You might think that an old language like C would long ago have bitten the dust.
After all, this language was created in the dim distant past of the late 1960s and early ’70s. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from modern languages. It has no Object Orientation, no garbage collection, it has very little in the way of modularity, it isn’t ’visual’, heck, it doesn’t even have a string data-type.
And yet C is the language that refuses to die. In fact, it is not even sickly, let alone close to death. Far from it. According to the Tiobe Index, which assesses the relative ’health’ of (and demand for) programming language, C occupies the number 1 position. And, according to Infoworld, its lead over other languages is actually growing.
Just after C in the Tiobe index comes Java - an OOP language based on C syntax. Then come Objective-C and C++, two OOP languages that are directly built upon C itself. And after that there are various other languages that have derived a good deal of their syntax from C, such as C# and PHP.
While languages such as Python and Ruby might be favoured by many modern programmers, the Tiobe index lists those way lower than C and Java. C may seem to be a fairly old-style language, but the simple fact of the matter is that it does the job and it does it efficiently. I suspect it has a long and active life ahead of it yet.
C is one of the most important of all programming languages. You can use it on Windows, OS X, Linux and most other major operating systems. It is a powerful language and good C programmers are always in demand.
The downside is that C is notoriously hard to learn. The good news is that my latest multimedia programming course should make that learning process a whole lot easier!
‘C Programming For Beginners’ is an in-depth video course. It contains over 68 lectures and 7 hours of content! It takes you from the very basics of C programming right through to complex topics such as pointers, addresses, memory allocation and how to avoid common problems such as ‘buffer overruns’ and ‘memory leaks’. It comes with an eBook, The Little Book Of C. And all the source code is provided read-to-run in an IDE such the free CodeLite. In fact, you can get all the tools you need to write, compile and run C programs entirely for free.
If you are a novice programmer, the early lessons will guide you step-by-step through everything you need to know about the basics of C’s syntax. If you are already experienced in another programming language, the course will explain the special features of C. And if you need to use C++ or Objective-C, this will be the perfect foundation since you need to know C in order to understand those languages (which are built upon C).
‘C Programming For Beginners’ is a massive, in-depth course. Its regular price is $149. But I have a special introductory offer. Save $100 and get this course for just $49.
Will online learning really replace the ivy-clad groves of academe?
Thursday 3 October 2013.
If you have any interest in learning anything at all online, you surely can’t have failed to notice the massive increase in eLearning sites over the past couple of years. Or, as they are known (somewhat uneuphoniously) MOOCs.
The acronym MOOC stands for ‘Massive Open Online Course’. Examples of MOOCs can be found on American sites such as Coursera, edX and the newly-launched Futurelearn. These sites host multimedia courses taught by professors and graduate students from established traditional educational establishments such as MIT, Stanford, Harvard and other universities around the world.
I really never thought I’d ever get the chance to study dinosaurs. And yet that is exactly what I am doing, thanks to the Dino 101 course on Coursera.
I’d be the first to acknowledge that my choice of courses has been what might be politely called ‘eclectic’. But that’s one of the joys of online learning. When you sign up to three or four years at a bricks-and-mortar university you commit yourself to hours of hard work every day followed (as far as I can recall) by hours of hard drinking every evening. You have to be dedicated to your subject almost to the point of monomania. With online courses, on the other hand, I have the freedom to pick and choose – I might try a bit of civilised argumentation this month followed by a few rampaging prehistoric beasts next month and, just to round off my education, a nice juicy murder investigation set on the murky shores of Loch Lomond…
It seems pretty clear to me that online learning isn’t going to go away. But there are two big questions that remain unanswered: 1) Will it ever replace conventional ‘on site’ learning and 2) how will it be funded?
My own view is that in the short-term, online learning will live alongside conventional study. Increasingly, I think universities will produce courses which, in addition to being accessible to the general public, will also supplement the materials available to full-time students. Moreover, when online courses are taught by world experts in their subjects, these will increasingly be sought out by students whose own professors may not have the same degree of eminence and expertise. In the long-term, I think online study will increasingly replace the predominantly book-based ‘distance learning’ diploma and degree courses provided by institutions such as Britain’s Open University.
As for the funding of these courses. Well, Coursera is currently offering the option of paid-for certification for some courses which, in principle, may provide students with proof of completion to (they say) “demonstrate your initiative when applying for college or jobs.” In future, I imagine that some courses may provide a more rigorous examination and certification that might count towards a formal academic qualification. Harvard is already experimenting with more focussed online courses which it calls SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses). Whether or not this is the right model for the future of university-level online courses remains to be seen.
The other alternative is to forget the whole idea of completely free and open courses and, instead, create paid-for courses that are funded by the students. I have personal experience of this type of teaching. For the past couple of years I’ve been teaching programming courses on Udemy. These are all paid-for and so far I’ve had over 5,200 students sign up – so, clearly, there is a demand for this type of course.
For an alternative view, this is Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, one of the teachers on Coursera’s ‘Think Again: How to Reason and Argue’ course, giving some interesting information on how he made that course.
We may all claim to be sceptical of the honesty and impartiality of online reviews. Even so, before going to a restaurant, I must admit that I generally take a quick look at the reviews it has garnered on TripAdvisor. Before buying a book, I glance through its reviews on Amazon or Good Reads. This, in spite of the fact that there is nothing preventing authors and their friends (or enemies) from skewing reviews for or against a book. And reviewers on TripAdvisor have even praised a restaurant that doesn’t exist!
I was interested, then, to receive this unsolicited email this week:
DO YOU NEED POSITIVE REVIEWS/RATINGS ONLINE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
We can post positive ratings/reviews on TripAdvisor, Yahoo Local, Google Places, Insider Pages, YellowPages, MerchantCircle, SuperPages, and the list goes on!
REVIEWS ARE 100% SAFE, NATURALLY DISTRIBUTED, POSTED FROM DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS & IP ADDRESSES & MAC ADDRESSES
Is there anything online we can really trust, I wonder?
When you upload videos to YouTube, you are prompted to add ’tags’ to identify its subject matter.
YouTube analyses your tags and then makes suggestions for other tags that might be appropriate. Today I uploaded a new video in my series about programming for beginners. This is what I saw in my web browser. At the top you are the tags I added. Below you can see the tags that YouTube suggests...
’Programming Language (Literary Genre)’? What the heck does that mean? Is there a literary genre of programming>? I’ve been trying to think which books might qualify: Tom Sharpe’s ’Riotous Assembly Language’ maybe? Hemingway’s ’The Old Man and the C’ perhaps? P G Wodehouse’s ’Programming Code of The Woosters’ no doubt qualifies. And as for Dan Brown’s ’The Da Vinci Code’ - well need I say more?
The latest video in this series was published earlier today. It gives a very simple overview of the ideas behind Object Orientation:
My company, SapphireSteel Software, today launched a new version of Amethyst - our professional-grade IDE for Adobe Flash and Flex.
Adobe’s own Flash Builder IDE for the Flex framework has actually removed its visual designer for the latest release. By contrast, we’ve extended the Amethyst visual designer. It can now be used to design form-like interfaces for ordinary Flash (non-Flex) applications as well as for Flex.
There is a lot more than visual design in Amethyst 2, however. It also has an obfuscater, a profiler, support for games development with the Starling framework and tools to deploy mobile apps to iOS and Android. But, best of all, in my opinion, it has a great debugger that lets you step into method-calls in a series of linked bubbles. Here’s a quick preview of this...
I’ve fimmally had emough of this danm’ keyboard! Yes, yes, I kmow – I cam’t tell ny ‘m’s fron ny ‘m’s…
So out the bloody thing goes! And in its place I have this lovely new one. And, at last, I can tell which letters are produced by which keys. The problem of letters that vanish from the keys over time is quite a common one. On my old Dell keyboard, the ‘N’ and the ‘M’ have long since vanished – and the ‘I’, the ‘O’, the ‘D’ and the ‘H’ are all rapidly going the same way. Search on Amazon for ‘permanent white marker’ and you’ll soon discover a great many people who have bought marker pens in the hope of restoring their faded keys.
The Logitech K310 taking a shower
I decided to take more drastic action. I bought myself a new keyboard. After some searching, the one I settled upon was the Logitech K310 – fairly cheap at under £30 (about $45). The most notable claim to fame of this keyboard is that it is washable. Apparently you can submerse the whole thing in a bowl of water when you want to give it a freshen up. This, however, is not the feature that most attracted me. What caught my eye was the claim that its ‘Laser printed, UV coated keys’ are tough enough to washstand regular use, including washing, without the letters fading away in the process. I’ve only been using the keyboard a few days so I will have to take that on trust – all I can say is, so far so good. It’s actually a pretty nice keyboard – smart-looking (dark grey with white keys), and low profile. It’s a non-mechanical keyboard so you only need to type lightly, and there is just enough feedback (the clacking of the keys) to satisfy someone like me who grew up using tough old-style mechanical keyboards.
A stick of Blackpool rock. The letters run all the way through - keyboard manufacturers take note!
If I had a free choice, I would still prefer to be using one of the old-style keyboards. I like a good ‘clacking’ noise (ah, for an old IBM keyboard!) and the old keyboards also had letters which – like the words in a stick of Blackpool rock – ran all the way through the keys. Those letters weren’t mere flimsy ‘transfers’ on the key surface. The only way the letters could wear out was if the entire key wore out too.