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Good Language Choice For School Programming Test? 407

An anonymous reader writes "The Australian Informatics Olympiad programming test is being run in a couple of months. I'm an experienced programmer and I'm thinking of volunteering to tutor interested kids at my children's school to get them ready. There will be children of all levels in the group, from those that can't write 'hello world' in any language, to somewhat experienced programmers. For those starting from scratch, I'm wondering what language to teach them to code in. Accepted languages are C, C++, Pascal, Java, PHP, Python and Visual Basic. I'm leaning towards Python, because it is a powerful language with a simple syntax. However, the test has a run-time CPU seconds limit, so using an interpreted language like Python could put the students at a disadvantage compared to using C. Is it better to teach them something in 2 months that they're likely to be able to code in but possibly run foul of the CPU time limit, or struggle to teach them to code in a more complicated syntax like C/C++ which would however give them the best chance of having a fast solution?"

What Is Time? One Researcher Shares His Exploration 578

Physicist Sean Carroll has built up a bit of a name for himself by tackling one of the age old questions that no one has been able to fully explain: What is time? Earlier this month he gave an interview with Wired where he tried to explain his theories in layman's terms. "I’m trying to understand how time works. And that’s a huge question that has lots of different aspects to it. A lot of them go back to Einstein and spacetime and how we measure time using clocks. But the particular aspect of time that I’m interested in is the arrow of time: the fact that the past is different from the future. We remember the past but we don’t remember the future. There are irreversible processes. There are things that happen, like you turn an egg into an omelet, but you can’t turn an omelet into an egg."

"Tube Map" Created For the Milky Way Screenshot-sm 142

astroengine writes "Assuming you had an interstellar spaceship, how would you navigate around the galaxy? For starters, you'd probably need a map. But there's billions of stars out there — how complex would that map need to be? Actually, Samuel Arbesman, a research fellow from Harvard, has come up with a fun solution. He created the 'Milky Way Transit Authority (MWTA),' a simple transit system in the style of the iconic London Underground 'Tube Map.' (Travel Tip: Don't spend too much time loitering around the station at Carina, there's some demolition work underway.)"

Submission + - Top 10 Best GTK Applications (

Chris7mas writes: "1. The GIMP — image editor
GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program, and is the most complete image editor on Linux. It supports various file formats and it features many effects. I usually read complains about GIMP regarding the fact that it's not as 'good' as Photoshop. Well, I'm not a graphics passionate, and I only use GIMP for basic image manipulation (cut, crop, basic effects, resize etc), but I think it's the best tool out there to use with images. The current stable release is 2.4.6.

2. XChat — IRC client
In my opinion, this is the best graphical IRC client for Linux. Its strength is in support for scripts in Perl and Python, together with an easy to learn plugin interface (given that you know basic C). It offers event-based scripting too. Most of the configuration options are available via the /SET variables, instead of the Preferences window. The logging system allows filenames which can use date specifiers, so you can store your logs in whatever way you want. The Windows version usually ships earlier than the Linux one, but that's not quite an issue, since the client is already complete for several years now."

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