Monday, September 24, 2007

still badgering

I went to write a 'well done' on a site that caught my imagination today and ended up writing a Fargin' essay and bombing their guestbook with it. Since I can't seem to write on my own blog, I might as well whack it in here too.

To most folk the discussion may be a bit esoteric (discussing programming languages), but I'm sure you'll appreciate the underlying sentiment, as we all use the interent & computers, if you can be bothered to read through my blether. What they've done is to set up a platform that shows the programming code which will produce the words to the song '99 bottles of beer on the wall'.

The kicker is though, that it is open for other programmers to contribute to and they write the same functionality, but in varying languages (they're up to 1120 when I viewed it). It might not sound like much, but I explain my enthusiasm below (you can see the site at, whilst also managing to make a couple of bad jokes and attempting to offend the Chinese government at the same time:

Author: Captain Fargon
Location: Earth


"Wow, I wish I knew of this site last century when I first started programming!

It is so useful, especially when you are first starting out, to be able to compare programming languages in multiple syntax, all achieving the same function…

Darn, the amount of sleep, hair and mojo I could have saved over the years by not fretting over which language to next self-learn! The time & energy I put into getting a handle on what was going where, which would be most useful & what was truly the 'right path to follow’ (which, as it turns out, is none of them as it is all relative to what you're trying to achieve and whether, generally, your vent in life is for altruistic or commercial gain), almost makes me cry now, looking back.

Flying on a non-binary level, I speak a couple of languages (Deutsch & Espanol) and, similarly, dual-language books are a wonderful tool for advancing rapidly in your appreciation & digestion of a new language.

On each open page of said books, you have the new language on one side and the translation into your mother-tongue, on the other. Once you've learnt 300-500 words etc and have what is recognised educationally as the ‘initial grasp of a language’ (enough to be able to read, & generally understand, a book written for a 7 year old), you can then rapidly advance your broader understanding and base knowledge of the new tongue, by being able to immediately relate the new word, term or phrase of what you are reading, to your existing vocational map - Antipodean English, of the 'Kiwi' variant, in my case...

The first programming language I learnt was Javascript, circa 1998, and 'experienced' programming soothsayers of the day (established Gods, as it seemed to me at the time), would tell me that I was wasting my time, it was doomed and would be defunct in 5 years and, besides which, it wasn't a real programming language anyway!

Well, knocking on 10 years later (and, maybe, 10 forays into various languages), I still think learning Javascript up front was the best thing I ever did (HTML came first of course)!

With social networking sites & Web 2.0 ever so gently evolving, Javascript is a handy tool and trusted friend to have in the box. These days, with its fundamental association to things like Ajax & ActionScript (Flash programming language), it is only ever going to become more prevalent as richer interactive web applications come to the fore of EVERYBODIES lives.

See Google Maps or Google Analytics (if you’re a website owner) in action, in order to see the opening salvo’s of the future of the internet / computer. And, ultimately, the part they will play in the evolution of Homo Superior. These sorts of applications, platform independent, will sit on your computer desktop, fridge, tv et al, and 'richly' assist your life whether connected to the internet or not.

Even the new ‘One Laptop Per Child’ XO machines are running on Python and good ol’ Javascript (discover the Project here). If the project works and I really hope it does, there could be ½ billion of them running around the planet in 10 years time (or whatever form the ‘machines’ may evolve into).

Well done to the chaps (or chapesses) who thought up the idea and created this site. A fine initative indeed and, I’m sure, of invaluable use to new & developing programmers out there.

I’ll certainly buy you a beer one day when I meet you in a bar… hopefully not in a Chinese prison camp on Mars though (free thought and all that)."