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How Can an Old-School Coder Regain His Chops? 565

DonLab writes "I was a proficient software engineer in the 1980s, writing hundreds of thousands of lines of ALGOL, FORTRAN, COBOL, and Pascal programs, as well as working in 370 and 8080 assembly language & pre-relational DBMS systems. My hands-on programming career ended when I became a freelance analyst and designer, ultimately retiring young in the early '90s. Now I'd like to reenter the field, but I'm finding that I know nothing about today's post-C languages, programming tools, and computing environments. I wouldn't know where to start learning C++, PHP, Java, HTML5, or PERL, much less how to choose one over the other for a particular application. Can I be the only pre-GUI software designer or hobbyist searching for a way to update his skills for Windows, iOS, or Android?"

How To Teach a 12-Year-Old To Program? 799

thelordx writes "I've got a much younger brother who I'd like to teach how to program. When I was younger, you'd often start off with something like BASIC or Apple BASIC, maybe move on to Pascal, and eventually get to C and Java. Is something like Pascal still a dominant teaching language? I'd love to get low-level with him, and I firmly believe that C is the best language to eventually learn, but I'm not sure how to get him there. Can anyone recommend a language I can start to teach him that is simple enough to learn quickly, but powerful enough to do interesting things and lead him down a path towards C/C++?"
Open Source

Helping Perl Packagers Package Perl 130

jamie writes "chromatic has a great post today on the conflict between OS distributions and CPAN's installations of perl modules, along with some suggestions for how to start resolving this maddening problem: '[Though Debian has] made plenty of CPAN distributions available as .debs, I have to configure my CPAN client myself, and it does not work with the system package manager. There's no reason it couldn't. Imagine that the system Perl 5 included in the default package... had a CPAN client configured appropriately. It has selected an appropriate mirror (or uses the redirector). It knows about installation paths. It understands how to use LWP...' The idea of providing guidelines to distros for how to safely package modules is a great one. Could modules request (a modified?) test suite be run after distro-installation? Could Module::Build help module authors and distro maintainers establish the rules somehow?"

Hope For Multi-Language Programming? 371

chthonicdaemon writes "I have been using Linux as my primary environment for more than ten years. In this time, I have absorbed all the lore surrounding the Unix Way — small programs doing one thing well, communicating via text and all that. I have found the command line a productive environment for doing many of the things I often do, and I find myself writing lots of small scripts that do one thing, then piping them together to do other things. While I was spending the time learning grep, sed, awk, python and many other more esoteric languages, the world moved on to application-based programming, where the paradigm seems to be to add features to one program written in one language. I have traditionally associated this with Windows or MacOS, but it is happening with Linux as well. Environments have little or no support for multi-language projects — you choose a language, open a project and get it done. Recent trends in more targeted build environments like cmake or ant are understandably focusing on automatic dependency generation and cross-platform support, unfortunately making it more difficult to grow a custom build process for a multi-language project organically. All this is a bit painful for me, as I know how much is gained by using a targeted language for a particular problem. Now the question: Should I suck it up and learn to do all my programming in C++/Java/(insert other well-supported, popular language here) and unlearn ten years of philosophy, or is there hope for the multi-language development process?"

Free Resources for Windows Perl Development 117

jamie pointed out an important announcement in the Perl community. Adam Kennedy, known as Alias, developed Strawberry Perl to "make Win32 a truly first class citizen of the Perl platform world." Over the last year, major CPAN modules have used Strawberry Perl to get to releases that work trouble-free on Windows. But the tens of thousands of smaller modules on CPAN are lagging, in many cases because of lack of access to a Windows environment for development and testing. Now Alias has worked with Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab to provide for every CPAN author free access to a centrally-hosted virtual machine environment containing every major version of Windows. "More information (and press releases) will follow, the entire program under which this partnership will be run is so new it's only just been given a name, so some of the organisational details will ironed out as we go. But for now, to all the CPAN authors, all I have to add is... Merry Christmas. P.S. Or your appropriate equivalent religious or non-religious event, if any, occurring during the month of December, etc., etc."

Java, Where To Start? 558

I'm a web developer who has design and programming experience. So, VB, ASP, PHP, Coldfusion, Perl, even C and C++ I have in my belt. I also use Dreamweaver and/or do a lot of my HTML/XHTML/JavaScript coding by hand. So, the DOM, DHTML, etc, all good to me and even OOP thinking and design I have when I code. And I even have MySQL and other databases, again, not an issue here. So, my weak point is — Java — I see so many jobs out there with J2EE, Hibernate, Eclipse, Netbeans. Beside the obvious, which is to learn Java the core language, I don't know where else to go from there. There is so much! What should I read? in what order? What software do I require? UML? Swing? I mean, what is the curriculum required for someone to say they are a solid Java developer? Even assuming I have to go through Java itself, what are the good books out there?

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