Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ability to Program Possibly Innate

If you've ever stuck your head near a hot pizza oven, then you've probably experienced how being outside today in Dallas felt. The heat was so overwhelming and dry, and the night hasn't brought much relief (100 degrees right now); all the more reason for me to miss Austin. What I'm really here to talk about is this article, which very briefly gives an overview of a paper that studied how to separate programming-centered people from those who just can't cut it. Of course, this suggests that programming is an innate ability, which is a theory I actually subscribe to. Some people are impressed when I say that my major is CS, but I just tell them that there's a ton of things I can't do (like practically any other major in my College), programming is just something I enjoy. It's not meant for everyone, in my opinion, and this paper even offers a test for determining how the subject thinks, which I believe is the most important part of programming. What's funny about the test is that all the questions just test to see if you can follow a consistent pattern. From skimming the paper, it looks like they asked some other questions as well, which were also pretty good. And the paper correctly boiled programming down to assignment/sequence, recursion/iteration, and concurrency. I think that they have the right idea, but I don't know if we can really reach the point where we can tell whether or not someone will succeed in programming when they first enter a classroom; I think it takes a whole semester. From their experience in that first semester though, you can definitely tell where they fit (or don't) among the pack.

Click to enlarge

Are those designs real? Actually, they do call from Apple patent filings, and someone dissected a recent firmware update to find references to variables that sound very much like they'd be necessary in a cell phone. Maybe Apple has more planned for WWDC than we all think? There's even word that you'll be able to customize your iPod with themes and such. One surprise for WWDC that insiders seem to feel pretty sure of is movie rentals on iTunes, which several studios are supposedly pleased with. We don't know about the restrictions or price yet, but I just can't help thinking that Jobs wouldn't do this without a new, wider iPod. I also suspect that we'll see news at WWDC that more cars are iPod-ready. There's stuff going on up in Redmond as well: Microsoft has sued 26 companies for piracy because they've allegedly been loading computers with pirated Microsoft software. This move doesn't surprise me, and I don't blame them for doing it. More power to them for protecting their IP. They've also acquired Winternals and Sysinternals, the latter a company that makes enterprise system recovery tools and the latter a community of Windows zealots. I'm guessing that this move could serve to improve Winternals products since they'll likely have a better look inside Windows (or just to shut them up for revealing embarrassing security secrets), and Sysinternals may just give Microsoft more feedback. Now for some bad press for Microsoft: TechWeb's rundown of Vista's biggest hits and misses, and I must say that it's quite comprehensive. If you want a crash course is all thats good and bad in Vista, then this is the perfect read for you, but I've covered it all in the past. AMD is going to be dropping the prices of its current line in a few days, and it looks like it will do it again in October shortly after my birthday; likely to try to out-price Intel if they can't beat Intel's newlyfound good press. Yes, I will accept a chip as a belated gift; I can build a machine around it. Lastly, I found more cool freeware utilities. The coolest one, in my opinion, is CamStudio.

AICN dug up an early review of Talladega Nights and it sounds a lot like Anchorman: mindless fun. Im ok with that though because that's all I ask for. AICN also found out that Science of Sleep is pretty much what it looks like: a subtly sweet romance movie with crazy visuals, a crazy story, and top-notch acting, much like Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. I'm definitely looking forward to this one. Oh, and if you want another mixed review for Lady in the Water, you can read how Massawyrm weighed in. Yahoo Movies has a featurette on Clerks 2 with Smith explaining how it's different from the original, and I just love how he thinks of the movie. Nicole Kidman has been confirmed to be in The Golden Compass as an antagonist, and Paul Bettany may be in the movie as well. I just can't wait to see the teaser trailer for this movie, though I know it's far away. Lastly, we have a poster for Bobby, and I love how simple but cool it is. If the brothers Weinstein approve of the movie, I'm sure it'll be a good (plus it has an all-star cast).

Now for the Tuesday Twosome:

1. What are two ways you find relief from the summer heat? Explain:
Cold water and air-conditioning. What else is there? Slushies? Swimming?

2. Is it generally warmer or cooler where you live this summer? Explain:
Warmer! It sucks to be outside even at dark and you still can't play sports because you feel like you're going to explode from the heat.

3. On a hot summer day, would you rather go to the pool or to the mall (air-conditioned)? Explain:
It depends. A private pool with friends would be nice, but I hate public pools because I feel they're dirtier. Malls are pretty fun usually though.

4. If you could be on vacation this week, would part of your decision-making be based on the weather? Explain:
Oh yeah. I wouldn't go anywhere as hot as Texas for a week in the middle of summer.

5. Name two cities you believe have the best weather and two cities with the worst weather year-round:
Los Angeles and Berlin for the best, and Dallas and Tehran for the worst. I haven't been to three of those places though, so the Hell if I know.

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