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Chris Patti
Last updated at 4:13 pm UTC on 14 January 2006
Email: mailto:cpatti@gmail.com

WWW: http://www.cosmic.com

Working through those all important baby steps...

I've been fascinated by programming ever since I owned my first video game1. Yes, I'm a comparative baby. I was in diapers while you guys were blazing the trails :) .

Flailing around with BASIC is fun and all (and damn it was amazing to watch what people did with it.. That was back when people really made hardware work for a living :) but in College I learned some REAL languages: Pascal, FORTRAN (BLEH!), etc.

Heck, after picketing the department chair's office they even taught C!

Right around that time I got sucked into MOO. At that point LambdaMOO was just starting, so I 'got in on the ground floor' as it were.

This thing blew me away: real objects, real inheritance, presented in a way that even a simpleton like myself could grok at a very deep level. Being able to *manipulate* objects (even if only in a virtual text based environment) and actually create new objects by making use of polymorphism2 really has a way of bringing the point home.

It was this experience in later years that led me to be dis-satisfied with C++ and Perl from a strictly object oriented perspective. I like, use, and enjoy Perl very much as a language, but its object system is extremely simplistic and not up to the kind of work I do. C++ on the other hand has no raison d'etre, and frankly I wish it would simply go away :).

And that, boys and girls, brings us to the present day :)

Squeak appeals to me on many levels, but the high level of abstraction, platform independence, and rich syntax really make me want to be an accomplished SmallTalker.

So I'm working through the tutorials, pushing through that first layer of cluelessness, and we'll see what happens once I'm to the point where I'm not floundering with the environment. I must admit that the Smalltalk paradigm is a bit of a quantum leap from say, Perl/CGI development, where I spend lots of my work-a-day time :) .

Anyway, I'm psyched. More here as it happens :)

(P.S. - Several months have gone by, I've changed jobs, and I have yet to do anything substantial with Squeak. I still have yet to understand enough to actually write a program in Smalltalk. Its unusual syntax etc are proving unusually difficult, which is odd since I latched right onto LISP..)

1 A Mattel Intellivision. I always had grand plans about buying the keyboard that essentially made the thing into an MSX PC but never got around to it, and then the branch of Mattel that made the thing went defunct. Oops :)

2Sometimes in really humorous ways: witness Bloaf's Generic Wearable Container which spawned such greats as the combination hard hat/Jello Mold :)

Instead of trying to create your own Smalltalk program from scratch, why not take an interesting Morph and start by modifying its behavior in some fashion. Keep mutating and extending it until it is something else entirely. In the process you learn something about how things work and you learn a bit about how to extend the Smalltalk environment toward whatever you want to create. The Morphic-Demo and Morphic-Games categories are good places to start.
Thanks for the suggestion Dwight! You were a huge help when I was trying to kick up the default Squeak font size :) I'll give learning Squeak another try, got a better job now with a great company where I actually have leisure time and a laptop, so I can poke at things on the bus/train.

I do still wish there were more good books out about Smalltalk/Squeak,
it would make the curve that much easier to ascend.

Wow, the new Morphic Squeak interface with 'flaps' is VERY cool :)

Squeak's come a long way while I was being consumed by work. New job
with the Art Technology Group so I
finally have some time to myself to do things like play with Squeak.

There's another Smalltalk-er at work, but we have yet to discuss it