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Programming For Terrified Adults?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the logical dept.

Programming 909

makeitreal writes "My mom is getting bored with learning the basics of email and has mastered Solitaire. She asked me what I do on my computer and I told her that I was teaching myself programming in Scheme. She expressed an interest in learning what I was doing, but I tried to teach it to her with the HtDP and we didn't even get past the introductory chapter. Everything I've looked at so far seems too complicated (Scheme, Python, VB) or too childish (Logo, Squeak, Lego Mindstorms). Is there anything in the middle that is also cheap/free and suitable for adults? Or should I give up the whole idea?"

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GNAA announces hostile takeover of Electronic Arts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298208)

GNAA announces hostile takeover of Electronic Arts
Zeikfried - Reuters, Nigeria.
In a hushed press conference held at the GNAA compound in blackest Nigeria, the cream of the journalistic crop from IGN, Gamespot, Gamespy and various other overpriced ad-infested shitholes gathered from across 4 continents to witness what has been described as the most shocking announcement of the post-E3 market. The purchase of a controlling stock in industry leading publisher Electronic Arts by the increasingly aggressive venture capitalists of the GNAA.
After keeping the illiterate troglodytes waiting for several hours, leading GNAA members Timecop, Penisbird and goat-see, along with Electronic Arts president and CEO John Riccitiello, pulled up in the specially commissioned GNAA Limo, now fully armoured to protect from the ever present threat of terrorism from zionist #politics oppers. All four were, as usual, stark naked due to the searing Nigerian heat, and were instantly greeted by a cacophony of flashbulbs and excited chatter from the wretched sodomites and college dropouts that populate the world of gaming, including a shower from the furiously masturbating IGN editor Matt Cassamassina.
"This is a new day for Electronic Arts" exploded the now fully erect Riccitiello, "and a new day for the Gay Nigger Association of America. Now no longer will the significant Gay Nigger minority be ignored by the racist cartels and Japanese Xenophobes that hold a tight noose on the gaming industry."
Shortly afterwards, following a brutal anal violation by nordic Gay Nigger DiKKy, the now broken and bleeding John Riccitiello was replaced by the newly appointed head of the GNAAs gaming division, Zeikfried Tuvai.
"This change is no mere financial step, or a changing of the guard, this will be an absolute fucking revolution. Work on our titles has already begun, I shit you not."
Tragically the conference was then cut short by a failed assassination attempt on the GNAA leadership by efnet #politcs opper and known fascist paedophile "Pickle", who was quickly disarmed by GNAA security and silenced by a large black phallus. However a press release has been issued to Reuters and the Associated Press, and is as follows:

Shitflood Gaia (GC/PS2/Xbox) Q4 2004 - A management sim, where the otaku scum of internet have gathered into a single drinking hole for quick extermination. The player must control his assets wisely to gain the maximum number of bites from the unsuspecting and unintelligent regulars in order to max out his LastMeasure meter and gain access to his most potent weapon, floodphpbb.

Americas Army - Operation #politics (PC (Windows Only)) Q4 2004 - GNAA/EA and the armed forces of the United States of America unite to bring the reality of the T.W.A.T to your Windows box this Christmas. This third-person shooter throws you in charge of the GNAA efnet black ops, as you struggle against corrupt IRC operators, Mossad agents, Nick Berg's head and eventually FreeTrade himself in an explosive struggle in the name of freedom and democracy.

Penisbird's Cock Perch Panic (GBA) Q1 2005 - A coup by OSDN shock troops threatens to overthrow the President, defeat the unwashed scum by guiding Penisbird onto their prone member, disarming them once and for all. As you move through the levels you must dodge traps laid by the increasingly desperate CmdrTaco, including CowboyNeal himself. Can you avoid his sentient rolls of lard to perch on CowboyNeal's notoriously miniscule penis? Find out for yourself in 2005!

About EA:
Electronic Arts (EA) is the world's leading independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software for personal computers and advanced entertainment systems such as the PlayStation®2 Computer Entertainment System, the PlayStation®, Xbox(TM) video game console from Microsoft, the Nintendo GameCube(TM) and the Game Boy® Advance. Since its inception, EA has garnered more than 700 awards for outstanding software in the U.S. and Europe.
EA markets its products worldwide under four brand logos and has over 33 product franchises that have reached more than a million unit sales worldwide.
EA headquarters is located in Redwood City, California

About GNAA:
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the first organization which
gathers GAY NIGGERS from all over America and abroad for one common goal - being GAY NIGGERS.

Are you GAY [] ?
Are you a NIGGER [] ?
Are you a GAY NIGGER [] ?

If you answered "Yes" to all of the above questions, then GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) might be exactly what you've been looking for!
Join GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time GNAA member.
GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) is the fastest-growing GAY NIGGER community with THOUSANDS of members all over United States of America. You, too, can be a part of GNAA if you join today!

Why not? It's quick and easy - only 3 simple steps!

First, you have to obtain a copy of GAY NIGGERS FROM OUTER SPACE THE MOVIE [] and watch it.

Second, you need to succeed in posting a GNAA "first post" on [] , a popular "news for trolls" website

Third, you need to join the official GNAA irc channel #GNAA on, and apply for membership.
Talk to one of the ops or any of the other members in the channel to sign up today!

If you are having trouble locating #GNAA, the official GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA irc channel, you might be on a wrong irc network. The correct network is Niggernet, and you can connect to as our official server. If you do not have an IRC client handy, you are free to use the GNAA Java IRC client by clicking here [] .

If you have mod points and would like to support GNAA, please moderate this post up.

| ______________________________________._a,____ |
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ |
| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ |
| _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ |
| _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ |
| ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ |
| _________#1__________?________________________ |
| _________j1___________________________________ |
| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ |
| ______-"!^____________________________________ | This logo is (C) 2003, 2004 GNAA []
` _______________________________________________'

(C) GNAA 2004

frist (0, Troll)

Pingular (670773) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298211)

to the psot. /me on teh spoke

Re:frist (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298240)

You fucking fail it sir, may I console you with a free copy of Penisbird's Cock Perch Panic?

HTML (4, Insightful)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298215)

is a good choice...

I agree (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298243)

HTML isn't terribly complicated, and there are lots of options for people just starting out. They can get more advanced and do the HTML coding themselves, or even transition into something like PHP eventually. Have her start making a webpage about her hobbies, and she'll feel somewhat advanced. Heck, after a while she might be maintaining her own web server.

Re:HTML (3, Insightful)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298253)

HTML is a markup language and has little to do with programming.

Re:HTML (1)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298275)

True, but it is a good introduction to other more involved laguages.

Re:HTML (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298277)

Nobody said it was a programming language. Apart from the fact anyone knows it's not a programming language, you funny nitpicker.

Re:HTML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298257)

I second this. Then, if she's still interested, work her up to ASP.

Fight SpamBots! []

Re:HTML (2)

colinemckay (610522) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298287)

I second this suggestion.

HTML basics are pretty simple, you get results quickly, and the tools are readily available.

Re:HTML (2, Insightful)

sokk (691010) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298291)

One of the teachers I had on high school gave me a negative score on a test because I wrote that HTML is not a programming language.

I still stand by this, I even argued with him - but he meant he was right.

It's Hypertext Markup Language. Far from programming. The closest thing must be javascript, which isn't HTML at all.

Anyways, my point is HTML is not programming. It's markup.

But your point may be valid, it's something to do -- but it isn't programming.

Re:HTML (0)

Alban (86010) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298318)

HTML is a declarative programming language. It is a programming language.

Re:HTML (1)

primal39 (409681) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298352)

I also had this argument with a teacher, and was able to successfully convince him by pointing out that there is no method for iteration in HTML.

Re:HTML (1, Redundant)

Eudial (590661) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298293)

You don't program HTML. HTML is a markup language designed for text formatting, so spending weeks learning HTML when you want to learn how to program would be completely down the drain since HTML is not a programming language.

Re:HTML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298355)

RTFstory. his mom never said she wants to learn programming. that was his idea. and your already unnecessary posting gets even more useless since it is redundant

Re:HTML (5, Insightful)

colinemckay (610522) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298358)

Tables can be pretty involved, if you a just using notepad as an editor.

However, the point of learning HTML first is that it teaches you a few concepts that will be helpful in programming, namely the importance of structure and correct spelling and grammar in order to generate the desired results.

It is also simple to teach, and gives results quickly, and most people have the tools already on their computer, namely a browser and a text editor.

Re:HTML (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298322)


<shameless plug>

This [] might be a helpful start. I wrote it a couple of years ago to help a number of teachers (ie. intelligent but not particularly IT literate people) grasp the basics.

</shameless plug>

Re:HTML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298334)

HTML isn't a programming language, it's a data format.

Re:HTML (-1, Redundant)

MBCook (132727) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298350)

Repeat after me...


Now HTML may be a good way to get her feet wet. Every computer sold has everything you need (a copy of IE or other browser, and notepad or other text editor) and it could start to get her comfortable with things. It's something to try if you want.

But HTML is not a programming langauge! I HATE that idea. It's a MARKUP language, as seen in the "ML" at the end of "HTML".

This ends my HTML Is Not A Programming Language Rant. Thanks you.

Re:HTML (1)

dpearre (344306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298353)

HTML is merely a markup language with no actual resemblence or connection to progamming languages. But for learning the absolute basic concepts of programming, I think a nice launchpad might be a good Javascript tutorial. It delivers immediate results, there's no compiler necessary, and she can learn a few of the basics of variable manipulation and program design before moving onto more useful development environments.

Give up (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298217)

Give up. She'll just be unemployed like the rest of us.

Change's Taco's diaper. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298218)

Diaper Haiku

You shit your diapers.

Squishy poo poo give ass rash.

Taco's diaper's full!

Between Solitaire and programming.. (2, Interesting)

Karamchand (607798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298220)

..there are the endless worlds of interesting and expectant computer games. Introduce her to one of them and she'll continue learning about the handling of a computer.

Qbasic (4, Interesting)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298222)

If visual basic is too complicated, why not get an old version of Qbasic, or something like that:

for x = 1 to 10000
print x
next x

No GUI will make things easier to learn it, and it's nowhere as bad as C++.

There's also a web based language, like PHP / ASP, or Perl. It's not hard to begin with, even though it can become more complicated as time goes on.

Re:Qbasic (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298348)

If visual basic is too complicated, why not get an old version of Qbasic, or something like that:
There is a bug with QBasic that causes the appearance of a line to disappear.

To test it out, run a program, break it in a middle, and change one of the DIM statements to have a bit more elements. You will receive a prompt stating that the change will need to restart your program. Regardless of which choice you pick, the modified line will disappear from the display (although is not removed from the program.,)

The bug has not been fixed in the QBasic line, but it can be worked around by rapidly using PgUp/PgDn (provided your program is large enough.)

There are a few other bugs too, but those only crop up when you attempt the more advanced portions of BASIC programming.

You could always use BASIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298223)

I have fond memories of using BASIC in Junior High :)

Perl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298229)

Makes using the computer significantly easier so it won't be like she is learning it for no reason.

scheme (5, Informative)

rmull (26174) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298234)

I've always thought The Little Schemer [] would be good for this kind of thing.

HTML (4, Insightful)

lavaface (685630) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298236)

Teach her HTML, CSS, and javascript. Useful and rather simple. It also provides a launching pad into the not-to-difficult php, or, if she's a savant --perl. Javascript is a nice intro to basic programming concepts (functions, statements, operatos and logic)

Why not (1)

Autonomous Cowturd (781972) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298237)

Why not Beginners All purpose Symbolic Instruction Code?

Stop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298239)

Or my mom will code!

Teaching your mom programming?! (5, Funny)

xYoni69x (652510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298242)

Teaching your mom programming?! What a strange idea... Next you'll be saying Linux is ready for the desktop...

Re:Teaching your mom programming?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298308)

i know it's OT but you might like this site about various beautiful curves [] . regards, my dear xYoni69x

Hypercard (4, Interesting)

phoxix (161744) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298244)

I have no idea if they still make it.

But Hypercard was *perfect* for people who wanted to get their feet wet but were totally scared of everything

If you want something a little more advanced: bash shell scripting. Easy to learn and obviously very very powerful.

Sunny Dubey

Re:Hypercard (1)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298302)

we still use it in school for "teaching", albeit without utilising any of the scripting abilities unless someone finds it for themselves

PL/1 PL/1 PL/1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298245)

The best language ever (no troll) 00/pl1/pl1.html

this is why we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298246)

...GNU visual basic.

Logo? (4, Insightful)

wasabii (693236) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298247)

Seriously, what's wrong with Logo? It's a great primer for programming. It lets people perfectly associate programatic statements to actions. Very very good primer.

Re:Logo? (1)

rodgerd (402) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298331)

But what can you do with it? One of the obstacles with many pogramming languages, especially the more rigourous ones, is that there's often a gap between learning and doing.

Theory first, Platform second (2, Interesting)

darth_MALL (657218) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298249)

Why not start with basic programming theory? There are a number of good books on learning the logic and purpose behind programming. I've found that without fundamental skills, the learning curve is very steep.

Re:Theory first, Platform second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298309)

his/her mom's into computers not into computer science. quite a difference eh

Re:Theory first, Platform second (2, Insightful)

geeber (520231) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298345)

That would be a great way to bore the living crap out of her and make sure she never wants to program again. You've got to start with the fun stuff first to get her interested and for most people out there, theory before practice is anything but fun.

Let her do some games (1)

sunbeam60 (653344) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298251) ... easiest language that you can actually produce something interesting with.

Maybe a lesson in computer theory? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298252)

Maybe you should start with computing theory (just the basics, memory and cpu intermixing). Sort of, making up your own language in more plain english and just logicing your way through rudimentary math problems (like figuring total body fat, that program isn't horrible to write; or make a program to figure interest). After you write a setup in your imaginary language show her how to translate that into VB or PHP or some other loosely typed language.

Teach her (-1, Troll)

TitusC3v5 (608284) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298254)

The joys of pr0n, perhaps? Oh, wait...

The solution: Ruby (1)

autosepha (628157) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298256)

Re:The solution: Ruby (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298294)

He said python was in appropriate.. Ruby is just as inappropriate.

heheh (2, Insightful)

daveatwork (655626) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298258)

What a wonderful twist of fate: kids asking for something easy to teach their parents....

It doesn't matter (3, Insightful)

vurg (639307) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298259)

It doesn't matter if it's "childish". As long as it teaches the basic programming concepts (e.g. variables, functions, loops, if-then structures and controls, etc), then that should be okay to get to the fundamentals. There is so much abstraction in programming and I believe the most efficient way to learn it (as an adult) is to be able to relate the concepts in concrete ways.

nothing childish... (5, Insightful)

dekeji (784080) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298260)

There is nothing childish about Squeak or Logo. Squeak is a complex, high-powered Smalltalk development environment. I'd consider it too complex for beginning programmers, although I gather some people are using it for teaching introductory courses. And despite its innocent appearance, Logo is a powerful programming language.

But why not pick some language she might actually use for something? PHP or JavaScript might be a good choice. Or the Macromedia Flash scripting language--that way, she could make animations.

If she really wants to learn it as an intellectual exercise, I'd just stick with Scheme for her--there are good learning environments and tons of materials for learning programming with Scheme.

Re:nothing childish... (1)

Karamchand (607798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298357)

Why does everyone seem to think that just because she's a mother she'd love funny sweet animations or a cuddly webpage about her pets? Perhaps she's really a geek-mum but just hadn't the possibility to prove herself!

Easy programming - well almost (1)

texas neuron (710330) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298261)

I think moving up to spread sheets, followed by macros in spread sheets or word processing documents may be a better way for your mom to get down some of the basics.

Little Schemer (1)

tipsymonkey (710561) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298263)

Check out the book The Little Schemer [] . Its a great book to get started with in Scheme. Its easy, and not dense. It is set up in a very interesting way. Its all examples. There are no paragraphs or dense explanation. Desgined for someone that is just starting out in any language.

Does she want/need to program (1)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298264)

This may be a silly question but, does she really want to program or have any need to do it. It's not really something many people are interested in or need to know how to do. I mean aside from just having some background in how apps work for her, unless she is planning to start writting some apps on those lazy afternoons this seams a bit silly. And yes, extremely boring.

Wouldn't she be more interested in apps she can actualy use to find new things for her to do?

Re:Does she want/need to program (1)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298343)

It's not really something many people are interested in or need to know how to do.

Isn't it?

On that subject I think the more interesting thing is that teaching some 'newbie' the beauty of programming, breaking a technocratic elitist programmer taboo is something not many people are interested in... or know how to do.

Try something BASIC (4, Informative)

martyb (196687) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298268)

The BASIC language was designed for this in mind. There are a number of sources on the web where you can download a copy to play with. It was the first language I learned, decades ago, and it still is a good choice today. Just be sure to teach her structured programming so she doesn't run into the trap of spaghetti coding where GOTO's go every which way.

Here's a google [] link to some places where you can download a copy to get started.

Have Fun!

Does this make her a MILF? (0, Offtopic)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298269)

Mom I'd like to....Find a programming language for. A MILF-APLF (2, Insightful)

wud (709053) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298270)

but what about Impress or god forbid powerpoint.. creating a presentation is fairly easy, yet can involve creativity and a sense of power over your computer.

Why? Better ways to spend time (3, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298272)

Why programming? Why not master word processing, spreadsheets, graphics and design programs, etc. I think learning Power-Point, Adobe Photoshop, or DreamWeaver would be more immediately useful and rewarding to such a person.

Assembly language (5, Funny)

Laser Lou (230648) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298273)

Try teaching her assembly language. There's nothing simpler. Its almost like using a calculator:

load this
load that
store ..

That's it!

Re:Assembly language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298335)

Shit! You may as well teach her brainfuck.

Re:Assembly language (0)

xYoni69x (652510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298349)

Easy to learn, maybe, but I wouldn't call it programming.

It lacks the major concepts of procedural programming, such as control structures. Sure, you can use goto/jmp, but that doesn't give much insight at a first glance about what the "code" does.

Also, it's not very practical. I'm not saying it's not useful/practical in specific conditions, just that your mom wouldn't find it useful/practical for playing around with programming.

Karel/JKarel? (1)

pjdepasq (214609) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298274)

I would think that Karel [] or one of its derivatives would give her a nice foundation in a simplified setting. Once comfortable, she can progress from there.

Another option might be trying Pascal. It depends on her background (math, reasoning, problem solving, etc.) She might also wish to take an intro programming course at her local community college.

She probably just want to reach her son. (5, Insightful)

Quebec (35169) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298276)

She is just trying to reach you and understand you more.

What it probably means is this: Take her out more often then just once a year you geek!

What is programming these days? (2, Interesting)

fname (199759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298278)

Well, it depends on what you mean by programming. Clearly writing C++ code and compiling it is programming. But what about less obvious programming (which are essentially instructions). Script languages like Perl, Applescript or ColdFusion (3 that I'm at least a little familiar with) certainly seem like a fair place to start. Even markup languages like HTML could be considered programming; after all, the HTML are instructions that tell your browser how to display a page.

If you're more interested in using an IDE to develop code (and not work with the underlying intsructions directly), then those listed above are not the best choices. But learning the basics of code syntax & understanding how these instructions translate into on-screen instructions are essential if you're interested in learning the core prinicple of programming.

JavaScript (4, Insightful)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298279)

Don't focus on dhtml or anything beyond the scope of the language. You want an easy learning curve giving her skills she can use everywhere. On its own, JavaScript is a very simple, powerful, and forgiving language, who's syntax closely resembles most of the other mainstream programming languages.

Good luck. I'm still trying to teach my mom to program. And she has a bachelor's degree in CS.

Visual Basic?? (4, Insightful)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298280)

If this is too difficult, then your mom really isn't interested in applying herself. Tell her to find a better hobby and stop wasting your time if she isn't going to take it seriously.

Yeah, I'm tired of all this "old people can't do this stuff" line of thinking. If they had an interest, they would. My mother taught herself a bunch of stuff with the comp and took classes at the local community college in Unix, etc. at age 50+. Point is, if your mom had an interest, and she's not a retard, she would be able to handle VB.

your mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298281)

Your mom wants to learn how to programm?

I would be happy if my mom knew how to use an email client properly and didn't call me everytime an email bounces.

html/php (4, Insightful)

VirexEye (572399) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298283)

Learning php in conjunction with html may be the way to go. The reason for this is that unlike most "hello world" programs which end up in the boring and seemingly non-relevant console, her first programs will be on the web: something she is familer and comfortable with and immediatly sees the value of. In other words, it may be best to try to keep things relevant and relating it to ideas she already knows well.

HTML & Perl (3)

rbrander (73222) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298285)

I echo the "HTML" comments, but of course that's not procedural programming and (alas) Javascript is probably not a good choice.

But Perl is a language where very simple things like the "Qbasic" examples posted will also work, but it is able to do useful things quickly and can be a very good complement to knowing HTML.

And it's free, works on every OS, etc...

No no no! (1, Troll)

RTPMatt (468649) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298286)

My mom is getting bored with learning the basics of email and has mastered Solitaire. She asked me what I do on my computer and I told her that I was teaching myself programming in Scheme. She expressed an interest in learning what I was doing

I can tell you right now, that is a very bad idea. All you are doing is giving her something else that (very) complicated, which will do nothing be make you recieve 10x more call with her saying "my computer is broke!" Comile errors will be then next form of computer not workingness. You will quickly see that most people are not capable of programming (or at least not learning it on their own), and should just not attempt it.

Just Give Up (2, Interesting)

SillySnake (727102) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298288)

Do you realize what you're about to get yourself into? Haven't you ever heard the joke where the people call tech support and the tech support guy asks to talk to the youngest child in the house to fix the problem? And of all things, programming? Something that takes a huge effort to produce something that's really worth using much? While there are small rewards along the way, you oughta get her involved in something more along the lego lines.. but mix in some programming if you feel that she really wants to learn.. Check out the botball kits or something with the handyboard and let her play with some robots..

Matlab! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298289)

Kinda like C, but it has a distinct purpose to it which your mother could use.

Then again, it's not free...

HTML, VB (1)

taylortbb (759869) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298290)

I will agree with what has been said above, start with HTML. I don't suggest keeping HTML though, once she is comfterable with HTML (not nessesarily advanced) i'll reccomened VB, (please don't call me a troll for reccomending an MS product, I fell guilty enough without other people saying it) it is a very easy language to figure out. After VB she'll probably have her own decision about what to do next.

Re:HTML, VB (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298341)

Why VB? He'd have to pay humongous sums of money to buy it, when he can settle with a free BASIC compiler.

What for? (1)

thebra (707939) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298295)

If she is just wanting to learn to program then I would recommend PHP, HTML and Javascript. It can be as complicated or simple as you like. She'll be able to show what she has done to everyone on the web also. If she is wanting to make 3d games then I would suggest C++.

REALBasic, Lingo, Flash or Applescript (if on Mac) (1)

jaysedai (595022) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298296)

REALBasic did a great job of re-firing up my interest in programming. Other options might be Lingo (Macromedia Director) or Action Script (Macromedia Flash). Those are nice because your results can be very visual, immediate and satisfying.

HAHAHAHAHA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298297)


# Please try to keep posts on topic.
# Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads.
# Read other people's m

Simple game creating programs (1)

Hexedian (626557) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298298)

Old programs like Click&Play or RPG maker are perfect for true beginners, as they allow very easy programming as well as a few more advanced features.

Make a web site! (1)

theraccoon (592935) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298304)

Okay okay, HTML is not programming, I know. But it's close enough for someone just getting their feet wet. It's easy, it's fun, and you get to show off your work to friends and family!

I'd recommend the Visual Quickstart Guide HTML for the World Wide Web, 5th Edition. Get's ya started off real basic, and then you dive into tables, and eventually start making pages with style sheets. Perhaps after she's got HTML down, you could show her javascript or perl? (I know, javascript -- not programming, get off my back, will ya? :)

HTML was the first "programming" (I know, I know) I did with my Mac, and I had a blast learning it.

Start with the basics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298305)

Teach her the joys of assembly. That'll get her off your back :)

Basic (1)

jm92956n (758515) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298307)

10 Print "Basic, while not a production-level programming language"

20 Print "is suitable for entry level education."
30 Print "It's not too difficult and can be adapted to meet a variety of needs."
40 Print "If she's mastered solitaire, chances are, she's on a MS system"
50 Print "almost all of which have QBasic installed; catch is, she has to enjoy text."
60 Goto 10

Teach her C. (1)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298310)

C is such an easy language to learn now, that I have seen folks pick it up in a week and put it to use.

Set her up with some SDL libs (Game Kit) and a couple simple makefiles, show her how to type 'make' and run the program, and away you go.

Honestly. C is a good language for anyone to learn. I don't think its right to treat languages as 'especially hard' or 'especially easy', though, for different 'classes' of people ... so maybe this recommendation may not go down to well...

Shouln't VB be on the same side of that list as... (1)

NoMercy (105420) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298312)

Sorry but VB really is on the same level as Logo to me, Really if you can't understand basic youre not going to be programming, mabie not visual basic, I always favored BBC Basic of which the Brandy Interpreter [] is a fine version, though the appearance is slightly dated and you'll never write a windows program in it the language itself is pretty rock solid :)

FOR i=0 TO 10
PRINT "Hello World"

It teaches you the basics :)

The Foundations of Programming (1)

CHaN_316 (696929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298313)

I think teaching assembly would be great. Once you understand that, you understand what all programming languages go through eventually :D j/k. Nothing is more readable than say LDD 3,X

But honestly, I think PHP is quite a nice language to learn. It's interpretted, so no need to compile, so you see your results very quickly. PHP tends to be quite good for rapid application development IMO. It also has a very large collection of functions available, so you're not left to implement tedious functions. You also get the benefit of the 90% rule, that is, the syntax is more or less 90% similar or the same to say, C or Java.

I also think your mom would enjoy whipping up simple little web sites. HTML is a nice tool to use to make simple GUIs compared to something like Java swing.

Real Basic? Or some stack-based interpreted lang? (2, Interesting)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298315)

Have you tried Realbasic [] ? It seems to be powerful enough for people to use for "real" programming (and it's crossplatform, well, at least it runs on Macs and PCs.) You can also try introducing her to a stack-oriented scripting language (similar to Hypercard.) There's one called Runtime Revolution [] and it runs on Macs, PCs, and Linux (according to their website.)

I'd personally find stack-oriented scripting languages easier to pick up (from a newbie's perspective) because the process of dealing with event-driven loops is automatically built into the environment - you just have to tell the stack how to interpret button presses, etc. Also, it's easy to keep things segmented - individual scripts live on their own cards, and you can link the cards together in any particular order you want.

C++ (1)

Jimmy_Chi (635947) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298319)

Seriously, have you considered C or C++? My absolute first exposure to programming was C++ in Borland, in a freshman year college class. I found it to be easy at the time, and its been a solid foundation for anything else I look into.

No need to get into classes or anything remotely complicated...start with a hello world proggie, and move on from there...

Make it simple. (2, Interesting)

russianspy (523929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298324)

My first choice for someone who wants to learn a programming language (but does not know any yet) would be Python. Bear in mind, that's for someone who just wants to learn a programming language for general tasks. (Afterwards I'd teach C).

For someone in your case. Don't teach a language for the sake of teaching a language. First you need a problem. Something your mom is really interested in solving. It should be something simple. One example could be a program (possibly a daemon) that will e-mail a reminder about the b-days in your family. Or perhaps just pop up a window. Another idea might be to download a lot of recipies from the web and build a front end around it. Something that allows you to grep through them. Eventually adding ability to recognize ingredients and query for those, etc. The important thing is to start small, have a visible result almost immediately and then slowly build up.

Another alternative might be to show your mom how to use photoshop or a 3d rendering package. You can download Maya educational version for free. You also have povray and a whole slew of others available. Maybe it's time to help your mom develop the more artistic side...

Is that gonna be useful at all? (1)

ruyon (660897) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298325)

Learning a programming language to useful extent requires quite a long time and energy. I would rathar give my mom iPhoto and a digital camera (or equvalant Windows s/w like Photoshop Album) and teach how to order a custom postcard or a mug cup.

(Q)BASIC? (1)

LaserLyte (725803) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298326)

I think BASIC would be a good choice. It's very simple and easy to learn. If Visual Basic is too complex, perhaps you could find an old copy of QuickBASIC (or PowerBASIC, etc...) or some other DOS or Unix console-orientated compiler/language with integrated IDE.

I've been teaching a young friend of mine some simple programming with Microsoft QBasic. It's easy to use and learn from, and you can still get some useful software out of it. The IDE is great for beginners. It's very good at helping the programmer with fixing errors (or even fixing obvious syntactical errors itself).

Once BASIC has been mastered, you can move on to something a little more complex.

Java (2, Informative)

Red_Winestain (243346) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298327)

No, really, Java is great for beginners. You can immediately get windows, buttons, etc, and it is hard to shoot yourself in the foot. There are plenty of on-line resources:

One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298328)


Reasoning behind her Decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298329)

Before you get too far into teaching the programming, you might want to find out why your Mom wants to learn programming. Some people think that it involves alot of graphics design and whatnot, but don't realize the amount of work that can be involved in creating applications (testing, design aspects, etc).

Excel || HTML + Javascript (1)

dwat001 (513384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298333)

Most simple (often usfull) place to start is using functions in Excel. Will give her the idea of variables and functions, Name some cells and you can show the use of meaningful variable names.

Once she gets the idea of that try some html with javascript set up a home page for her. ( good brag value "... when I was working on my home page I ...." is great value at the local coffe group :).

I recommend Revolution (1)

Swedentom (670978) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298337)

I recommend Revolution. It's similar to HyperCard and uses a very english-like programming language called Transcript. Works on Windows, Mac OS 9/X, Linux, BSD, etc... :D []

Brainfuck ? (2, Funny)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298346)

How about Brainfuck [] ?

Seriously though, maybe you should learn her about the von Neumann architecture [] , and let her play with a simple implementation of it. At the very least it let's her help understand the basics of computing.

Perl (1)

YAJoe (740850) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298347)

I may be biased, but Perl [] is robust.

You can start her off with very simple line-by-line programming (e.g. print "Hello World") and progress toward to structures.

Perl has the added benefit that it has instant gratification, little object-orientation, and above all is free. This is the Windows version [] .

If there still is any doubt, I taught myself to programming reading the camel book in middle school. It is very beginner friendly!

Programming is a Talent (0)

Jack Comics (631233) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298351)

Programming is a talent. Some people have it, most people don't. Just as I may be able to play the piano, but you may not be able to hope to be able to play "Happy Birthday" on one, it shouldn't be expected for everyone to either learn to nor know how to program.

Your mother may not have the gift of being able to program. You would probably be better off showing her some other things to do on a computer, something she might be able to easier grasp.

On an aside, that's one of the things I hate about Linux zealots. "Blah blah can't blah blah!" "Well, it's open source so go in the source and fix it to blah blah yourself!" While you may be a fantastic programmer, you shouldn't expect anyone else to be one or learn how to program, just as a musician trained in the classics doesn't expect anyone in his audience to be able to belt out a pleasing operatic tune at his or her request.

How about excel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9298359)

How about starting with excel style spreadsheets and graphics? It's probably the most visual style of programming, and can actually be fairly useful (compared to logo).

In any case, she will need to have a problem that she wants to solve. Programming in the abstract is pretty difficult. You should start by finding a good problem that she is interested in. Then the problem's nature will suggest a language or platform.

Well, if it's her first language, (1, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9298360)

try the Beginner's All-Symbolic Instructional Code. It's pretty basic, of course, but useful in this context.
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