Monday, November 10, 2008

Java ing, Mini TED, Microsoft Small Basic

I don't think I should spend long on this, as I'm in the midst of writing some javas.

Well, I'm more or less doing setup at the moment. I've taken the example code we were given for this assignment over my own, because Professor Song writes fairly nice java despite his absolutely horrific specification documents. I've essentially spent the past few hours redoing earlier work: moving the Staff, Student, and Faculty classes into a hierarchy with Employee and Person. Since then I've gone a bit beyond and started throwing in little Javadoc hooks and comments all over the place, because I want getting marks to come easily - not be some panicked struggle atop a mountain. Like last time.

Big upside is that, at this point (well, once it compiles again, which will be very shortly - just fixing an error with the classpath) it's ahead of where it was when I handed in Assignment 2. Dates work perfectly because a class was provided for them this time, and everything is nicely hunkey-dorey.

I've been playing around with the idea of a Miniature TED conference. I think it's an idea that has wheels. That's a good thing for some reason. I hope to be developing it over the next few weeks... I'll probably contact the TED conference people and see if they have any suggestions, concerns, any response at all. I really think something amazing can happen if you gather smart people together with the express purpose of trying to be smart together. I'll report in with updates, I hope.

I downloaded Microsoft Small Basic yesterday, and gave it a dilly of a whirl. It seems enjoyable but it has a lot of room to improve. It tasted like python.

The interface is good looking and fairly slick, but the autocomplete seems to actively try to mess you up. If you begin writing a command and finish typing instead of hitting tab when the autocomplete box pops up, the box doesn't go away. At this point your command is complete, but the autocomplete box is still sitting there, waiting for some arcane ritual to grant it release. Tapping up or down just scrolls you through the list of autocompletable commands that wouldn't even make sense any more, because they are now just appended at the cursor. Hitting escape does nothing. You've got to click somewhere else or type more or engage in some bizarre dance to escape the clutches of this nefarious box. That was probably the largest of my issues, but I had others. Oh yes.

Programs take approximately a couple of millenia to execute. The application throws up a screensize Vista-themed lockdown-box that informs you: "HEY! YOUR PROGRAM IS RUNNING! CLICK END PROGRAM IF IT DOESN'T WORK RIGHT OR SOMETHING K" - in marginally more literate terms, and then you play the waiting game for the rest of your natural life. I must note that this is for a program which opens a console and prints "Greetings Earth".

Once the program is running, it responds quite fluidly. I think this wait must be caused by throwing code through the gruesome sieve that is .NET 3.5 and uttering the most unholy command, "Compile." Regardless of .NET being a fortress or an island or something crazy like that, I am certain that there is optimization able and waiting to happen here. I don't understand how the dev team and the testers managed to wait 35-40 seconds every time they ran a program, and not recognize that as an issue on the order of "showstopper".

Anyway.. That's about all for tonight. Ghost in the Shell kicks ass. It's going to make me finally read Catcher in the Rye.

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