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Comment What are you trying to achieve (Score 1) 634

If I go back to when I started programming, my first goal was to create a game. It didn't matter at the time whether I was using some proprietary stuff like VisualBasic or older language like c or pascal. I had a goal in mind, which was to be able to control a simple sprite through a grid and I wanted to do it the simplest way that was possible. I still think the topic of first language is about motivation. You want to do something like you see. You don't necessarily want to learn a bunch of abstract design concepts like OO, design patterns. I needed something trivial and visual, yet extensible enough to allow me to add features I thought cool. VB was an awesome opportunity at the time as I could use drag and drop to manipulate objects and even though I was only manipulating widgets in a simple way, it allowed me to do all I required, even the more complex project ideas that followed.

If I look at today's alternatives, I see squeak that does right that, backed by the great smalltalk language. It is simple and visual, yet offers great flexibility. If I had Squeak as a choice when I started, that's probably what I would have chosen.

But it's all about motivation. Someone needs something of interest to work on and use the right tool for it. Programming is an art. You paint for yourself. And you learn to like painting. Then you try other styles: abstract, sceneries, portraits. And once you master enough your technique you can think about painting for others.


Man Teaches the Art of the Excuse Note 4

High school teacher Frank McCourt had received dozens of excuse notes from students over the years, most of them forgeries. One day while looking at the pile of obvious fakes, and thinking about how much the kids complained about writing even short essays, he had an epiphany. Why not teach the art of the excuse note? "This is the first class to study the art of the excuse note — the first class, ever, to practice writing them. You're so lucky to have a teacher like me who has taken your best writing and turned it into a subject worthy of study," he said to the class. Frank's classes have written a wide range of notes including ones from Adam and Eve to god, and historical figures. Frank was even commended by the school superintendent for his innovative idea. "That kid writing an excuse note for Judas. Brilliant. I just want to shake your hand. There might be a letter in your file attesting to your energetic and imaginative teaching. Thank you," he said.

Man Catches Fire After Being Tasered 13

An anonymous Coward writes "West Australian Police tasered a man while arresting him for sniffing petrol, and managed to set fire to him in the process. Details seem to be scanty so far, but I trust the audience here to do the maths as to whether the ignition source was the taser itself."

Submission + - Default Passwords Blamed in $55M PBX Hacks (

An anonymous reader writes: The Washington Post is reporting that the U.S. Justice Department has indicted three residents of the Philippines for breaking into more than 2,500 corporate PBX systems in the United States and abroad. The government says the hackers sold access to those systems to operators of call centers in Italy, which allegedly made 12 million minutes of unauthorized phone calls through the system, valued at more than $55 million. The DOJ's action coincides with an announcement from Italian authorities today of the arrest of five men there who are suspected of funneling the profits from those call centers to terrorist groups in Southeast Asia.

Submission + - 30 years of the spreadsheet (

nk497 writes: "It's been 30 years since the spreadsheet was first developed, in the form of VisiCalc. It was first announced in an ad in Byte Magazine with the tag line: "How did you ever do without it?" In June 1979, it was shown off at a trade show to an audience of two. VisiCalc became popular because it was a business-friendly program that didn't require programming skills. Despite VisiCalc selling hundreds of thousands of copies, and the idea eventually spawning the Excel we all know and love to hate, the developers didn't make a fortune off their idea, as they never did patent it."

Submission + - First Look: Microsoft Silverlight 3 (

snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Martin Heller finds Silverlight 3 gaining ground on Adobe Flash, Flex, and AIR in all the areas where Silverlight 2 had lagged. No longer do developers need to build desktop WPF apps based loosely on corresponding Silverlight RIAs, as Silverlight 3 adds the ability to install Silverlight apps on the desktop, update them in place, detect Net connectivity state changes, and store data locally and securely. Moreover, solid Expression Blend 3 and Visual Studio 2010 betas provide developers with much improved tools to create Silverlight RIAs. 'I do not expect many Adobe shops to give up their Flash, Flex, and AIR for Silverlight 3. I do expect many Microsoft shops to do more RIAs with Silverlight now that it's more capable and to create lightweight browser/desktop Silverlight 3 applications where they might have fashioned heavier-weight Windows Forms or WPF client applications,' Heller says."

Submission + - A light-powered toothbrush?

Roland Piquepaille writes: "Would you like to use a light-powered toothbrush which needs no toothpaste and no batteries? It's already available in Japan and North America and it costs about $30. Its rod contains titanium dioxide that generates a plaque-removing electrochemical reaction. This 'solar' toothbrush of the future 'works by releasing electrons that then react with the saliva in the mouth and help to breakdown plaque.' It just needs some light — so you'll be able to wash your teeth in your garden or on your balcony. And as it has no batteries, this is a very eco-friendly device. It is currently tested today by 120 students at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, but it's already available online. But read more additional references and to see how the light-powered Soladey toothbrush works."

Submission + - SPAM: French gov't plans to disconnect content pirates

alphadogg writes: The French government has a plan for cutting music and film piracy on the Internet: cut off the pirates' Internet access.The penalty is part of a range of measures to deal with the unauthorized copying of music and video online proposed by the French Ministry of Culture including watermarking content, tracking surfers' activities, and creating a registry of those accused by copyright holders of piracy."We can't accept for much longer that artists be deprived of the fruits of their work," one government official said.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - CS Games: rank your coding skills

LinuxRulz writes: "For those of you who are still at university, rejoice, for the 2008 edition Computer Science games website is now open for registrations. For those who haven't heard of the event, the CS Games are a North American inter-university computer science related competition with challenges in debugging, ai development, scripting, team programming, algorithms and more. Last year's event attracted more than 300 participants from 30 universities. If you want to value your knowledge and make your university stand out, this is your chance!"

Submission + - Using Google to crack MD5 passwords. ( 2

stern writes: "A security researcher at Cambridge, trying to figure out the password used by somebody who had hacked his website, ran a dictionary through the encryption hash function. No dice. Then he pasted the hacker's encrypted password into Google, and Shazzam — the all-knowing Google delivered his answer. Conclusion? Use no password any other human being is ever likely to use for any purpose, I think."
Linux Business

Submission + - The impact of pirated software on free software (

jmglov writes: "Dave Gutteridge has an interesting take on why people are not interested in saving money by using a free-as-in-beer OS like Linux or *BSD: because Windows is free. At least, that is an all-too-common perception, thanks to bundling and piracy. Bundling is a well-known problem to the adoption of Open Source operating systems, so Dave takes a look at the piracy issue in depth. His title may offend you, but his well-written article will most likely get you thinking hard about the question, "how much *does* Windows cost?"."

Submission + - Very Beautiful, Stunning Magic Act In Outer Space

An anonymous reader writes: No mirrors, no trapdoors, no hidden passageways, no transparent wires were present at this spectacular magic show held on 11 May 2003 at 20:03:04 UTC high over the Russian Federation. The featured act: Put Earth's Moon in Earth's atmosphere without causing any celestial havoc. Fortunately for us earthbound folks, an Expedition 7 crewmember aboard the International Space Station was at the show with a camera. And he took a picture — a gorgeous NASA photograph (via photo no. 61) — of the Moon appearing to float inside Earth's atmosphere.

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The solution of this problem is trivial and is left as an exercise for the reader.