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Comment Advent of Code (Score 1) 312

A lot of the other responses here focus on what language to choose, but not what to do with it. So pick a language - Python is good, Ruby is good, PHP if you want to work with web sites, C# if you want to work with Microsoft stuff, Swift if you want to work with Apple stuff. And then:

- Sign up for a free Github account (

- Start working through the Advent of Code challenges. ( They're a set of 25 two-part challenges posted in December 2015 and then another set in December 2016. I recommend starting with the 2015 set (because I think it was more straightforward). The reason I suggest these are that they are problems with specific solutions (you'll know when you get them right), they will make you learn how to solve problems in your language of choice, and there are a lot of posts on Reddit ( with tips for each individual challenge. There are other programming puzzles out there, but Advent of Code is a good collection of challenges in one place.

- Post your solutions on your Github account. This will get you familiar with using Git. It's a good skill to have.

- Tweak your solutions if you'd like. Find a way to write more concise code? Want to practice documenting better? Interested in optimizing your solutions to run faster in less memory? There you go.

- If you ever want to use your new programming skills for a job, link to your Github repo from your resume. It will let people clearly see how you code.

Good luck!

Comment Any passive 3D computer monitors still being sold? (Score 1) 435

Active 3D is a pain, with the need for expensive shutter glasses. But passive 3D is wonderful, with each scan line being polarized in opposite directions. Passive 3D glasses are cheap and the displays don't need high refresh rates.

I'd like to have a passive 3D computer monitor for gaming, but it looks like there aren't any on the market any more. So I figured I'd ask here - anyone know of any that are still being sold?

Comment Too thin (Score 1) 536

If a phone is too thin to have a headphone jack, then it's too thin. I'm annoyed by the trend of making phones so thin to the point where it compromises structural strength (remember BendGate?), isn't thick enough for the camera lens (iPhone 6/6S), and requires dropping standard ports. Allow another millimeter or two and use the extra space for a better battery!

Comment Inaccurate (Score 1) 385

"Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals." I've got to say - I don't agree with that statement either. I know several human beings today, and all of them have been human from birth; none of them developed from earlier species of animals.

Now, if the statement were "The human species developed from earlier species of animals," I would agree with that.

It my seem like semantic nitpicking, but there's a common misunderstanding that evolution means individual bacteria turn into birds or individual dogs turn into monkeys. I prefer not to feed that misconception.

Comment Advent of Code (Score 2) 140

I had a lot of fun with this over the holiday season:

It's twenty-five simple but interesting programming challenges. Day 1 is a simple "count the number of open and close parentheses in a string." Later days include "generate MD5 hashes until you find one that starts with five zeroes," "generate 50 iterations of Conway's Game of Life," "solve a Traveling Salesman problem for Santa," and even "simulate an RPG and find the best strategy for beating the boss." Each day has two parts; solve the first to unlock the second. Several of the challenges involved recursion, but in general they cover wide ground. Some people solved both parts within five minutes of each day's puzzle becoming available, but for those of us who didn't care about the leaderboard, an hour's work was usually plenty to get it done. (Students without experience would take a bit longer.) Also, the input for each day's challenge was different for each user - there were probably only a handful of possibilities, but it meant that you couldn't always just copy someone else's answers without doing the work yourself.

I think you'll find a lot of great material here. Pick a few of the days to explore with your students; teach them how a software engineer would attack the problem. Try solving it with different languages and compare how each language would do it. Demonstrate how you could optimize code to find the solution faster (especially in the "Game of Life" and "Look and Say" challenges).

Also, there was a great Reddit community that shared solutions in various languages, and lots of people put their code on GitHub. Some people played "code golf" and came up with amazingly terse solutions. I used the Advent of Code to teach myself Swift (my solutions are at; my code was more verbose than it should have been but I usually solved each problem in fewer than 100 lines.

Comment Re:Good (Score 3, Interesting) 628

It's my belief and hope that Microsoft may put more care into the patches they release, now that they know the impact of a bad patch could be much more broad.

Also, given that the majority of Windows 10 users should now remain up-to-date on patches, maybe this means fewer configurations to have to test. (Or maybe not, since there may still be Pro and Enterprise users who keep deferring patches for years, but I don't think there will be as many of them.)

Comment Re:Data loss on restart (Score 1) 628

Well, I don't know about Windows, because I really only use Windows for games; but my Mac refuses to quit Safari if I've typed text into a field, and it refuses to reboot the OS if an app refuses to quit. I've always liked this behavior and it's saved my bacon on a few occasions. I'm surprised that Windows doesn't do this, but maybe because of the mandatory updates they'll fix Windows to stop clicking "Discard Changes"?

Comment Good (Score 4, Interesting) 628

I've never seen a Windows system that was broken by an update. (I've heard there have been some bad updates, but I've never known anyone who's encountered problems because of them.) On the other hand, I've seen people keep clicking the button to postpone updates for months or even years; when something goes wrong with their computer, it can take hours of downloading/installing updates to bring it up-to-date to make sure that the problem isn't something that's been fixed already.

For the vast majority of Windows Home users who use their computers for web/email/Word, I think it's great to keep them up-to-date, mandatory. For anyone who's truly concerned about this, I suspect someone will find a registry edit that'll provide the deferred update behavior.

Comment So, clarify this for me... (Score 1) 281

- If I do a clean install of Windows 10 Preview onto a computer, that will turn into a full license of Windows 10 on July 29, no upgrade from a previous version of Windows is necessary? Or does this only apply if I've installed Windows 10 Preview onto an installation of Windows 7 or 8.1?

( is unclear on this, saying "As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the MSA you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release builld" but then "It’s important to note that only people running Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 can upgrade to Windows 10 as part of the free upgrade offer.")

- I only see Windows 10 Preview releases for x86 and x64. How do I get the Pro version instead of the Home version?

I see this as a good way that I can get free up-to-date Windows licenses for old computers I have that are running XP and Vista; all I need is to wipe them and put Windows 10 Preview on them, and link them to my Microsoft account. I just want to make sure that this will work, and I'd like to have the Pro version.

Comment Should they search the original areas again? (Score 2) 178

When the Indian Ocean search began, the first areas searched were the places judged to be where the plane was most likely to have come down. And those areas were searched with a pinger locator. After 30 days, the searchers moved on to other areas and used different equipment to map the sea floor.

What if the plane actually is in one of the first places they looked, though - but because it wasn't pinging, and they weren't scanning the sea floor, they missed it? Should the searchers return to those areas and look on the sea floor, or have they already?

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