Java: the New Straightjacket
I first learned to program on a home computer in Basic. At first
it was fun, but after a point it became frustrating, when I realized
that I was living inside a walled garden. Many interesting programs,
such as those interfacing with the display controller, simply could
not be written in standard Basic. Luckily, this limitation forced me
to move to Pascal, assembly code, and C.
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The Tools at Hand
The tools we use have a profound (and devious!) influence on our thinking habits, and, therefore, on our thinking abilities.
— Edsger W. Dijkstra
With a shovel excavator a single operator can effortlessly move 720 tons of earth with a single movement; a VLSI fabrication plant allows a designer to create elaborate sub-micron structures. Without tools the thousands employed in a car factory are nothing, with tools they can assemble a car in 18 effort hours. Sometimes, tools can even subsume the importance of their operators. The violinist Ivry Gitlis, considered one of the most talented musicians of his generation, said of his Stradivarius: "I have a violin that was born in 1713. I don't consider it my violin. Rather, I am its violinist; I am passing though its life." Tools are clearly an important and defining element of any profession and activity: tools help us move boulders and atoms, tools help us reach the Moon and our soul.
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