Back in grade school (a long, long time ago), we used to have computer class where we'd learn how to flowchart BASIC programs and then write simple stuff. For me, it was often some variation of animating ASCII characters to look like breakdancers. For realz. Did I mention I grew up in East Side San Jo'?
<--- I owned a copy of this book and a couple others, and would spend Saturdays typing in hundreds of lines of code into my beige model TI-99/4A. I'd then save them to cassette (!!) so I wouldn't have to do it again. That was...not a reliable storage method....After doing that a lot I fancied that I'd gotten the gist of enough commands that I could start to do my own thing. I was pretty ambitious though, and after spending long afternoons flow-charting, referencing code syntax in another book, and then hand-writing countless lines of code, I'd attempt to input them to see if they'd work. I'd use chunks of code from other programs I'd entered, after figuring that I understood their functions within the program (sometimes yes, sometimes no). I'd tweak other bits to suit my own ends, and then try to write other sections from scratch. Of course, many of the functions were advanced math functions which to this day I still can't use, but you should've seen me trying to understand and grapple COS, LOG and SIN functions in, what, 4th/5th grade? Of course I was in over my head, and I don't think any worked; without a good way to debug nor iterative saving I'd eventually lose interest and go draw something--the book had nifty pen-and-ink illustrations by George Beker, and I dutifully copied off a number of them. Or I'd go play Colecovision, or run around outside for a few hours, back when kids played together without organized sports (aka, The Good Ol' Days). This then was the secret life of one ~9 year old who eventually chose illustration over programming. The latter would have paid better.
It does make me wonder though, about what might have been if I'd been introduced at that point to an actual programmer. I did grow up in Silicon Valley, after all. Not only did I love video games, but the bulk of those companies had offices within 10 miles back then. What if my parents had known someone, or a teacher had? My folks didn't really know what I was doing--it was enough for them to see I was spending my free time on weekends in using a $99 computer they had no idea what to do with, or drawing. In the end, my development via extracurricular activities was always done in private--I never told my teachers at school that I was struggling with these projects at home (and our computer teacher was the librarian anyway, who I don't think knew much beyond the curriculum). And though I was ambitious in the things I was copying back then in drawing, too, when it came down to it I was better able to succeed at drawing than advanced math at that age, and left to my own devices that had a lot to do with why I kept on with the art instead.
So rather than post up some new stuff this week, I dug into the blog code and did a couple of things. Granted, it was a snap compared to some of the ASP hijinks I've gotten myself into.
- I removed the little mosaic of share buttons on the bottom of each post. Let's face it, you didn't use them very often, and you're smart enough that if you want to share a post from here--which is always appreciated--you can copy/paste it into whatever site you're trying to share the love to. So, a little less clutter.
- I dropped Blogger's comment engine and subbed in Facebook's. I've been seeing it around and it's just nicer, with FB integration. It should also reduce some of the occasional spam posts I get and have to remove (because I didn't want to force you to make a Google account to comment, which is ironic given what I've just done). Two downsides: i.) All the old comments--I mean, that avalanche of interactions that once was--have been hidden. If this doesn't work out, they can come back but the whole Blogger comment module was stripped out for now. ii.) Deserves it's own proper numeral, so:
- Maybe you're not on Facebook? Yes, such creatures exist. My wife is one of them. So is my best friend. But here's the thing: neither one really ever comments here anyway, so it's not like I'm inconveniencing the 2 people I'm closest with who I know aren't on FB (heck, my wife rarely even reads my blog!). Most of you whom I know, who do comment, you're there already. And likely, most of you whom I don't know, but who wish to comment, are probably there too.