31 July, 2006
Free tools make Free music
A cheap post on Dijkstra
I said I'd find some more things Dijkstra said about different languages. This turned out to be easier than expected, because Wikipedia already has a list. And, of course, there's no reason to do any more research if you've read a Wikipedia article, is there?
Anyway, here are some of them:
- The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offence.
- APL is a mistake, carried through to perfection. It is the language of the future for the programming techniques of the past: it creates a new generation of coding bums.
- FORTRAN, 'the infantile disorder', by now nearly 20 years old, is hopelessly inadequate for whatever computer application you have in mind today: it is now too clumsy, too risky, and too expensive to use.
- And everybody's favourite: It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.
People expect technology to just work, with no effort on their part, and any failure in the execution of technology MUST be on the part of the technologist or the tool, never the user. People have been taught for the last 40 years that causality is just a conceit, that logic is optional, that feeling good about yourself is better than getting good grades, that fashion trumps form, and basically that brains are for losers. The able must serve the unable in our culture, so where's the benefit to being one of the able?
Gothmolly expressing something better than I could.
We officially rock
Creative Computing (the department I'm in at at Coventry University), just had the feedback from the external examiner.
It's all good. Our teaching of programming, especially, was praised. I won't copy sections of the report verbatim, but it did include words like "acclaim", "innovative", "motivated", "superior" (of results, deservedly and in comparison to similar institutions), "novel" and "successful". :)
It's good to get some external feedback, to be honest. Although the other members of the department have been very supportive and positive of the way we've taught programming this year, you can't help wondering if they're just too polite to say "WTF are you doing?".
The key features of our approach aren't particularly strange, really. We used Python (after many years of Java), objects late (shock!), did graphics and games in the first half of the academic year (and saw some great student work because of it), etc.
Perhaps the biggest difference from previous years, though, was the number of exercises we gave to the students. They did lots of programming, but thanks to our studio system, they had plenty of supported time to do them in.
Oh, and we walked into each lecture with no slides. Just a Knoppix CD and the intention of rolling up our sleeves and coding in front of a live audience. The ability to modify the examples, fix the occasional intentional typo (and more than occasional unintentional one) and generally respond to queries made a difference to the way lectures worked. They were more relaxed, more interactive and I think the students got a lot more out of them. I know I did - it was a lot of fun.
25 July, 2006
24 July, 2006
Slashdot talks about it being demo'd nine years ago, but I remember talking about screenshots of this when I was at school, which is more like eleven years ago.
I don't even care if it's any good. It's just nice seeing vaporware condense for a change.
11 July, 2006
09 July, 2006
This is a great track. CC:365 is my new favourite site. A new CC'd track every day.
A touch of something random
Take a listen to this and the other podcasts. It's one of those things that shouldn't really be as interesting as it is.
07 July, 2006
01 July, 2006
Powernap is a simple replacement for Python's time.sleep() on Linux systems that uses the real-time clock.
I got fed up with bad timing.