Unlock Forth on the OLPC XO

A week or so ago I ended up on “Luke’s Weblog” reading an article about Forth on the OLPC XO.
The OLCP Wiki has got Forth Lessons for everyone to enjoy. Forth is a pretty neat language!
You may have noticed that although access to the Forth shell is explained on this page, it doesn’t work. The reason can be two-fold. First, you can only access the Forth shell if the firmware security is disabled. Second, on newer machines you access the Forth shell by hitting the escape key at boot time.
This page explains how to gain access to the Forth shell on machines that have got the firmware security enabled (G1G1 owners, that means you). You need a developer key to unlock your firmware, the request takes less than 24 hours to be fulfilled. Please read the page closely (disable-security twice!) and heed their advice of disabling firmware security (you can always enable it later).

Code Generation and DSLs in Scheme

Over the years, I have heard some pretty outrageous and tantalizing claims made about the programming language Lisp. For example, “It will change you, forever.” and “You write code that writes code.”. Sadly, no further explanation is ever provided. Perhaps it is impossible to capture the essence of that to which these statements allude? This air of mystery around Lisp is both a blessing and a curse. Some folks will find this aura repugnant; others magical. For me, it was the latter. I wanted in on the secret!
Continue reading “Code Generation and DSLs in Scheme”

What is “real code”?

One common complaint about non-mainstream programming languages is that there hasn’t been any “real code” written in that particular language. One response to this is the Practical Common Lisp book.
Whether or not a MP3 database or a spam filter is “real code” is up for debate. Nonetheless, based on the success of the book, people clearly want to see “real code”.
In your mind, what is “real code”? What is it that you need to see in order to believe that a language can do “real work”?

F Sharp for the Holidays

F-Sharp in Visual Studio 2008

To help drum up excitement for the recently released Visual Studio .NET 2008 (VS08) at the WI-INETA Holiday Party this year, folks who are passionate about .NET are being encouraged to give 5-minute micro-presentations on new features about which they are particularly excited. One rumor that piqued my interest was that F# would be released as part of VS08.

As it turns out, although F# did not get released with VS08, F# RC 1.9.3.7 is available in the form of a stand alone installer which provides VS08 integration. Installation is fast and easy, and in no time you will be up and running with a powerful functional programming language, a great IDE, and full access to the latest and greatest APIs that Microsoft has to offer. The following is a screenshot with a few niceties highlighted in blue:

[[http://www.flickr.com/photos/21470641@N07/2110080930/][2110080930_9aa8e34e3f_m.jpg]]

Although technically it may fall outside the bounds of the original WI-INETA goal of presenting only on VS08 features, I’m hoping that optionsScalper will return to reprise his role as the local F# evangelist by giving a micro-presentation on F# and VS08.

Enjoy!

One reason why F Sharp is exciting

One of the most common reasons cited for not learning more about functional programming is the lack of both good libraries and good development environments. This is a little bit surprising, because when it comes to learning a language, these two features are likely to have the least impact on the learning process. Despite that, this lament continues; there must be more to it!
Programmers, like most folks today, are largely short on time. Wherever they invest it, they expect a good return. When it comes to programming, every programmer hopes that the investment he makes in learning a new language has at least a fighting chance at being applied to solving a billable problem.
F# completely blows away these two huge barriers to folks learning more about functional programming: it has complete access to the .NET platform and has excellent integration with Visual Studio .NET.
This is very, very exciting: even if a programmer never ends up using a functional programming language for billing work, he will have had a lot of fun learning a new paradigm, and will be a better programmer for it!