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Comment PythonAnywhere (Score 1) 168

I have used PythonAnywhere for a couple of years. Obviously it's Python only (duh), but would say the experience has generally been excellent.

The ability to use two accounts on the service, using one as a development server, and the other as a deployment one is fabulous. It's also really cheap, and the reliability and support is first rate.

I do not work for them!

Comment I call bullsh1t (Score 1) 183

If the list doesn't have Scott Forstall on, then it's a list made up by a journalist.

And given Elop has managed to destroy every company he's ever run, I find it hard to believe that that the Microsoft board of directors will be so stupid.

My guess, the return of Gates III as it turns out that every other candidate falls short in some way.

Comment The right tools, language, and project (Score 4, Insightful) 226

If you want people to enjoy learning to code, you need to give them a combination of:

1. A toolset they can use to build useful projects
2. A language they can grasp easily
3. And a genuinely useful project they can achieve

Everyone's best coding experiences have come from a desire to do something, combined with the right tools to achieve it. In the early days of 8-bit computing and BASIC, this was about making a game where the computer said "I've thought of a number between 1 and 1,000", and then you guessed and it told you you were too high or too low.

When you got that going, that was an extraordinary sense of achievement. "Look ma! I've made a simple game, you can enjoy!"

And then came Windows and complex APIs, and languages like Visual Basic that abstracted too much from the users, such that much that happened was 'magic'. Who - given a computer these days - begins to think "how do I *make* something amazing?"

Fortunately, things are getting better. The right languages are now available - most notably Python, Lua and Ruby - all of which are proper programming languages, but which are also easy to learn.

And the Raspberry Pi project comes from the right place. The issue it has, perhaps, is that people don't want to produce Raspberry Pi apps - and that desktop apps for Linux, whether written in Ruby, Python or anything else, are hardly childs play.

A better option for deploying a *real* app, people want to use, a modern equivalent of the guess the numbers game, must be either an app for a smart phone, or it must be a web app which can be deployed (for free) in the cloud. In which case, I think there are two or three options. (There used to be more, but Heroku Garden is no more). For smartphone development, Corona SDK is fairly mature and works with both Android and iOS. For a web app, there are a few more options, of which PythonAnywhere is probably the best of the bunch.

I suspect a decade from now, the self-taught developers will have mostly learned their craft in one of these languages, building useful apps for smartphones or the web.

Comment Some are also destroyed/lost (Score 5, Informative) 438

Worth remembering that some Bitcoins (perhaps many) will have been 'lost'. I had the Bitcoin wallet software on my mobile phone, with perhaps 20BTC in it (this was when the exchange rate was c. $4); my four year old daughter fell into the swimming pool, and I didn't think to remove the phone from my pocket. If anyone knows a way to remove the wallet.dat file from a broken Galaxy Note, I would be interested to hear.

Also, there will be some people who have lost the passwords for their wallets.dat, and are therefore unable to access their funds. Of course, in 20 years time they'll be able to decrypt them, but for now they're out of luck.

Comment What are patents for? (Score 1) 315

Reading through the entire comment stream here I catch a very simple misunderstanding about the patent system. Simply put, patents do not exist to protect the inventor. This is a misunderstanding, and is the result or erroneous extrapolation from copyright law.

Patents exist to encourage innovation. They accept that certain time-limited monopolies are allowable because they encourage investment in research and development that would not otherwise exist.

Or to put it another way: the law does not exist to benefit companies, it exists to benefit the consumer by ensuring maximum competition, with the proviso that in certain - exceptional - circumstances, there will be greater innovation if certain people may have a time-limited monopoly of production.

This is a mistake Steve Jobs and others make. (Innovators feel that the law should protect their innovations because that benefits them. But the law exists to benefit the greatest number of people, and that means patents should be granted rarely and narrowly.)

In the case of the iPhone, it is by no means clear that preventing Samsung from putting their icons in a grid, or producing a product with rounded corners is protecting R&D. Apple has become the largest (by market capitalisation) and most successful company in history *without* having previously relied on patent protection. Would consumers benefit from there being fewer makers of smartphones.

Let me drift back to the invention of the motor car: would it have benefited consumers if every innovation, such as the layout of brake, accerlerator, clutch, was patent-able?

Comment Fragmentation = Consumer Choice (Score 4, Insightful) 244

For the average user, fragmentation does not exist as a problem. It's like asking a Dell user; tell me, do you think the PC ecosystem is weakened by the system where you can buy an HP with a 17" screen or an Acer with a 21" one? Aren't you worried about fragmentation of the PC ecosystem?

Said user would look at you as if you were completely mad.

For the average, user the word fragmentation means nothing. Really, absolutely nothing.

There is an issue for developers, but even there the problems is relatively modest. Everyone writes to the Android specs of 2-3 years ago (mostly Gingerbread), and the world continues as normal.

And, the crazy bit is, of the top 100 apps, 98 are cross-platform anyway. Dropbox? Check. Angry Birds? Check. Evernote? Check. Every serious developer is already designing for both Android and iOS anyway (would anyone seriously consider building a mobile app designed to only ever being on one platform?), which means that any developer is already thinking about multiple form factors and resolution.

So: to finish, fragmentation is a wonderful phrase dreamt up by the depatment of FUD, but it bears about as much relevance to the real world as Elmer Fudd.

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