from these become a programmer quick books?
No, it’s impossible to learn how to program in 24 hours or 21 days.
See “Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years,” an article by Peter Norvig (Director of Research at Google, Inc.).
If you already have good fundamental skills at programming, and you just need a tutorial-style book to guide you through learning a new API, then these kinds of books may be helpful.
Even then, the level of expertise will be shallow. It will take many months (at least) to become really proficient. But the quick-introduction books are useful to give you a taste of the range of functionality in a language or API.
I’m posting to my blog the questions I’ve answered on StackOverflow, which earned the “Good Answer” badge. This was my answer to “Has anyone ‘learned how to program in 21 days?’“