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


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Be realistic, iPad is far better starting optio (Score 1) 340

Just to get working things on iOS is so, so easy... I wish you could understand what a vast chasm it is between a real newcomer and making any kind of useful desktop application. There's so much more you have to know to get it working...

I'm not a newcomer, so it is difficult to understand that perspective. I have taught intro courses, so I have a sense of it. As far as how much you need to know to get a desktop app running on Windows vs. iOS, I'd still say you need to know significantly less. iOS development isn't bad at all, but it's certainly not the easiest option out there. (I'm thinking of Objective C and Lua here.)

I have no idea what tools you're making the comparison against, but I recommend dropping them immediately, as you're clearly making more work for yourself than should be necessary!

A BRAND NEW iPad Mini is just $329. What kind of computer are you going to get at that price, honestly? The iPad will last for three years or more too, can you say that about a $329 computer?

Kind of the minimum option, isn't it? As for what you can buy, there are quite a few options in the $200-$300 range that, obviously, will outperform the iPad mini and last 3+ years. If you're willing to buy refurbished, you have even more options.

  You'd be amazed at how much life you can get out of a computer these days. Even a mid-range desktop from 2006 can easily meet the needs of the average user. I have little doubt that you'll easily get 3+ years out of a bargain basement $200-$300 computer purchased today.

All of this ignores the fact that many students already have access to a PC or are more likely have access to a PC than an iPad. That is, it's not necessarily an additional cost or consideration.

Or a cheap iPad keyboard case for $20 []...

That is cheap. Not a bad find. I'll recant the expensive bit, but will note that it is still an additional cost.

you seriously still do not understand the HUGE advantage the iPad also has in physical accessories?

No advantage at all! Even with every possible accessory, you still lack an incredible amount of the functionality you'll get out of a cheap netbook.

Of course, that's completely beside the point as the number of accessories has nothing to do with the iPad as an option for beginners to learn computer programming.

You are really, really doing beginners a disservice steering them into the rocky shoals of desktop development at this point in time, when there is a practical path before them

Who said anything about writing desktop apps? We're talking about learning to program, aren't we? There are tons of options. (For example, my younger brother taught himself to program by modifying and then creating his own game mods.)

As the the "practical path" the iPad is certainly NOT a practical path to learning how to program! (See my earlier list.) That it can be done is irrelevant. I can teach someone to program with a CARDIAC as well, but it wouldn't be the best choice!

I'm going to guess that's the issue here. You like the iPad and it can potentially meet that need, therefore it's at least a good option, and in your eyes it's the best option? I just can't get behind that. It doesn't make sense to me when there are (to some degree, objectively) better options on all of the criteria I listed, and I'm certain some criteria that I have not. (You're welcome to list your own criteria, it could be helpful.)

By steering beginners away from the iPad as platform to learn computer programming, I'm doing them a great service! I'm giving them more options. I'm giving them options that are far simpler for beginners than Objective C and Lua (which I think we both agree are not good first languages). I could even be saving them hundreds of dollars!

You're welcome to love the iPad all you want, but it's just not a good option for the task in question. Even if we could agree that it could be a viable option, that's a long way from "a good option" and further still from "one of the best options".

Be objective here. For the task at hand, is the iPad a good option in comparison to the other options available? The answer is pretty clear.

Comment Re:Be realistic, iPad is far better starting optio (Score 1) 340

When I was younger, kids had basic and LOGO...

Now there is nothing like that. Even Javascript is, I think, not a great starter language.

We're in complete agreement here. When we were kids, programming was a lot easier to learn.

but it's a much better starting point than most PC options

I strongly disagree. The options are extremely limited, and significantly lacking compared to the options available on an inexpensive pc, to which more students are likely to have ready access.

As an example, I'll offer Microsoft's Small Basic as a decent beginner language. It's not perfect (what is?) but it's a lot better than high-visibility failures like Scratch.

there are a ton of resources to do so for the iPad - many of which are free, like the Stanford classes.

There are better, and more accessible, options for free online. In that specific case, I don't believe that it's exclusive to iTunes or the iPad.

I don't know if you've ever done any desktop programming but it is WAY more complex than iOS development

Quite a bit. Still, I disagree that iOS development is easier. I honestly don't see why you believe it to be significantly easier than writing desktop applications on Windows or Mac?' (Admittedly, I haven't written anything for the Mac in a very long time. Development on Windows hasn't exactly improved over the last decade, but it's certainly not difficult. I'm of the opinion that it's still quite a bit easier than iOS, if for no other reason than the wealth of great tools.) iOS is one of the easier mobile platforms to develop for, but I don't think it's the easiest. (Yes, Android development is horrible, I'm not arguing that!) WP and BB are the clear winners there.

I'd further argue that Objective C and Lua are just as rotten an option for beginners as C#, Java, Python, etc. Whatever the language, the additional barriers imposed by the iPad as compared to other platforms make it a non-starter.

On specific criteria, if this helps you understand my perspective better:

Cost: iPad is more expensive than most options.
Options: The iPad has significantly fewer options for development than other platforms.
Resources: Having fewer options means fewer tutorials and other learning resources.
Hardware: The iPad lacks a physical keyboard. I've poked out code on a touchscreen in an emergency, but it's not an experience I'd like to repeat! Sure, you can buy an expensive BT keyboard, but that adds to the cost.

Comment Re: Nope (Score 1) 340

Don't be stupid. Put on your thinking cap and figure out how you would answer the following questions:

Do some students learn to program with their TI-8x calculators?

What percentage of students learn to program with their TI-8x calculators?

Of the students who learn to program with their TI-8x calculators (if any) are below average, average, or above average?

Comment Re:FTFY (Score 1) 459

I believe in the complete legalization of firearms, prostitution, drugs, and gambling. These are clearly things that the right supports, right?

No, just the first. Occasionally the last.

(They often eagerly engage in all of those things, though they tend to publicly denounce the bulk of them.)

Comment Re:I hypothesize.. (Score 1) 347

Sigh ... I see you have a lot to learn as well.

Do the reading as I recommended. Otherwise, feel free to remain ignorant -- just don't continue to spread nonsense like that around.

You science cheerleaders have done more damage to the public understanding of science than Kent Hovind could ever dream of doing.

Comment Re:Misleading Headline (Score 2, Funny) 183

Because Randi's silly challenge is meaningless nonsense?

To clarify my point, I'll offer my own challenge: One Million Dollars to empirically show that it's possible for someone to dream while asleep.

I know that quite a few people claim to dream while they're asleep, but they're clearly either delusional or money-grubbing attention seekers. I mean, if people really could dream, it would be a cinch to win that million dollars, right? I'm not picky. I'll give you every fair advantage. I'll even work with you to find a test protocol that is acceptable to both of us.

Now, a million dollars is a lot of money, so you'll first have to get some media attention before you'll be allowed to apply. I don't have time deal with every mentally ill person who thinks they can dream while they're asleep! I've got to reserve my resources for the big-name crooks and charlatans. Once you make a proper application and it has been accepted and approved, you'll need to pass a preliminary test. You can arrange that with a local university or skeptical group. (Pending my approval, of course.) If you pass that, you can apply to take the official challenge.

Who would turn down a million dollars just to do something they claim not only comes easily, but that they do every night! Even if you don't want or need an extra million dollars, surely you can think of a worthy charity!

Don't doubt my credentials. I'm exceptionally qualified to judge your challenge attempt as I can juggle a bit and know some really keen magic tricks.

That no one has yet to even pass the preliminary challenge speaks volumes!

Slashdot Top Deals

There is one way to find out if a man is honest -- ask him. If he says "Yes" you know he is crooked. -- Groucho Marx