JerseyJames75 saidI've always wanted to improve my programming skills, and have been futher inspired by code.org. I know barebones html and some MATLAB, but nothing that's a really core-language. What do people recommend I learn with the way the tech-world works today?
For higher dollar work, JAVA, is, hands down, the language of choice. It runs enterprises world wide, and scales and runs on everything from manufacturing lathes to cable boxes to web sites to medical devices to aircraft systems.
If you're wanting to learn web programming, PHP isn't a bad choice. You NEED to get some formal instruction so you understand basic concepts and don't write crappy code (I've cleaned up so much garbage.) The LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl / PHP / Python) is a must have for any serious web developer. Next to that, for the 6 figure jobs, you'll need Tomcat, Jetty, JBoss, Maven, Jenkins/Hudson, GIT, Subversion, Mercurial, Eclipse, Net Beans, which aren't languages, but, if you're doing version control, or in an enterprise environment, it's all stuff you'll need to know.
Most programming today involves some form of MVC design pattern, and, unless it's scripts, or a quick web page, often involves OOP programming. You need to understand object programming, too.
Many folks think they are programmers. They are not. They write garbage.
If you're wanting to learn proper code technique, it's very important to understand what you're doing, and get some instruction of the bigger picture.
If you want an appreciation of the complexity of the machines, take an assembler class, or get into C/C++.
In Microsoft shops, Visual Studio (an IDE) and C#, along with PHP, are must haves.
UI (User Inteface) programming has become its own discipline in the last few years.
If you want to make a REALLY good living, you learn JAVA, MVC and frameworks, and understand data processing.
Because Python is easy to learn for most beginners, and is almost universally supported in the LINUX/UNIX world, is object oriented, it's often taught to beginners and is being used more and more to replace PERL based LINUX administration tools. Much of the work of systems management on the UNIX/LINUX side happens in PERL which has been around for quite a while now.
JAVA has a few short comings, but, it's everywhere and is generally considered a lot more programmer friendly and hardware friendly that C++. C# is very good, but is becoming not as common as JAVA.