Everything is a string. Everything is an object. Everything is bits.

by @edent | # | 1 comment
Binary code displayed on a screen.

In response to Tom MacWright’s “One way to represent things” – which I broadly agree with. When you are a child, the whole world is complicated. By the time you’re a teenager, the whole world is simple. Once you grow up, you realise just how complicated everything is. As you obtain mastery, you find a…

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What would happen if computers never got any faster?

by @edent | # # # | 14 comments | Read ~10,684 times.
The crappy 2D graphics of Alex Kidd.

My first computer was a BBC Micro. It could do basic graphics at a resolution of 640×256 – with 8 different colours. Not a typo. Eight! The mono speaker produced bleeps and bloops. It was basic, in all senses of the word. Eventually, talented hackers found a way for it to do simplistic 3D graphics…

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Rituals and Milestones in Developer Life

by @edent | # | 2 comments | Read ~353 times.
Binary code displayed on a screen.

Most human societies have rituals. One popular ceremony is of the young person being made a member of the tribe. For some, it is at the start of life – a Baptism or Christening. For others, it is when the child becomes an adult – Bar Mitzvah or Ritusuddhi. Most societies have marriage ceremonies –…

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There’s nothing I hate more than text config files

by @edent | # # # | 8 comments | Read ~386 times.
A GUI for creating webhooks.

I’m going to revisit an argument I had in… Ooooh… 2001ish? I wanted to make some edits to my university’s fledging student union website. In order to do this, I needed to learn the arcane art of SSH. This was one of my first introductions to text based config files. I was horrified! A single…

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No software licence will save you from hyperbolic doubt

by @edent | # # | 2 comments

Imagine that you’re a spotty 16 year-old. You’ve just discovered philosophy. You will almost certainly have a conversation like this… Dude… DUDE! What if… What if, like, we’re all just brains in a jar and, like, a machine is projecting reality around us…? Whoa…! I bet you’ve had that conversation with someone. Probably after you…

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Programming Languages – look how far we’ve come!

by @edent | # # | Read ~106 times.
List of computers.

Back in the 1980s, when my family first got a micro-computer, there were only limited ways to program your machine. The Internet was basically non-existent for domestic users. You could buy thick computer manuals, swap cassettes with other enthusiasts, or build a light pen and point it at a flashing square on your TV (Really!)…

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Why do we have different programming languages?

by @edent | # # | 6 comments | Read ~3,471 times.
Pencil protrail of William Shakespeare - as though he were a Klingon from Star Trek.

I made a little girl cry recently. “But why do I have to learn Python?” She wailed, “I like Scratch!” “I know,” I said, “But there are different programming languages for different sorts of tasks.” “That’s stupid” she said, with all the perception of 6 weeks Code Club experience. “You can do everything in Scratch.”…

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“Please interrupt me if I use an acronym or term you don’t understand”

by @edent | # # # | 1 comment | Read ~206 times.

This isn’t a new speaking tip – and it is one I’ve stolen from several other speakers on the conference circuit – but I want to explain how it made me feel to use it. I started my talk at Hackference Birmingham with an impassioned plea to the audience. If you don’t understand something I’ve…

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Artificial Intelligence is a Horseless Carriage

by @edent | # # | 1 comment | Read ~269 times.

I’ve been thinking about words. The Chinese word for “train” – the mode of transport – is 火车. Which literally translates as “fire chariot”. Long gone are the days when trains were pulled by a fire-breathing engine at the front, and yet this linguistic skeuomorph hangs around. English is not immune from this. The television…

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How bad is Scotland's Computer Science Exam?

by @edent | # # # | 7 comments | Read ~2,658 times.

Oh noes! The computer science exams taken by 16 year olds may contain errors! Computer science exam had coding errors https://t.co/hljJetFSbf — BBC News Technology (@BBCTech) October 17, 2016 As a professional computerist, I was intrigued to see what our fine young minds are being tested on. My memories of “computing” at school was being…

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