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Programming sucks.

And once somebody wrote a programming language that let somebody else write this:

#:: ::-| ::-| .-. :||-:: 0-| .-| ::||-| .:|-. :||
open(Q,$0);while(){if(/^#(.*)$/){for(split('-',$1)){$q=0;for(split){s/|
/:.:/xg;s/:/../g;$Q=$_?length:$_;$q+=$q?$Q:$Q*20;}print chr($q);}}}print"n";
#.: ::||-| .||-| :|||-| ::||-| ||-:: :|||-| .:|

According to the author, that program is “two lines of code that parse two lines of embedded comments in the code to read the Mayan numbers representing the individual ASCII characters that make up the magazine title, rendered in 90-degree rotated ASCII art.”

That program won a contest, because of course it did. Do you want to live in a world like this?

–Peter Welch on why it’s amazing anything works at all.

This whole article is pretty damn great. If you’ve ever worked in or been frustrated by IT, go read it.

Or maybe don’t. You’ll probably sleep better if you don’t.

2015-05-13T09:05:44+10:0011th July, 2014|Tags: humor, programming, tech|

Codemancer!

A kickstarter for a cute little game intended to try and make programming accessible to kids. It draws inspiration from sources like Harry Potter, Pokèmon, and Final Fantasy Tactics to present code-flow in an intuitive and language-neutral way. For those of you who’ve never learnt to code (you lucky things), this is the hardest concept to pick up. Getting over this learning mountain in one language–any language, even an abstracted one like Codemancer‘s–will basically set you up to learn any other language out there. Syntax is easy. Concepts are hard. Which is the first reason I like this project.

The second? It has a strong focus on representation and diversity; no white-boy heroes chasing damsels here.

There’s fifteen days to go on the Kickstarter and, in my opinion, Codemancer is definitely worth any dollars you happen to have spare. (Or a signal-boost. Those help too!)

2014-05-12T20:38:04+10:0012th May, 2014|Tags: culture, gaming, kickstarter, pop culture, programming, tech|

The journey is easier with a destination in mind.

This post is specifically about programming, but is applicable to a lot of skills.

I taught myself to code circa age 17, and my poison of choice was PHP. I chose it mainly because it’d been the language used in the rewrite of the then-huge sailormoon.org forums, and Scott–the webmaster of said site–was the only guy I knew who was anything approaching a Real Life Certified Professional Geek. My previous coding experience mainly consisted of looking at forum code and making HTML tweaks buried in the echo lines, and I was pretty good at that, so I thought actually writing something myself wouldn’t be too hard.

I did have a project in mind: I wanted to write a weblog.

Don’t all laugh at once.

Remember, this was the early ’00s. LiveJournal and Blogger had only just launched, and though I had accounts on both services, I thought having my own homebrew script would be much cooler.

So I opened a tutorial, sat myself down, and decided to start with a login box.

About half an hour later I was literally in tears–actually bawling my eyes out in my study–because I couldn’t do it. I didn’t even know where to start. And, suddenly, the project seemed so insurmountable, the hill so impossibly steep…

I turned to Google: php login form. That lead me to someone else’s code, which–eyes still red from tears–I picked apart and reassembled for my own ends. Then, cookies conquered, I moved onto the basic blog post CRUD, and was pleased to find it easy.

I never looked back, after that; nowadays, I can and have written pretty much anything in PHP I’ve wanted to, from schematic mapping interfaces to RSS data aggregators to one script that logged itself into LiveJournal.

But I’ll never forget sitting in front of my very first <?php, tears running down my cheeks. Those first few steps were difficult. But I had a project. And I made it in the end.

2019-07-31T09:37:05+10:0029th January, 2014|Tags: programming, tech|