rfunk: (phone)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 11:42pm on 21/11/2008 under , , ,
  • 15:50 scored "Advanced" on the annoying PHP test. Good enough for me. Now if only they'd test me on Ruby. Or even Perl. #
rfunk: (phone)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 07:48pm on 05/06/2008 under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
This week we gained possession of a pair of 8GB iPod Touches, through a surprisingly generous rebate program.

The iPod Touch is unlike any previous iPods, but is very similar to the iPhone. It's basically an iPhone without the phone, camera, or bluetooth. That doesn't sound like it leaves much, but what it leaves is high-resolution video iPod functionality, plus wi-fi networking, built on top of a miniature Mac OS X complete with web browser, email client, and other programs.

Apple's firmware doesn't allow adding apps that aren't already there, other than using web apps designed for the iPhone/iTouch platform. (A new firmware version coming soon will open this up a bit, but not by much.) However, people have figured out ways of fixing ("jailbreaking") the firmware to allow installing third-party apps, and there's even a de-facto standard packaging/installing system to make it easy to get and install programs.

A Linux guy gets started with iPod Touch )
Jailbreak for the good stuff )
Some added applications )
Music! )
Video )

So yeah, quite the fun toy here.....
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
Salon is running a story wherein author David Brin complains that the computer world's deprecation and collective purging of the BASIC programming language (which of course he grew up with) is somehow hurtful to the technological development of today's kids, including his own. He seems to think that BASIC is a low-level programming language that helps kids understand how the machine works. Of course, the only way BASIC is low-level is that it encourages use of goto, like machine language and unlike modern high-level languages. Otherwise it is designed to insulate the programmer from the machine.

It seems to me that Brin is stuck thinking that the way he learned things is the only way to learn them, and he doesn't seem interested in modern options. I grew up on BASIC too, but I got away from it as soon as practical, and I wouldn't recommend that as a way for anyone to learn programming today.

If Brin wants his kid to learn something close to the machine (his major professed goal), he should choose C. If he wants his kid to learn a language that lets him ignore the machine and do higher-level algorithm work (part of the original goal of BASIC), he should choose Python or Ruby. Responses at Salon also mentioned programming TI-82 calculators, Lego Mindstorms, and other options that modern kids have and were unavailable to past generations.

On top of all that, today's technically-interested kids can put Linux or BSD on their computers and not only choose from a wide selection of programming languages to use (rather than the BASIC interpreter built into the computer and whatever else their parents could afford, as the previous generation did), but also delve as deep as they want into how all the pieces of the software and operating system work.

In one sense, however, Brin has a point. He mentions that his son's math textbook includes BASIC programs to demonstrate the algorithms. Since the computer world has rejected BASIC (a message the textbook writers seem to have missed), there is no single universally-accepted replacement. But that's mostly because of Microsoft - unlike every other common operating system today, Windows doesn't come with any development tools since they deprecated QBasic starting with Windows 95. On the other hand, MacOS, Linux, and BSD usually have Perl, Python, and others either built in or readily available for download.

Perl may be the closest we have today to a universally-available programming language -- it's an easy download and install on Windows, is generally built-in everywhere else, and is quite mature and popular. Many complain about its syntax, though most of that weirdness is obsolete and easily avoided. Python would be second (and a better first language), but it too has its quirks (well, one major quirk plus an object-orientation annoyance). Maybe Ruby is the way to go these days.
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
Lately I've been noticing a lot of cases where the successor to a given instance of web technology (specifically within the so-called "LAMP" stack of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl/Python) isn't necessarily the next version of that instance, but rather something different. "Say what?" Let me explain with the specifics:

Web Server: Apache 1.3 -> LightTPD )
Programming Language: PHP4/Perl5 -> Ruby (On Rails) )
Database Server: MySQL4 -> PostgreSQL ? )
Operating System: Linux 2.4 -> FreeBSD ? Not much. )
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 10:30pm on 02/02/2005 under , , , , , , ,
After an exhausting day of multi-website programming debugging, I just have one question.

Whose bright idea was it to regularly use FIVE totally different but mutually interacting programming languages to create any given modern web page?

1. HTML
2. CSS (Cascading Stylesheets)
3. JavaScript (aka ECMAScript)
4. PHP (or Perl)
5. SQL (Structured Query Language)

And of course each one is implemented imperfectly or inconsistently, so properly-written code doesn't actually run properly everywhere it's supposed to.
Mood:: 'tired' tired
rfunk: (cartoon)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 11:30pm on 07/12/2004 under , , , , , , , , ,
My apologies to the vast majority out there who don't care about any of this....

PHP is annoying )

Soekris + m0n0wall = nice small firewall )

Geek Showdown: Debian vs Cartoon Nudity )
Mood:: 'geeky' geeky

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