Errors, Side Effects and Unintended Consequences

Pretty broad subjects.  Difficult, too. in that they are largely unknowable. (If you knew there was an error, you would have fixed it!) Can a program be error free? Probably not. (Old joke: The only error-free program is one that is not used).  However, if you make a programming product that other folks use, you […]

“Learn Brain Surgery in 2 Weeks — It’s Not That Hard”

Well, I made that up — I did not actually find that headline. However, I see a lot of the, “Learn ‘X’ in 2 weeks”, where ‘X’ is almost anything, French, Python, Java, cellphone apps, etc.  Folks sign up, go through the process and are happy that they can “speak some words”.  Possibly, even do something […]

Programming “Petting Zoo” (Hour of Code)

I see that grade schools all over the world participated in an “Hour of Code” last week.  Lots of PR.  Kids had a great time. “Hey, I programmed a Star Wars game on my iPad!”  In my town, a person called, “information literacy instructor” said, “It’s all about critical thinking skills and logic.  They are […]

Computers, People: Why can’t we just, well, talk?

Ever go to France with a guidebook and French-English dictionary and try to have a conversation with a native? (I’m assuming that you are a native English speaker and know little or no French).  “Why do they talk so fast?” 🙂 While it may be possible to order a meal or get directions, it’s impossible to […]

Is a Washing Machine a Robot?

Sure, but it’s a little limited “going to it’s left”  🙂  How about a “spam filter”, or one of those remote controlled cars? Most references talk about entities that are autonomous and those that are not.  When I talk about the “robotics-revolution”, I mean robots with the following 4 broad qualities: 1. Something physical that can […]

“Uh-Oh” Robots are about to take over our jobs! + a Puzzle

Scare piece 1,994 (this week), entitled, “The Rise of the robots: Is this Time Different?”.  Actually, it’s a good article and answers the question with a definite, “maybe”.  Always a good answer when forecasting the future. (redundant? Anyone forecast the past? just historians increasing their narrative’s punch.) The problem here is that a., the future is […]

Program Taxonomy (sort of)

The, “sort of” is because a rigorous classification of computer languages is probably impossible & a lot of the details fall into the “who cares” category. From the computer itself to the folks programming them: Machine Language — all zeroes and ones — and lots of them.  The only one that a given computer can […]

Programming Languages (High Level)

Here, I’m talking about high level languages — not “machine languages” (binary numbers that interact directly with a computer) or even “assembly languages” (one-step removed, with mnemonics replacing the actual numbers.) Dealing with the low level languages is somewhat like reading those legal notices in the newspaper.  Doable, but who has the time and/or the ability […]