2019
March
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El Woof!

I’m not a very big fan of Chick Fil A. Mostly, I like their breakfast. But I never really want Chick Fil A.

Except on Sunday. Of course. Cause it is closed.

The other day I was in a Chick Fil A. There was a spanish family there. Mexican. Guatemalan. Something. A mother. A father. Two children. They were leaving. The children were playing. I stood in line.

I was fourth in line. In front of me was an old white man. A real cracker looking guy. In front of him was a spanish looking man.

The old cracker guy says to the spanish guy in front of him, “Ya know, Ah saw some Mexicans in a pick up truck the other day. Outside a Chick Fil A.”

His drawl was Florida Cracker. Jeans. Plaid shirt. Could’ve been straight from central casting.

“They had a dog. You know, a dog.” Except he said dawg.

The spanish man he was talking to did not care. You could tell by how he hadn’t even turned around. Didn’t stop the old man from talking, though. Nothing seems to stop an old man from talking.

“And you know what?” the Old Cracker continued, “They were speaking Spanish to that dog! Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

This caught the man in front of him’s attention. Mine too. The old man kept talking.

“They would say ‘Come!’ except, you know, it was ‘Come!’ in spanish. Now every darned fool knows a dog don’t speak no spanish.”

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Map Maker, Map Maker, Make Me a Map!

http://www.mapmaker.com/shadowfacts/sunclock6.asp

Sunclock is a program that shows the current time of day with a 3d satelite map from the Goddard Space Flight Center. Night is in shadow. The day is bright.

During the night, city lights are turned on.

It can be set as your screensaver. It is my new screensaver.

You can also choose to see a display of the current sky over your current location. It will show you the visible constellations. This functionality could be easier to find than it is.

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Like My New Logo?

When I was in college I had a friend who had a box turtle. She kept it in a terrarium, which is like a three dimensional box without a top. It was just like this except for the part that it was really small and fit on her desk.

Her turtle’s name was Atrocious. My vote was Gamera, but I guess everyone with a box turtle calls it Gamera.

I would stand in front of Atrocious’ terrarium, stare into her dumb reptilian eyes, and say things like:
    FORWARD 100
    RIGHT 90

Like my old girlfriend, Logo is a programming language with a pet turtle. Unlike my old girlfriend, Logo follows the exact instructions that you give it.

Logo may be the only programming language with a pet.  Well… I suppose C# has VB.Net. But I’m not sure if that counts.

Logo is often considered a good language for young children to learn. It is a graphically oriented language that has very simple commands. It also has a command interface interpreter so children can immediately see the results of what they type.

All the examples in this post were created using MSWLogo, one of the many flavors of Logo currently available.

When you first start MSWLogo you are presented with a blank white page with a triangle in the middle.

This triangle is called a turtle. Why is it called a turtle, you may ask? Well, duh, cause it looks like a turtle! Actually, the real answer is because the Logo programming language was invented before computers could make realistic turtles.

Personally, I would have called it the B-2.

The above square was made by typing in these commands:

FORWARD 100
RIGHT 90
FORWARD 100
RIGHT 90
FORWARD 100
RIGHT 90
FORWARD 100
RIGHT 90

As you can see, the syntax is very obvious and verbose. The commands are complete english words.

The FORWARD command causes the turtle to move forward the specified number of “turtle steps.”

Yes, that’s right. Turtle. Steps. Not pixels, or picas or twips or any other more common measurement. But turtle steps. This really is a language created for children. Not that the words “Pixels,” “Picas,” or “Twips” actually sound any less childish.

Mommy! Mommy!  Look, I made a house!

The commands for the house are:

cs
left 180
forward 100
left 90
forward 100
left 90
forward 100
right 90
forward 20
left 180
forward 140
right 120
forward 140
right 120
forward 140

As you can see, Logo is not a case sensitive language. However, that was a lot of typing. I have no desire to type it again. This house will never have neighbors if I have to type all that in again.

Fortunately, Logo also has the concept of subroutines. I can create a routine called HOUSE by entering the following commands:

EDIT “House

to House
left 180
forward 100
left 90
forward 100
left 90
forward 100
right 90
forward 20
left 180
forward 140
right 120
forward 140
right 120
forward 140
end

Now, to draw a house, all I need to do is type
          HOUSE

Now how about giving my house a neighbor?

As you can see, my neighbor’s house is blue. Here is how it was done:

cs
setpencolor 0
house
home
setpencolor 7
setpos [-200 0]
setpencolor 1
house

This introduced new commands. Like everything in Logo, all of them are pretty self-explanatory. The color numbers map to the old 16 colors that stone age computer screens used to have. How quaint!

Is Logo still a useful language for children to learn? When I was a child, Logo was taught to us in 7th and 8th grade. Today, I would expect 8th graders to know Python or Ruby. Logo might be a good language for 4th graders to learn.

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Clever Humans Program Computers

In the mists of time, some of the world’s most Clever Humans invented a thing called a computer. These Clever Humans had names like Alan Turing and Charles Babbage (who later went on to invent an eponymous chain of computer game retailers which, due to mismanagement and shear idiocy, proved incapable of capitalizing on the blazing hot computer game market).

As they played with their new invention they quickly realized that something was wrong. It quickly became apparent to these Clever Humans that Computers Could Not Speak English!

You can imagine how frustrating this must have been. Here these Clever Humans are with this brilliantly powerful new toy, and every time they said, “Let’s Play Pong” the computer just winked at them. At first it may have been moderately flattering. But after a couple hours of getting winked at and preening about, one of their number, an Ada Lovelace, realized that maybe, perhaps, possibly. Nahh. No way. But… Just Maybe. These computers weren’t winking at them in response to the pleasant timbers of their voices and the brilliant things they were saying. The computers were winking cause they had no idea what they were saying and it all meant the same thing.

Never the type of people to be detered by such a simple problem, these Clever Humans invented a means of translating from english to computer through the use of a special computer language.

As time has passed, many, many Clever Humans have invented what they felt was an Even Better Computer Language.

Here, we will dip deep into the past and examine some of these historic, and even contemporary programming languages, and see what they are all about.

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Blogging with Windows Live Writer

I am using Windows Live Writer to post my blog. So far it seems to be pretty decent for my needs. It is a WYSIWYG editor that supports several different blog formats. The blog system I use is dasBlog and Windows Live Writer had that as a pick list item. Supposedly it also supports open formats such as  Movable Type.

Windows Live Writer read the settings straight from my website and I was up and blogging in seconds. Very easy. Very simple.

hmm… perhaps I’ve spoken too soon! When I try and publish this post I am getting this error message:

Server Error 0 Occurred

request contains invalid dateTime value [request : parameter 3 : struct mapped to type Post : member dateCreated mapped to type DateTime : dateTime]

What could the problem be…

Well… I copied it into a new blog instance and that seems to work.

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An Old Blog Post

This is an old blog post I made from several years ago. It is a good example of a Clever Human:

———-

my downstairs neighbor likes to feed bread to the ducks

except

the other day I caught him doing it

…and there were no ducks

anywhere

I was on my way to work and I glanced over

and stopped

and stared at him for a minute watching him throw some bread

I looked around for ducks. There were no ducks.

I looked back at him

and watched him throw another piece of bread

So I looked around for ducks again. Still no ducks. Lots of bread, though. He had obviously been doing this for awhile.

So I looked back at him. Stared for a second.

Then I walked to my car

I guess I was wrong. He doesn’t really like to feed the ducks

He just likes to throw bread

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