Can the Old Dog Learn New Tricks?

I have set myself a really steep challenge this week. I promised to help my daughter with a math  assignment. Shouldn’t be a big deal, I just have to learn how to program in Java in order to be able to advise and assist her!

Although I am reasonably “tech savvy” and handy with most office applications it has been a really long time since I did any proper programming, so this is quite a challenge. In fact since my last programming was in BASIC back in 1988 a lot has changed. And I mean a lot…

For example, back in the late ’80s the only Java I knew of was through reference to the 1969 film, Krakatoa, East of Java. We didn’t even refer to coffee as java! (Starbucks didn’t exist in the UK then, either). In fact it was a full 7 years after I finished my MSc, in 1995,  that James Gosling designed this object oriented language which, over the following 20 years became one of the most popular programming languages in use.

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Duke, the Java mascot Copyright © Sun Microsystems Inc

So, to answer the question posed – can the old dog learn new tricks? Well, time will tell, but I’m having a good try! I have taken a short break from my cramming and experimentation, reading “Java for Dummies” and conferencing with my daughter. I have a fair grasp of how it all works, on a superficial level at least, and I understand the logic of what needs to be done. And yes,  it’s going to be a challenge.

Much to the surprise of my family I am actually enjoying this and I think I will even try to develop this further after my immediate needs are complete. Oddly, it brings back memories of late nights working the College of Aeronautics honing my BASIC programming for calculating crop sprayer flow rates for different nozzle sizes before popping out to the student bar for a quick pint.

Who would have guessed than nearly 30 years later I would be doing similar on another continent with my daughter? I just hope that I still have sufficient grey matter in the old noggin to complete this!

~Richard

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