Software guides

Answering the question “how do I get started with X?”.

Programming languages

Python

A good resource is “Learn Python the Hard Way“. Exercise 0 covers installing Python on Windows, GNU/Linux and OSX, and the (free!) book goes on through the basics slowly but helpfully from there.

One thing that the book doesn’t really handle is how to install Python “packages” — add-on modules that provide extra functionality, like downloading from the internet or making PDFs. The emerging standard for doing this seems to be “pip”, which is unfortunately (and ironically) itself sometimes difficult to install. If you’re on OSX or GNU/Linux, try

easy_install pip

and pray. If you’re on Windows, follow an easy 5-step process (!).

Analysis tools

Octave

Databases

MySQL