CI/CD / Programming Languages

This Week In Programming: What’s Wrong with Kids These Days?

27 Jan 2018 9:00am, by

We’ll start this week with a bit of scoop of “back in my day,” a dash of “what’s wrong with kids these days,” and a heaping spoonful of “get off my lawn, you young whippersnapper!”

According to a report cited by The Next Web, 80’s kids (such as yours truly) started programming at an earlier age than today’s millennials. Dang millennials, you’re messing up again, it seems. (Side note: read on, as this maaaaay be sarcasm.) According to the report, 12.2 percent of 35-40-year-olds started coding before age 10, 4.1 percent of 25-34-year-olds, and a mere 1.8 percent of 18-24-year-olds. As the author points out, “Back then, if you wanted to play a game or run a bit of software, chances were high you’d have to build it yourself” by “typing literally word for word entire programs.”

As one of those among the crotchety “I started coding before I could ride a bike” generation, I’ll have you know that every word is true.

Does that make us “old” folks better? I’d somehow venture not — not necessarily, at least.

Sure, we were learning all about coding from the ground up, but couldn’t the same be said for many technologies and generations? Do we condemn modern metalworkers when they use machinery instead of hand tools and wood-fired kilns like the generations before them? How about carpenters using laser levels, stud finders and table saws? Do they all learn their trade with primitive technologies before moving to the modern tools?

While an understanding of fundamentals may serve a purpose, fundamentals can change. Using modern tools allows us to build modern solutions and maybe that translates into a generation of developers who start out learning a different, higher level of fundamentals. Maybe I was struggling to learn BASIC while I was also learning to read, but does that make me somehow better than my niece who is busy using online tools at the ripe age of eight to build fully functional games? I’m talking way more functional than the drivel I got to play with after spending hours transcribing the back two pages of code in Discover Magazine (only to chase down endless errors due to typos).

After all, we looked last week at how we can use AI to build web front ends from mock-ups, and meanwhile, low-code development is on the rise as a viable technological tool, and it just seems that harping on old technologies may not be the way forward.

Oh, and while I have the attention of all your age-addled brains, remember BBS door games? (Tradewars, anyone? Legend of the Red Dragon?) Well, Scott Hanselman posted a great little blog last week all about running BBS door games on Windows 10 for those of you who feel like reminiscing, or even getting your hands a little dirty and setting something up. (Invites to join in will be strongly considered.)

This Week in Programming

  • Facebook Open Sources Object Detection: Facebook announced this week that it would open source Detectron, its “state-of-the-art platform for object detection research.” Detectron started in 2016 and has been used in numerous projects to “train custom models for a variety of applications including augmented reality and community integrity” that are capable of being deployed in the cloud and run on mobile, powered by the Caffe2 runtime. In its blog post, the company states its goal as “to make our research as open as possible and to accelerate research in labs across the world.” Perhaps learning from its follies with open-source licensing last year, Facebook is making Detectron available under the Apache 2.0 license. It will also release performance baselines for more than 70 pre-trained models.
  • Visual Studio Code Gets Org Mode: If you’re made to use Visual Studio Code, but really you’re an Emacs user at heart, you may begin rejoicing — Org-Mode for Visual Studio Code is here. The extension, currently in alpha, “lets you keep notes, maintain TODO lists, and author documents, all in plain text.”
  • TypeScript 2.7 Nears Release: Infoworld has all the details on what’s new in TypeScript 2.7, noting that version 2.7 has been moved to release candidate stage, with general availability expected in mid-February. The new version brings “three noteworthy improvements: definite assignment checks for class properties, fixed length tuples, and improved narrowing for the in and instance of operators.” Check out Microsoft’s announcement for full details, as well as the company’s roadmap for a “more comprehensive list of this release, as well as our future plans.”
  • It Just Makes Sense… that Go would be available in China — given the country’s 2,500-year-old game of the same name — and now it is. In a blog post, the Go team announced that “the content on golang.org is now available in mainland China through the name https://golang.google.cn,” which gives China’s growing Go community access to official documentation, technical articles, and binaries. According to the post, the Go community in China is quickly growing, with GopherChina, the first Go conference in the country, has become one of the largest Go conferences in the world with over 1200 attendees last year. Similarly, a popular community-built Chinese Go forum “saw their traffic increase threefold and the number of participants in Go-specific groups on social platforms like WeChat and QQ has grown to over 11,000 people.”
  • Google Play Games SDK 3.0: Google also releases its Google Play Games Services C++ SDK 3.0, which includes bug fixes for the Nearby API and refinements in the Snapshots API. Full details can be found on the SDK download page and samples are available on GitHub.
  • Several Actual Uses for Blockchain? It was just a couple weeks ago that we saw an argument that there was no good use for blockchain outside of cryptocurrency. Well, fuddy-duddy to that — here are six alternative (and better) uses for blockchain that includes using blockchain technology to “track fish caught by certified, socially conscious fishers in Indonesia,” help the United Nations to “track its food and cash assistance to needy families in Pakistan,” or even secure elections by “keeping votes anonymous and immutable on a Blockchain ledger.”
  • The Best Dev Tools of 2017: Surely, you’re familiar with StackShare, yes? I was introduced not all that long ago, and it’s a great tool for keeping track of the top news according to your chosen stack. Beyond that, it also keeps track of the best tools of the trade and along those lines it has released a list of the top 50 developer tools of 2017. Maybe you’re missing out on the latest and greatest — here’s your chance to catch up.
  • The Perl Saga Continues: A couple months back, we asked if renaming Perl could save it from terminal unpopularity and the question, it seems, remains. The community continues to struggle with the fact that Perl has some baggage and, despite a rather fresh start with Perl6, the new name does little to bring in fresh blood. This week, in an open letter to the Perl community, Perl6 Weekly author Elizabeth Mattijsen implores the Perl community on “how to bring Pumpkin Perl 5 (or perl, as in the version of Perl that is maintained by the Perl 5 Porters) and Rakudo Perl 6 (or perl6, as in the implementation of Perl 6 based on NQP and MoarVM) closer together again.” She writes that she is “still interested in getting Perl 5 and Perl 6 together, because they both share the same Perl Mindset, a mix of just enough DWIM (Do What I Mean) and not too much of WAT (What is it doing now???).” She admits, however, that Perl 6 is less a sister language to Perl 5 and more of “a genetically engineered daughter language with the best genes from many parents.” Some in the Reddit discussion, however, argue that this is not a problem that can be fixed by logic and argument alone. Instead, “getting people to adopt a language is a marketing problem, whether you like it or not” and if you want people to adopt a new language, they have to be drawn to it.” The problem here, they say (and as we looked at months ago) is that “one of the worst ways to draw people to a language in 2018 is to call it Perl.”

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