Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kids and programming

After reading Scott Hanselman's article about how to teach kids computer programming, I once more decided to try to get my children interested in the topic that has brought me so much fun and joy.

The kids are now around 11 years old, and all enjoys playing games, doing homework and surf the web on their computers. They are creative, and can spend an evening creating images in MS Paint or making a presentation in Powerpoint.

I've previously tried to get them interested in programming using tools like KPL, but the big problem was learning the syntax. They're not yet able to learn enough statements or commands to express themselves and solve abstract problems in a textual programming language.

I went along and grabbed a copy of MIT's Scratch, which is a graphical tool for building small 2D games and animations:

Scratch uses a visual representation of statemements, variables and control blocks, and this really worked out for them. They quickly learned how to set up a small loop that tested for collisions with other objects, and that could send messages to all the other sprites making interesting things happen (like getting the sun to appear in the sky)

Allthough it is not possible to build fully fledged games in Scratch, it seems like a great tool to learn the basics of programming like I once learned on my Dragon 32 from my father (yes, we still have the old Dragon, allthough we haven't booted it up for a while).

Friday, June 08, 2007

They said it couldn't be done.. :-)

Development in Visual Studio 2003 on Microsoft Vista.

It is said that it is not possible to use Visual Studio 2003 in Microsoft Vista, and as I have written about earlier on, I set out on a small journey to find out how far I could get into using it on my Tecra M4.

Here is the current list:

  • Installed .Net Framework 1.1 - OK
  • Installed Visual Studio 2003 on Vista - OK
  • Been able to compile and build my projects under 2003 - OK
  • Debug web-based applications with Visual Studio 2003 and IIS 7.0 - OK
  • Edit and continue in Visual Studio 2003 - OK

The only thing I know I will have problems with is developing plain web applications  (you know the project type APS.Net Web Application), but since I don't use them, I wont cry either..!

Monday, June 04, 2007

My Venture into Vista Land

Phew! It takes a lot of time to install all the drivers and software one needs when reinstalling a computer...

As I wrote earlier on, I was eager to see if I could get Visual Studio 2003 up and running on Windows Vista. As some people say, it shouldn't be possible. This made me think that Vista might have some functionality that could prohibit programs from even installing, but this was not the case. Visual Studio 2003 installed in a much more clean way than the latest Visual Studio Orcas Beta (for testing out Silverlight development). Installing the Orcas beta (ok, I know it's Beta) went wrong almost ten times before I finally succeeded.

But now I have a brand new Vista installation working with all the tools I need to do my job. And it feels good. And since I'm kinda geeky, I must admit that I've turned off the Aero effects and reverted back to the old Win2K-look... But it's all in the details, isn't it?

Converting myself and my Tecra to Vista

Since my Toshiba Tecra M4 has been working for ages without being treated with  a fresh install, I finally decided that it was time to:

  1. Perform a fresh install, since the machine had become a bit slow and sluggish
  2. See if I could try a Vista install and check if I could trick Visual Studio 2003 into running on Vista.
  3. If section two failed, install Windows XP and pretend I didn't listen to any of the 2 million other developers out there telling me that this wouldn't work.

So, after a while of thinking and planning, I went ahead:

  1. Identifyed all the files on my computer that needed to be backed up
  2. Backed up all the files that I found to an external harddrive
  3. Double checked and tripple checked the above sections
  4. Downloaded and collected all the necessary drivers and software from Toshiba and others
  5. Installed Windows Vista

This all went well, except for the face that I got rather ill in the middle of the process due to an allergic reaction. This was of course a bit bad, sitting with a computer with no OS and no software..

In my next post I'll tell you how it went after I got the OS up and running!