On Programming Languages

This is going to be another geek-post – it was either this or moan about our loss to Arsenal, and I’m tired of moaning already. (Bring back Owen!!)

I”m essentially a PHP-guy, with more than a passing interest in web client-side technologies like XHTML and CSS (and of course, that crazy old JavaScript).

Funny thing about all that is that I never really learned any of the above in a formal institutionalised setting – although I did eventually take a module in HTML + JavaScript for my diploma, after all, it was like a guaranteed A!

I originally picked up HTML as a hobby, something to pass the time, back when I was in university (this was sometime around 1996) I borrowed a HTML For Dummies book from the library and finished it from cover to cover in less than 24 hours. Yes, HTML was that simple (we’re talking version 2, folks) – still is, although current practices in semantic markup methodology, W3C validation and integration of CSS makes today’s XHTML just a little more complicated – but only a little.

Other programming languages that I’ve learned (formally or informally) weren’t that easy to get a grip on. The first ever programming language I learned was BASIC, at the tender age of 12 (in my school’s Computer Club). This was back when DOS was the operating system on the computer and Windows was that thing you broke when you played football inside the house despite your mom’s constant threats. WordStar was THE word-processor software and we could even take a proficiency test in order to get a certificate. I would have gotten it, if not for the fact that I spent most of my Computer Club sessions playing Pac-Man, Karateka or Test Drive….

Anyway, you’re unlikely to find youngsters these days being indocrinated into the computing world with an introduction to BASIC – more likely it’s something simpler like Pascal (which is another module that I took in college – college syllabi tend to be obsolete by the time the text books are printed – case in point: I remember a junior complaining that his lecturer was still teaching them all that dot-com bubble ideology despite the dot-com bust having come and gone) or Visual Basic.

Other languages I’ve studied, crammed, and passed in a legally-sanctioned exam are C (I learned enough to pass, although back then I never really realised how powerful it was – if I had, I’d have probably obsessed over it a lot more, and ending up a bigger geek than I’d ever want to be), Java (I actually did very well in Java in my exams, but funnily enough I never really had too many opportunities to work with it in my IT career thus far, so my Java skills are kinda rusty now), and of course, Visual Basic (but let’s ignore that).

I’ve also had a look in at Perl, but never got around to expanding my knowledge on it since by then I was busy with PHP.

Anyway, this whole post was inspired by this article “What Programming Languages You Should Actually Care to Learn” (discovered by way of Digg).

I agree with some of the points, namely on C and Java (which is a good way to get into the world of object-oriented programming or OOP – forget C++), but not too sure about Lisp and (I might get killed for this) Python.

There are even some people who tell me that ASP.NET is a must for any programmer, but I’ve come this far without having to jump into bed with Microsoft, so I’m just gonna hang on a wee bit longer, if you don’t mind.πŸ˜‰

But if there is one language that I’m seriously curious about nowadays, it’s Ruby (or to be more specific, Ruby on Rails – the web application framework based on Ruby). I first heard about it sometime last year, I think, and the buzz has been steadily picking up ever since. It’s come to a point where any discussion regarding web programming languages would have to include Ruby on Rails or risk being considered irrelevant or obsolete (hence this paragraph, ahem).

In any case, if I’m to do my professional calling any justice, I really should put aside some time to learn/master these other languages:

  1. C (this really is overdue for me. is there an exam or certification course i can take for this?)
  2. Java (again, like C, it’s about time I reconnect with this. back in the old days, i could actually THINK in Java, ya know, see the lines of code in my head and debug them. i was THAT into it – don’t i think i’ll be able to do that again…)
  3. Perl (with PHP’s increasing popularity in the web-server world, I don’t know exactly what extra advantage I’ll have with Perl, but I guess it’s only right to have at least an understanding of the alternatives… i’m gonna get killed by the Perl advocates, aren’t i?)
  4. Ruby on Rails (so if ever this topic comes up in geek discussions – which will probably take place online or at Star Wars fan events – I can sound knowledgeable enough to join in, or at least impress the requisite Padme-Amidala-lookalike enough to get her number)

And I assure you, that’s the last geek post I’m gonna write for a while… unless Liverpool lose again, in which case I’ll provide an explanation on why PHP 5 rocks the universe.

Behold! It is thus written in the Programmers’ Bible: “Lo! The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth (and all the Attributes and Methods of the superclass Universe)“.

4 thoughts on “On Programming Languages”

  1. Haha I wanted to blog about that Digg post but you beat me to it! I really enjoyed Basic and I made a customised bootable-DOS with different config.sys and autoexec.bat to play big games like Wing Commander and Monkey Island (the days of extended and expanded memory). While at Uni, I learned HTML by looking at other people’s source code hahaha! (gila jahat) Then we were forced to learn Java, Haskell, C, C++ and Assembly (arrgghhhhh). What else, after graduating, I decided I wasn’t going to do any more codes but now I find myself learning PHP and CSS.

    Once a coder, always a coder!

    p/s: each time you mention Rub on Rails, I keep thinking Ruby Wax haha!

    SASHI: You enjoyed BASIC? You learned Assembly? Dude, you are surely the geekiest Jedi that ever wielded a lightsaber!πŸ˜›

  2. I wrote tic-tac-toe game ap with Assembly when in uni.
    Oh and also HTML and CSS by looking at other people’s source codes. >)

    SASHI: Geek babe alert! πŸ˜›

  3. But aren’t all Jedi uber-geeks? I mean, they developed and mastered the lightsaber. They create androids and the Advanced TIE Fighter. In comparison to Anakin, i’m just a teaspoonfull of metachlorines hehe.

    SASHI: You know, you have a point. Geeks are meant to rule the galaxies.

  4. I started to learn HTML & Javascript during my secondary school. At college, it started with C and then Visual Basic, Lisp and Java. Knows a little bit about PHP and ASP but really into Java & JSP.

    Now working as a java programmmer. Learned alot about Java, Servlets, JSP with various framework – Struts, Kacang, Spring, Spong, Spongebob(just kiddin’ ;p), etc.

    Man, sometimes i think there’s too much to learn in this field. Ruby, Ajax, Web 2.0 n macam2 lagi. Pening kepala!

    SASHI: Man, tell me about it! Actually, Web 2.0 is just a buzzword je lah, simply people use it in their resumes for padding purposes…πŸ˜‰

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