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Ping 165: HelpBridge, Microsoft PLAY, 9 year old wiz kid, Windows Phone silenced

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While Paul bathes in the Californian sun and the glory of his entrepreneurial endeavors, Laura holds down the fort at the home base of Microsoft Campus. From their distinctly different locations and backgrounds...they bring you these stories:

The HelpBridge App    [06:20]

Microsoft PLAY  [17:24]

9 year old Microsoft specialist   [10:34]

A phone that silences itself (wish we had this for Paul)    [14:15]

THE TUXEDO CHALLENGE

 

 QOTW: How young is too young???

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  • Justin M. SalvatoJustin​MSalvato Microsoft junkie

    My first program, outside of copying them from 3-2-1 Contact, was an fake artificial intelligence (redundant?) program using SmartBASIC for the Coleco ADAM computer, *ahem* feel free to visit my blog: http://colecoadam.wordpress.com

    Anywho, it's was a simple question & answer program that fooled the average person into thinking the computer is asking you it's own questions, gaining personal information and using it as if it learned something about you.  Very common, I believe, for most beginners in BASIC programming. 

    What have I done with this skill?  Absolutely nothing; I work as a material handler in a multi-specialty healthcare practice in Hudson Valley, New York =)

  • PeteK68PeteK68

    I was probably about 10 or 11 (grade 6) when my older friend showed me how to code in QBasic. We didn't have the real QuickBasic. I loved it.

    It was a really basic game that simulated a horse race. It randomly chose the order every quarter lap. So after 1/4 lap it would tell you which horse was in first, second, etc. You also had to bet on the winning horse and let you name the horses participating in the race. The expression on my older brothers faces when they saw that their names on the screen got me hooked.

    My first completed solo project was probably when I was 12 or 13. I made my own boxing game complete with primitive graphics and speed and stamina variables that were randomly selected to determine your boxers abilities.

    I also did a Simon Says game with four boxes that flashed in a sequence and the user had to duplicate. The sequence would grow and the speed would increase every time the player got the sequence right.

    I did a few more to help me with my math homework, but that was a few years later.

    I remember spending HOURS UPON HOURS programming in the basement over the holidays and on weekends. This pattern continued for several years. I still managed to get decent grades and play basketball and of course, hit on girls, play video games, etc. It's amazing to think about how productive I used to be!

    This little trip down memory lane has really motivated me to write a Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 app! Thanks!!

    That brings

  • @PeteK68: Serves me right for using my phone to type this huge comment without reviewing :/
  • Paul MestemakerPaulMest Former Ping Co-host

    , PeteK68 wrote

    @PeteK68: Serves me right for using my phone to type this huge comment without reviewing :/

    If you log in, I'm pretty sure you can edit your own comment for a while if you want to take off those trailing two words.

  • Lance SeidmanLanceSeidman Let's build a better future

    First time I actually started writing code? I was easily 13 but even before that I was playing with our old school computer that used tape that was the programs, yes literally paper you pull through but I don't call that real development.


    When I was 14 I started working on the Speech SDK and using Visual Studio prior to becoming 32-Bit (16-bit) and this being VB4 (later obtained the VB5 32Bit). I made AOL/AIM "Progz". Yes, back when AOL was cool. Later on was written up in 1999 in Wired under my alias for being a bad boy.

    Also later started using Shareware sites to sell my little programs, one being an Uninstaller, Memory Clear, System Speed Up, Internet Bandwidth Logger, but eventually sold my Popup Stopper. It was the first one that stopped ALL popups, even the ones from Flash/Shockwave and I went to sell it to an ISP that if I knew was going to put it on every TV commercial, I perhaps would have tried to get more funds for it.

    Oh well, I miss my IBM Aptiva (still have it actually) and CompUSA where I could pickup a pack of Bawls and yeah, the old days (which are my younger days) feels like a life time ago.

  • IRBIRB

    HelpBridge looks like a neat app and good to see it is available to help multiple platforms but sadly it appears they are only interested in saving US people as it isn't available in the UK store.

     

    The auto silence thing is a neat idea but I'd always be worried that something wouldn't work as it should so I'd probably manually check my phone anyway to turn it off in the cinema so I'd not use it Smiley

    People should be turning their phone OFF in the cinema not silencing them, nothing worse than when some moron in the row in-front brings their phone out to check something and practically blinds you with their screen. What the hell do these people need to check during the film? hmph, grumble over.

     

    Way to go for that young dude but spending 8 hours a day over the xmas hols at 9 years old in front of a computer for me just seems a little excessive, my parents would never have allowed me to do that. Had to be outside playing with my friends, which was more fun but maybe that is why I'm not a Bill Gates or Mark Zuck-thingy.

     

    My first recollection of programming was on my ZX Spectrum 48K, writing some adventure games and then later a driving game when I got into doing some moving animations. It was great fun, the challenge and the feeling of success when it was all complete.

    Does anybody else remember the computer games magazines of old that game you the game code for you to copy in to make games? That was a good way of introducing you to programming, though debugging wasn't anywhere near as good as VS is Smiley

  • Den DelimarskyDennisDel I ate a watermelon

    Visual Basic 6 when I was 7 or so. Goal was to build something like the Windows OS within Windows. Was an exceptional learning experience about databases, WinAPI and how some things can cause instant computer reboots.

  • martinminemartinmine I eat C# for breakfast

    When I was in 3rd grade, I really wanted to make my own computer program. Our laptop at home was an old Windows 98 computer with a floppy drive and a CD-drive. I knew that if there was something inside the floppy drive, the computer would try to run that content. That way I thought if I put some system files on some floppy disks, the computer would try and compile those to an EXE file which I could later run. However, I was left in disappointment when my computer did not want to do anything with the data on the floppy drive. At that point I understood I had to become a computer-guy. Later on in primary school I wanted to be a developer for Jagex, the company responsible for a massive multiplayer game called Runescape which me and most of the kids in my class where playing. I saw on the job applications you had to know Java and C++ in order to become a developer so I decided to try and learn that. However, the books and stuff I found on the Internet where either far beyond my language skills. What objects and classes did not make much sense to me, specially when I had nobody I could ask questions and I did not know where to ask them.

    However, years passed on and during 8th grade I was getting into private server development. After fixing a SQL syntax error in a open-source game-server, I decided to continue learning this language, which was C#. I had previously been looking at PHP which I found rather easy. I had an issue with the server randomly disconnecting users, and the only trace I was left with was a stack-trace log file. This stack-trace said a connection was forced to be closed by host machine or something like that. That made me think there was something wrong in the socket-wrapper for the game server. After a few months from reading code, I picked up variables, functions, classes and later on static classes in the C# computer language and I suddenly wrote my own socket-wrapper. However, once the new wrapper was completed, I realized my router was randomly closing connections on port 21, which was where all the connections went through. 

    It is kind of interesting how the bug or whatever it was in my rotuer caused me to actually learn C# which later on had a huge influence on my programming skills. I am learning C++ in uni now, which I find quite easy since the course is for people who has not touched any code at all.

    I believe my first "real" program was a simple port-scanner checking if port X to Y on host Z is open. And just like that kid, I am the kind of person who sits right after unwrapping my presents on xmas eve (yes, that's how we do it in Norway) and codes some cool stuff. It was kinda funny though, since this xmas was when I managed to write a new socket wrapper class for a C# server-application I had which was my actual goal when I first started coding. The wrapper was written in C++ CLI.

    I totally agree computer languages are getting easier and easier to learn. However, there is a huge downside of this: A lot of "self-learned programmers" often does not know how to code properly. By saying so, I mean you can understand how a basic syntax of a program is and you can start writing applications in .NET or whatever framework you want. However, you do not know what happens behind the scenes on your application and perhaps there are tons of bugs and the code might be extremly slow. This is something I have seen way too often in for example open-source private server communities: Oh my god! My server is running NHibernate on .NET 4.5 using framework X, Y Z, it is sooo awesome! Yes, the framework might be nice, however, in many of the citations I have seen, they do not even understand how to use the framework right, or got some other fundamentally function wrong. Another example is collections. They are either wrongly designed or not even thread-safe (in server-applications). I have often seen a List<Connection> where the Connection is a class holding the connection, connectionID, etc, where it actually loops through every single item in the list and check if the connection ID of this connection equals to the one we are trying to find. And on top of that, there is an entire lock around it which can theoretically cause a deadlock if you have other locks in different places around eg. an expensive foreach loop in the list. 

    Of course, most .NET programmers would think, duh! use a hashtable or a dictionary! However, this was not the case. I am seeing this more and more often, applications that are either slow and/or contains a huge tons of bugs. One good example was the Spotify app on the Windows Phone platform which was almost useless since it crashed almost at every time I tried to resume the app, or even randomly. Sadly, this was one of the main reasons which made me go get the new iPhone 5, yet I miss the practical user-interface on the Windows Phone platform compared to the outdated iOS UI which I wrote about on my blog (http://martinmine.net/post/2012/12/09/The-Incredibly-Great-Revolutionary-iPhone-5.aspx). I think it is great we start learning a low-level programming language like C++ in school since we get to learn how a lot of stuff actually works which in my opinion is needed to write good code in contrast to just knowing the basics and knowing how to library calls. 

  • I started writing full MFC C++ programs when I was 2 years old.  I did it while walking back and forth to school, 14 miles - up hill both ways.

     

    It has been stated that Einstein stole his 'Theory of Relativity' from one of my 3rd grade papers.

     

    Yeah those were the good ole days...  I'm 12 years old now, the future looks so bright.

    Devil

  • Man – am I the only one that is not a developer here? A little bit to get by in school but generally no background what so ever coding. I work with SharePoint (7 years now) but stick with OOB functionality. When it starts looking like custom code is required my eyes glaze over.  I'd certainly support my kids if / when they showed interest. I had gotten into touchdevelop a few weeks back on the RT and entertained the kids with it for a bit.

    HelpBridge looks like a nice app, it has me thinking a bit more about emergency contact management.  The support for multiple platforms and Azure backend is a nice touch (unfortunately not everyone has a Windows Phone). I installed and will mess with it a bit – good stuff.

    So the movie theater is one use case. I'm with Laura on this one, I'll turn my phone off, always do. I don't mind putting it in silent mode. I'm wondering though, another use case might be around combating texting and driving.

  • Paul MestemakerPaulMest Former Ping Co-host

    , martinmine wrote

    I totally agree computer languages are getting easier and easier to learn. However, there is a huge downside of this: A lot of "self-learned programmers" often does not know how to code properly. By saying so, I mean you can understand how a basic syntax of a program is and you can start writing applications in .NET or whatever framework you want. However, you do not know what happens behind the scenes on your application and perhaps there are tons of bugs and the code might be extremly slow.

    Yep, this is what was on my mind when I mentioned that Visual Studio and .NET were getting easier and easier.  I am not the greatest coder, but I diligently measure repeated tasks and look at analytics to determine where there are bottlenecks and instability.  Either learn how to do it right, measure everything and fix your failures fast, or hire somebody 10x better than you to take your prototype and make it actually work. Smiley

  • JulesJules

    Moon landing program written in SCMP Mchine code on an MK14. (Cambridge Computers circa 1976, precursor to the UK ZX80) Lots of 6800 and Z80 programming on TRS80 and Pascal at Uni etc. Then left Sofwtare programming for 15 years, during the dull PC years. (Whilst professionaly I was a Software Architect) - I only returned to wrting software for fun with Java, J++, but absolutley love writing in C# (Windows Forms, Pocket PC, Silverlight, XNA on WP7 and Monogame for Android Tablets.)

  • Benjaminblacqwolf Local Weirdo.

    Microsoft Play sounds like a really neat idea. It would be great to be able to play some games from XBLA. It's unlikely, but porting Perfect Dark would be amazing.

  • Jay Woodcookjaygeek jaygeek

    Wait, wut? No one has mentioned the awesome Commodore 64 and VIC-20? (Commodore licensed BASIC from Microsoft)  When I was in high school, my parents gave me a computer, instead of a class ring, and it was - the - best - decision - ever!! (That beautiful flashing white cursor on a blue background was the incentive I needed to learn to CODE!!  POKE 53281,0)  Now, I'm C#, .NET, MVC, HTML5, CSS3, and adding Windows 8 apps. I love learning and my son is now a coder, too!

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