Questions from my Art, Life and Programming Lecture

Should I switch to mac? Is it hard to get used to?

Yes, switching to Mac was the best thing I ever did and does wonders for my productivity. I have found it much easier to develop on Macs than on Windows.

Are there places children shouldn’t go on the internet?

I think this question is answered really well in Don Tapscott‘s Grown Up Digital. The short answer is – yes, but adding blocks is not the way to stop them. They’ll find a way around it! There are risks to restricting their access too much, too.

What do I think about the idea of the Semantic web.

I’m sure we will see the improvements the semantic web is supposed to offer, but I make no prediction as to whether they will come as a result of the semantic web, or something else (like improved NLP).

What are your predictions for new technologies?

The only prediction I will make here is that we will be surprised.

What programming languages do you think will be big in the future, and how do I prepare?

I think functional programming will become more important, due to it’s inherently thread-safe nature. Google uses concepts from functional programming, and I think others will catch on. C# incorporates some elements of functional programming, and I think that will be big too. Java will continue to be used, just because so many students are graduating knowing it. Keep an eye on Google’s new programming language, too.

Prepare yourself for change – learn an OO language, a scripting language, and a functional one. This will make it easier for you to learn the new languages that will come along.

(If you’re interested in learning Java, I will be running more workshops in the new year – contact me or note in the comments if you want to hear about them as they arise. I may also run something on the basics of Haskell, if there’s demand. If you’re interested in learning Ruby, check out Ruby Tuesdays at the Code Factory).

Why is it so hard to access BASIC on Windows 98?

Because few people use it and Microsoft has opted to make it difficult for your average users to get to the few development tools that are available as standard.

I think this is one of the reasons why I see more and more developers using Macs, because it comes with many programming language compilers (Java, Python, C etc) as standard and to get to them, the developer just need to fire up a terminal.

Quantum computing.

I’m sorry, I don’t know anything about this! Try Wikipedia.

What’s Java?

Java is a programming language, taught widely and used in many applications due to it’s system independence (i.e the same code should work on a Mac, a Windows machine, or on Unix).

It is also possible to use Java code in web applications. For example, Processing is built on Java and makes it easy to create applets which are embeddable in your web-browser (see mine).

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