vacation scratchlog flush #3
I'm not sure that hacketyhack should be compared to BASIC. It's more of a Web2.0/5GL/high level scripting language.

The advantage of BASIC was it taught a lot of procedural programming concepts which could then be applied to almost any other procedural progamming language.

The problem is more trying to have an easy to learn language which teaches reusable concepts (not language specific APIs) just in a GUI or browser environment.

--ericball Wed Jul 11 11:20:51 2007
Yeah, the most fun BASIC was the graphics stuff...
so I take it your not in the BASIC considered harmful camp... me neither when I come to think about it. Though who knows, maybe it did damage my brain, because I think OO can be over-applied in general... though I am missing it lately with some Perl work I'm doing on my own time.
--Kirk Wed Jul 11 12:54:22 2007
When Dave Dameshek had that weekend radio show in Phoenix for, well, two weekends, he devised a game where callers would call him, he'd describe the crim scene, and deliver the setup. The caller would deliver the David Caruso one-liner. If you win, you heard The Who and won movie tickets. If you lose, you face the wrath of the Han Solo edition blaster.

He since moved to Pittsburgh, and does sports radio there. I don't know if he kept the game up.
--Nick B Wed Jul 11 13:21:03 2007
Eric's highlighting the use of BASIC to learn programming concepts reminds of the high school showing steps in algebra controversy. Some kids can answer the question easier without showing the steps, but they get penalized for not showing the steps.

After reading a book on 'Flow' or 'Optimum Experience,' I've started to view that controversy with leaning to the virtues of slowing down and showing those steps. Sure, the kid can answer the question without laborious showing those steps, but going through the process can have the advantage of helping organize the brain and thinking patterns. Having more organized thinking patterns can help in other matters that could possibly make life more enjoyable and help to cut down on the erratic emotions characteristic of teenagers.

But to have a teenager (or an adult who could do the math without showing their work) agree and appreciate such a stance is a whole other matter.
--The_Lex Wed Jul 11 14:36:54 2007
Years ago, when I was about 10 or 12, I took a summer "class," really a kind of camp, on basic robotics. It was really introductory-- we weren't building battle-bots or anything, but one of the things we did was play (and here's where I date myself) a game called "Robot Odyssey" on the then-prevalent Apple II computers (and later a PC-version, that is, for the Tandy computer) at the school where the camp took place. I had done some pretty complex (if not advanced-- POKE and PEEK weren't things I messed with) BASIC programming by that time, but "RO" gives you a series of puzzles that're simple to execute as a human, but so what, it doesn't let you solve them yourself-- you have to program a robot to solve them. Robots were simplified down to their inputs (direction bumpers and a radio antenna) and their outputs (another radio antenna and 4 thrusters). They also had a grabber that did some of the work and needed some circuit-building. You had a toolkit of logic gates (NOT, AND, OR, and XOR) whcih you wired together-- you could collect "chips" and, in a separate application build complex circuits of fairly unlimited complexity, "burn" them into the numbered chips, and then return to the game where the numbered chip would now do what you had programmed it to do. All in a drag-and-drop/arrow keys GUI.

Here's a great RO resource page, with means of playing the game itself.

For me, it wasn't so much an intro to programming as an intro to symbolic logic, and I'm tempted to say that this program was much more formative for me than it had any right to be, so great is my affection for it.

My best friend at the time, with whom I attended, who was a bit more of an electronics whiz to begin with, but he also really really embraced RO. Today he works for the NSA, building computers is some capacity he can't talk about. If it's any endorsement, the NSA grabbed him from the CIA, where he worked for only 2 weeks after they grabbed him from a lucrative Lockheed job, which he got straight out of college (BS in EE at WVU).
--LAN3 Thu Jul 12 00:03:40 2007
I don't think BASIC was harmful. I think most of the complaints against BASIC were because it isn't a structured programming language and was created to work in limitted RAM & ROM environments.

And I remember Robot Odyssey, though I don't think I was able to get very far with my cracked copy.
--ericball Thu Jul 12 10:48:03 2007
That's funny, I was just talking about Robot Odyssey on a thread on

It kicked my butt back in the day. That kit didn't pull many punches.
--Kirk Thu Jul 12 14:22:24 2007
Oh no, I wasn't commenting on your opinions at all. I was making a connection between your comments on BASIC and my final conclusion about going through a whole bunch of trouble when someone could just reach the end without too much trouble. In other words, focusing so much on the "end goal" that they didn't appreciate the journey.
--The_Lex Thu Jul 12 14:58:16 2007

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