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rurwin
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:14 pm

Untrue. No released version of Linux has ever included Minix code.

In the initial announcement, Linus Torvalds said


PS. Yes – it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT portable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.


He wrote Linux using Minix, ie his PC was running Minix before he had an OS he could edit and compile on, but he did not use the code of Minix as a base.

The two are incompatible at a deep level. Minux uses a micro-kernel approach and Linux uses a monolithic kernel. They got into a heated exchange about which was better some time later.

f0ulOli
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:46 pm

Rose tinted glasses are a pain!

Imagine you are a 40 year old in 1981, with a career in IT behind you.  What would you say about 12 year olds learning to program in a ZX81?

In all honesty, you would be saying how the home PC is a bad thing, making it so difficult to learn about registers, assembly bit swapping etc.  Its all very well having a compiler auto loading, but how will the kids learn how to control the CPU properly?

While I really am looking forward to play with a RaspPI, I have a feeling that my 11 yr old nephew isn't.  However, the whole Linux / its too complex thing isn't going to defeat him. He will just accept it, and know there are a few things that he must do before he does something else!

To get his support,  I need to convince him that its better than 'Little Big Planet' on the xBox!

Alchemy
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 3:53 pm

f0ulOli said:


To get his support,  I need to convince him that its better than 'Little Big Planet' on the xBox!


This is true at home. In school it only needs to beat double geography.

TheManWhoWas
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 4:42 pm

Little Big Planet is an excellent example because it contains a level editor with enough logic to do things like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?g.....-2-vdNItoI

I think it is this sort of environment that is needed to engage today's generation in programming, but with proper tutorials and a proper language to learn.

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abishur
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:44 pm

I heard my wife on my Linux box this morning and asked her when she started using it.  She replied "Well it's always on and when I realized how easy it was to use I started liking it"
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TheManWhoWas
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:58 pm

Abishur said:


I heard my wife on my Linux box this morning and asked her when she started using it.  She replied "Well it's always on and when I realized how easy it was to use I started liking it"



But I'd hazard a guess that a) you'd already set it up, and b) she wasn't using it to write Python scripts for fun.

bredman
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 6:22 pm

I doubt if my wife knows that her laptop is running Linux. As far as she is concerned, it runs a web browser and Skype.

When she wants to edit a document, she just opens the document. I doubt that she even knows that she has a word processor or spreadsheet program. As far as she is concerned, she just has documents.

If you worry that complexity will scare people away, just give them a walled garden. This is how Apple sells technology. But the RPi should allow kids to climb over the wall to escape the garden.

This shows that you can show or hide as much as you want. You may want to expose a tiny bit of Linux to schoolkids to encourage their curiosity.

TheManWhoWas
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:30 pm

To me the fact the Raspberry Pi will be running Linux is completely irrelevant. I assumed it was running it for the same reason people use it on servers - because it does the job and is free.

I originally started this post because every time I visited this site to see how things were progressing, I was stuck by the fact that it seemed like an offshoot of http://www.linuxquestions.org/ rather than the "new BBC micro" site. I just couldn't see anything that felt like it was going to ease newbies into programming - it all looked too complicated compared with the ridiculous simplicity of the ZX81 I started out on. But apparently that kind of stuff is in the pipeline.

And this to me is the essential point: a modern BBC Micro won't be the same as one from 25 years ago, it needs to embrace the state of the art, but also provide routes in to start programming that don't naturally exist on a standard Windows, Mac or Linux desktop machine. But the fact it is Linux, and Linux is easy to use to do everyday tasks, is still irrelevant.

adlambert

Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:40 pm

f0ulOli said:


Imagine you are a 40 year old in 1981, with a career in IT behind you.  What would you say about 12 year olds learning to program in a ZX81?

In all honesty, you would be saying how the home PC is a bad thing, making it so difficult to learn about registers, assembly bit swapping etc.  Its all very well having a compiler auto loading, but how will the kids learn how to control the CPU properly?


Many ZX81 kiddies were quickly into Z80 Assembler back then, it wasn't difficult to get beyond the BASIC interpreter shell. The 40 year old back then might lament the new process, of coding straight to the PC, instead of using a pencil and sending sheets off to be encoded onto punch cards!

Alchemy
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:46 pm

Whatever is in the pipeline. 10,000 people will get Boards soon. And then more and then more. March to September is 6 months. That is some serious beta time to make sure the educational launch works. Acorn and Sinclair had nothing like that.

Lynbarn
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:52 pm

TheManWhoWas said:

...
And this to me is the essential point: a modern BBC Micro won't be the same as one from 25 years ago, it needs to embrace the state of the art, but also provide routes in to start programming that don't naturally exist on a standard Windows, Mac or Linux desktop machine. But the fact it is Linux, and Linux is easy to use to do everyday tasks, is still irrelevant.


I can see that raising a few hackles , but I think I know what you mean. In terms of basic programming skills as with the ZX81, BBC Micro, etc. it will be possible to build a boot SD that will boot the 'Pi directly into a flashing cursor, and allow programming to begin, with all the Linux stuff  hidden away. That may be ideal in certain circumstances, for the ab initio programmer getting to grips with basic programming concepts for example, but plug in another SD, and some or all the greater glories of Linux (or possibly other OSs) can be laid open to the enquiring mind.  The point is though, that the 'Pi is predominently going to be a Linux system, so why not make the most of it?

A dedicated 'Pi-only operating system could be developed, but why reinvent the wheel when we already have a robust, free and open system to work from? Had a Linux equivalent been around in the 1980s, I wonder how many of the home computers we had then would have used it?

TheManWhoWas
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:18 pm

Lynbarn said:

I think I know what you mean. In terms of basic programming skills as with the ZX81, BBC Micro, etc. it will be possible to build a boot SD that will boot the "Pi directly into a flashing cursor, and allow programming to begin, with all the Linux stuff  hidden away.
Actually I think you are missing my point entirely. I don't think a modern BBC Micro wants to boot into a flashing cursor like my ZX81 did 30 years ago; it needs to land in a whizz bang desktop environment covered in cool links to funky programming environments that let newbie programmers make things happen in graphically rich environments like the games they are used to playing. And it needs to lead them by the hand, like that Alice environment does.

Linux is irrelevant to this. It is just the OS all this runs on.

Lynbarn
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:28 pm

TheManWhoWas said:


Lynbarn said:


I think I know what you mean. In terms of basic programming skills as with the ZX81, BBC Micro, etc. it will be possible to build a boot SD that will boot the "Pi directly into a flashing cursor, and allow programming to begin, with all the Linux stuff  hidden away.


Actually I think you are missing my point entirely. I don't think a modern BBC Micro wants to boot into a flashing cursor like my ZX81 did 30 years ago; it needs to land in a whizz bang desktop environment covered in cool links to funky programming environments that let newbie programmers make things happen in graphically rich environments like the games they are used to playing. And it needs to lead them by the hand, like that Alice environment does.

Linux is irrelevant to this. It is just the OS all this runs on.


No, I understand that, but Linux isn't irrelevent – its relevent because it is the OS that is available to do all this, from 1980s "BBC" mode, to "fully funky"! The OS could be something else, but primarily, (one or more of several versions of) Linux will be the tool that is most commonly available – for the immediate future at least.   All that needs to be done is build the BBC/fully funky GUIs onto Linux. Alice isn't an OS – it needs Linux (for example) to run on top of.

Alchemy
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:33 pm

I think Alice teaches many things including how to use an integrated development environment.

From there you can probably go anywhere Python, Qt5 etc. And be used to navigating the programming environment.

I agree the OS is irrelevant. I used Windows for Alice. And once they can handle Python Qt5 they are programmers. Mission accomplished/ Cheap tool taught the basics job done.

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abishur
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:03 am

TheManWhoWas said:


Abishur said:


I heard my wife on my Linux box this morning and asked her when she started using it.  She replied "Well it's always on and when I realized how easy it was to use I started liking it"


But I'd hazard a guess that a) you'd already set it up, and b) she wasn't using it to write Python scripts for fun.



lol, if my wife was trying to write Python scripts for fun she would be more than able to figure out how to install Linux (which, imho, was easier to install than Windows 7 was).  Fortunately, the r-pi will be even easier to install, they're even working a program out so all you have to do is plug in the SD card you want the image on and it sets the whole thing up for you (1 click install).

Regardless, I thought your main concern would be ease of sit down and use it.  On that regard I was pointing out that my very windows oriented wife found linux very easy to use once she actually sat down and tried it out
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Mozza
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:54 am

I've read through this post and have seen a bit of a trend to some of the posts. There seems to be a lot of old school developers wanting something like 'what we had'. You switch it on and there is the prompt.  I think that was fine 'back in our day' (I am a 'relative' oldie, growing up with my brother's C16, my own Speccy and then on through various Amigas).

Kids today are used to GUI's. On PCs, phones, TVs. And because of that I think a desktop environment would be required. It doesn't have to be full of links to Apps, Games etc.. Just have an icon for the IDE/language you are using, maybe some reference material and supplemental course documentation. Depending on different courses/years this can be changed. a Sprite tool, Icon tool, Audio tool, Database etc.. depending on what is being developed.

It won't take kids long to get to grasps with the menu's of the different IDEs, languages and then from then on it is about just programming and keeping them engaged.

Well that's my two-penneth.

adlambert

Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:04 am

Google used linux (a modified kernel of) for its Android phone/tablet OS*, but they have made it appeal to mass market by almost completely hiding the underlying OS and building their own usability layer on top (actually more than that because they use a virtual machine). In this state it is perfectly acceptable to millions of users, they even try to avoid talking about the linux side of things, to try to preserve this mass market friendliness. They allow device manufacturers to take it a step further by having their own enhanced UI layer (SenseUI, TouchWiz etc).

As far as a user interface goes, Android starts users up in a grid of icons, rather than dropping them straight into any particular application. This seems to be perfectly acceptable to millions. And those that want to get inside beyond the protective Android environment, it's fairly straightforward to "root" the device.

*Google purchases Android Inc and continued development.

Alchemy
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:17 am

adlambert said:


In this state it is perfectly acceptable to millions of users, they even try to avoid talking about the linux side of things, to try to preserve this mass market friendliness.


I have one issue with this. The first step of educating kids is telling them they are not Users.

Yes the current trend in the market is dumbing down software for ever stupider users. But you can't possibly dumb down programming. Whats needed is smarter teaching. And I really hope many of these educated pupils will laugh at app store programs. And just find the web page that does whatever function for free - for those with a brain.

andyl
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:09 am

adlambert said:


f0ulOli said:

Imagine you are a 40 year old in 1981, with a career in IT behind you.  What would you say about 12 year olds learning to program in a ZX81?

In all honesty, you would be saying how the home PC is a bad thing, making it so difficult to learn about registers, assembly bit swapping etc.  Its all very well having a compiler auto loading, but how will the kids learn how to control the CPU properly?

Many ZX81 kiddies were quickly into Z80 Assembler back then, it wasn't difficult to get beyond the BASIC interpreter shell.


The reason people moved to assembler back then was because either BASIC was too slow, or the program took too much space, or you just couldn't do what you wanted with BASIC. There is no point in making a virtue out of necessity. These days the majority would stick with a high-level language and be better off for it.

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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:27 am

andyl said:


adlambert said:


f0ulOli said:

Imagine you are a 40 year old in 1981, with a career in IT behind you.  What would you say about 12 year olds learning to program in a ZX81?

In all honesty, you would be saying how the home PC is a bad thing, making it so difficult to learn about registers, assembly bit swapping etc.  Its all very well having a compiler auto loading, but how will the kids learn how to control the CPU properly?

Many ZX81 kiddies were quickly into Z80 Assembler back then, it wasn't difficult to get beyond the BASIC interpreter shell.


The reason people moved to assembler back then was because either BASIC was too slow, or the program took too much space, or you just couldn't do what you wanted with BASIC. There is no point in making a virtue out of necessity. These days the majority would stick with a high-level language and be better off for it.


WIth apologies to Monty Python

"You tell that to the youth of today, and they won't believe you"

Although I grew on on the BBC micro and writing assembler on that, I avoid assembler like the plague nowadays - for the vast majority of stuff it's completely irrelevant. High level languages are faster to write, easier to debug, easier to maintain and more portable, whilst giving 99% of the performance of hand crafted assembler (YMMV).

That 1% is where you need ultimate performance - for example the Raspi GPU code has quite a bit of assembler in it in the decoders. Mainly to give access to the vector instruction set.
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Wooloomooloo
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:47 pm

TheManWhoWas said:


Little Big Planet is an excellent example because it contains a level editor with enough logic to do things like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?g.....-2-vdNItoI

I think it is this sort of environment that is needed to engage today's generation in programming, but with proper tutorials and a proper language to learn.



I arrived myself at a similar conclusion - assuming simple feats of programming (re:PRINT "Hello World", bouncing ball etc.) aren't interesting/cool enough to hold attention of kids today (I did say assuming...), while stuff that would being simply way too complicated, what if there would be a way to entice them with the real deal, then let them in through the back door without "paying the price of admission"?

More specifically, what if we could present them with a game at something at least vaguely comparable to today's standards (be it Abuse/Wolfenstein/Doom/Duke Nukem/Quake - hey, Angry Birds for all I care...), but crucially, a game that uses some kind of scripting on its back end to set up the playing field / control the opponents / etc. - a standard language like Python would be great, but I have no idea what is actually being used for such stuff. It might be a good idea to seriously dumb down said scripts, therefore making the game somewhat broken, perhaps much too easy. Kids then could get the 2D/3D bling that might keep them interested and the opportunity to get knee-deep into the scripts governing the game, trying to make it smarter / fix the targeting / path-finding of the opponents etc. without having to deal with the complexity required to program an actual real-life game. Which is not to say they wouldn't be welcome to pick apart the 3D engine in C later if they wish, but I'm talking about getting them interested at first here, at the entry level.

I mean, all you need is an Angry Birds (ok, Qbasic Gorrila...) clone that can initially only shoot straight, a level that requires a curved trajectory to succeed, and a short description of the relevant ballistics and we're in business, right...?

Am I making any sense...?

Alchemy
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:00 pm

Wooloomooloo said:


Am I making any sense…?


Angry birds is based on this http://code.google.com/p/box2d.....loads/list its old I'm sure its on Linux by now. Never actually used it myself.

Abuse is Lisp. To be fair when I was at school if you knew basic they taught you Lisp. Buts still the sources are big for Abuse.

But I think Alice and RobotC are already there and have tutorials. They just don't have a "Shoot" command. But I think Alice could be taught that. And as Alice will probably be certain I'm voting for that again.

Pirx-Danford
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:35 pm

I am seeing a trend in this thread that assumes that kids have to learn in game like environments.

This is something I must say that I completely disapprove of.

The reason I am saying this is that my background was at the start of my "career" I really was that kid that had access to games on the C64= and was thinking that I could maybe become a game developer.

But when I decided to learn coding I did not even think a moment about wanting to learn in a game environment and I did not ask my peers to help me.

Some people seem to believe that we that are working in the industry have to find a way to spark the interest and then set the kids on a safe path to travel on.

Well I disagree with the safe path.

It is true that we have to spark the interest, but what we have to do next is to remove hurdles that might get in the way and even now the RasPi already is all that.

Because every reason standing in the way of a kid is already taken care of with the educational version of the RasPi:
- dedicated device for learning
- instantly available tools
- documentation how to start

All that was stopping me from starting earlier (I wanted to start with 10 years already) was the simple fact that I did not have a computer, so I lost 4 years.
After that the learning never was a problem, finding an entrance point into a career was the next hurdle, mastering that I never was without work.

So two hurdles are there:
1) providing means to learn
2) offering a career path

I would say number 1 can be considered checked, let the exact "how" evolve, but seriously game environment? You should have more faith in the kids really.

Alchemy
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:46 pm

Pirx Danford said:


I am seeing a trend in this thread that assumes that kids have to learn in game like environments.


If you've tried Alice and that's what you think fair enough. But I don't agree seeing the program behind a graphical scene as a game. Or making a game as a game. Or integrated programming environments as games.

No more than command prompts are games because that's what text adventures used to be like.

Wooloomooloo
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Re: Isn't this all too complicated?

Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:02 pm

Hey, I can only speak for myself (as can you btw.), but if the only way I could have experienced programming would have been bubble sort and linked lists and drawing fractals, I can guarantee you I'd be a mere browser-user today. I could never pursue knowledge for the knowledge's sake alone and yes, games in all forms and shapes have been the fuel that got me interested in BASIC, Z80 assembly and everything else ever since. Not necessarily writing them, though; but snatching the entry code to the second armored door in Star Trek 25th anniversary by means of a debugger sure felt sweet at the time.

Of course – YMMV.

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