[clug] el cheapo linux box?

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Sat May 7 18:35:16 MDT 2011

Hash: SHA1

On 05/07/2011 02:39 PM, Robert Edwards wrote:
> On 07/05/11 08:16, Jim Croft wrote:
>> what's 15 quid in real money? :)
>> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13292450
> I thought it was interesting how he got stuck into modern ICT courses
> being not much more than glorified typing courses from decades past...
> (and being responsible for the decline in students entering Comp. Sci.
> courses at Uni.)

Yeah, the thing that strikes me as incongruous is that on the one hand he's
saying "the problem is that people don't get open architecture, they don't get
to hack on stuff", and on the other he's saying "here's my all-in-one
closed-up solution that outputs HDMI and takes USB peripherals".

One of the key things that allowed me to get into computers was that BASIC was
supplied with every machine when I was growing up.  Besides the usual things
that we used these machines for - writing school assignments, playing games,
etc - you also had direct access to programming.  We wrote programs to do
silly things like print out "my brother sux!" repeatedly and then graduated to
writing limericks, storing collections of addresses, and onward to more
complicated things.  And you could just type one in!  You didn't need an
'environment' or an editor, you just wrote it at the command prompt.

Yes, making computers smaller, cheaper and easier to distribute is going to
make them more available to people.  And most kids are used to the idea that
you have to at least do something to get what you want - run a program to edit
your assignment, play your games or draw cool pictures.  But on most platforms
there are still almost no really simple, easily available programming
interfaces where everything's built in.

Except, of course, for Linux, where we have bash (cf Mikal Still) and a
variety of other programming languages, compiled and interpreted, readily
available.  Those poor suffering Windows and Mac people never get exposed to
the possibility of programming (I posit) because their environment makes
getting a programming interface harder and often expensive.

Ah well.  We convert them where we can :-)

(And I do think that there are, of course, many kids who are interested enough
to make the simple leap from "hey, my computer can do stuff" to "hey, I want
to make my computer do *my* stuff" and want to find out how.  So it's not like
we're going to run out of programmers.  But the gold rush is over in my
opinion - and Microsoft, Apple, Sony and Nintento are very happy keeping it
that way.)

Have fun,

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