May 22, 2012

Once I thought With Visual Basic I Could Program Anything

Truth of the matter: the first Visual Basic I tried was not a version I bought, though I can't for the life of me remember if I had a demo version on one of the disks I did buy (such as office 97), or I downloaded a free version from the web, or I downloaded an illegal version.
Come to think of it, I think it came on one of the disks, and I think it was before web times, and I'm pretty sure I did not try it on my computer, but rather on my girlfriend's computer. Sometime in 1993, or 1994.
I tried to create a simple adventure game. Something that would display some text and a picture, and then move you to some other 'place' also with a text and a picture, depending on what you clicked.
In other words, something that is easy to do today with HTML only...
I was so impressed with VB back then! I could do all of these things, and let's face it, the interface was amazing!
today, there is nothing that can match the simplicity and the elegance it had back then, including, sadly, the newer versions of VB.
that left me seriously hoping that Dart would evolve nicely...

May 15, 2012

Once I Thought Excel Was a Great Tool

I taught Math or something like Computer Literacy to children several times, in several different schools, to different ages.
For several years I thought that Excel was a great tool for doing that.
I mean, isn't it Great?  you put '1' in Square A2 (you need A1 for the title)
then you put =a2+1 in A3. Then you copy all the way down to A41, and there you have the numbers from 1 to 40, right there...
Then you do them multiplied by 10 in column B, Squared in column C, and Cubed (divided by 10) in column D. Then you do a graph...
So much math. All of it done by the students themselves. takes so little time.
And you can also do Pascal's triangle...
No wonder I thought excel was a great tool.
But this little graph you see above?
I made it with Google Documents.
For starters, I didn't have to pay for the software...

May 8, 2012

Once I thought I could rule the world with auto summarize

Let me say this right from the start: Microsoft Word 97 was a REALLY good word processor. I might even say, the best word processor I have ever used, though Google docs starts to come close.
You could put pictures right into your documents, and it didn't even crash your computer. There were tons of fonts...
And also,  Word 97 was the first (and last) Microsoft word processor I had a legal copy of. There were even more cool Hebrew fonts on the CD itself, if you only knew where to look, and I looked all over the CD.
Then there was auto summarize. It highlighted the important 20 percent in your document. I was really impressed with that. I thought it could be used to create a machine that would pass the Turing test...
Maybe I was a little too enthusiastic on that account, but still, it was a heck of a good deal. It only cost me something like 30$ on the computer store (gone since then) at the Hebrew university, up on Mount Scopus.

May 1, 2012

Little Big Adventure

So, like I said two weeks ago, in the fall of 1995 I moved back to Haifa, and got myself a Pentium 90.
I was starting my graduate studies in Economics, but that only started in late October, and I moved in mid September. Also, it took me some time to find jobs to fill the free time I had from my scheduled studies.
That means I had a lot of free time on my hands, and most of it went to playing Little Big Adventure. It was a cool adventure game, all in 3D, and very difficult.
You are the hero of the game, and you begin imprisoned in an asylum. since you can't save your progress until the end of a chapter (or something like that) I had to play the first chapter something like fifty times!
I still remember the line: 'A prisoner has escaped! Sound the Alarm!' as if it was yesterday.
I'm sad to say (Maybe I should be happy to say it?) that I never finished that game. It was too difficult, and soon my work schedule, and my studies schedule started filling up.
It was a good game though. I still wonder how it ends.

PS, I also never figured out why the elephant...