Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Don't Pull the Plug!

My MacBook Pro has officially fallen into a coma.

While the feeble flickering of a grey screen inspires hope, the unresponsive OSX load screen, with its calm steel blue background, offers little joy with its spinning colour wheel and empty, unmoving load bar. She wasn't even a year old.

Thank you, System Update 10.4.10 - you took my perfectly functioning and beloved machine, and virtually took a sledgehammer to its ankles. I'm worried that when I open my crippled machine in target disk mode later, I'm going to get VoiceOver shouting at me in a mechanical, Mid-West accent: He didn't get out of the COCK-A-DOODIE CAR!!!

10.4.10 is my number one fan.


I've been listening to a lot of Arcade Fire: and you should too.

Haiti and Une année sans lumiere, off of their first album, were also very good -- but I just like hearing beautiful songs in French; even if it's all, you know, Québécoise.


I'll note that I am, in part, pissed off that my computers coma is keeping me from my game platform, photography, art & film shorts (I had been compiling a movie on bubbles!), PDFs of countless miscellaneous information, folders of Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing and... The foundations of my entry into using Objective-C for Xcode. Sure; most of what I had written was notes, and most of what was saved was whatever freebee manuals I could get my hands on.

You see, my people; I want to make video games. Not FPS or RPGs; but mind games -- educational games for grown-ups, as it were. At the moment, I am obsessing over the creation of a word game - halfway between Bejewelled and Bookworm Adventures; speed spelling puzzle game. Ideally, I'd like to create it as a dashboard widget and expand from there but... Well, I have no practical programming experience.

Being the only girl in a remedial BTEC ND Software Development course allowed me to experience writing car rental schemes in VBA in Excel. They most likely could not have chosen a more banal way of introducing programming to apathetic North London hoodlums. I learned more about programming from Monadology than I did there. Regardless!

Naturally, I have to teach myself how to program -- when my sweet, sweet Uni grant comes in this September, I am investing in Programming in Objective-C by Stephen Kochan, which has been suggested as a good starting point for my dive into application development for Mac. Would the computer minded concur? Eventually I would like to move towards Cocoa, and then beyond...

But that's all a little besides the point at the moment, seeing as my machine refuses to even turn on; c'est le vie!


Tom Morris said...

You can't go too wrong with ObjC (I can't say that it's bad - I haven't really used it, and on the face of it, it looks like a pretty good language), although I wouldn't start with it.

I'd start with Python (in fact, I wish I started with Python). Although for making Mac OS X GUI applications, Python is not ideally suited as ObjC is, Python is a really good programming language that will teach you good practice (it also has some GUI libraries on OS X). It's important to get the basics right, then which language you have to write in becomes a far smaller barrier. In the same way that grammar transcends genre (mostly), good programming technique transcends language or context.

Python is suggested in both Peter Norvig's essay on becoming a programmer and Eric Raymond's. There's a good reason for that. See the Beginner's Guide if you are interested.

J.Black said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.Black said...


Ah, thank you for the suggestion! I had read Norvig's advice all too long ago, and sometime between then and now I had forgotten about the simplicity of starting from a clear, strong point -- like Python.

I think that all too often, trying to find a solid ground to build ones programming experience from is quickly obfuscated by hype from what is needed now, rather than what is most practical in the long term to develop ones overall understanding of language.

I read David Brin's Why Johnny Can't Code on Salon a while back, and I think it illustrates quite well why it is difficult to find something that is, well, not easy -- but a conceptually un-overwhelming starting point for young/unexperienced programmers. I've had a copy of Experiments in Artificial Intelligence for Microcomputers, which is an intro to BASIC, for years - which I read & re-read until the binding fell apart -- but I used it more like a history book than a programming manual. I think practicality is in dire need - time to read and experiment, parrot fashion. Whoo!