August 17th, 2008

abstract butterfly

computer languages I do not speak

I have a hankering to learn computer programming languages lately. I used to speak enough Basic to be able to write the simplest text game, enough Logo to make the turtle draw a pictograph worthy of the old Spirograph toy, and enough Fortran to make a huge green sheet fill with a modest picture of a seemingly cheerful clown. This is to say, of course, that I barely could write any programs in any language.

The things I wish to do are things that one should be able to do for oneself. I want to learn to read Dutch, and it would be handy to write a simple flashcard program that requires one to fill in the right translation before showing one the answer. I would like to be able to write a primitive text game, just like the primitive text games that existed before computer games even involved graphics to any significant degree. I'd like to have a semi-literacy in something related to the computer. I'd also like to have enough XML/HTML to effectively set up websites, but that's a different goal.

I think that that things I need could be learned in on-line community college courses. I must see if I can make them come true. The worst grade I ever got in a course, the only failing grade, was in a COBOL language course I took between college and law school for the sheer "fun" of it. I had a "C" on the drop date, and instead of converting to "audit", elected to keep taking the course for credit. That was a mistake. I don't have any desire, though, to go back and learn COBOL to show that I could, after all.

The only programming I've done in years has been in Logo, when I've done the simplest things. I love Logo, outmoded though it may be. It's motivated by the right impulses--available to all, educational, logical, building step-by-step, and filled with possibilities. Perhaps if I programmed in Logo, I would be able to write beautiful programs. But right now I feel that I should take a course--or something.