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How and why did you get into programming?

How and why did you get into programming?

Posted on 16 March 2013 by Michael

programming_languages

Ever since I read the book, Coders at Work by Peter Seibel, I’ve had this fascination with how and why people in the computer science industry got into programming. I don’t know, call it a sick infatuation, but the topic does interest me.

So I thought I’d write up a little post asking you guys to share your stories as to how and why you got into programming? What was the first programming language you learned? What fascinated you with code or computers in general? What was the first computer you worked on? Were you self taught or did you take classes at school?

Feel free to share as much information as you like below in the comments section. Also feel free to give any advice and tips to anyone wishing to get into programming themselves. Spread the wealth of knowledge is what I always say.

Have fun and I can’t wait to read your stories.




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Fresh out of victims to pick on, Anonymous takes on the Pope

Fresh out of victims to pick on, Anonymous takes on the Pope

Posted on 08 March 2012 by Michael

Looks like the hacking group known as Anonymous is fresh out of worthy victims. Seems they’ve taken it upon themselves to pick a fight with, of all organizations, the Vatican.

The Italian division of the group, Anonymous In Italy, hacked the Vatican website on Wednesday, bringing it down for a few hours.

What? They couldn’t find a mentally retarded child to pick on?

Now I know when it comes to drumming up publicity you wanna engage in any activities that will get the medias attention, but come on, really? Hacking the Vatican’s website?

With all the drug lords, violently repressive governments, murderers, Google, criminal gangs and political corruption out there for you to attack, you’re picking an organization that’s done roughly 95% good (we all know the kind of screwed up things that other %5 has done) in the world?

Other potential targets the group claim to have in their cross hairs include the following:

  1. Santa Claus
  2. The Humane Society
  3. Hawaii (them with their evil pineapples and kick back attitude, grrrr!!)
  4. Penguins
  5. PBS
  6. Snookies unborn fetus
  7. Everyone responsible for making Justin Bieber famous
  8. The people responsible for canceling the new Bionic Woman
  9. Dominos Pizza
  10. Swine Flu

 

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LulzSec dimed out by one of it’s own

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LulzSec dimed out by one of it’s own

Posted on 06 March 2012 by Michael

What a way to go down. Dimed out by one of your own. Ouch.

5 members of the group known as LulzSec were charged Tuesday in a series of high-profile cyberattacks carried out within the last couple of years.

Allegedly, they were did in by one of their own. Fox News is claiming that Hector Xavier Monsegure, 28, from New York,  is said to be the the guy who was informing on Lulz to authorities.

Mensegure faces 124 years in jail.

Damn. If you can’t trust your hacking buddies who can you trust.

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Stuxnet ushers in new era of “physically destructive” cyberwarfare

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Stuxnet ushers in new era of “physically destructive” cyberwarfare

Posted on 05 March 2012 by Michael


Used to be that computer viruses were incapable of imposing physical damage to it’s victims.

Not anymore.

With the advent of Stuxnet, a highly sophisticated worm written to systematically bring down a nuclear reactor in Iran, cyberwarfare is now just as dangerous as guns and bullets.

60 Minutes recently aired a piece discussing the potential dangers of cyberwarfare to our own infrastructure.

Pandora has been let out of the box and there’s no putting it back.

Watch the 60 Minutes clip here.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57390326-83/60-minutes-profiles-threat-posed-by-stuxnet/?tag=cnetRiver

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Why Facebook is more like Myspace than the $100 billion dollar company everybody says it is

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Why Facebook is more like Myspace than the $100 billion dollar company everybody says it is

Posted on 31 January 2012 by Michael

Funny thing about short term memory. Beside the fact that it prevents us from remembering what we ate for lunch or whether or not we remembered to turn the iron off, our short term memories serve to expand our level of disillusionment when it comes to valuing certain “social networks” that are about to go public any day now.

If I hear one more financial “expert” go on in anymore excruciatingly boring detail as to why Facebook is worth the crazy billion dollar amounts that they are claiming, or why Facebook is just like Google, my peanut shaped head is going to explode.

First off. Does anyone remember a little website called Myspace? 6 years ago Myspace was purchased by Rupert Murchoch’s News Corporation for something like $580 billion. That’s billion with a “B”. Last year it sold for a mere $35 million to Justin Timberlake and some media company.

Huge drop off huh? Yeah no shit.

2006 was when Myspace was at the height of it’s popularity. Everybody had a Myspace account from celebrities and wannabe rock bands to your next door neighbor teenage kids. Of course since less people were online back then, it hadn’t quite reached the popularity in terms of numbers of Facebook, but for what it was, it was big for it’s time.

Fast forward to today and Facebook has supplanted Myspace and just about every other social networking platform known to man.

Some, mainly financial geeks who don’t have a clue as to what the difference between an IP address and iPhone is, even go so far as to compare it to Google. It’s not Google. It never will be nor was it every intended to be another Google. Comparing the two in terms of value would be like comparing the value of a Corvette to that of the dealership that sold it and here’s why.

Google provides a service that everyone needs. You don’t have to be a member of Google to use it. You can’t get bored of Google. That’s like getting bored of the road you use to go to work. Facebook is the car that get’s you to work. When you get bored of it you simple buy another car.

People got bored of Myspace and switched to Facebook. You can’t get bored of a search engine. Sure another one may come along and provide better search results, but you’re not going to stop using it out of boredom or on some whim.

Justin Timberlake to the rescue!!!

 

Facebook is valuable in a completely different way to it’s users than Google is to searchers. When it comes to the internet, search engines are more of an infrastructure kind of thing. No new search engine is going to come along overnight and take its place.

Go ahead and ask Yahoo and Bing. They’ve been trying without much success for the last few years. People who use Google are going to keep using Google for the foreseeable future because it works and gives them exactly what they want.

Facebook users are fickle. These are the same people who just 5 years ago splashed out their Myspace pages with hundreds of 2MB gifs, crashing their friends computers in the process. These same people who were in love with Myspace for whatever reason, fell out of love in just a few short years and found a new spouse with Facebook.

Not exactly the recipe for building an internet empire. That’s like the 50 year old guy leaving his wife for the hot new 20 year old secretary. Oh sure she’s fun for a few years but sooner or later a new hot young 20 year old secretary will take her place, and she’ll be their crying and begging for a Justin Timberlake to come along and scoop her up for a mere $35 million.

Only problem is, I don’t think Justin is really in the market for another washed up old social network who’s best days are well behind it.

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hp_touchpad

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HP tablets selling like hot cakes

Posted on 22 August 2011 by Michael

Seems like a classic case of too little way too late.

With HP getting out of the tablet making business, they’ve slashed prices on their products, which is attracting plenty of attention from customers looking to take advantage of the huge price cuts.

Nevermind that product support for the tablets will be none existent in a few years, people just want cheap tablets and with the price of a basic version of the HP Touchpad being marked down from $499 to $99, I can’t blame them.

If you’re in the market for one good luck.  These tablets are sold out in all major stores both online and off.

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lego_mindstorm

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A fun way to get your kids interested in programming and robotics

Posted on 20 August 2011 by Michael

Let’s face it. Kids love robots. Robots and puppies. But since this article isn’t about puppies, let’s delve into the robots thing for a bit and discuss what’s quite possible the coolest Lego set to come out since the Lego Pirate Ship Barracuda was released back in the early 90’s .

I’m talking of course about Lego Mindstorms.

Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 is the latest in a series of Lego sets that teach the basics of robotics and programming. It is the only Lego set to feature a programmable brick, known as the NXT Brick, which allows kids to control the movement of their creations.

Pretty cool huh? If only they had this when we were kids.

The NXT 2.0 set itself consists of 619 pieces, including color, touch and ultrasonic sensors, 3 servo motors and the NXT Brick. It’s capable of Bluetooth connections with a computer and up to three other NXT Bricks.

These sensors allow you to do just about anything imaginable. You can build a robogator, capable of snapping its jaws at unsuspecting fingers, a shooter bot that launches balls at various targets, a color sorter that can distinguish between different colored balls, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Let’s see the Pirate Ship Barracuda try any of that.

The Lego Mindstorms NXT robotics building set gives your child an educational and fun experience.

Not all that creative? Don’t worry, there are tons of books available online and at your local bookstore that feature a whole bunch of ideas for things to build. Just follow step-by-step pictured instructions and you and your child are all set.

Learn Programming

The programming of the NXT Brick is pretty straightforward. It’s all GUI(Graphical use interface. Think your windows OS.) based. The programming language is NXT-G and it’s all included in the box. Download it onto your computer and open it up. It’s simple drag and drop environment.

While extremely educational, Lego Mindstorms also makes for a great family experience as well. Think back to your own childhood. For those of you who had Lego sets growing up, remember how much fun you had building it for the first time with your mom or dad. Why not create those same kinds of happy childhood memories today with your son or daughter, while at the same time, giving them an educational experience helping them better prepare for their future.

Educational

Science and technology are the careers of the future. The best thing about Lego Mindstorms is that it gives your child a solid foundation in subjects like engineering, computer science and physics, not to mention it’s just a really fun and cool way to let loose your creativity.

Legos are great at sparking the imaginations of children and teaching them how to turn those images into Lego brick masterpieces. Dump a bucket of Legos and watch their eyes lighten up in excitement.

So if you’re looking for a way to introduce your child the wonderful world of programming and robotics, or you’re looking to for a fun and creative way to bond with your child while educating them at the same time, Lego Mindstorms might just be what you’re looking for.

And, unlike a puppy, you don’t have to feed, water and pick up it’s messes everyday either.

 

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hp_touchpad

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Hewlett Packard calls it quits

Posted on 19 August 2011 by Michael

So long HP and your wonderful computing products. So long HP TouchPad. We hardly knew thee.

Following in the footsteps of what IBM did 10 years ago, the long time computer maker has decided to sell of it’s computer, tablet and smartphone division and shift its business model to selling software and hardware to government and business, which is usually more profitable.

I wonder what they’re going to do with all those left over TouchPads.

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ibm_5150

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One of IBM’s original engineers declares the PC era dead

Posted on 13 August 2011 by Michael

The original IBM PC, the 5150. I don't about you, but I just love those old computers.

 

Mark Dean, one of the engineers who worked on the design of the original IBM PC5150 in the early 80’s,  recently wrote a blog post entertaining the idea that the PC era as we know it is being replaced by, as he states, social ideas.

Read Marks words,

“PCs are being replaced at the center of computing not by another type of device — though there’s plenty of excitement about smartphones and tablets — but by new ideas about the role that computing can play in progress. These days, it’s becoming clear that innovation flourishes best not on devices but in the social spaces between them, where people and ideas meet and interact. It is there that computing can have the most powerful impact on economy, society and people’s lives.”

You can read the full article here.

Not that I disagree with what Mark’s saying, but, I’d have to say that the driving force of PC development all along has been the need to establish, maintain, and improve social connectivity. Sure the technology has changed, but its part in the grand scheme of things is the same today as it was back when I was typing along on my old IBM 386.

Oh yes, the PC  itself may change shape, color, sexual orientation (no wait, computers can’t do that yet), size and function, but as long as you and I continue to use technology, there will be a PC of some form inside that whateveryoucallit gadget, whether it be an iPad, iPod, iToilet, fueling our desire to remain connected to those around us. Of course, nothing divides a family better then a TV in every bodies room, but that remains to be discussed for another day.

Technology itself may change, but the ideas and social forces that has driven the development of the PC is nothing new. It was here when IBM first created it’s PC’s, it will be here long after IBM is gone,  driving technology to it’s limit and beyond.

Nothing new about that.

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Shopping for a used computer? Try the flea market

Shopping for a used computer? Try the flea market

Posted on 11 August 2011 by Michael

If you’re in the market for a not so new computer, in other words used, why not try your local flea market? That’s right. A flea market could be a great place to get a decent used computer.

Sure you could go online like on Craigslist and do it that way, but in my opinion, the flea market could be just as good if not better. With a flea market you get an abundance of selection and you can probably negotiate a great price on whatever computer rig you find.

I once found a decent little machine at a flea market for $10.  I just had to add a hard drive and that was it. I installed Freebsd on it and it now serves as a great little test box. Of course it’s processing power is pretty slow, it takes all day to download and compile software, but for what I paid, it was a great deal.

Just keep this in mind when shopping flea markets for your next desktop. Some used computers you find may need some opening up and swapping out of parts. If you are handy with tools and not afraid of swapping out some memory or a bad hard drive, then you should have no problem. If that’s not something you are willing or ableto do, you might wanna head over to Fry’s and get a new computer. But if you don’t mind changing some stuff out then go ahead and see what you can get.

Oh and you also wanna make sure it comes with a working operating system, but of course you could also pick up an old copy of Windows XP for $50 and install it yourself.

So all in all, if you’re not afraid of opening up a case and changing some things out,  the flea market can be a great place to find a computer. Buy a churro and an ICEE and you’re all set.

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