5 september 2009


A few enjoyable bits and pieces (Foxnews + programming)

This is a brief English Nederlog, and serves to list a few enjoyable bits and pieces concerning Americana and programming.

1. Foxnews's Glenn Beck

I mentioned The Young Turks (TYT) before in Nederlog, and also mentioned Glenn Beck, who is a talkshowhost on Foxnews, who has - euphemistically - quite a few issues. Here are two of them, in the form of clips from TYT:

These clips may serve to show you the joys of Foxnews and TYT. This sort of stuff is NOT on Dutch TV, alas.

O, and as to the Glenn Becks: I love them! Let them speak out - as long as one is free to contradict and lampoon them, that is!

. Programming with JavaScript and with Smalltalk

As you may know I love mathematics and I like programming a lot, the last - by the way - being also a moral lesson in practice, for real programming faces you with all your own mistakes (or most of them, hopefully, at least) and learns you to cope with frustration.

There are very many programming languages (at least a thousand) and programming is not so easy to learn, at least not if you want to be able to write programs that are useful, and do more than a few simple things.

Here are two links concerning two specific programming languages, with brief comments following

The first link is to cincom, which is a commercial firm that owns and develops its own Smalltalk called VisualWorks. There is a freely available non-commercial version, and it is very good and very powerful - the last on condition that you learn Smalltalk and the VisualWorks environment.

Fortunately, VisualWorks has a lot of good, clear documentation, lots of examples, and good tutorials to get you started. I am in some ways a Smalltalk fan, especially because I like the Smalltalk programming language a lot, and in some ways also I am not, but these I don't need to go into since these start being operative and meaningful only when you can program fairly well to start with.

Anyway - if you are interested at all in programming in Smalltalk, or indeed in learning to program, the first of the above two links is definitely helpful and interesting.

The second link I owe to an entry on the Squeak developers' list of today - and Squeak is another Smalltalk, also interesting, but considerably less well documented than VisualWorks, and so less easier to learn, also because it is in some ways more powerful than VisualWorks (in others decidedly not, though).

That second link is a very good introduction to programming in JavaScript, that is a quite nice and clear programming language (that has very little to do with the programming language Java, which I like a lot less).

It is by one Marijn Haverbeeke (never heard of him, but it is a Dutch or Flemish name), in good English, and it is meant for people who are new to programming, and it is, as I said, very well done.

So this last link introduces you in a very clear and rather comprehensive way to programming, also in a quite well-designed clear programming language, with a nice environment. (There is a fine zip-file on offer, that painlessly installs, and gives you the whole book for free.)

And one reason you might be interested in JavaScript is that it enables you to program stuff that runs in a webbrowser, and improve your site.

Recommended! (But see also JavaScript and - really interesting - Firebug which is a fine programming environment for JavaScript and more for - especially Firefox if you are interested - and for me this is new too, but all of it looks really good.)

P.S. There is one caveat though, which I should add in fairness: Both the  VisualWorks and the Eloquent JavaScript links give access to fine and well-crafted tutorials that enable you to learn programming - but it is fair to add that programming is not easy, though it is fun if you have the type of mind fit for it, and will take a considerable amount of time to learn to a level that allows you to write somewhat complicated programs of your own.

That is: It is not something you learn during a free Sunday's afternoon, and it also does require some sort of aptitude for mathematical or logical thinking. But once you get the knack, it is fun (as long as you're not caught in some hopeless obscure bug you created, that inevitably will happen, and not just once or twice), and may help you a lot in quite a few ways.

And after all, computers are machines to run programs, so it is nice and helpful to have some understanding of this, and if possible also acquire some practical facility in using all this programming power a modern PC gives you - which is the reason to provide these links.

Indeed, if I find the health I will try to convert the Bayes-stuff I wrote a few years ago in FreeBasic to JavaScript, so as to run in a webbrowser on my site. For that is basically simple, and it is really helpful too, even in judging politics and politicians, as my last (Dutch) link may show you, with an example.

Maarten Maartensz

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