Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×

Comment: culture shock, anybody? (Score 1) 315

by eyenot (#49442657) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Introduce a 7-Year-Old To Programming?

the fact that LOGO is not on the list the author linked to kind of makes me feel a little perturbed. like, wtf is wrong with people? there's a mention of "brick logo" as a footnote in some other language's paragraph, and "c" is mentioned as "educational" (wtf?) but not one shout out to LOGO.

did anybody else feel any sort of reaction to that? or did everybody just not even notice it?

Comment: also: LOGO (Score 1) 315

by eyenot (#49442633) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Introduce a 7-Year-Old To Programming?

Also, I took a look at that list and: no.

Don't teach him a useless joke / toy language like these ones on this list. It'll build a bad habit and the kid will be one of these losers saying "I don't know how to program but I got code::blocks and here's my console emulator, shouts out to the one guy who gave me that voo doo asm to build in line and make it work real fast, everybody please stop sending me e-mails about getting root kitted, this thing totally passes a virus scan."

If you want something that has a strong visual appeal but teaches actual programming practices and has been actually used in industry, I suggest you teach LOGO. LOGO is super-super-super simple easy shit, and you can learn it yourself as you're going. Most LOGO primers and tutorials are practically on a child level any ways because the language is so simplistic. Of course, if you don't know a single thing about trigonometry or geometry you'll probably see it as a useless language.

Over any single one of the weird "robots" and "kids oriented" languages on that list you linked to, I would recommend LOGO.

I bet you can even find a "LOGO for kids" or some shit if you looked for it. For decades, LOGO has often been used as a first language for youngster so I'm kind of scratching my head how it passed you by.

Comment: step one: wait til he's 8 or 9 (Score 1) 315

by eyenot (#49442595) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How To Introduce a 7-Year-Old To Programming?

I think 7 is too early. The kid should be outside playing and using his imagination with real world objects at that time.

I also recommend using C. It's simple and C-derived compilers typically support some version of it.

I learned to program in BASIC for the Atari and the Sinclair ZX-80 when I was 8 and a half. I don't recommend using numbered line BASIC or any BASIC, at all. If I could go back and somehow influence how I was taught, I would tell my parents to find something that supports parameterized function calls instead of GOSUBS. C would be best. But if you're really intent on using BASIC for some reason, if you're on the PC I recommend Microsoft's QuickBasic as it allowed you to get away from the rather intimidating edifice of Visual Studio. You'll also have to sandbox it inside of something like DOSBox to get it to run on a Windows environment so there's a plus.

If you opt to just get an old clunker instead of emulating DOS, I recommend a 486 dx4/100. The architecture is simple enough for a kid to learn into adolescence but powerful enough to show how impressively computers can complete some tasks very quickly. I also recommend an ATI "all-in-wonder" graphics card, because it features CGA, EGA and VGA so your kid can learn about legacy graphics as well as switching modes. You shouldn't use a CRT if you can help it, if the kid wants to get into the inner workings of the screen you'll have an armful of stuff to teach him about electricity safety first. So get a modern flatscreen and get a VGA/EGA plug adapter if you have to, to keep on the side for EGA projects. As long as the flat screen is unplugged he shouldn't die of electric shock touching anything inside of it.

The great thing about older machines is that a lot of the components are visible on a macro-scale. It's a lot easier to differentiate between the resistors, capacitors, and inductors in older machinery. Now a days they'll all tiny little squares with little print designating what they are. It's also easier to work on older boards in terms of soldering and other "circuit bending".

All that being said, I recall some hobbyists telling me back in the day that the Apple computers made the best projects. One guy said he had obtained a dozen Apple IIe's on the cheap and because apple computers are made to network easily, he was able to use a later Apple model to organize all the IIe's into parallel computing. An exercise like that could be fun, albeit space-consuming.

If you're going this sort of computer-engineering route involving getting to know the hardware, I recommend also teaching the kid assembly. On older machines like the ones I mentioned, and using older operating systems, this is less of a headache. By comparison, I was looking into "high level assembly" for windows systems and the skeleton just to have a window open with a button to close it again was large enough to dissuade me from going much further. ASM in DOS was far more elegant, which is why these days if you mention writing something in assembly most people think you're crazy. Even though once again many popular compilers support inline ASM.

When I was fiddling with old Sinclair or Atari machines the latest hardware was stuff like the 80286. And when I finally got an 80286 the latest hardware was the Pentium, and so on. Getting things done with older hardware gives you two special perspectives on everything: (1) getting to know how everything works because the machines and operating system aren't so enormous and bloated that it's overwhelming, and (2) having to make do with less memory and processing power forces you to learn things like optimization and paging. People use memory like it's crack today and talk all tough like their memory is infinite, but little do they know RAM is paging quite often in Windows because of programming practices like that. And those same people speak about memory management in their favorite object oriented languages like it's impossible to perform. Trust me, you would much prefer that your kid is one of those people who can do their own memory management. If you give them a shiny brand new computer to learn on, they'll have no incentive to do better than use it like crack like everybody else does.

+ - US Government Doesn't Want You to Know How to Make a Hydrogen Bomb 3

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "The atom bomb — leveler of Hiroshima and instant killer of some 80,000 people — is just a pale cousin compared to the hydrogen bomb, another product of American ingenuity, that easily packs the punch of a thousand Hiroshimas. That is why Washington has for decades done everything in its power to keep the details of its design out of the public domain. Now William J. Broad reports in the NYT that Kenneth W. Ford has defied a federal order to cut material from his new book that the government says teems with thermonuclear secrets. Ford says he included the disputed material because it had already been disclosed elsewhere and helped him paint a fuller picture of an important chapter of American history. But after he volunteered the manuscript for a security review, federal officials told him to remove about 10 percent of the text, or roughly 5,000 words. “They wanted to eviscerate the book,” says Ford. “My first thought was, ‘This is so ridiculous I won’t even respond.’ ” For instance, the federal agency wanted him to strike a reference to the size of the first hydrogen test device — its base was seven feet wide and 20 feet high. Dr. Ford responded that public photographs of the device, with men, jeeps and a forklift nearby, gave a scale of comparison that clearly revealed its overall dimensions.

Though difficult to make, hydrogen bombs are attractive to nations and militaries because their fuel is relatively cheap. Inside a thick metal casing, the weapon relies on a small atom bomb that works like a match to ignite the hydrogen fuel. Today, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the only declared members of the thermonuclear club, each possessing hundreds or thousands of hydrogen bombs. Military experts suspect that Israel has dozens of hydrogen bombs. India, Pakistan and North Korea are seen as interested in acquiring the potent weapon. The big secret the book discusses is thermal equilibrium, the discovery that the temperature of the hydrogen fuel and the radiation could match each other during the explosion (PDF). World Scientific, a publisher in Singapore, recently made Dr. Ford’s book public in electronic form, with print versions to follow. Ford remains convinced the book “contains nothing whatsoever whose dissemination could, by any stretch of the imagination, damage the United States or help a country that is trying to build a hydrogen bomb.” “Were I to follow all — or even most — of your suggestions,” says Ford, “it would destroy the book.”"

Comment: Re:What about McGyver (Score 1) 166

by eyenot (#49330461) Attached to: The X-Files To Return

I forgot the photo shoots FHM did of Anderson, as well.

Also, considering the stars basically stated publicly that they had some romance going on and had considered marriage, what does it matter if Mulder is getting any action with Scully? Duchovny was (maybe is) getting action with Anderson. The best thing the show could do is keep the tension high by not having the characters hook up.

Comment: Re:What about McGyver (Score 2) 166

by eyenot (#49330437) Attached to: The X-Files To Return

There is a "new McGyver" project going, involving the original producer (or was it the original writer?)

http://thenextmacgyver.com/

A new Quantum Leap would be cool. There's a pretty cool John Maus song by the same title that's kind of about the same subject.

If it's wanking you're concerned with, maybe you should do a google search for the images of Anderson (and Duchovny perhaps) that Rolling Stone did.

Comment: Re:Risk (Score 1) 160

by eyenot (#49330183) Attached to: Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes

Who bears the risk of junior spilling a juice cup all over the current heating furnace?

Obviously the server should be kept in the utility room (or basement) where junior doesn't usually play, and protected within some housing that doubles as a means of keeping the hot air collected so it can be ventilated at specific places throughout the home.

+ - Impossible to Submit Corrections to POSIX->

Submitted by bobo the hobo
bobo the hobo (302407) writes """This all began with Ken Thompson. The original Unix geek, Thompson was once asked if he he’d change anything about Unix if he had to do it over again. His response was that he’d spell the flag “O_CREAT” “O_CREATE”. This admission inspired Spiegelmock, and he began a lengthy journey into the heart of Unix. ...
And this is where Spiegelmock encountered the silliness that is now the POSIX standards process. First, he was stymied by ridiculously invasive registration processes built with extremely old software. Then he was rebuked by the utterly fragile PHP website behind it. Finally, he washed ashore on a semi-functioning page that gave him some of the names of the folks associated with the POSIX standard and the Austin Common Standards Revision Group."""

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:War on moons (Score 1) 124

by eyenot (#49315557) Attached to: Giant Lava Tubes Possible On the Moon

Applying the same explosive force required to blow up the Moon to blowing up a portion of the Earth instead would only be "more devastating" if you are purely measuring devastation potential in terms of forces of impact or explosive forces.

Don't forget that by and large, the opinion of the Moon in its relationship with life on Earth is more or less "vital". We have no idea what would happen to our weather and atmosphere, our oceans and water tables, or our life cycles if the Moon were obliterated.

Behind every great computer sits a skinny little geek.

Working...