clivef
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:22 pm

Quote from tnelsond on October 27, 2011, 21:39...From the shell you can do just about everything in linux...Agreed. But we want to teach young people programming, not 'Linux'. And whilst the language is not important compared to the underlying concepts one has to bite the bullet and pick something, so realistically you are looking at a ubiquitous, cross platform language such as Python or Ruby. Or Haskell. (Just kidding* - I just started learning it today. It's quite beautiful and strangely relaxing.)

* but then again...

clivef
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:25 pm

That's what's wrong with schools nowadays - no hats to suck.

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Jongoleur
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:46 pm

I was browsing through a stack of old CAUGers newsletters in the attic, when I came across some copies of the Vector newsletter. Yes! APL. A wonderfully terse and hieroglyphic language for RaspPi to support...

Have a peek at the example section of the Wikipedia article on APL ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.....ge%29 ) if you've forgotten how odd this language was....

:-)
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Jongoleur
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:48 pm

"Sucking hats"?

Thats not what the girls I knew called their straw boaters!!!

And those money belts, oh yes, the navy blue ones, I remember them....... *sigh*
I'm just a bouncer, splatterers do it with more force.....

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johnbeetem
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:58 pm

Ah yes, APL. You could write a prime number generator in just 18 characters IIRC. (Gack, I did remember correctly. It's in the Wiki article.) The generator was horribly inefficient and nearly impossible to decypher. APL was known as a "write only" language.

A cartoon of the time had two paleontologists looking at some strange marks in a cave. One says to the other: "You're right, it is a subset of APL."

I heard a funny story about about Ken Iverson, the inventor of APL. He was a brillant mathematician and was teaching brilliant maths to a bunch of students. At one point he said: "and so it's obvious that [insert result here]" A student raised his hand and said: "I'm sorry, Dr. Iverson, but that step's not obvious." Dr. Iverson replied "Well it is to me" and went on.

SisterMaryElephant
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:19 am

So, is this the beginners programing thread or is somebody going to start a new one?

I played with BASIC back in the early 80's on a Timex Sinclaire but I gave up on programming after that. Now I'm trying to learn programming again (starting with Learn Python the Hard Way) and I'm a little stuck on the math exercise.

People shouldn't assume that only kids are learning programming either. Grandparents are too, evidently. ;)

thesynapseuk
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:29 am

Oh I agree! I haven't learnt any programming yet, but I'm going to use my purchase of a R-Pi to give myself a kick up the butt in terms of getting to grips with programming via Python. I'm looking forward to it, and looking forward to being able to teach it someday perhaps.

It's just concerning that there're a lot of people who don't understand that not everyone wants to prove their metal and learn programming/similar through a 'maximum pain eventual gain' kind of process (REAL MEN PROGRAM IN 0110110101100001011000110110100001101001011011100110010100100000011000110110111101100100011001010000110100001010! Or similar).

You raise a good point though, there are probably a lot of people like us (i.e. not students) who would also like to learn programming and would benefit from the safe environment that R-Pi provides.

I just wish I could pre-order to be guaranteed one on release! I hope you're manufacturing loads Liz/Eben/rest of you!

SisterMaryElephant
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:35 am

"There are 10 types of people: those who understand binary, and those who don't..."

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Jongoleur
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:52 am

Yessssssssssss...........

Actually, real men program in microcode. 8-)

(edit: buggerit.... Real WOMEN too. :P )

The Pi is going to run Linux, so programming can be done in any supported language. Thing is, there's so many different languages nowadays, each with proponents and detractors. Then there's the learning theorists, who worry about attention spans and maintaining the learners interest. Sometimes you get the feeling that visual impact is all, no thinking required.

The key is to provide as many easily acessible routes into programming as possible on the RaspPi, well signposted and supported with learning materials that address different age groups. Kids are going to learn on it, so are hobbyists, and older learners too. The wrong approach will put at least someone off. Perhaps an app "So you want to program?" placed prominently on the desktop that determines an age group and some of the things a beginner wants to do and guides them to a suggested environment on the Pi to get them started might be appropriate?
I'm just a bouncer, splatterers do it with more force.....

SisterMaryElephant
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:17 am

I'm not sure it has to be that complicated, maybe just a list of decent beginner tutorials and a suggestion that if one method isn't working for a person they should try another one and not give up.

Really, most kids don't even want to program; they want to play games, watch youtube, surf the web and chat with friends. Those that do want to learn to code could be directed to these forums and get suggestions and tips here. *shrug*

Personally, I want to learn to program to make use of things like arduinos, netduinos and the Pi. I have a number of ideas where a micro-controller and/or something like the Pi would be useful for my projects but, right now, I couldn't code my way out of a wet paper sack.

YMMV...

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Gert van Loo
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:23 am

For a lot of us geeks the 'lets get them programming' approach is one I see often. I had it myself but I have changed. I would think for a lot of users that is too fast. I would start with: 'lets learn them how to use a computer' first. (I had a thread about that some time ago). I think that is a much bigger challenge: How do you learn how to use a computer if you don't know how to use a computer. Premise: They have to be able to do it alone!

SisterMaryElephant
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:36 am

Well, I can certainly understand that concept but, today, most people either know how to use one or they know somebody that knows how to use one unless the target is underdeveloped nations where few people have computers. I'm not sure many of those will be after a Pi either. If they don't know how to use a computer, there will still need to be some basic printed instructions to hook up a keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc. I think hobbyists will be the biggest consumers but I could be wrong.

clivef
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:48 am

Quote from SisterMaryElephant on October 28, 2011, 10:19
...
People shouldn't assume that only kids are learning programming either. Grandparents are too, evidently. ;)

The more the merrier! :D The RP Foundation's charitable objective is to "further the advancement of education of adults and children, particularly in the field of computers, computer science and related subjects" .

The current focus on young people is influenced by the sorry state of Computing teaching in UK schools and the shortage of people coming out of the UK education system with CS skills. (Though these problems are by no means UK specific).

When I, personally, use the words "kids" or "young people" in terms of learning I'm thinking, say, 5 to 15 years. But a manual written for "kids" that assumes no prior knowledge will do the job for anyone who wants to learn. So it's all good. :D

clivef
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:57 am

Quote from SisterMaryElephant on October 28, 2011, 11:17...

Really, most kids don't even want to program; they want to play games, watch youtube, surf the web and chat with friends. ...
I teach ICT and Computing to 11-18 year olds. This is not what I see on a day to day basis. Most have never seen a programming language or environment before so how do they know that they don't want to program? Show then Scratch for 5 minutes and you have to drag them off...

We do, however, need to change young people from consumers of technolgy into creators. We need to make computing a fun and creative and rewarding thing to be doing. The RasPi will be a fantastic tool for this.

SisterMaryElephant
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:01 am

I'm certainly willing to contribute to that objective, it's obvious that almost everything will be computerized in the future and knowing something about computers will be mandatory to some degree. I know my grandkids will all be getting a Pi.

While I'm not a programmer, I do have a lot of experience in IT. Nearly 30 years as a hobbyist and over 17 years professionally. So, technically, there could be many teaching paths besides just programming; web/graphics design (also not my thing), servers, security, desktop support, database administration, etc. The list is nearly endless...

clivef
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:05 am

Quote from Gert van Loo on October 28, 2011, 11:23
I think that is a much bigger challenge: How do you learn how to use a computer if you don't know how to use a computer. Premise: They have to be able to do it alone!Using a computer = ICT. They can learn that on their PCs and iPads and at school ;)

This is a contentious issue of course - anyone who wants to chat about or find out more on teaching computing, ICT vs computing etc etc should have a look at Computing at School and its Google Group.

Disclaimer: I am a member of CAS.

Mr_Navigator
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:10 am

There are many emulators out there that will run under Linux, retro computer systems such as the Timex Sinclair that will open up a whole new way of looking at programming. Also a lot of hobby based systems that could enthuse young people in exploring such as robotics, it all depends on the GPIO that is provided. After all it is the connection to the outside world that mainly defines computer systems.

SisterMaryElephant
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:12 am

I know kids, and while they'll play with almost any app/technology for a while, most will revert back to being consumers. I certainly agree that it would be great if more were "creators" but it's clear that most are merely consumers so far. Maybe Pi will help change that but programming isn't for everyone just like network engineering or web design isn't for everyone. I wrote some web sites back in the mid-90s but I learned that it wasn't for me like BASIC wasn't for me in the early 80s. ;)

I think it's safe to say most kids don't want to program but you're right in that they won't know if they never try. The more we get them to try different things, including programming, the better.

clivef
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:37 am

The ultimate aim is not to make an army of programmers but to teach all children computational thinking from an early stage, making them better learners in all subjects (and in life if we are getting philosophical) and give them the skills and enthusiasm to create. Giving loads of kids their own computer and teaching them how to make stuff (in this case how to program) can only help in this.

SisterMaryElephant
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:51 am

I agree that exposing more people, not just kids, to more things, especially modern technology, is a good thing in general. I'm just saying that we shouldn't limit that exposure to just programming because that's not for everyone. By offering them many choices and many experiences we'd keep more of them interested for longer. If a child wants to be a graphic artist then python is going to be like work and GIMP is going to be fun. Force kids to do things that they don't want to do and you risk turning them off and losing them but allowing them to do what they enjoy or what they're interested in and you inspire.

YMMV...

duncan_pereira
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:13 pm

Quote from SisterMaryElephant on October 28, 2011, 12:12
I know kids, and while they'll play with almost any app/technology for a while, most will revert back to being consumers.

You've pretty much summed an entire generation up there. I'm 14 now and when I tried writing in JavaScript I stopped after a month. I understood it and was competent at compiling various applications but I gave it up because I saw no point in making such an effort to create programs which could otherwise be downloaded in 5 minutes. According to my dad, it was a completely different story 'back in the day' :D

In any case, programming at home is a dying art unless your running your own website

clivef
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:18 pm

Just to clarify:

1) The Raspberry Pi Foundation's objective is to "promote the study of computer science ... and to put the fun back into learning computing", which includes learning to program.

2) Therefore, when you buy a Pi next year the plan is that you will have the option to buy (or download for free) a book that will teach you how to program on your Raspberry Pi.

3) Programming on your Pi is entirely optional. No one will force anyone to do any programming. Not even a "Hello world" type thing. Honest.

Hope that helps :)

thesynapseuk
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:29 pm

Well, doing a website isn't really programming, it's design and HTML engineering, which is very different.

I think an earlier poster makes this point a little more clearly when they mentioned it's about providing the opportunity for kids (big and small!) to get into programming. One of the key things that I remember from watching Eben's presentation at Bletchley park video is his point on how there isn't a 'space' for people to play around with computers. Between the family computer which is shared and sacrosanct and the home console which is great but unhackable (by and large) there is little opportunity for kids to have a go. Many families can't even afford one computer, nevermind a laptop on the off-chance that little Johnny wants to program. The price point for the pie is a real deciding factor and the number of ports on it to attached to all sorts of cheap/free and available hardware is killer selling point.

But returning to topic, it's about providing that information and opportunity. This is the same with any subject in school. Why should kids learn science? Why should they do geography? Why should they do RE/music/maths etc.? Many of the things you learn in these subjects are not immediately applicable in 'normal' everyday life but we still teach them because then students themselves can make a more informed decision on what they will pursue later. If you don't know something's there, how can you get involved?

So the situation with ICT is that kids aren't aware that they could actually be creators on computers. Of course they know that someone somewhere can do it, but it's an abstract principle and it's not so readily available or tangible as it is to see someone playing a musical instrument or drawing. So even if kids don't continue with programming, it's STILL worth putting it back into the curriculum for those that will. So you do your best to teach it knowing that many, perhaps most, won't be interested, but you do it so that those that would be interested CAN be.

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Jongoleur
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:30 pm

Programming on your Pi is entirely optional.

Oh come ON!

Just one little "Hello World" should be mandatory..... :-)

What we need are magazines about the Raspberry Pi with long BASIC listings to type in. Then we can play Space Invaders!
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abishur
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Re: Lets get a beginner programing thread in here!

Fri Oct 28, 2011 3:03 pm

Ha Ha, I can just see it! An r-pi logo with a smiley face saying,

"Hello and welcome to the R-pi, before logging on for the first time you must write a "Hello World" Program. What programming language would you like to use?"
Dear forum: Play nice ;-)

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