Everyone Disagrees With Me

Posted January 4, 2008

...except Hampton.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who replied to my last post with well-thought-out critiques and counter-arguments. Half the reason I write this blog in the first place is that I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about and this is a great way to get people to explain it to me.

You guys rock.

What I Learned From Java That Makes Me a Better Programmer When I Use Ruby (Yes, Really)

Posted January 2, 2008

Kudos to Reg Braithwaite for the prompt for this post.

My first language, programming-wise, was Java. I’m not counting Visual Basic, which I spent about a day on before giving up in disgust at the form editor, nor whatever crazy language ran on my old Casio calculator that I never really figured out. I learned to code with Java.

A lot of people have a lot of different things to say about Java, both as a language in general and as a tool for learning. Many people – in particular, people who use languages like Ruby, Python, Lisp, Haskell, and so forth - don’t have a very high opinion of it as a language.

School Begins

Posted September 25, 2007

Tomorrow, September twenty-sixth, the first classes of the University of Washington’s Autumn Quarter will be taught. I will be attending four of those classes. I will be recieving homework from the instructors of those classes. Homework that I will be obligated to complete in a timely manner.

Yes, summer is gone. With it, unfortunately, goes most of my free time. As much as I love working on my various projects, I also love keeping up my GPA.

That’s not to say, of course, that I won’t be continuing to work on Haml and make_resourceful. I’ll just have less time to devote to them.

Learning Curves

Posted May 31, 2007

When I was at RailsConf a week and a half ago, I had the pleasure of attending a Hackety Hack demonstration put on by Brian DeLacey, one of the original Hackety Hackers, maintainer of a blog about Hackety, and all-around good guy. There, I got to meet Evan Farrar, who I’d previously only talked to via the Scribble mailing list. We talked about various Scribble-related things, and eventually got to curves. We both agreed: curves in Scribble were just terrible. To refresh your memory, here’s a snippet of how you might scribble out a smiley face:

scribble(100, 10) do |s|
  s.line(100, 60)
  s.jump(150, 10)
  s.line(150, 60)
  s.jump(80, 70)
  s.curve(125, 90, [80, 80], [100, 90])
  s.curve(170, 70, [150, 90], [170, 80])

A Smiley Face

This creates the pleasant visage you see to the right.

Hackety Hack Experiences

Posted May 11, 2007

Yesterday, my old middle school had a “Career Day,” where a bunch of folks from different careers went to the school and set up a little table to talk about their career. They sent a letter off to the UW(University of Washington) CSE department asking for volunteers to talk about Computer Science, where it got forwarded to the undergrads list, where I read it and said, “Hey! That’s my middle school! I should help out.”

That was also around the time Hackety Hack had been released, and I thought it would be really cool to take in a laptop and let kids hack around on it. Programming is definitely the most glitzy part of computer science; that’s why intro CS courses focus on it rather than something more academic like graph theory or counting. I figured it would also be the most likely to interest kids, even kids of a slightly younger age than Hackety reccomends (the youngest were around 10, I think).

It turned out to generate quite a reasonable amount of interest. The structure of Career Day was to set all the tables with the various careers (there were about ten in total) up in a circle, bring the kids in grade-by-grade, and allow them to wander around looking at whatever interested them. My table with nothing much but some promotional DVDs and mousepads and the laptop running hackety was a little overshadowed by the Digipen table with the colorful display board, computer streaming videos of games, and even robot, but I did get a fair number of people wandering over to see what was what. I usually had at least one person Hackety Hacking away, occasionally with a gaggle of other kids surrounding them. In the course of watching them and helping them with their hacking, I learned some interesting things.

Girls and boys were about equally represented