Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:BASIC (Score 1) 315

by dbrueck (#49446579) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Introduce a 7-Year-Old To Programming?

I've dabbled a bit in Kivy myself, but hadn't considered it for the kids - that's an interesting idea, and using the kivy launcher would let them get to see their program running on the device while avoiding the tedium/delay of building a full apk. I think it's a little beyond where they are at now but it could be the next-next stepping stone for them - thank you for the suggestion.

Comment: Re:BASIC (Score 2) 315

by dbrueck (#49442779) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Introduce a 7-Year-Old To Programming?

Haha, yeah - ironically it seems like it was far more accessible back then in a way. You could reasonably know a little bit (or even a lot) about nearly everything, and when you did use something higher level you knew pretty much everything about how it worked behind the scenes.

Speaking of BBSs, and an example of what was enough to catch my interest back then, I once wrote TDSANSI.SYS, a drop-in replacement for the standard ANSI.SYS. It extended the set of ANSI escape sequences so you could do higher level things like drawing text boxes or repeating characters, the net result being that a BBS could do their "fancy" UIs in far less characters sent across the wire. The funny thing was that people who used it loved the speed but couldn't stand the fact that it used like 40KB of their 640KB of RAM. ;-)

I think I was in high school at the time and it was a ridiculously nerdy project, but that was something I really got into, and yet I can't imagine asking my high school son to think in those terms nowadays. I'm guessing that's part of what needs to change - just because I came up through learning a certain path, it doesn't mean that's a good or practical way to do it anymore. Basically nobody needs to work at that level these days, so it only makes sense that he'd focus on more of an application level.

Comment: Re:BASIC (Score 5, Insightful) 315

by dbrueck (#49442373) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Introduce a 7-Year-Old To Programming?

I guess in some ways I got into programming because computers were a novelty and there wasn't an endless supply of free stuff, so in many ways programming was the entertainment. But now there is gobs of relatively high quality and free stuff to entertain that also /sort of/ scratches the builder itch (as I write this, my son is sitting nearby on the free-to-play Robocraft).

So the "problem" is that there is an endless stream of stuff competing for my kids' attention that (a) is of a quality leagues beyond anything they can hope to do anytime soon and (b) gives /some/ of the same "fix" I get from programming. Back in the olden days the gap between what you could do with e.g. BASIC and what you saw in commercial apps looked a lot smaller.

I'm always searching for something that does a good job of being an intermediate level - I can get my kids to do a lot of the intro / visual programming stuff and they like it, but then they run into this seemingly huge chasm when they try to go beyond that. It's like, "ok, so now you made a rudimentary game that runs inside this special environment on some website. You want to advance to something more flexible? Ok, um, now we need to talk about files and directories and a whole slew of tools and junk you never knew existed or were needed. Also, prepare to start typing a lot and using all those punctuation characters you rarely use in school assignments. And don't get me started if you want to get your little game onto a device so you can show your friends!"

On the one hand I think it's just part of getting into "real" programming and they just have to suck it up and deal with it. But I really think one or two of my kids could really get into programming and really like it, but I've yet to help them get over that hump from super basic stuff.

Comment: Re:Easy grammar (Score 1) 626

Yeah, this might be too broad of a generalization, but it seems common that when a person learns an additional language really well they tend to avoid at least some of the common grammar mistakes that native speakers make (which makes sense, because in learning the language they have to commit to memory actual rules of some sort, while a native speaker just sort of knows the language intuitively and often has trouble articulating the specifics of e.g. conjugation patterns).

IMO what's cool is that learning an additional language gives you insight into your native language's eccentricities and can help you improve your use of your native language.

Comment: Re:Easy grammar (Score 1) 626

Yeah, "broken English" is more of a tongue in cheek term, although what's interesting to me is that a non-native person is the one who referred to it that way to me (a tour guide in Hong Kong FWIW). His point - and I agree and I think you do too, to some extent - is that while the use of English-as-spoken-by-a-native-English-speaker is growing, it is still relatively small, but a form of simplified English as a kind of universal common tongue is pretty widespread.

And while I agree that English is taking over for historical/financial (and technical) reasons, IMO a lot of the drive *currently* is because English is whatever "everybody else" is learning too - it has momentum to become the go-to lingua franca all over the place.

Because English isn't /completely/ illogical nor /completely/ inconsistent (yes there are many exceptions and special cases you just have to memorize, but there is also a decent amount of regularity and predictability) and because the simplified version non-natives use cancels out a lot of that, it doesn't seem like the language's quirks will necessarily put any sort of limits on how widespread it will be used.

Comment: Re:Easy grammar (Score 2) 626

As others have noted, the number of native speakers of a language is different than the number of people that can speak a language, and that's where English pulls ahead.

The most widely known language in the world is "broken English" - there are a lot of native English speakers, a ton more who know it very well as a second language with a good degree of proficiency, and then a huge, huge, huge number more that can get by in English passably well.

Comment: Re:WWJD? (Score 1) 1168

by dbrueck (#49381395) Attached to: Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory

By convincing yourself it's driven by hate, it allows you to brush aside the debate while feeling good about yourself because you've taken some moral high road.

How exactly did you come to this conclusion anyway? Why are you so convinced that this has to be hate-driven and that there can't be any possible explanation?

You have zeroed in on a particular motivation and have decided that it can be this and nothing else, and you somehow known even better than the people themselves what is driving them? You don't allow for the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there is an explanation beyond mass dishonesty and/or self-delusion?

To latch on to something so implausible seems silly. Is the alternative - that some people are being rational but genuinely feel differently than you - too terrifying a prospect to deal with? Why isn't it simply possible for you to accept that the "other side" is not driven by hate?

Comment: Re:WWJD? (Score 1) 1168

by dbrueck (#49379461) Attached to: Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory

The scenario with a bag of bagels isn't one of the ones causing an issue, so as an example it doesn't apply. That type of transaction is fine - that the buyer is gay or whatever is irrelevant, it has no bearing on the transaction, it has no reason to come up. It'd be quite a stretch to say that by selling them some bagels you are endorsing them in any way.

The issue is with scenarios when the sexual orientation *is* relevant in the transaction and where participating in it can be interpreted as endorsement. Should someone be able to politely decline to participate in that transaction? It seems reasonable to allow it, that's all. What if it's a KKK rally? Or a Nazi rally? It could be any number of things that one person finds objectionable and another doesn't. Is the concept of civil liberties so completely eroded that we balk at people being free to choose whether or not they participate in such a thing?

So a more relevant example would be the wedding photographer. This isn't someone who is trying to shut down the gay wedding, they are not trying to make a spectacle of things. They would simply prefer to not participate and reserve the right to let someone else have that business.

It seems wildly unconstitutional and not a little ominous for the government to swoop in and *force* that photographer to be a part of it. If anyone's rights are being infringed in that situation, the photographer has at *least* as much claim on infringed rights as the people getting married.

Obviously, people can disagree with the photographer and boycott his services if they want and let market forces either keep him in or put him out of business. That's fine - he's not asking for any special treatment under the law, so if he goes out of business, so be it. That we're even talking about it being ok for the government to force him to enter into transactions seems ludicrous.

Comment: Re:WWJD? (Score 1) 1168

by dbrueck (#49378891) Attached to: Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory

Yeah, I'm hoping this one was just an outlier and not a trend. I mean, people swap shifts all the time for various reasons, so it seems ominous that he should be suspended for asking around if someone would trade with him, especially since he express a willingness to work the event in some other capacity. The reaction just seems way too extreme.

Comment: Re:WWJD? (Score 0) 1168

by dbrueck (#49378869) Attached to: Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory

No, what the law probably does is unfairly punish people who would otherwise let bygones be bygones to the point of them rising up and pushing back.

I just love how tolerance is all the rage and the freedom of choice is paramount - as long as it's tolerance in favor of LGBT and it's the freedom to choose to live an LGBT lifestyle. The moment someone just wants to be left alone and quietly and peacefully do their thing, they are labeled bigots and we call on the government to swoop in and stop them.

Comment: Re:WWJD? (Score 1) 1168

by dbrueck (#49378849) Attached to: Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory

No, both (a) and (b) are incorrect and a mischaracterization of what I've said so far - you're not even arguing against what I said but have instead made up extreme positions and then dismissed them.

I'm the one talking about finding some middle ground where there is a compromise on both sides, while you are the one advocating an extremist view where one side has to completely lose so the other can win. Your way is the antithesis of what is required to make a functional society. The only peaceful outcome is going to come from both sides giving up some ground.

Comment: Re:WWJD? (Score 4, Insightful) 1168

Thanks, that brings up some really interesting questions and points.

FWIW my whole point in jumping into the discussion was in reaction to someone's comment that this was driven by hate. I really don't think that's the case, for the most part. Also, a lot of people here are quick to paint the "other" side's arguments as outlandish, backward, and bigoted. Again, I don't think that's the case.

Anyone who is truly interested in coming up with a solution should be able to see at least some merit in the concerns of both sides. Even if we ultimately decide in favor of LGBT and against those with religious objections, we should be able to see that the religious viewpoint has some valid points. I can understand where both sides are coming from, at least to a degree, and that's why there's not a trivial, obvious, winner-takes-all solution.

The idea of not requiring someone to participate in the actual event is an intriguing possibility. That would still leave some cases that allow for apparent discrimination, but it also seems to address a lot of the "guilt by association" type of concerns - maybe it could work. It reminds me of a local story here - the police department was invited to participate in the Gay Pride parade. In addition to providing security for the event, they were also in the parade itself - you know, riding around on the motorcycles in some choreographed formation like they often do in parades.

One of the officers felt that being in the parade as a performer was taking it too far, so he asked around to see if someone would swap assignments with him. He was open to taking an assignment to provide security or in a traffic assignment or whatever (which he had also done at a prior year's Gay Pride parade), he just didn't feel right about being a performer in the parade. Anyway, just for asking to see if anyone would swap assignments with him, he was suspended and an Internal Affairs investigation was launched and the department issued a statement that an officer was put on leave for refusing his Gay Pride assignment. The officer ultimately resigned before the investigation completed, but it always rubbed me the wrong way that the reaction was so extreme. He wasn't trying to shut down the event, he offered to participate in a more typical police officer capacity, but because he didn't feel good about being an actual performer it basically derailed his career. There has to be a more balanced and tolerant want to deal with that type of scenario.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.