Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lesson 12: OOPs, I Did It Again!

This would be the only time I will capitalize on a really bad Britney Spears reference. I promise. ;-) This lesson introduces us to the wonderful world of C++ and Object Oriented Programming. It's not terribly code-heavy, so this might be a good time to look over past lessons to make sure you understand concepts pretty well -- it only gets bigger from here. :-) Learning to Program with Haiku, Lesson 12.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fast Access to All of the Lessons

I've put up a page on my old website, redesigned and now renamed DarkWyrm's Library, which has one-click access to all of the programming lessons that I've written. If you've missed one, this would be the place to look, saving a lot of hunting on this blog or the one over at the Haiku website. This is also a good place to find all of the apps that I've written. I've also got links posted here for when this post is buried by others so that you don't even have to bookmark them. Gee, how kind of me. ;-)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lesson 11: More Data Structures and Types

This time around, we will be examining some important kinds of data structures and ways to create custom data types, a critical stepping stone in getting to understanding the Haiku API. This is the last C / C++ lesson -- the rest will be C++ only. A couple more lessons and we'll finally be ready to write GUI programs for Haiku! Enjoy! Learning to Program with Haiku, Lesson 11.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lesson 10: More Pointers and the Command Line

Here it is: Learning to Program with Haiku, Lesson 10. Now we're starting to tie up loose ends before moving on to just C++. In this lesson, we learn more about pointers and kinda-sorta pointers called references, and we examine the basics of getting information from the command line. Also included are the answers to the review questions for Unit 2.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Changing OSes: Harder Than You Think

I have had experience in a wide variety of operating systems over the years -- every version of Window$ except 2.0 and NT 3.5, DOS 3.0 - 6.0, Linux distributions, MacOS 7.5.3 - OS X, BeOS R5 through Haiku, and even a little QNX. It dawned on me yesterday that this actually colors my perspective significantly. As proponents of alternative operating systems, we need to be aware of how hard it is to change your primary OS.

Think for a moment about what using Windows is like: always being on alert for viruses, perpetual security updates, going to the Geek Squad or a friend / relative for fixes, Microsoft Office, buying a PC loaded with bloatware, Photoshop and other can't-live-without-it apps and so on. It's a way of life, and an inferior one at that, but that realization comes only if you are made aware of better options. Let me repeat part of that: it's a way of life, as in a culture. Not that I've done it myself, but I know enough to know that changing your primary OS is very much like moving to another country.

Consider the differences in what you know about the United States, England, and Australia. Last time I knew, there weren't too many koalas climbing trees in Willesden Green, for example. I'm not even going to comment on the "Chocolate Thunder from Down Under" server at Outback steakhouses here in the States -- I've never had it -- but I do know what it is that Australians call a thunderbox, and the only thing it has in common with chocolate is the color. Eeew. Riding a lift is something I might expect a construction worker to do, as in driving a forklift, but that's not what it means across the pond. They all speak the same language, but there is a lot of difference even though there is a lot of common ground beyond language.

Imagine for a moment moving from your home country to another one which speaks the same language that you do, but one you've never visited before. Which would be more difficult: packing everything and leaving on the next plane out of town or spending time there and planning your trip, possibly having a house in both places for a while? Without a doubt, the harder option would be the first one, but sometimes we, who have successfully done that in a computing context, mention it without hardly a second thought -- "Just use Linux (or a Mac, or whatever). It's easy!" That's like saying to my neighbor who has lived her entire life in the town I live in to move to Australia without any regard to all, if any, of the implications that this entails.

Changing your primary operating system is something that takes time, effort, and patience. The change requires willingness to put in effort to learn something new, even through the problems and inconveniences that will arise. Total beginners actually have an easier time than people who "don't know much about computers" but they still require a lot of help. Keep in mind that truly helping people requires an investment of your life into theirs.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Whole Lotta Lessons Goin' On

There have been quite a few comments on people being excited about when these start addressing the Haiku API, so I'm going to speed things up a bit. I originally planned on calling this week a Buy One, Get One Free week, but that won't fit now. I had planned on publishing review questions after Lesson #5, but I must have forgotten to upload them, so I'm making them available along with Lessons 8 and 9 and the questions for review after Lesson 9 has been completed. Here they are in order. Enjoy!