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Language Learning

Learning new programming languages always requires building on existing knowledge, and the easiest languages help reinforce that you’re telling the computer to follow your directions and that you use placeholders (variables) to do the interesting things.

When I was growing up, the only real language I had access to was some flavor of BASIC, up until around high school when I first learned C and shudder COBOL.

In college I had a webhost that offered Perl 5 access, so I learned that to write webcounters and such. It wasn’t until I had another COBOL class where the power of Perl started to click – I wrote a generator for CICS Basic Mapping Support instructions that took an 80x24 text file and turned it into hundreds of lines of COBOL code. There was no way I was going to write that by hand.

I started using Ruby toward the end of college and still write it in professionally to this day. I was using it even before RubyGems were really a thing! And while I’d been doing JavaScript ever since the DHTML days, it didn’t really become a thing for me until Rails defaulted to using CoffeeScript and jQuery…

…OK, I’ll stop reminiscing now. Go learn some new languages.


For Kids

Kids nowadays have a lot more access to tooling and machines where they can learn software development, but what are the latest ones folks use? Hit me up on Instagram or Twitter and let me know what kids are doing nowadays to learn new lanaguages. I’d love to know more!

  • Kids and the Commodore 64
    • This was the book I learned from waaaaay back in the day. I hadn’t seen it in decades, but as soon as I saw all the amazing art, it all came back to me. The artist on this was Paul Trap. I’m guessing this job was a big score for a cartoonist in college. I know that I hunted down similar opportunities while in school.


      Bluebird of Happiness eating bugs

  • Building a UI in CICS requires creating fields, then grouping them together into a set, then feeding that mapping to the terminal so it can send back the entered data and keystrokes to the COBOL programming. Think of it like React or Vue in front of your backend. But, like, simultaneously simpler and more verbose at the same time.

Try it yourself!

Turn your text file into a COBOL UI! Get the source code here, if you really want it!