ciphergoth: (Default)
Well I would never have guessed that last post would be so popular! I have a followup question for you all.

So one of the things our robot can do besides navigate walls is pick up inert things that it finds inside squares, and put them down in other squares. It can carry any number of these things, and it may find any number in a square; they are all the same. There's one near the exit of the maze in the picture in my last post - the "1" with a circle around it. What should these things be called?

In Karel the Robot and all subsequent programs, they're called "beepers", but that's just confusing - that way it sounds like they do something, but they really don't. So what might be a better name? I've considered coins, tokens, chips, stones, pebbles but I'm just not sure, and maybe there's a better name I'm missing. Do you like any of my proposals, or do you have a better one of your own? Thanks!

Rurple NG

Aug. 13th, 2009 02:31 pm
ciphergoth: (Default)
I've been writing a program for teaching people how to program:



And I've blogged about it on the work blog. I start by quoting Cory Doctorow's Little Brother:
If you’ve never programmed a computer, you should. There’s nothing like it in the whole world. When you program a computer, it does exactly what you tell it to do. It’s like designing a machine — any machine, like a car, like a faucet, like a gas-hinge for a door — using math and instructions. It’s awesome in the truest sense: it can fill you with awe.

A computer is the most complicated machine you’ll ever use. It’s made of billions of micro-miniaturized transistors that can be configured to run any program you can imagine. But when you sit down at the keyboard and write a line of code, those transistors do what you tell them to.

Most of us will never build a car. Pretty much none of us will ever create an aviation system. Design a building. Lay out a city.

Those are complicated machines, those things, and they’re off-limits to the likes of you and me. But a computer is like, ten times more complicated, and it will dance to any tune you play. You can learn to write simple code in an afternoon. Start with a language like Python, which was written to give non-programmers an easier way to make the machine dance to their tune. Even if you only write code for one day, one afternoon, you have to do it. Computers can control you or they can lighten your work — if you want to be in charge of your machines, you have to learn to write code.

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