The Daily Broadside


Posted on 07/17/2021 5.00 AM

JCM 7/10/2021 7:28:38 PM

Posted by: JCM

Occasional Reader 7/17/2021 7:08:10 AM
I see we are on a diet this morning.
JCM 7/17/2021 7:21:13 AM
Okay first one broke....

Occasional Reader 7/17/2021 8:36:26 AM

Reply to JCM in 2:

looks like we are still on a diet, just not quite as severe!

Occasional Reader 7/17/2021 8:37:48 AM
I would be interested in your thoughts, that is, you, plural, on a good choice for a PC for my son. He turns six this coming week and I’d like to get him started on his own machine, instead of just borrowing one of  mine as he has been doing until now. I’d prefer a Windows operating system since that’s what I’m used to and that’s also what he uses with his mom.
Kosh's Shadow 7/17/2021 8:54:07 AM

Reply to Occasional Reader in 4:

Hard to make recommendations for specific machines. Probably don't want to get him something too expensive.

Cheapest I see for Windows are Lenovo, but that is a Chinese company.

Asus and Acer are also inexpensive brands, from Taiwan. Check reviews.

I had some good HPs, and some bad ones. One flaky Dell, which they repaired under warranty, but started to have the same symptoms later after it ran out, but it was old enough to replace. (The absolutely least reliable machine I had was a Macbook Pro). If you go with Dell, the pro support is worth it; basic warranty does not cover much.

Minimum 8 GB for Windows. 4 GB runs like an 80 year old in the left lane of a Florida highway, especially when you put both regular antivirus and Malwarebytes (which I do recommend). FirePig FireFox seems to need 1.5 GB to run at all (I have lots of tabs and windows, and it is using 2.7 GB as opposed to Chrome, with just RB open using 364)

For disk, if we're talking about a laptop (which would make it easy to take it to his mom), while SSD (solid state drive) is more expensive, it is not prone to damage by shocks like disks are, and only the cheapest laptops have disks any more. However, SSDs are generally smaller; you can get an inexpensive 1 TB disk for the price of a 1/8 TB (128 GB) SSD. For most people, lots of disk space is needed for videos, music, and pictures. 

And an external drive can be added relatively cheaply.

Or you could get him started with Linux ///////

Kosh's Shadow 7/17/2021 8:57:11 AM

As for Malwarebytes, which runs on both Windows and Mac, and at least its browser plugins work in Linux, it adds a layer of protection beyond traditional antivirus, and is especially good at blocking trackers and cookies, but sometimes, sites just won't work if you don't enable trackers and tracking cookies (it lets harmless ones go)

And it does block sites that could have malware, as well as ads that could be malicious.

Also, it is something like $40 for 5 licenses, iirc.

Occasional Reader 7/17/2021 11:00:37 AM
Thanks, Kosh.
Kosh's Shadow 7/17/2021 11:02:13 AM

Kosh's Shadow 7/17/2021 11:03:03 AM

Reply to Kosh's Shadow in 8:

I don't know how that happened - I was saying I probably gave you more information than I wanted.

Occasional Reader 7/17/2021 12:57:12 PM

I went with an HP.  Fingers crossed, I hope it was a good choice.

I decided to avoid the super cheap “just for kids“ laptops, they seem so limited that he would probably outgrow it in a year or two. Also, there are already a couple of games he wants to play that I think would strain the limits of such a cheap machine. (Minecraft and Universe Sandbox)

Kosh's Shadow 7/17/2021 1:50:56 PM

In #10 Occasional Reader said: I went with an HP.  Fingers crossed, I hope it was a good choice.

I've had several. One lasted very well for $600, but eventually the keys started to fall off (3 years, which is not bad). Got my wife a similar model, with good results.

Another, which had a large disk drive for the time, had the initial drive fail, and then the replacement. (They supplied a new drive based on the diagnostics, and I installed it). That is what happens when something pushes the state of the art.

Another died barely after the warranty ran out.

Kosh's Shadow 7/17/2021 1:57:54 PM

I looked up best programming languages for kids. (I couldn't help myself in thinking he should learn how computers work) Some of the sites are way off - I do not think kids should start with JavaScript or C++. JavaScript is very hard to debug, and C++ requires a lot of understanding to get right.

But then,  nothing gave languages for 6 year olds.

Best link I saw is here

Since I never tried any of the languages for kids, I can't give very good advice, but Scratch seems like a good starting point based on the description. However, they suggest 8+. 

When he is older, the real programming language I'd recommend first is Python. It is powerful, and you can type an expression or a few and see what they do immediately, and it is free. However, since Monty Python references are strongly encouraged, he'd have to learn some of their sketches first///////////

Occasional Reader 7/17/2021 2:38:24 PM

Reply to Kosh's Shadow in 12:

Python?  I don’t want to constrict his early learning experience…

lucius septimius 7/17/2021 3:38:19 PM

In #12 Kosh's Shadow said: but Scratch seems like a good starting point based on the description. However, they suggest 8+. 

My kids have all used scratch and enjoyed it.  Provided a good foundation for when they moved to more advanced programming.

Kosh's Shadow 7/17/2021 3:39:44 PM

In #13 Occasional Reader said: Python?  I don’t want to constrict his early learning experience…

And obviously, LISP is out of the questhion.

Maybe he could Go? Or get to know Julia?

Maybe not Go; they support BLM

Kosh's Shadow 7/17/2021 3:40:58 PM

Reply to Kosh's Shadow in 15:
There's Haskell, but wasn't he the kid that was always getting Beaver Cleaver in trouble?

Kosh's Shadow 7/17/2021 3:44:53 PM

Reply to lucius septimius in 14:


When I was 15, thanks to the MIT High School Studies program (for high school kids on Saturdays, largely taught by students- including other high school students) I started learning FORTRAN, and thanks to a rich alumnus of my public high school, I had access to an IBM 1130 there.

In two years, I learned FORTRAN, APL, 1130 Assembler, LISP, and had exposure to PL/1. Also played around with RPG

Most of the programming courses I took were taught by other students at my high school.

But I did take others, on Relativity, and one course on spaceflight got us into Draper Labs to see their Apollo "simulators". The Apollo guidance computers were developed there, and the Apollo missions were still going on.

Occasional Reader 7/17/2021 5:33:40 PM

In #14 lucius septimius said: scratch

Based on the name, it is obviously satanic!

Occasional Reader 7/17/2021 5:56:31 PM

Speaking of “scratch“:

Occasional Reader 7/17/2021 5:57:12 PM

Reply to Occasional Reader in 19:

Now, the headline is misleading. “From scratch“ should mean starting with nothing more than hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon.

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